Said the Gramophone - image by Neale McDavitt-van Fleet
by Sean
Image by Paul Rumsey

Ji Nilsson ft Marlene - "Love You Anyway". A choreography of winking lights, shadows convinced to dance. Marlene has a pleasant song to sing; she stands at a microphone in a modern studio, with a snack machine in the hall, trying to ignore the guests. Those winking lights, those dancing shadows, they do not chit-chat. They slink from corner to corner, duck her gaze. She knows she's safe; it's just light. It's just light, she says to herself after the first take. And yet she longs for a break in the session, an exit, a window to look out into the street. What season is it? she asks herself. I've forgotten.

[soundcloud / Thanks Michelle.]

The Boys Next Door - "Shivers". They got into a fight at the jewellery store. "This is such a stupid fight," he said. "Can we just end it? Can we just agree to end it?" She said yes, but they didn't. It was about a charm, a pewter charm, for a charm bracelet. It was a lighthouse. He had offered to get it for her.
      "A lighthouse?" she said, incredulous.
      "It's romantic," he said.
      "It's the opposite of romantic," she replied.
      He didn't understand: "It's searching for love. For true love."
      "Exactly. It's searching. It hasn't found it."
      "But it will find it."
      "How do you know?"
      "Think of a lighthouse. A warm beacon. A light in the night."
      "Endlessly searching, alone on a cliff."
      "It's not alone. It's beloved."
      "It's alone."
      "It's not. You're like my lighthouse. I'm like your lighthouse."
      "I'm not a lighthouse. You might be a lighthouse but I'm not a fucking lighthouse."
      He imagined it hanging from her wrist, suspended in a chain around her neck. He imagined it so clearly - her, the charm, the fleeing ray of blinding light.

[The Boys Next Door are The Birthday Party / buy]

(image by Paul Rumsey)

by Dan

Aphex Twin - "Aisatsana"

I watched my grandmother look out over the gulf and talk excitedly about birds. "You think you see a seagull, but there are dozens of types of gulls." The sunlight is somehow cold, everything is baked white. "I forgot my bird book," she said, smoking half of a slim cigarette, "and my binoculars." I set up Christmas decorations, anything that flashed and was made of plastic. I'm a sucker for these things. She's now unable to go for a walk on the beach at dawn because there is no overnight security in the building, she's unable to tell anyone where she's going, in case she falls. The shells on the beach are just shards, the full ones come in two days after a storm. I think to myself that when I get home I will find that bird book and mail it to her.


by Sean

LIVINGSTON - "Aggregate 17566408". Some of you may remember Henry Adam Svec's Artificially Intelligent Folk Songs of Canada, a collection of tracks ostensibly composed by a computer called LIVINGSTON, using algorithms informed by the canon of Canadian folksong. It was exquisite; you should download it; it's still free. Recently, LIVINGSTON's owners released a Volume 2. Like the first set, this is material that pretends that it was generated by McGarrigle-loving artificial intelligence. Like the first set, it's a gratis download. But unlike on Volume 1, Svec is no longer singing. Instead, Burning Hell's Mathias Kom has taken the microphone, interpreting the computer's latest printouts.

Similar to Volume 1's "Take It Easy but Take It to the Limit", "Aggregate 17566408" is, well, an aggregate. Listening uncarefully, it unfolds like a pleasant, winsome nonsense. Pay more attention and you will find yourself in a delirium of the faintly-familiar. A hundred scraps of famous Canadian song, sewn together like a quilt. It is like riffling through a musical yearbook, a yearbook for the past half-century, from Len to Neil Young, Constantines to Loverboy, Leonard Cohen to the Weakerthans, "The Log-Driver's Waltz" to (alas) "King of Spain". You'll drive yourself crazy trying to identify every reference; more fun to treat it like a ketamine-fuelled karaoke trip: a troubadour before you, mineral-voiced, singing you moments from your past.


Community Theatre - "Onward and Upward". Community Theatre is another grinning project from the geniuses of the folk underground. Kom and a pile of other singer-songwriters, all of em united in studio for a session in the Yukon. The contributors include Michael Feuerstack, Richard Laviolette, Baby Eagle, members of Construction & Destruction, Marine Dreams, and many more. Shotgun Jimmie leads the ensemble here, raising a tattered chorus. Part-pious, part-hilarious, it's a tribute to the northern lights and the endless journey; rousing as a husky's shout, stirring as hot coffee in a styrofoam cup. It's a new blizzard, a long-stoked fire, a cozy winter's cabin just filled with friends. A party you wish you were at, harmony flying out of that chimney like smoke.

[buy Northern Register]


I am currently compiling my favourite songs of 2014. Please email me MP3s for anything you think I may have missed!

by Sean
Potato queen

Nicholas Krgovich - "Baby Blue Tutu". Dancing round the rim of a champagne flute. The air's filled with the finest mist of carbonation - a sparkling on cheeks and lips, the backs of hands. You hold each other and dance, in slow spins, while the party is carried from one end of the room to the other, on a tray. [buy / bandcamp]

(photo source)

by Dan

Mica Levi - "Andrew Void"

The body sieve, with blood like dried glue. The sound that a thing makes is analogous to its name, in that a name is an alternate-dimension expression of that very thing. In one world a flower is a thing with pedals and a stem, in another simply the word 'flower' is the thing, and in another, the sound of two rubber hoses shifting along each other more slowly than the sun moves in the sky, that is the thing. This, today's song, is an expression of silence. In one world, silence is the absence of sound, but in another, this is an expression of that same thing. This is silence saying its own name.


by Sean


Jones - "You". There is a mechanic's garage on the corner. Where your little street meets the green, low-boughed boulevard, there is a small garage which always seems closed. Closed but not derelict: it is well maintained; clean windows, swept stoop. The front is shiny and blue. There is a sign in white and cherry. Nobody ever seems to be coming or going but the tree overhead always seems to be in bloom. The garage contains things: gleaming engines, good machines. You drive past sometimes and you think perhaps you can see someone inside, on the other side of the panelled door - someone experienced, hard-working, honest. Someone wiping tarry hands on a rag. At night you dream of the day that your own car breaks down; a May morning, a July afternoon, your transmission begins to sputter and you wheel the car right to the front of the little garage. In the dream there is a bell. You ring it. You wait. Gulls are painting circles overhead and as you slumber you imagine the sound of a clasp unclasping, a perfect whirr, then the door that begins to open. The giant garage door, clean as a lake, lifting now before you to reveal a perfect, crowded room.


by Sean

Nancy Pants - "Happy". Garbage dancer: foil, cereal box, yes ok some Christmas garlands. Sewer somersault, basement splits. Pogo and worm. Found some records in a milk-crate, "Louie Louie" and "Black Hole Sun", remember to wear gloves. Night sky's a black canvas and tossed gravel. Daylight's a flashlight. I traded my dad's Pontiac for a bass guitar. I kissed a girl. I fired an elastic band at the auditor and we'll sparkle til we droop.

[Total Nancy Pants is out now / bandcamp / cassette launch in Montreal tonight]



(photograph from American Cooking: New England, via Bartek)