Beck - "Loser"
No, I work here, you can ask anyone. I've worked here for years. Years. I've come in every day, and I've put in my blood sweat and tears, haha. Years. How long have you been here? Maybe you don't work here. I work here, dude, ask anyone. Well, when they come in in the morning you can ask them then. Don't touch me. I work here, don't I look like I work here? These just happen to be the hours that I work! That's why I have a coffee, hellooo! I've been here every day, dude, serious. No, I mean, I've been here, I don't always go inside. I don't always need to, I can work out here. Yes, I've been coming out here every day and working, so I think I'm a fucking employee, yes. See the bag? See the computer? See the printer cable? Employee. Ask anyone.
If you listen to this song nice and loud, you will hear my new favourite part of a thousand favourite parts: at 3:48, just as the song is already fading out, that previously unheard huge guitar that comes in? That's it for me today.
(image from consumeconsume)
Colin Stetson - "Among the Sef (Righteous II)". Colin Stetson's third album is not the same terror or treasure that his last one was. New History Warfare Vol 2 felt mortal. It felt desperately mortal. The saxophonist's voice and breath, this unfurling force; dying as it unfurled, and striving as it died, striving & loving & hoping, clawing back the end. Stetson - a virtuoso and an athlete - made music that was suffused with vulnerability. Its weakness broke my heart into pieces.
There is little weakness to New History Warfare Vol 3, released this week. Its subtitle is To See More Light. Look at the cover: a black bird, rising from the wasteland. Listen to its songs, with Justin Vernon's hopeful croon. At times Stetson sounds threatened, or chased, but he never sounds doomed. Like the crow on the sleeve, these songs are ascendant. Their spirit seems puissant, victorious; whereas Vol 2 honoured - or at least held space for - fragility, Vol 3 is about gathering strength. Not mortality but immortality.
The result is a forceful, handsome work. Once again, Stetson weaves his compositions from endless strings of notes, arpeggios dancing across the room. He uses the rhythms of his fingers striking the saxophone's keys, the resonating hum in the horn, a roar that comes from somewhere in his chest. Vernon is an excellent companion, subtle and undaunted; with his presence, perhaps for the first time, Stetson's music gains a sense of safety. The musician calls out, or his sax calls out, and I imagine the call rippling out over the plains or the ice, like northern lights. Unlike the saxophonist's preceding work, I can imagine his call being answered. I can imagine the hymn being heard.
"Among the Sef (Righteous II)" is my favourite piece on the record. It is darting, birdlike. It flits, dives, searches. All these flickering notes, too fast to follow; the flutter of touches; the thin sound of Stetson drawing breath; then his animal voice, wordlessly lowing. I don't know if it's a prayer or a vow, and the message doesn't need to be understood. Here is a searching spirit, speaking its heart, without an audience. Like art in its purest form - a cave painting, a secret dance. A shout, a whisper, a song, for its own sake.
But this record is not often so lonely. On a later track, "What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?", Stetson and Vernon turn a song by Washington Phillips inside-out. Whereas the the original is troubled and fragile, this cover is confident, saved, like a riverside revival. I don't hear any of Phillips' lonesome, unsettled asking. Take the original lyrics, where the singer is full of questions:
What are they doing in heaven today?
Where sin and sorrow are all done away?
'Peace abounds like a river,' they say.
For that last line, the essence is its end. They say.
Washington Phillips did not need to sing those words; he was a believer. He might have told us simply, as a promise, "Peace abounds like a river." But Phillips could not make this promise. He could not give us this certainty.
When Vernon sings this chorus, "They say" feels like an afterthought. And the second question disappears.
What are they doing in heaven today?
The sin and sorrow are all done away.
Such calm confidence, such serenity, over Stetson's blanket of glimmering notes. It's a beautiful reassurance.
But I don't believe in the reassurance. I feel shy writing this, as an acquaintance of Colin's, as someone who deeply respects and admires his work. If I hadn't been so moved by New History Warfare Vol 2, maybe I would be able to quietly love Vol 3 - to be bolstered by its impressive consolations. Maybe the stakes would not feel so high. Maybe if I were a believer, or a millionaire, or if society seemed like it was getting wiser, I would be able to take more solace in this album. I think the way you feel about To See More Light will depend on how much you believe in Stetson's reassurance, or how much you need it. I am happier in 2013 than I can remember ever having been before. But Stetson's earlier songs touched me more than all this gorgeous triumphing. I believed the laments more than the fanfares.
I'm still grateful for both.
Postscript, May 4: I went to see Colin last night, playing at Montreal's Sala Rossa.
"Who the Waves Are Roaring For" seemed like an Édith Piaf 45, old and rose, slowly sinking in the brine. "High Above a Grey Green Sea", questing & optimistic on the record, felt abandoned. It felt all-alone. The set was filled with shrieks and groans and the sound of shearing metal. The stage was pitted with little shipwrecks. It felt bloody. There were mistakes in the playing, hiccups and tiny failures. I guess I am trying to say it felt mortal. Stetson, so Olympian up there, also seemed so small. It was a crowded room. Sometimes, when the songs spread out like fabric, a painting of space & time in pinprick notes, like minimal techno, I was as aware of the crowd as of the man centered in spotlight. I tried to stay steady as I thought: a room full of human beings, almost all of us strangers.
If you are in Montreal, please find a way into his show tonight. Or else see him on tour this summer.
Weaves - "Hulahoop"
Please go away. Please go away and never come back. Please fuck right off, and keep fucking right off for the rest of your fucking life. Take your perfect leather boots, and your haphazard hair, and the tiny ankle fold in your jeans and vanish from Earth. Please let your oddly-clumped freckles and your skewed glasses and your gap-toothed grin have never existed. Please let your love notes and your open toothpaste and your breakfast leftovers be long-awaited proof of a parallel universe, inapplicable to this one. Take everything that happened, every second of it, and fold it a million times. From meeting to parting, fold it up, take an awkward dinner and crease it at great sex. When you can't tell a text message from a backrub, we're good. But I never, I mean ever, want to see you again. You are steam now. You are white-on-white, you are a dream that sits on your tongue like "it was something" and then disappears.
Weaves is a project involving (at least) the great Jasmyn Burke (of RatTail) and the marvelous Morgan Waters. So excited to hear more, and for live dates. I'll let you know.
Junip - "Your Life Your Call". José Gonzalez as a steely-eyed aerobics instructor. Step, lift, back, step. I say "steely-eyed"; really the things you make out of steel. Tankers, skyscrapers, indestructible ball bearings. Gonzalez is level on a swaying ship. There are no tremors in his instructions. It's over now, he sings. You have taken your time. / But you can't stay here. / Go dry up your tears. Gonzalez's band, Junip, is one of the most underrated groups in indie rock. Their songs sound like kaleidoscopes: splendid, prismatic, controlled. You can use a kaleidoscope when you're high; you can use one when you're sober. Split up a problem: divide it into even pieces, bright shards, turn the dead-end into branching roads. Once I saw Junip play live, in a room in Montreal. This steady, fortunate joy. I thought to myself, Music is a common magic. It does not take much. Pull yourself together, Gonzalez sings. Draw the line. It is morning, and the day is yours. [buy]
A grateful, bellowing ovation for the Washington Wizards' Jason Collins, the first openly gay player on a major North American sports team.
My friend Luc built hoot.ch, a very simple, elegant digital playlist/musicblog. No writing, just Luc's careful selections, and images, in a handsome player. Press play and let it run. (Luc's taste centers on instrumental hip-hop, IDM and noisy pop.)
11:51 AM on Apr 29, 2013
Born Ruffians - "Permanent Hesitation"
If there is one thing that this song, its jeans-on-the-floor and text-messages-from-someone-only-named-J, seems to evoke, beyond its let-go-of-the-hand-hold and necklace-casts-a-shadow-on-the-neck, it's a phrase, written on faces, weather, and every tea store sandwich board: Time is running out.
Born Ruffians still speak to me. Their new album Birthmarks is really great, I think. You can buy it here.
Jai Paul - "Str8 from Mumbai (demo)". Jai Paul's best cuts feel damaged - not drunk, not high, but still wobbly and redoubled, splendidly wavering. It's like someone is playing with the dials on the mixer, spraying samples, bringing volumes up and down, frequencies in and out; these microscopic fades, neurons firing and disappearing. A lurid part of me wants to call it Parkinson's pop. "Str8 from Mumbai" is a necklace of vanishing jewels, gems in and out of phase. A nightclub you can only see in a mirror. The treatment for a short film: mysterious billionaire, private jet to India, five hours out, then back to real grey life. But this song would be too vivid for the soundtrack. It would leave too strong a mark. [Jai Paul's debut is expected... eventually. This was allegedly an "illegal" leak.]
Weather Station ft Marine Dreams - "First Letter". A sunrise that changes its mind. A dawn that shifts, mid-dawning. Weather Station's Marine Dreams duet starts as one song, in silver light, and becomes another, with a different shade of silver. As we approach summer, I am reminded of the way it sometimes is: a long day that quickly changes, a twist ending for the sky. Our hearts watch the clouds, they swerve with the weather, they do what they're shown. [buy]
(Photo source unknown.)
12:08 PM on Apr 25, 2013
Electrelane - "To The East". I need a mission, somebody give me a mission. An envelope with a folded, typed instruction. A clear cloud. A banner, a crackling radio instruction. Just a sign. Just give me a sign. Let it be plain or filigreed, simple or adorned. Let it be easy or difficult, let it be impossible. I will make love or wage war, I will run or howl, I will shove coke, spade by spade, into the belly of a train. All I ask is that you inscribe my future, so that I need not invent it myself. Give me something to live up to: a destiny, a fate. You will see me at my fullest, in body and indigo. I will stride into the tide. I will sing the rest of the song. I will find the puny needle or fire the long harpoon. I will go home, if that's what I am to do, or believe me darling I will hold out hope. [buy]
11:00 AM on Apr 22, 2013
about said the gramophone
this is a daily sampler of really good songs
. all tracks are posted out of love
. please go out and buy the records
to play a song in your browser, click the
. to download a song, right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'
all songs are removed within a week or two of posting.
said the gramophone
launched in march 2003, and added songs in november of that year. it was one of the world's very first mp3blogs.
if you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
montreal, canada: sean
toronto, canada: jordan
toronto, canada: dan
please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets.
if you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us
if you would like the song taken down early. please do not direct link
to any of these tracks. please love and wonder.
"and i shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and i will never grow so old again."
about the authors
lives in Montreal, where he is writing a novel. His work also occasionally appears at McSweeney's
. Follow him on Twitter
or reach him here
is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Email him here
lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star
. Jordan's posts appear at Said the Gramophone only on the last Wednesday of every month. Email him here
Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet
. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Keith Andrew Shore
our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
Juan and Only
Passion of the Weiss
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Gorilla vs Bear
From Y to A
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In FocusAMASS BLOG
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, café italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
The Morning News