This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

June 30, 2008


Argungu Fishing Festival

Snailhouse - "Superstitious". Is this the catchiest double-negative in songwriting history? Snailhouse has spent years feeling, writing, but here it's like he found an old mail-order catalogue, something from the Hudson's Bay Company, and redecorated the whole alleyway. He ordered wool blankets, brass plaques, spruce-trees, strings; he got lap steel and organ, flashlights, Scotch, and quick, impulsive kisses that only half-land on the cheek. This is a handsome song, an elegant song, but there's a wilderness in its murmurs and a wistfulness in its rhymes. Sometimes you watch a strolling cat and it reminds you how lonely you are; sometimes you watch two lovers dance and it reminds you how capably you can light a fire. Sometimes, in other words, one kind of moment is hidden inside the other.

On Lies on the Prize, Snailhouse's songs hit harder, shine fiercer, than any that came before. It's due in large part to the production by Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara. I love the affection in each track, the richness of sound, the amethysts & seashells & uppercuts they found. Snailhouse is Mike Feuerstack, who also plays in the Wooden Stars and Bell Orchestre. Sappy Records released a Snailhouse tribute album last year.

Oh, and Lies for the Prize - go get it. (With artwork by Kit Malo!)

[buy / back-catalogue]

(photo is a wire shot of the Argungu Fishing Festival)

Posted by Sean at 11:07 AM | Comments (4)

June 27, 2008

Curds a Cold and Wine a Flu

Nina Simone - "Gimme Some (Mike Mangini Remix)"

The drums in this song, in this version of this song, drop the ballast off the sides and the song floats up and hovers right around the place where you hear music come in your ears. In case you've forgotten, you don't actually experience music any other way, but this song reminds you of that, that you have ears. Or it doesn't, and I'm reminding you, but in any case, we're there now, so let's talk about it. "Dan, I can see dancing with my eyes," says one of you, "and I can feel vibrations with my hand, I'm deaf," says another, "and I'm reading your damn prose," says a third. All true, but listen to Nina Simone; she's asking you to "gimme some". She "can't stand it no longer". If "some" were "music", do you think she'd be content with mere vibrations or MTV on mute? No, she wouldn't. She wouldn't at all. And in conclusion, it's clear: Nina Simone is a raging ablist. [Buy]

Cassetteboy - "Brackish Water"

Cassetteboy is completely insane. His 80-minute album Carry On Breathing has 87 tracks, and they're all made of soundbites. From TV, radio, field recording, some of it famous, almost all of it British, but the point is: it's incessant. I went to a "mixtape party" once, the idea was that you bring a mixtape (or cd) and you put it in a bin, and then pick another one out and you get to bring home a little treasure from someone. I decided to make an experimental mix that featured 99 of the shortest tracks in my music collection that were a minute or shorter. It was organized from longest to shortest, and dated back to when I first started collecting music on my computer; like, the Napster days. So there were really stupid Simpsons quotes mixed in with 30-second punk songs, sound effects tracks, and those really short Pavement songs from Westing by Musket and Sextant. Anyway, it amounted to a downward spiral of insanity that was essentially unlistenable. This is kind of what Carry On Breathing is like, but Cassetteboy's project is handmade, crafted, designed. And this, "Brackish Water", is one of the few things that kind of works. It's nice to feel these different bits come from different days, so you pass like a third of a year in one song, to imagine it sequentially, each of those days having meant something to someone, including you. [Buy, if you dare.]


Women Contest: (FINISHED! WINNER CHOSEN!) I have a copy of the Women album to give away. Write the best sentence you can using the word "women" (keep it clean, this is a family blog) and leave it in the comments on this post. I will judge the winner by the next time I post, which won't be before Tuesday next week, and I will award the album then. The winner gets to choose either vinyl or CD.

Have a nice weekend!

Posted by Dan at 12:57 PM | Comments (39)

June 26, 2008

Said the Guests: The Whiskers

Thom Stylinski is the mad master genius behind The Whiskers. On the records, he sounds like he's 7' tall, gaunt like an undertaker and with eyes like laser beams, or tractor beams. He's with us today to talk about some music.

Hi! I tried to think of a theme that connects three or four songs in an elegant sum-greater-than-parts way, but that's stupid so here are three songs I was humming at work today.

Jesse Stiles - "Places"

Jesse Stiles totally knows how everything works; it's easy. It can't be any more complicated than some sort of configuration of sticks and wheels and boxes, wires and electricity. Taking advantage of that concept, he makes music with lots of gizmos and contraptions, and then, taking advantage of his groovy brain, sings shit like: "Everywhere I've ever been, it was always bigger than me, because somewhere smaller than I am is the worst place I could be." It's lines like that that turn hums into words.
Jesse does the odd live DJ-dance-guy thing and is the only live DJ-dance-guy that makes me want to dance. His website is and his new record is coming out soon and I think it is a picture disc, which is one of my favorite types of discs.

Hot Gurl Party - "Hot Gurl Party Signs Your Yearbook"

Hot Gurl Party totally hate me. There are three members and I have spent time with all of them and they definitely don't like me, personally, as a human, yet I STILL listen to their music, because the beats are frickyfresh and the bass is tubular and the vox are singscreamed with complete indifference to the microphone and its function. This yearbook song here was twice as long when it debuted on stage, and it was glorious, but because HGP hate me, they cut it in half on the album. They have a myspace but they don't write, record, or perform anymore. The three members each have other bands but they only last a few weeks. Their album is really great but the case is covered in glitter and it gets on your hands and clothes and all over all your other CDs and it makes you think, "oh now what the hell."

Burl Ives - "The Donut Song"

Burl Ives is totally mental. This is, I guess, a children's song, which would usually indicate a happy or sad-then-happy story housing simplistic lyrics and themes, but Burl, dude, what the cuss are you talking about? I've had a few conversations about this song and its "watch the donut, not the hole" mantra, attempting to relate it to some deep philosophy or something. All those discussions lead to only one conclusion: He's actually just telling all the kids to literally look at things that ARE things, and to NOT look at things that AREN'T REALLY things.

Let's all hum more songs more often in more places thanks.



(Previous guest-blogs: Silver Jews, artist Ariel Kitch, artist Aaron Sewards, artist Corinne Chaufour, "Jean Baudrillard", artist Danny Zabbal, artist Irina Troitskaya, artist Eleanor Meredith, artist Keith Greiman, artist Matthew Feyld, The Weakerthans, Parenthetical Girls, artist Daria Tessler, Clem Snide, Marcello Carlin, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Drew Heffron, Carl Wilson, artist Tim Moore, Michael Nau (Page France), Devin Davis, Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Hello Saferide, Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi), Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Dan at 10:45 AM | Comments (3)

June 25, 2008

On Faith in Song

The Soul Stirrers - "Until Then"

The Soul Stirrers stir the soul, sure, despite the dubious premise on which their music rests: that life on earth is but a meantime, an insignificant, if sometimes inhospitable, expanse on a road to blissful eternity. They do this with their voices - floating untethered from their mouths - and with their faith, which is neatly demonstrated by their modest wants: just that god give them the strength and courage to wait "until then," until they ascend off of this "sinful earth." If god does exist, these men must have his ear; and if not, well, they certainly have ours, thank god.


Posted by Jordan at 5:51 PM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2008

It's Mine Land Mine

Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers - "Little Bitty Pretty One"

This background choir is exactly the sound of opening a love note in class. [Buy]

Chet - "By Night into Paradise"

A purple velvet curtain around a mining town. Like 20 feet high, made of a nice clean heavy velvet, thick and lush, and when sun edges it, it's shine is purple. And when you open it up, inside it's northern Alberta. Suddenly the gaudy cars, with giant suspensions and truck nuts, the regular people trying to get paid as much they can and get the hell out, the insane infrastructure that manifests when that happens, it's all suddenly part of the show. Not so unnerving to look at, or moreso, depending. But listening to the sound of it, that's very easy. It's easy listening. [Buy from Scratch]

[Image: Timothy J. Gattie, of Boise, ID]

Posted by Dan at 4:34 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2008


The Instruments - "Papillon". On a hot day, butterflies begin to rust. I first noticed this on the day that Anabelle left me. I was sitting on the patio with a lemonade. The sky was grey, like a cat. I was thinking about what I would do, now that she was gone. I would have so much free time. I was wearing my red baseball cap, the one she hated. The lemonade had gin in it. I could feel it moving in slow motion down my throat and around my stomach. The cars had their windows rolled up. I couldn't remember what days of the week I was supposed to go to work. I couldn't remember where I kept my keys. I couldn't remember the phone numbers of any of my friends. The only thing I could remember was the deep tenor of her voice, the way she used to say my name, before she left me. I watched a butterfly waft up, flutter, settle on the railing. Then it didn't move. I noticed it must have rusted. That must have been what happened; rusted, on a hot day. I kept waiting to know for sure.


Posted by Sean at 1:25 PM | Comments (6)

June 20, 2008


Water tower in Clanton, AL

Babe, Terror - "Nasa, Goodbye". A "Glasgow kiss" is when you take a pint glass in one hand and them smash it into someone's mouth. A "French kiss" is when you kiss someone on the lips and then tongues become involved. And a "Brazilian kiss", well, I don't know. This is a song from Sao Paulo. Maybe it can teach me something. I take my notepad, like a student. I close my eyes. I imagine strolling down Teodoro Sampaio Street, sky the colour of roses. Cars rush by in glints. I meet someone. She smells of mint. I kiss her on the lips and then we become untethered, floating. Our lips separate. I'll never see her again. I am drawn upward - past hot trees, lampposts, into the rose sky. Past car-horns, yowling cats, the sounds of riots and love-making. I'm brought up past the smog, to where the satellites spin. We rush by in glints.

[Babe, Terror is from Sao Paulo. His first EP will be released later this year. Myspace.]

Diamonds - "The Waking". The first half of this pep talk is draped in felt. It's greys, browns, taupes, like the singer of the sermon thinks it has to be the blues to be taken seriously. "Are you finding what you're seeking?" he asks, "Or coming back with empty hands?" But the lesson here is one of go and now, of climb and cheer - of bright, good things, the stuff of golds, whites, reds, greens. Not of felt. The felt is just modestness. And before long Diamonds throw off their Little Wings-y guise and take up something closer to Jon Rae & the River: they toss off their cowls and show all the glitter round their eyes.

[Diamonds are the band of Popsheep's Jay. It's a great record and a free download.]


Oh, ye of Montreal! Don't miss the Youjsh, free at Parc des Ameriques on Saturday (6pm); they're like Duke Ellington in Budapest. Adam & the Amethysts are playing at 8pm on Sunday. They need no more introduction from us - but this will be their formal Montreal debut.

Finally, there is a fantastic concert happening here on Wednesday, June 25, which may have gone unnoticed in all the summer rush. White Hinterland (formerly Casey Dienel), with Tuneyards (of Sister Suvi), and Little Scream. Little Scream debuted last night (at Fringe Pop), with a really terrific set of quietly noisy, phosphorescent songs; Tuneyards holler desires over loops of uke; and White Hinterland were one of Said the Gramophone's invited guests at Pop Montreal 2007. Not to miss. $10.

[photo is of a water tower in Clanton, Alabama]

Posted by Sean at 12:41 PM | Comments (8)

June 19, 2008

Falsetto Grinds to Growl

Wild Beasts - "She Purred While I Grrred"

These two, newly married children, practically, stared each other down as they made their way down dirt roads, winding roads. An unlikely pair, absolutely. Like a fox and a swan, a mailman and a guard dog, apples and ketchup, nothing about them matched. Their stares met in the air between their eyes, met and flatly stopped. Regular just-got-married music played bubbly out of the stereo, but louder still was the gritting of their respective teeth, a mixture of hatred, stress, sexual withdrawal symptoms, and the kind of regret specific usually to ordering a bad meal at a restaurant. But for the rest of your life. They hurtled and rocked over swaying hilly roads towards their new home. A marital spaceship, their lives now scheduled to be spent in space, researching alien rock deposits and charting planetary formations of orbital bodies. Moons and asteroidal debris, real boring stuff. Together. Alone. Eternity. The sex and whatever opera CDs they had being the only thing to make it at all worthwhile. [Buy from Domino uk]

King Khan and The Shrines - "Land of the Freak"

In this montage sequence, we'll show our hero campaigning and winning the election. He'll be putting up posters, going to meet all sorts of clubs and organizations, shaking hands, posing for pictures, making speeches, phone calls, public statements. All while casting an eye to the object of his affection, who insists on taking no notice whatsoever. [Buy]


and like someone stealing the place you were going to play in scrabble, see Wild Beasts' "Devil's Crayon" at Fluxblog. Matthew, however, has been championing Wild Beasts since 2006.

Posted by Dan at 3:30 PM | Comments (3)

June 18, 2008

Blue and Grey

Richie Havens - "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

The Band approaches "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" - a song about the sadness of the South in the final throes and aftermath of the Civil War - as if they themselves were the vanquished. Levon Helm plays drums and sings in character, as defeated and phlegmatic as he can manage without falling behind the tempo, which he constantly threatens to do. Richie Havens, on the other hand, slows the song down and drives through it with his powerful strumming. There's no wistfulness in Havens's telling of the South's defeat, but nor is there irony in his sympathetic portrayal of the song's Confederate protagonist. We might assume that Havens, a black Yankee, was pleased with the outcome of the Civil War, but in his steady hands and generous voice, "Dixie" is ungloating. More than that, it's an appreciation of the land and heat that still make up so much of his country.


Posted by Jordan at 6:05 PM | Comments (2)

June 17, 2008


random polaroid of sunglasses and cloud

The Secret Life of Sofia - "Nanda Devi". This song description is an abridged version of the Nanda Devi Wikipedia entry as of early on Tuesday, June 17, 2008.

Nanda Devi is the second and the highest. It is Bliss-Giving Goddess, two-peaked, east-west. Twin in myth and folklore. The interior is Sanctuary - Glacier, Glacier, Glacier, Glacier, Glacier. All of these glaciers are located within the Sanctuary. The arduous exploration of the Sanctuary is deep, very difficult to traverse. Hugh Ruttledge attempted three times in the 1930s and failed each time. In a letter to The Times he wrote that 'Nanda Devi imposes on her votaries an admission test as yet beyond their skill and endurance'. Attempts were made from 1965 to 1968 to listen [to] Nanda Devi, but an avalanche disappeared. Fragile firewood ... humankind.

[buy, with lovely limited edition artwork]

Coldplay - "Strawberry Swing". I met a girl this weekend who wore a cotton candy perfume. "I bought it in grade six," she said, "and it's still the only scent I ever get comments on. A two-dollar bottle of cotton candy." We expect the finest sweetnesses to be the sophisticated, expensive ones: the $400 bottle of Chanel, the Provence holiday, the lavender chocolate cake, the mountain-top necking, the euphoric moment at the end of the free-jazz show. When sometimes it's the Coldplay song, easy as anything, limply lyricked, beautifully recorded, with twists of raspberry guitar and the glimmer of strings, with clap and tumble and all the yes of that moment you were standing together and without saying anything she turned to you and put her lips to your cheek. [buy Coldplay's second-best album]

[photo source unknown]

Posted by Sean at 2:25 PM | Comments (12)

June 16, 2008

La Tendresse Piquante

The Grates - "Burn Bridges"

Going through your life is like brushing your waist-length hair in front of a mirror. Each year is a stroke of the brush, they mostly start at the root and work their way out to the ends. Some are spent working out a knot, but that's not the point I'm making. This song feels so familiar, like I've lived this enjoyment before, this hot summer-starting leaping enjoyment. The familiarity is so strong that I get nervous that I'm somehow being unoriginal by enjoying this song, as if I ought not to enjoy the same kind of thing twice, or perhaps that I ought to outgrow old tastes for something more...old? Anyway, that's silly, I'm just working over my same old taste, I'm combing through it, but it's still the same head of hair. And that decided, I can admit loud and clear and proud wild; this song is amazing. It's huge, it gallops, it jumps up and down in one place, jumps up and down and up and down.

[This is a rip from the MySpace]
[Buy old stuff]


Also: The Montreal Fringe Festival is going on right now. There are a bunch of interesting shows going on, lots to see, but if I had to recommend something to you, I have a few in mind. There's an improvised one featuring Sean Michaels called "Argument With A Dolphin", and there are two featuring me, one called "Blastback Babyzap", in which I have merely a cameo, and one called "Telegrams", which is a rotating program of short films, in which a film I made is included. The links provide showtimes etc because there's too much information to list in this tangent. If you live in Montreal, do consider it.

Posted by Dan at 4:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2008



Kasai Allstars - "Quick As White". I like magic. I have always liked magic. I like the magic of wardrobes, opals, old groves, secret passages. I remember the disappointment I felt one morning, age 7 or 8, realising I would never touch a magic sword. There's even some magic in the book I'm writing (and there's magic in most of the favourite books I've read). The magic of my childhood, the magic I still listen for at the trunks of willows or in the cries of birds, was a northerly magic. I was born in Scotland and came of age in Canada; of course it was a northerly magic. I did not dream of wizards in Africa, of their spells under stars. And yet, so strangely -- this is the sound of magic. This song, here: the most fiercely magic sound I have ever heard.

There are drums and voices, and electric guitars in shades of fizzy starlight; there are thumb-pianos like light in lamps; there are bells, sticks, shakes, slips, and a hundred kinds of glimmers. Though the Kasai Allstars are from Kinshasa, Congo, and this is the third in Crammed's Congotronics series, the Kasai Allstars are not some mere Konono no. 2. They are sorcerers, wonder-workers, enchanters pulling hopes from throats and making me wonder, here in Montreal sun, if maybe one day I will touch a magic sword.

"Quick as White" is from an album titled In the 7th moon, the chief turned into a swimming fish and ate the head of his enemy by magic.



My friend, hip-hop head Jay Smooth, will be talking in New York tomorrow along with Ze Frank and the Sound of Young America's Jesse Thorn. It would be a wonderful way to spend a late afternoon.

[photo source]

Posted by Sean at 12:31 PM | Comments (5)

June 12, 2008

Said the Guests: Silver Jews

Next Tuesday, June 17th, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea by Silver Jews will be released on Drag City Records. It's an incredible album, it might be Silver Jews at their best, or perhaps maybe their best-dressed. It's album with made with true love, out of moments and truths and tall wild tales. We're presenting today an interview with David Berman; one of the best poets and songwriters of my whole life.


Said the Gramophone: Your poems and songs feel like very different creatures. How do you know what ought to be a poem and what ought to be a song? Do certain stories or feelings lend themselves to one form over the other?

David C. Berman: I think you're imagining the writing process inside out. The text doesn't arrive out of thin air. It's brought forward in the modus operandi. You're either writing a poem or writing a song. If I am in a song writing consciousness, it is a mode I am in for days or weeks, and while in that mode I try to let everything roll as closely by that unfinished song as possible. It is kind of like eyeballing a conveyor belt in your mind.

If I were to set out to write a good-sized poem, I'd "be looking at" anywhere from 5-10 days with no other mental commitments.

StG: David Lynch doesn't put "chapters" in his DVDs, because he doesn't want to encourage watching his movies in parts. If this is true, he probably has a very certain idea about how his movies "ought" to be experienced, which I think is a totally reasonable part of the process of creating a whole piece of art. Is there a certain way you imagine as the best way to experience this album?

DCB: Hmm. I think it has to be heard more times than other albums for it's wholeness to come out.

I'm thinking of records with "Play Loud" or "meant to be played loud" somewhere on the artwork. It always seemed a tinge futile. My feeling was always something like, "no, i will not play you loud".

I could print "Absorb Intently for Long Time Before Re-selling" on my products, but I'm afraid of pushing others around..

StG: Could you tell me about one of your favourite songs - by someone else? A song that evokes for you very strongly a story, a memory or a feeling?

DCB: I was just in Britain and I was thinking about that Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall", how I always hated it as a kid because the guys who liked Pink Floyd and AC/DC and whoever, were the worst people on the landscape. Anyway, I was a very shy kid, and I was completely intimidated by these assholes who were anywhere from 15-18 when I was 10-13, and i would find their campfires in the forest after they were gone. So anyway I didn't like this song especially for the sentiment "hey teacher, leave that kid alone", which struck me as a dirtbag bias against school, an element that has firmly taken root in redneck culture since then. My inner attitude was "shut up pink floyd. You don't speak for me. I want to learn."

I also despised my sister's 45 of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya think im sexy" for being mispelled.

StG: When I listen to "Candy Jail", I imagine the song's hero is innocent, but still appreciative of how nice the jail is. This isn't really a question, I guess, but it's there if you want to respond to it.

DCB: I guess he seems like me and most of the people i know who recognize the unhealthiness and emptiness of pop culture but make a silent deal with themselves to indulge in their own gluttonies anyway, while waiting around for things to change. The friend who died was perhaps unwilling to wait around unashamedly.

thanks daniel.

best wishes, DCB

[Pre-Order Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea]

(Previous guest-blogs: artist Ariel Kitch, artist Aaron Sewards, artist Corinne Chaufour, "Jean Baudrillard", artist Danny Zabbal, artist Irina Troitskaya, artist Eleanor Meredith, artist Keith Greiman, artist Matthew Feyld, The Weakerthans, Parenthetical Girls, artist Daria Tessler, Clem Snide, Marcello Carlin, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Drew Heffron, Carl Wilson, artist Tim Moore, Michael Nau (Page France), Devin Davis, Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Hello Saferide, Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi), Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Dan at 12:19 PM | Comments (5)

June 11, 2008


My Morning Jacket - "If All Else Fails"

In many respects, My Morning Jacket have improved since their first album, 1999's The Tennessee Fire. The production on that album is muddled and scratchy, whereas their latest recording, this year's Evil Urges, is as perspicuous and loud as a bachelor is an unmarried man. On their first record, missed notes and wobbly tempos litter the songs, though neither fault is anywhere to be found on the band's latest. But as MMJ have honed their skills, progressed unrelentingly toward the realization of their vision - let's call it indie-arena-Southern-rock - casualties have been left in the wake. One such loss is that of tenderness, which can be heard so clearly - despite the dubious production - on this song from the band's debut. Listen, for instance, to the ritardando into the chorus, and then to the delicate step up as Jim James sings the song's title, his voice breaking up amid the ghostly reverberations of his bandmates' vocal backing.


Posted by Jordan at 5:56 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2008

Are Those Clothes or Sweat Towels?

The Slickers - "Johnny Too Bad"

I can't pretend to understand Johnny Too Bad. But this singer doesn't understand him either, that's for sure. This song would never get through to Johnny. It's like a cloud come down from a bright blue sky to just relax on an old lawn chair in front of a roti shop, before heading back up for the rest of the day. It's like that grinning head-shake that says no-no-no but means yes-yes-yes, go-man-go. If anything, it's enabling Johnny. This is a song sung after Johnny is long gone, long lost, it's an expression of grief. But perhaps that's all we can do for Johnny. Eulogize him. Johnny, you're too bad. [buy]

Destroyer - "Canadian Lover/Falcon's Escape"

In my backyard it's 1999, and this is the best song that's ever been written. It plays loud into the air thick as cake batter, it plays the sun right out of the sky, it plays the take-off to another night in August-and-a-half. It plays like proof, pudding, prayer. [buy Thief from Misra]


to anyone coming from betterpropaganda, hello.

Posted by Dan at 5:19 AM | Comments (1)

June 9, 2008


Image by Tove Jansson

We/Or/Me - "Tell Sarah". This weekend in Montreal was sweltering. At night it was the sort of heat that makes half-moons feel full. Musically, there are two ways to cope with weather like this. You can listen & dance to sparkly summertime jams, barbecue cooking... or you can do as We/Or/Me do, as they did when I first heard "Aimless Day" three years ago. "Aimless Day" has just been reissued on the Ghostwriter EP (listen here), along with "Tell Sarah" and three other slices of dusk. We/Or/Me are a wondrous group - not just for the restraint and care of their songwriting, but also for the way these songs are recorded, slow and breathing. "Tell Sarah" glows, just of itself, like fireflies in a jar. [highly recommended - buy]

Sibylle Baier - "Tonight".
Sibylle Baier - "I Lost Something In The Hills".
Sibylle Baier - "Wim".

And this stillness brings me to Sibylle Baier, an artist who had made it into my peripheral vision but never further, until A sent me some songs. I wasn't just struck - I was smitten. Orange Twin sent me the record and now I'm not sure which is more flabbergasting - what a stunning album this is, or how little attention it received. It's an artifact, a locket, a lake; it's so many shades of melancholy; it's one of the most startling records to cross my desk in ages, and its songs linger long & long.

Sibylle Baier was a German actress (appearing in Wim Wenders' Alice in the Cities). Between 1970 and 1973 she recorded some songs on a home reel-to-reel machine. Then they were put away for more than 30 years, until Baier's son passed them to J Mascis and J Mascis passed them to Orange Twin, and the American indie label released Colour Green in 2006. And rather than attract the furore of Vashti Bunyan's Diamond Day, well - it didn't. Not very many people seem to have heard it, or of it. Bunyan's pretty album, and especially the very pretty "Diamond Day", became icons. But this - a better album, a stranger & more precious one, - seems to have languished. Never reviewed by Pitchfork or the New York Times, never sewn onto a million soft sleeves.

But this modest, captivating masterpiece should be in the collection of anyone with a taste for bedroom folksong. Colour Green is like a sister album to Leonard Cohen's Songs from a Room (a clear influence), and even Julie Doiron's Desormais (an impossible influence). And while the sadness of "Tonight" is at times almost deafening, there's elsewhere - as on "Wim", - a whimsy that recalls, say, the line drawings of James Thurber or Tove Jansson (see above). The spark at the heart of a lamp.

If you don't own Colour Green, you should buy it. I've shared three songs here in the hope that I can persuade you.

Sibylle seems to be working on new music.


Posted by Sean at 12:19 PM | Comments (8)

June 6, 2008

To Bits With You

Black Pus - "Land of the Lost"

When I used to be an actor on Degrassi Junior High (I never was) the on-set tutor taught me a lesson I'll never forget. Was it that blood is thicker than water? Yes. Was it the tawdry style of a black pleather mini-skirt and cream filk blouse? That too. But it was also, and only, that boring art is for geezers and wimps. I'm currently in training to start a graveyard shift, so I'm staying up as late as possible, and Black Pus is my private coach. With drums so pap-pappy that it seems like there are only skins left, and migraine guitars that are so needling it's like being stabbed in the ears with fondue forks, I'm left with only faint memories of actual pleasure and am left steeled to deal with the world that Black Pus has convinced me truly exists. I'm lost, beaten, brainwashed, I love it. [buy Black Pus 4]


Lovely Sparrows - "Prairie"

I'm sure I don't need to tell you the kind of pink pride and warm regularity that "Prairie" evokes. You can see it right there: power-saver bulbs, plastic singing bass, school photos, remembrance day poppies, cut-out articles about hockey, old glass art, and all that space, small as a closet and big as the sky. [not available yet]


[photo source]

Posted by Dan at 4:33 AM | Comments (3)

June 5, 2008


top-down Beatles

Young Coyotes - "Momentary Drowning". A song that's yell and thump but is still brilliantly slow - relaxed as it booms, as it dings and claps and bobs. Young Coyotes play this music like they've figured it out, like they've solved it. (The reason there are many bands who try to sound like this is that this sounds very good.) It's too early to tell if this is the kind of band that becomes a reason to go out at night, a reason to drive for hours, a reason to shell out bucks and stand in the sun. But it might be. They are young. Eighteen months from now we might all be standing around agog, like kids at a giant prayer meeting, faith-healed. All our denials rendered ridiculous: I can't be jaded because I am sodalite! I can't be drowning because I'm made of ice! I can't be in love because I'm unable! I can't be alone because my hands are clasped! Let's hope.

Denver's Young Coyotes are unsigned. [MySpace/blog]

Al Green - "Just For Me". Al lays it on a little thick, here. But it's refreshing - no, beautiful - to discover that the man can at 62 years old find just as much reason to, um, lay it on. That his heart's still just as big, just as sweet, just as pink and hungry. Me, I treat "Just For Me" not as a love song but as a toast: here's to this feeling and its persistence. [buy]


Montreal shows! There's a great one at Casa tonight (Thursday), as the Luyas play with Burial Song for $7.

With Suoni Per Il Popolo on this month, there are amazing gigs almost every June night. It's pretty wild. My highlights, trying to speak even half-reasonably: Greg Macpherson, Ravens & Chimes, Mt. Eerie (at Casa!), Vic Chesnutt + Silver Mt Zion, Sandro Perri, Tren Bros, Wyrd Visions, Retribution Gospel Choir, Free Fall, Frog Eyes and Shearwater, Adam & the Amethysts, White Hinterland and Tuneyards (!) on the 25th, Leonard Cohen (!!!)... ok i am going to get a headache. Also announced yesterday: BOBAN fuckin' MARKOVIC is coming with his 11-man band in July. (And we're not even talking October's Pop Montreal featuring Burt Bacharach accompanied by Julie Doiron and Final Fantasy, uh yet.) Phew. This is a nice place to live.

[my source of the top-down Beatles photo]

Posted by Sean at 3:10 AM | Comments (3)

June 4, 2008

Elastic Throat

Jerry Butler - "I'm A-Telling You"

Jerry Butler's not a-telling you anything you don't already know. The song's main refrain - "I'm a-tellin' you (whaaa)/I'm a-tellin' you" - sounds like a tautology, and the actual lyrics aren't much more informative. Butler presents a series of mundane gripes about the oppressiveness of capitalism, the work-a-day lifestyle, family responsibilities, etc., but manages to elevate these concerns from the prosaic to the epic. This is achieved in two ways: through Butler's theatrical, proto-soul vocals, which call to mind a deeper-voiced, less deep Sam Cooke; and, most of all, through guitar playing so sensitive, so unassumingly complementary, that you hardly notice it's there until someone asks you why you can't stop crying, why you won't answer the phone, why you haven't been to work in weeks, and you listen a little closer, discovering the answer: a skittering arpeggio on a quiet, warm guitar.


Posted by Jordan at 5:46 PM | Comments (2)

June 3, 2008



Women - "Cameras"

This band's name makes it awkward to talk about them, which I'm sure is intentional. Women are from Alberta. Women are men. Women made Women. It's a very interesting little record. Women decided to make it only 29 minutes long. But not in that "19 tracks in 18 minutes" bark punk kind of way. No, it's half songs half ambience, which is both very effective and inevitably a bit too clever. "Cameras" is the introduction to Women, and to Women. And it's pretty exciting. Only a minute long and I want to listen to more Women.

Women - "Black Rice"

One of the four straight-ahead songs on the album, Black Rice is easily, casually (like a runner strolling over the line) the best. It comes out of a track of 3 minutes of pink noise, and it's a gorgeous smooth ride in an air-suspension old car. One of those big old ones. Through the light on an old tree-lined street. The thumping clapping drum, the tubular (yes, I did) bass, the piano plinks, they're all kind of carrying you, they're happening, but not to you, you're just floating. You're growing.



Elsewhere: At McSweeney's, Walter Murch presents an article from 1896 written by a man reporting on what it's like to see a movie. It's completely marvelous, serious, fascinating, scary as hell.

Posted by Dan at 4:05 AM | Comments (3)

June 2, 2008


Geneva drive

Kleerup ft. Lykke Li - "Until We Bleed (ft. Lykke Li)".
Kleerup ft. Lykke Li - "Until We Bleed (Mikael Karlsson cello version)".
Kleerup ft. Lykke Li - "Until We Bleed (Warsawastudion remix)".

Gavin and Lucy loved each other so much that they threw all their luggage into the river. They drove with their suitcases and trunks to the riverbank and threw them all right in. "We'll never need anything except each other," said Lucy, and Gavin traced her lips with his thumb. That night they had a fight, screaming and slamming, and Lucy packed her things into garbage bags. They tore as she clattered down the stairs. As she stood on the sidewalk and waited for the taxi, Gavin called out the window. "Come back!" he yelled. "What?" she said, through the rain. "Come back!" She couldn't understand. She got in the taxi. The next night she came back. It was still raining. She dried her hair on the comforter.

[Kleerup's MySpace / more of composer Mikael Karlsson]

(image is of a Geneva drive)

Posted by Sean at 3:32 PM | Comments (3)