Said the Gramophone - image by Ella Plevin
by Mitz

Karen Dalton - "Something on your mind"

Dance like no one is watching.
Sing like no one is listening.
Blog like no one is reading.

[Buy]

(photo source)

by Jeff

Make Up live in London

Make-Up - "Pow! to the People" [buy]

Make-Up - "How Pretty Can U Get?" [buy]

It's utterly preposterous - listen to it - a faked live record in the invented genre of "Gospel Yeah Yeah," complete with rapturous applause, cryptic banter ("This song's called 'Don't Mind the Mind' - it's made by destroying all four dimensions or maybe five"), and a short interlude between songs to introduce the players ("The soldiers of sound"). On the sleeve, in a group shot taken by photographer Glen E. Friedman, the band are shown from the waist up wearing matching silk shirts, wide belt buckles, tight pants, and giant greasy hairdos.

I bought Destination: Love - LIVE at Cold Rice!, the first LP by DC's the Make-Up with my allowance at Birdman Sound in Ottawa. I had never heard them. It was 1996, pre mp3 blogs. All I knew was it was the new Nation of Ulysses band and that the record was released by Dischord and produced by Guy Picciotto. An obvious purchase for a young Fugazi fan.

I brought it home and put it on my turntable. The music was nothing I could have expected. Under the smokescreen of mystery the band was weirdo soul garage, jangly guitars, groovy basslines, and a drummer kicking out James Brown's The One with all the passion of the Minor Threat polka beat. Then there were the shrieking vocals and wacked out lyrics of Ian Svenonius. It was a stirring message from an alternate dimension where hardcore bands mutated into pre-Summer of Love soul combos; a parallel reality where funk bands played basement shows.

For a sixteen year old it was like Woah, is this real? Do they believe this stuff? How does this exist? I tried to decrypt the liner notes but mostly I just played it again and again and again. As I hardened into a humourless hardcore kid I had to pretend for a while that I didn't, but god I loved this record.

Plastic, invented, counterfeit, these songs and performances are 3-D, more real than reality, like how reading a novelization of heartbreak feels far truer than reading about it in someone's diary. In these songs the singer goes to jail, runs away heartbroken, comes back pleading, references the Russian Revolution in a slow jam, and goes to hell to high five Orpheus. The emotions laid out in these grooves are wild, funky, and true

Listening to Cold Rice and the Make-Up's other records now, twenty years later, I still love them and I can't stop cracking up at their absurdity. It's not unlike the experience of watching Kids in the Hall sketches on Youtube in recent years and realizing 1) this is waaay weirder than I realized it was at the time, and 2) this actually changed my life.

(image source unknown)

by Sean
Fire


La Baracande - "Tout en me promenant". Twice this week I have found myself using the word obliterate, and before then I don't know that I had ever used it. Where did obliterate come from? Why has it stumbled into my random-access memory? I have tried to work out if I heard it in a movie, read it in a book. But honestly I don't know. Sometimes a word is like a forgotten bird that appears in the sky after a long winter. There you are, yes of course, I didn't realize you were away. Obliterate like a Canada goose sitting black and white on my lawn.

Since I have been obliterating things lately I have been thinking about the idea of it: obliteration, wipeout, blinding annihilation. Sometimes obliteration is a razing from the earth, sometimes a mere forgetting. But obliteration is also a soldiering on. There is an obliteration of doubt, of hesitation: the straight line that does not deviate, the faith that never wavers. I obliterated a day, the other day, plunging into the city amid the city's March blizzard - marching, head down, into everything. I obliterated dessert. I obliterated my taxes.

The act of obliteration is a source of infinite power. For a moment you are feeble, doubting; then you decide you will not doubt, you will not hone or temper - you will simply do, charging forward. Roaring, victorious obliteration. If your spirit is a song then your spirit is no longer a woman's asking voice, a searching acoustic guitar, a fragile violin. It is the thunder of electric guitar. No, better still: the obliterating din of bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, fiddle and bumblebee box. "Tout en me promenant" obliterates utterly. It is a siege weapon, a steam-train, a man snapping your heart in half. It is a new age, undoing and remaking the old. You cannot win, you cannot stand in its way, you lose, you lose, you lose. You are undone.

Or else you are a part of it.

Those are the two choices: obliterated or obliterator. Victim or destroyer. When the drone is in the air you must make your choice, quickly, before the roles get set. If you hear La Baracande beginning, rouse yourself, decide, form or put away your fists.

[from a free compilation of music from France's La Nòvia collective]


(photo via The Art Counsel)

by Emma

WHAT'S YOUR NAME WHAT'S YOUR NAME

Cousins - "What's Your Name?"

pinball : surface :: you : city
new daylight : sidewalk :: your body : all bodies
go : go :: go : go

okay
okay
okay

[buy The Halls of Wickwire // image from this perfect video]

by Sean
By Okamoto Kiichi


Wishbone - "Over and Over". Would that we had spells. Would that we did. One of the great sorrows of my life, maybe the sorrow that ushered me out of childhood, was the comprehension that we do not. There are no spells, there never have been. Just deliberate syllables, thrown bones, without effect. Just empty hocus pocus. Would that we had spells. On a morning like this I could slide up to someone and ask for a spell; ask for magic just as I'd ask for the time, for a tissue, spare some change. Every person's spell would be different. Some spells rough as ripped concrete, others slick and rainbow as oilspots. Some float, some sink. Plunge your heartsick life into a perfect spell, dip your calloused hands. Bare your heart, unclenched. Take a deep breath, or five breaths; maybe five breaths make a spell. Would that we had spells. Then, any action might be a ritual. Every move could be a rite. The bar could be an altar, each of your friends high priests. Your home could be a cauldron.

This song - this one here - hear it as a hex. A kind hex with effect.

[more]


(image by Okamoto Kiichi, via A London Salmagundi and 50 Watts.)

by Mitz

Self Control - "Elastic"

I was exhausted after 20 hrs of work. Good thing I live close to my studio. I can just walk and be home in about 6 minutes to sleep in my bed. If I was an iphone, my bed would be a charger and sleeping would be docking. It was around 5am on a Friday night, my battery was at about 6% to walk home. I was barely standing. If someone asked me "what is this song?", like the Shazam app, I would use too much energy(battery) and pass out. If someone asked me directions, like Google Map app, I would throw up on his/her face and stop moving. In my head, I turned off all my apps and now all I could do was just walk straight home.

I got to the corner of St-Laurent and Bernard which is about 3 mins away from my apartment. At this point, my battery was at 3%. Why is it that when your battery is super low you always want to check how much % is left which uses more battery power? It's a vicious cycle. I often worry really hard about not getting enough sleep when i try to sleep which causes a lack of sleep. I end up getting up only 65% charged in the morning.

Even though it was 5 am, there were some cars going by fast and furious. Some drunken guys walk by and yelled something that wasn't French or English, it was assholish, the language of assholes. I often catch myself saying "hi" to cats in the alley at night, but not to drunken humans. Drunks annoy me. Another thing that annoys me is aggressive cab drivers. I was just waiting for the light turned green, but a cab driver stopped in front of me and stared at me. I didn't have my hand up and wasn't even looking at him, but the cab driver shook his head, as if i had wasted his time and drove away. Next time a cab driver does that I will get into the cab and tell them, "I am just crossing the street", and get out the door on the other side.

[buy]

(photo source)

by Jeff

Barn owl

Dick Diver - "Year in Pictures"

Dick Diver - "Leftovers"

After getting off work Jo biked to the edge of town and sat in the field by the river. She lay out her blanket on a flat spot, then pulled a can of beer from her bag and drank it until it was gone. She watched the mid-summer sky turned from pink to purple to deep blue.

A lot of things had gone wrong since the year began and they were still going bad and she didn't know how to turn them around. But she was trying not to think about that.

She was about to leave when she noticed something in a tree at the edge of the field, a spot of white amongst the dark branches.

It was an owl. She watched it dive from a branch and swoop down to a point in the middle of the field. Its head went down and a second later popped up holding something wriggling and brown. It bobbed back and forth as it swallowed the field mouse.

"Oh. My. God."

On her lunch break the next day Jo bought a guidebook to birds at the bookstore in the mall. It meant that she would be absolutely broke until she got paid on Thursday, but when she flipped to the pages with pictures of owls--some grey, others tawny, all looking amazing on the shiny pages of the field guide--she had to have it. She carried it back to work and spent the rest of lunch looking at pictures of birds in the break room.

That night she biked back out to the field and after a long impatient wait it came again. The white owl. A Barn Owl she saw in her guidebook. Tyto alba. It stretched its wings then flew silently, low over the field and dropped down. Just liked the night before.

She put the field guide in her bag and watched the owl until it flew back to its home hidden behind the edge of the forest.

"Thank you," she said to the absent owl. She picked up her bike and rolled it back out to the road.

[Dick Diver's new album Melbourne, Florida is a treasure horde of incredible songs and complex emotions. It feels like a harbinger of warmer times. / buy]

(image source)