Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Sean
From Old-Chum

NONI WO - "Solarstorm". An ice-bath of rainforest, an iceberg of hot shower; a hot-cold of thing. "Solarstorm" is texture and temperature, weight and heat. It's a pop-song all melting, freezing, evaporating on a horizontal plane. Folding patterns of synthesizers and a lone guitar, a man's bare voice, wistful woo. NONI WO is Rory Wolf Seyfel, who played with Shapes & Sizes and then Pat Jordache. "Solarstorm" is either a coming-apart or a coming together, I'm not sure. It's ecstatic soul and R&B with the R and B taken out: just ampersand, just &, quivering in the air.

[more / USB EP out in September with Summer Cool]

Rivver - "Lamu". Ch, sh, th, ng, these sounds that seem like visitors from other places, other languages. Blue trees, red seas. Every time I say a ch, a th, I am like an alien. I am like a shark in the water, showing his fin. Or maybe not. Maybe I am ordinary - another pal with a mouthful of digraphs; another buddy speaking the same language. I hear Rivver's chop-up of voice and synth and I can't decide if it's exotic or familiar, obvious or strange. I pour myself another cup of lamu and take a little sip. Do I recognize the taste? Do I like it? My eyes are slowly crossing and I still don't know.

[soundcloud download / watch the video]

(photo source)

by Sean
Cebu, Philippines: Children perform during a feast celebrating Jesus as a child Photograph: Jay Rommel LabraEPA

Cowbell and Friends - "Sunny (ft Dan Bejar)". Destroyer's Dan Bejar sings a song as light as cotton on a clothesline. It's a tribute to Sunny, one of the (almost literally) mop-topped kids in Windy & Friends. A children's song, strum and pluck, wafting. Its lyrics as genius as a caught ball: There is stop and there is go / There is mild versus mellow / Little birds turning yellow / in the sun. Anyone who has watched children play know that their games are not always harmless; it's not always strum and pluck, wafting. But that's what we hope to pump into their hyperkinetic brains: comfort, calm, that dream'll come easy. So even as Bejar's singing a terror - whistling wind, blowing wind, lost friends - he tells it as kind and safe, no-panic. Scares don't need to be scary. Existential crises don't need to be bummers. Children, pick up your swords / We are flowers at war with the city. Get up. Have an ice-cream.

[more music of Cowbell and Sunny /bandcamp for a previous compilation]

Alvvays - "Adult Diversion". I wrote the official band bio for Alvvays - lines about fuzzy songs "sun-spashed and twilit, glittering like a knife-blade". I fell for the band, hard, when I saw them at SappyFest 2013. But as the months have gone by, my sense of these tunes have changed. Like staring into the sun for too many seconds, like staring at a painting for years - senses blur, new details emerge. Listening to "Adult Diversion" now, or "Archie, Marry Me", I don't first hear the fizzing corona, the reverberating guitars - I hear the simple scamper of them, these songs like jungle-gyms for Molly Rankin's voice. Cartwheels of a singing singer, scaffolding and slides, places for Rankin to roam while she stares down her friends, stares down her enemies. A land of sour milk and burnt honey where Rankin is just telling her stories, and running, and running, never breathless, but breathing.


(photo by Jay Rommel / source)

by Dan

Naomi Punk - "Eon of Pain"

Mikey. A leather-wrapped shaven beanpole, with a smile like a bad carrot. Mikey walked in two halves, legs and shoulders, each on their own separate walk. He stooped like he was always in a low ceiling, perhaps as practice. His clothes were filthy, his bedroom floor looked covered in candy bar wrappers. Mikey ate three meals a day, all cigarettes. As a result, his voice seemed to be missing a few frequencies, he'd smoked them away, it sounded discordant, unbalanced, like a wobbly table in a diner. Mikey looked like God was sculpting kids to go to Lincoln Seconday, but had used all the clay by the time he got to Mikey, and all he had left were french fries and energy drinks.

He slumped typically into music class. Mr. Ferguson's General Music with the steps built into the floor and headed to his seat. "You can't wear that many rips in your pants," said Ferguson, in his standard fresco: Morning Fleece with Bagel. And I remember so clearly what Mikey turned to him and said. He turned his head like it were a UFO and shot back, "I'm not wearing the rips, the rips are empty space." I think it was 8:45 in the morning.


by Sean
Sappy Times VI

I'm bleary, blearish, bleared after finishing my US book tour and spending a blowout weekend at SappyFest 9 - the treasure of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada and my favourite music festival in the world. It was an honour to return to Sappy for the sixth time - especially this year, as it passed from one set of hands to another. The kids are alright.

And for the sixth time, I penned Sappy's Sappy Times, a daily journal that is proudly printed on real paper, and distributed across the festival site. Every night, I looked back at the previous day's activities. The Times were penned between the hours of 1am and 5:57am. I got about 14 hours of sleep in the past three days. Concert highlights included Michael Feuerstack, Basia Bulat, Spencer Burton, Dusted, Weather Station, Freelove Fenner, Bry Webb, the Sackville scream choir, and the reunited Constantines.

As in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, for archival purposes, and for the interest of Said the Gramophone readers, I offer the digitized Sappy Times right here:

Saturday // Sunday // Monday (pdfs)

If you've never been to Sappy, I'll say it again: it's special and small and remarkable. If you enjoy the kind of music I do, and the songs we do, you owe it to yourself to book a trip to the Canadian maritime provinces. See some swans, some beautiful songs, then drive to the coast and swim in the sea.

And finally, a little awkwardly, if you run a festival or an event or a zeppelin race or anything like that, and you would like to bring me to where you are, to write something like the Sappy Times, I would always love to talk to you. Email me here.

(image source)

by Dan

(i'm abroad and can't upload, apologies for the stream)

I see a mini-skirt and hairy legs doing a lean-back creep.
I see the ground is lava.
I see a sewer grill smile with nothing to lose.
"Drugs, hugs, and giant bugs" sloppy rushed in paint.
Steam pillars and neon domino. Hard to see if this restaurant serves food, the menu looks like an airplane safety pamphlet.
In this place, there's no distinction between friend and enemy, it's the same damn word.

[Hani Zahra's 2013 album Along Those Lines is still available]

"A Malaise" is new Hani Zahra, we'll have more updates soon about an exciting new album from them.


And on the topic of makeup tests, friend of the blog Kayla Lorette is funding her short film on indiegogo. Normally, of course, I wouldn't trouble you with crowdfunding because it's the way we raise our site costs and it can be annoying as heck, but this has a great pitch video, and I trust the filmmakers fully to make a great piece, even if they're asking for quite a bit. Check out the project, if you like the makeup work, if you like Julian Richings, or if you like Kayla from Space Riders, maybe consider dropping a few dollars, the perks are pretty neat too! Tote!

by Sean
James Irwin - 'Everything Passed Me By' image by Adam Waito

James Irwin - "Everything Passed Me By". Flying to Los Angeles tomorrow and what better send-off than this jet-plume of a song by Montreal's James Irwin. Synths prowl softly round the rhythm section's groove; nimble guitars and baby blues; a saxophone like a shot & vanishing rocket.

Seems we're never going to get a record by The Moment, Montreal's best new band of 2013. They were James Irwin and Nick Scribner, Adam Waito and Julia Lewandowski and Jeffrey Malecki. "Everything Passed Me By" was one of theirs - a treasure I was waiting for. In concert, this tune was a blanket and a rainforest. It was a scene, a jam, a whole complete friendship. It was five songs convening in a summer field.

Now James has finished "Everything Passed Me By" on his own. I think it's songier than it was: melody & harmony, a musical arrangement gathered in a room. But still those gorgeous chords, that beautiful diffuseness. A fizz of feelings, vivid and fading and faint, in a story of Californian evenings, summer heat, lying down on a lawn. There's a long sunset. There's distance. There's surf. Ariel Pink is here, with John Maus. Belle & Sebastian are squinting at a concrete ocean-wall. If there are leaves, the leaves' green has lost its saturation. The day is Polaroid, with flat feet and swollen heart. I thought I was Harry Nilsson, here / I thought I'd be walking on the beach and the vision would wash up in a bottle at my feet / Everything passed me by. It's a song that dances with inevitability, around inevitability, splits inevitability into trilling call and answer, division, no mistakes.

Some paradises are very specific, too specific to ever find.

[more from James / there's a remix coming]

Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Dr SID, D'Prince and The Mavins - "Dorobucci". In Africa at least, they have a worthy "song of the summer". "Dorobucci", from Nigeria's Mavin Records, is one of the year's biggest hits. It's a lissom, looping laze. It's a chant of good times, wealth and friendship, sunshine and water and flowing breeze. You can turn it up loud and dance, with all your gang; you can turn it down a little and breathe in/breathe out, among dappled lights. Nighttime and daytime, Dorobucci. Daytime and nighttime, Dorobucci. Simple as a good mood, found.

[official video coming soon / lots of great unofficial ones]


If you're on the west coast, I do hope you'll join me for readings & music in Los Angeles on Wednesday 23/7, SF on Monday 28/7, and Portland on Tuesday, 29/7.

(illustration by Adam Waito)

by Dan

Zoo - "Hard Times, Good Times"

Hide your money in a paper bag. Eat the first food you see. Get on a bus. Switch to a cab. Stop to make a phone call. Run bare-legged across the highway. See a plane and feel yourself on it. Break the law and watch the world keep turning.

Zoo - "Samedi Soir a Charnouet"

Wheels crunch into a gravel driveway. There are heels and there are lights off the lake. If Galit is here it will be fun, she will be squeezed into wool, she will paint herself with wool and her hair will be a sculpture. If Geneviève is here there will be sweets. If Ben is here we will hear all about the islands, and how much the army needs to blow them up. If Herve is here he's only going to talk about business. I think we should meet again about the balances, Emil is giving me shit about the balances and I don't want to get it wrong, I think we should meet again. I can feel my back against the ribbed faux-wood as I squeeze to the restroom. I can feel the smoke, I can see the drinks lifted over heads to get through the crowd. I can feel the cool summer air as I step away from the house and towards the lake. I want to feel my voice relax as I can speak in a normal voice. I want to think about swimming. But mostly I want to look at the fire and forget. I want to sip something and I want to catch someone's eye, and I want to think ah, the sun. The terrible, terrible sun, stay right where you are.

[very difficult to find buy links, if anyone can help]