Nap Eyes - "Stargazer"
Nap Eyes - "Click Clack"
On Friday, I got to see Nap Eyes play a show. I've seen them a few times before - in the Sackville summer sunshine, in an echoey Halifax church, in a thrift store on a gloomy Fredericton Sunday - but this time, in Toronto, at the Garrison, felt different just by virtue of its audience. By the time we got there it was packed and low-lit and I kept doing double takes; the room was sold-out-filled with the kind of people who show up when a band you already like gets a good review on Pitchfork - exactly like the people you already know but each a few molecules removed, somehow. Second choices from the same department of central casting where they sourced your life.
I have already made my case for Nap Eyes's albums here and elsewhere; I've talked about how their record didn't do much for me until suddenly it found its way into my spine and under my breath for weeks on end. But I have not talked about what it is like to see them live. So, gentle reader, here I am now, looking you right in the eye, putting my hand over yours across the table in a way that is gentle but firmly reassuring, saying unto you: if you have the chance to see Nap Eyes play a show, you must take it. If you already like this band the way I like them, then you have probably already done this - but if you are on the fence, or not quite sure, or if you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to make sure that the next time they come to your town, you do the whole terrible thing of leaving your house and going into the world and paying real stupid money to stand in a room full of chattering strangers and let the thing happen to you.
If you like this band the way I like them, then there is a good chance that what draws you in is something about the slow, steady sparking of warmth on remove. On tape, on record, coming through your headphones, Nap Eyes are gentle and kind and welcoming, but they also still hold you at arms' length, a little; there's a lot of space for your thoughts to roam around amid the lyrics, a lot of technical skill just sort of barely holding its breath behind the steady pacing. There's room for your thoughts and feelings to dissolve all the way in.
But live, it's different: the songs are the same, the band is the same, but they let Brad Loughead, their guitarist, do something with all those spaces, all that room. Brad is an amazing guitarist, a shredder with a shiny, expansive heart, and his playing is the kind that rings every bell in me so instantly that it catches me off-guard even when I'm expecting it. You know the type I mean: your Paul Saulniers, your Marissa Paternosters, people where there's no middle clouding step between the feeling they're feeling and the sound they make out of it, just one clear pure playful ringing charge straight through. These solos, these little moments of snarling and scratching and soaring in the middle of Nap Eyes' steady nod, they feel perfect; like a little glimpse, a new articulation, of the feelings glowing in the centre of these songs. Pure, shining. Alive. They feel alive.
[buy Thought Rock Fish Scale]
Dishwasher - "Thurible Thurible" [Buy]
I was just stepping into the elevator, and there was a guy waved at me to keep the doors open for him, so I did. He was dressed for success. And then, there was a lady who wanted to catch the ride with us so I kept it open. She seemed like a really nice elderly lady who wore little bit too much perfume but she smiled and seemed very pleasant. Then, the building landlord for my studio, wanted to hitch a ride with us. He is just a loud guy who needs to yell everything. Almost seems like he has an earphone and listening to music and trying to talk back at same time.
I pressed my floor, which is 7th and then the first guy pressed 5th floor, and the lady pressed 4th floor and then the landlord pressed 2nd floor...
Of course, everyone got off before me and from 5th floor to 7th floor ride in just 25 seconds, I understood Green Day song, "Nice guys finish last." or not. I mean could be worst. another first world problem.
ummm, so it's snowing in Montreal right now....
but to cheer me up, Ill just watch this video on repeat.
Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith - "A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke: A Divine Courage"
Montreal is blessed with a network of alleys and I like walking through them. For one thing, there are more cats back there. Last night I spotted two of them, both striped, sitting just a few feet apart. They weren't yowling or fighting; it seemed they didn't know what they were doing, just enjoying a moment of peace until I came along and they scattered.
Once on a late night walk, I turned down an alley and saw a few cats on the pavement. But as I got further in, I realized that I was surrounded. Ten or more cats were peeking out of the shadows. There were several lurking along the edges of my path and others looked down at me from fence tops and garage roofs. Most were clearly pets but there were a few tough-ass alley cats in the mix, all just sitting quietly. The night was hot, so they must have called a truce in order to catch what little breeze they could. Coming across so many cats in one place felt like stepping into the middle of a conspiracy.
Surf Harp - "POOL BOY". I came to adore this song without ever listening to the words. I heard the words but I didn't listen to them. The lyrics were like geometric objects, floating place-holders, among all of "POOL BOY"'s crisscrossing pleasures. The content mattered less than the sound, and less than the drums' redoubled smashes, the squeaks of sax, the ladders of guitars all lonesome, crowded, west. It was only when I sat down to write about this song that I paid attention to what Surf Harp's singer is singing. Only then did I try to squint with my ears, straining to understand. Only then did I read the lyrics on the band's bandcamp page. And so I come to you from the other side, the land of full comprehension, with advice: the words don't matter very much. They are vivid and melting and good, they are broken and knitted at the same time. But they matter less than the fact of them as geometric objects, the sound of them alone or in chorus; they matter less than the smashes, the sax, the crowded guitars. Talk is cheap, cacophony is precious. You don't need plain poetry with your sweet-and-sourest pop music, your brightest darts of dab. You don't need someone murmuring advice. Mostly you need the song to hit the hot air and soar. To glide and glide, higher, as the sunset turns its colour. To float forever, past the fadeout, into the eye.
[Surf Harp are from Baltimore / they're kinda magnificent / buy PEEL and make them yours]
Charlotte Cornfield - Big Volcano, Small Town
A memory - the kind that's so close to being a dream the edges blur, the kind that floats unmoored from context in your mind, weighed down by tiny bits of detail, just enough. 2010, I think, or maybe '11; summer or almost-summer night, dress but no jacket on, bare arms against the air which in Montreal especially at the beginning or the end of the season is a feeling so good it seems like it should be illegal. Someone's impossibly gigantic house way up Sherbrooke, kinda near my old-old place, someone's house or maybe their girlfriend's. A party, a big one. Half-finished basement, pentagrams and aphorisms on the walls in red paint, giant chest freezer with boys perched atop it passing cigarettes back and forth. Christmas lights, loose dirty rug, people sitting on the floor. Girls from my writing classes in beautiful, effortless, slightly mirrored outfits; girls I always saw in line for the free vegan lunch at school but never talked to, girls who looked like girls I knew but weren't. At some point I lost Mike; at some point I talked to a guy for 15 minutes before realizing we'd gone to the same high school together for 6 years. I felt foggy, I was going to go out for some air. But on my way up I got turned around, walked down the wrong hallway, and opened the door to a bedroom; in there was Charlotte, perched on a bed and holding a guitar, singing this song or another one like it in her perfect voice, a voice I could not describe to you if you paid me, a voice that has only ever belonged to one person in the world. I leaned in the doorway and listened, felt something settle in my chest that I did not know had needed settling. I might have taken a photo, but if I did I could not find it for you now, or tell you what it looked like; where I went after the song ended, when the rest of the night dissolved back into itself. A great relief, now, to have this album in the world, to have these songs to listen to and carry with me; still real, still dreamy, somehow both.
[buy Future Snowbird]
Gorilla Biscuits - "First Failure"
Where to start with Gorilla Biscuits? On the outside, everything about them is ridiculous. Their mascot is a smiling cartoon gorilla wearing a Champion hoodie, for cripes sake! I mean, late eighties straight edge hardcore is kind of inherently mockable. Their 1989 Start Today LP is like a self-help book for hardcore kids, advising them to avoid procrastination, to respect others, to not eat meat or talk smack, to stay focussed and clean their rooms (and not play Donkey Kong). And it's amazing.
At just over a minute and a half long, "First Failure" is a motivational anthem showcasing everything that makes the band great. Essentially they were a hardcore Voltron, fusing NYHC toughness with melodic Dischord bass lines, a riff or two cribbed from The Descendents, and lyrics from a sympathetic but tough life coach. "Cheer up!" he sings. The sweet gang vocal breakdown halfway through inspires the immediate pointing of fingers in the air. This is prime training-montage soundtrack for dorks right here.
(image: Byronesque 2012 by Dan Witz)
Soft Boys - "Kingdom of Love" [Buy]
There are so many condos poping up in Montreal. I'm sure most of cities are. I often overhear conversations like,
"yeah, I think he bought that condo for pretty decent price."
"I love my condo! You guys should come over!"
"My wife left me. She took my condo too."
well, didn't hear these exact lines but just for fun, every time you hear the word, Condo, you can replace it with condom. and your life becomes magical. As Forrest Gump said, "Mama always said Life is like a box of condoms, If you don't wear it, you will have babies." or something like that.
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
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Said the Gramophone
launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.
If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
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"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
is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors
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to browse his posts.
writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This
is her website and email her here
is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True
and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter
is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker
in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here
Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet
. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Kit Malo
wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here
to browse his posts. Email him here
wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star
. Click here
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Gorilla vs Bear
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
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
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News