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, 2009

Tooth, Nail, and Makeshift Arrowhead

[credit: Bruce Davidson]

Dead Elephant Bicycle - "I Will Always Be"

The candles of my feet ache and singe the sore trunks of my legs. The path of my day glows like a translucent yellow band that I only need to follow. I can see it head first to the sink, I must need a glass of water. Then to the bathroom, must be a shower. Then back to the room, get dressed obviously, then out the door and down the front stairs. Mostly normal stuff the path leads to; post office, bank, pharmacy (right, I need paper towels). All day I follow perfectly the path, I can turn off my mind, I can think about other things, what a pleasure this path is, what a convenient turn of fortune. Until I find myself biking very far from my house, way to the north and very unfamiliar surroundings. My legs, now blackened with acid aches, bike on, following only the path. Maybe I need to meet someone way up here, or maybe I'm going to get my passport renewed, or maybe I'm supposed to take pictures in an industrial neighbourhood. And then the path twists under and up the other side of an underpass, and heads straight onto the highway. I pause. I don't have a car, and the path just stretches on as far as I can see, amongst the whizzing traffic of the highway. I follow the path. At the time I wondered why I was doing it. Now I know: I had no other objectives left. Nothing more important to do.

Dead Elephant Bicycle - "Drunken Child"

I followed the path for 8 days. After the first day on my bike, I realized I should be hitchhiking. It was amazing and poetic that even the people that were driving me would follow the path, every lane change, every pit stop, every drop off point, they followed it perfectly. Though I was afraid to actually mention it to them. I thought I would only say something if they deviated, but none of them did. One night I could see a strange pattern in the path in the distance, and as we approached it and slowed down, I realized that would be me having sex. I was more embarrassed that the path was 'watching' me have sex, I didn't enjoy it. The next day, she drove me into town, and it was sunny and hot and we got ice cream and walked on the dirt road. Then the path lead to a man selling glasses, and I tried on a pair of yellow tinted lenses. And everything looked yellow I couldn't tell the path from anything else. It disappeared. It felt terrible, horrible, and also totally liberating, like having your legs cut off and replaced with a pair of wings. I spent an hour or so debating the choice, I told the girl I was with all about it and she laughed and said the choice was obvious. I don't wear the glasses anymore, obviously, but sometimes I wonder if I'll run across the path again, and whether I'd be drawn to it.


(thank you again, Moss Bailey)

Posted by Dan at 12:18 AM | Comments (4)

June 29, 2009


photo of Michael Jackson, modified by abduzeedo

Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean (demo)".


After Michael Jackson died
the first thing he learned
was quiet.
His spirit slipped lightly from his body
It was as light as he had dreamed of being for
like diamonds, grass pollen,
the dust that sits on mirrored surfaces.

His spirit slipped like steam from a kettle's spout.
Briefly he thought of his grandmother,
and he wondered if he would see her soon,
now that he was dead,
now that his spirit was being lifted
and as he saw the doctor from Las Vegas leaning over his body, pushing at his old bones, at his chest, at the muscles he had earned this spring under silver machines, he saw himself as beautiful; strange but beautiful; in sunglasses.
It was so quiet.
Like the desert
Like honeymoon mornings
He was lifted up out of the bedroom and the house, and he could not hear the chattering televisions nor Frank's pleading shouts, nor the water lapping at the 50-foot swimming pool. He could not hear the sounds he had heard for the past forty years: cars starting, flashbulbs, photographers' patent leather voices; clink and praise from men in expensive suits, sipping from straws.

At the rehearsals
the music had been so loud,
so loud!
like monsters roaring
and the dancers strutting, leering,
Michael so old and so heavy
raising his feet and putting them down
on the floor.
Now Michael was lifted away from the house and the city and he learned quiet.
He re-learned quiet.
A lesson he had forgotten.
He thought of the leaf he had watched once in the window at Neverland
he had watched it do nothing
but be.


After Michael Jackson died
the second thing he learned
was remorse.

At the moment his spirit was lifted
through the veil of cloud and atom
that separates Los Angeles
from other realms,
God came to Michael.
He came like a season.
Michael saw signs, tremblings, promises in wind
and then God was there
raining through him
and so inconceivably large.
God touched the bottom of Michael Jackson's heart
the place where it shivers
and God showed Michael Jackson
everything he found there.
Every shadow pellet and lie and dark marble of sin,
and every half-sin,
broken promises, professional betrayals, deliberate acts of neglect,
that time with the glass ashtray
& in 1989 with the little knife
someone had left out
because although nothing really happened
something small had happened
and God saw.
God showed these things to Michael Jackson.
God showed even the worst things, the things no one understood, not the tabloids nor the courts, the sugary tarry seconds with boys whose names reminded Michael Jackson
of baloney sandwiches.
God slipped these mistakes from Michael Jackson's shivering spirit heart
& he turned them in the dark
so Michael Jackson would see.

Michael Jackson's mistakes flickered and gleamed.

And for an instant that lasted ten thousand years he felt the exactly sufficient amount of remorse
because God is a capable mathematician
when it comes to remorse.


After Michael Jackson died
the third thing he learned
was everything he had never known.
He passed through the purgatory of justice & regret & forgiveness and passed into somewhere else
where he donned a fedora
and a glitter glove
and the world was presented to him in balletic montages
images painted on velvet
messages painted in green June leaves.
Every truth and mystery revealed.
He had lain in bed at night, alone or with others, with friends, with people he loved or strained to love,
and laying stilly his heart had bucked and leapt
had dreamed of answers:
Why did he feel so alone?
Why still did he feel so alone?
Why still still did he feel so alone?
Stilly he dreamed of answers.

Now, behatted, beglitter gloved, all these answers came streaming in hungry undeniable technicolour veracity. Michael Jackson relinquished himself to them. He understood why he had felt so alone, still & still still felt so alone. He understood why his father had hated him. He understood Tito's gift, and Janet's loss, and his own greatest mistake. He understood his willowy love, why Lisa Marie had said the things she said in precisely the way she said them. He understood why he had seen his father's face in the mirror. Michael Jackson understood what had made him so special, for a handful of years in the history of human beings; understood the magic of the moonwalk, of a wild, free "Woo!"; of grabbing your crotch and dancing like a switchblade, a salmon, a moonbeam. He understood that "Billie Jean" was not a song about paternity but instead about bassline, thrust, a certain neon yearning. He understood the liberated
of his childhood songs, the worlds concealed in his boyhood choruses, wants he found words for, even then, before he knew what such wants could be, before he knew the meaning of "darling!", back in the days where he still thought he would find this, find "darling!", before he had given up, turned instead to monkeys and children, to dandelion joys; he understood that lust lasts, that it does not go away just by drinking cold water and eating apricots and chewing tiny white pills; nor by sleeping; and he understood who killed JFK, what killed Elvis, understood finally the stuff those engineers had told him about the "Smooth Criminal" shoe patent, exactly the way the mechanism worked, not just how to use it but how it worked! so simple and so genius!; and Michael Jackson learned how if he had not been a singer and dancer he could have been an award-winning zoologist, would have in this other life worked at Northwestern University, and been happy, but still lost, a little lost, and he would have died in a car accident at age 46, four years ago, in this other life, and never have been married; but Michael Jackson learned as well that it was no use to think What If.

He learned that Uri Geller was a scam artist, and Dr Tohme Tohme was a scam artist, and that Leonard Muhammad and Shmuley Boteach knew scarcely of God;
He learned that he had a true gift;
He learned that the best song he had ever recorded was "I Want You Back", and that his new album, the one with T-Pain and Will.I.Am, was not very good.
Michael Jackson learned everything, he learned the whole universe, became wise as a sage, as the wisest sage
looking upon a garden
knowing the name of every flower

and then he ascended to Paradise.


After Michael Jackson died
the fourth thing
he learned


He arrived at the place
where the dead go
when they are ready.

By the time Michael Jackson
he knew everything
and so he did not hesitate;
he came in
where it is safe &
and he felt the things you feel
in paradise.

He looked down upon the Earth and saw his sons, his daughter, his friends;
all of his friends. He
did not want them to be
maybe a little bit; but
just a little bit.)
But when they were done their mourning
he wanted his beloveds to
be so
happy, so
& he knew now that they would be
and that the probably is all right.
He saw his mother weeping and
he dispatched angels to
let her stop.
He did not think of his father.
Not in paradise.

Michael Jackson saw a million people playing "Bad" and "ABC" and "The Way You Make Me Feel", all over the world, in river towns and desert towns, skyscrapers and huts
and he saw them moonwalking and
doing the robot
under the stars.
John Lennon came out to see Michael Jackson.
"Hello," he said;
Michael Jackson had always liked English accents.
John Lennon was not angry about all that publishing rights stuff because he was dead and Michael Jackson was dead and both of them understood everything now.
They watched the people of the world doing the robot.
"Nice one," said John Lennon.
James Brown came out too. And Sammy Davis Jr. And even Louis Armstrong
for some reason
and they hung out for a while
watching humankind
sing lyrics like, "the doggone girl is mine",
or "darling!"
all of these late entertainers understanding how much these elegies matter
and how little.
In time he broke away from the famous men
and went in among the others
in paradise
to dwell. And at this point Michael Jackson was
no longer
who he was
(nor was he a child:
he was something freely
released from certain shapes & sizes
to live
as he is)

also he could fly
and turn into a switchblade
or a salmon
or a moonbeam;
or into a whole season
a whole summer of sidewalk glitz and starlit yes
for the world to inhabit
all of us loving and singing and dancing
and not knowing that this is Michael Jackson
in whom we are thriving
and making out
and inhaling the smell of mock orange blossoms.

(Michael Jackson is here
and he can still move
like he has figured out
the secret
of it.)

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 2:00 PM | Comments (54)

June 26, 2009

Abbott City


Chet - "The Night The Night"

CRACK and a thousand documentary filmmakers set off to find the real Michael Jackson. CRACK and a slough (slew?) of tasteless jokes arc in the air like sad toilet paper rolls. CRACK and everyone in the room looks down at their stomachs, to their 8-year-old stomachs and there in their hands is a vinyl of 'Bad' and not a shred of the last twenty years. You change the subject, force yourself to think about something else, people die all the time. And they do. And movies and art and music and money will be made out of all this. I love Chet tonight, it's a beautiful crackling excuse not to have an opinion on anything. [Pre-order]


So Michael Jackson has died. I can't write about Michael Jackson, though, I'm not nearly schooled enough, I would much rather write about Chet. But I did mention him back in May (amazing song still up, for those looking to hear memories) and Sean mentioned him, it seems unknowingly, yesterday.

Posted by Dan at 11:50 AM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2009


Blue and green optical illusion

Discovery - "It's Not My Fault (It's My Fault)". Discovery's debut album, LP, initially appears to be a masterpiece. Its surges, snaps and blips press all my juicy summer buttons, recalling Len, Miracle Fortress and (inevitably) Daft Punk's Discovery. But this enchanted team-up between Vampire Weekend's secret genius Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles is utterly undone by Miles's vocals. Many songs wither under repeated listens, or in some cases even under first listens - because while Miles at different times recalls everyone from Harry Nilsson to Antony to to Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal) to Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), he always sounds like a twerp. A song like "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" is an R&B pop marvel - that loses every bit of sizzle in its anemic verses. I'm certain this is an issue of choice, not of talent, but it's a fatal misstep. Irony does not trump sincerity, here. (See: R. Kelly.) Discovery's delicious, AutoTune-strewn cover of the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" becomes nearly unlistenable as MJ's liberated sing is replaced with Miles's nerd croon. I become physically sad when I imagine what these jubilant chemical productions could be, with someone else's voice on top - imagine Jay-Z, Bjork, Sam Cooke, Jay Reatard surfing these songs' lead edges, all strut and bling. (And as much as I like Ezra Koenig within the context of Vampire Weekend, he is not the answer.)

Nevertheless, rejoice!, rejoice!, on "It's Not My Fault", the song works, the whole song works - dancefloor-smooved, with kevlar snaps and testtube bells. Miles (allegedly sharing vocals with Batmanglij) sand your edges, clear your heart for debris, leave you soapstone-smooth and ready for the June-time glitter. The song's wry, faux-frustration reminds me of a series of cold drinks on a hot terrasse, julep after julep, and every time my girlfriend brings me another I just spill it out on the sidewalk, watch the caterpillars crawl across the icecubes.

[website/MySpace - write and hire them for your mega-major-label hip-hop/pop/r&b project, to make me happy]

The Lifted Brow's Ronnie Scott has interviewed Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) for MBV. It's a great, funny conversation, fuel for Mercer-crushes, yes. "My wife loves Devin the Dude. My father made her a mixed CD of his greatest hits for her birthday. Whatever bauble I had purchased her paled in comparison to this sonic gift."

You have until Sunday to enter our Royal City contest!

(A note on the optical illusion above: what look like blue and green spirals are in fact spirals of the same colour! Yes! Believe it! I checked!)

Posted by Sean at 4:25 PM | Comments (10)

June 24, 2009


Asthmatic Kitty's recent decision to issue a b-sides compilation for Royal City was one of my favourite pieces of news this year. This Guelph, Ontario band (I don't get to say that very often) are one of Canada's all-time great indie groups, but due to the modesty, restraint and burnished gold of their folk-rock sound, they never received their due. (Let's put it this way - celebrating Arcade Fire just pre-Funeral, it's Royal City I compared them to.) I'm so glad to have a label like Asthmatic Kitty - American! critically acclaimed! Sufjan! - singing their praises, trying to teach a few more people about what we all took for granted.

Royal City folded after 2004's Little Heart's Ease, and their original label, Three Gut, packed it in the following year. That was the last time I wrote substantively about Royal City (I've just put those songs back online), and we had Guelph's own Tim Kingsbury, now of Arcade Fire, write an epitaph too. (By the way, I've changed my mind about Royal City's Alone at the Microphone, which I sneered at here. It's a great record.)

Okay okay, but even more hoorayingly, Asthmatic Kitty's Royal City comp is gorgeous. The most beautiful CD object I've seen in ages, weird & different, made with thick board and metallic ink, and utterly worth purchasing whether you're an old fan or new. Obviously, the music is great - you can stream the whole thing at MBV. But we're also celebrating the album's release in even greater style, with a Said the Gramophone give-away. (MBV and Chromewaves are doing them too.)

Up for grabs is one set of Royal City art-prints, part of a hand-numbered series of 30. These giclee prints are 6 1/2" x 6 1/2", archival ink on 310gsm German Etching stock. They are beautiful. Ryan Catbird made them with the help of Three Gut founders Lisa Moran and Tyler Clarke Burke, and used Tyler's original artwork from all three formal Royal City releases, 2000’s At Rush Hour The Cars, 2001’s Alone At The Microphone, and 2004’s Little Heart's Ease. Most of these sets went to the band and label, but one will go to our readers.

Royal City art prints

To win our set of prints, listen to the songs below and tell us (in the comments) what we should have put beside [at least] one of them, instead of that boring release info. The contest closes 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 28. Thanks to Ryan for organising all this.

Royal City - "I Called But You Were Sleeping" (b-side, reissued on 1999-2004)
Royal City - "Cabbage Rolls" (from Little Heart's Ease)

[Buy Royal City, 1999-2004.]

(ps: happy st-jean baptiste!)

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (25)

June 23, 2009

Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns - "Tonight"

Tonight I held your parents in grey wrinkly arms in the hand-drawn graveyard, and held my breath. Tonight, I kissed a bit of beer into your mouth. Tonight, I raked money into piles, warmed my tired feet while it burned. Tonight, gift-logic reigned supreme, saved the planet from a near-disaster. Tonight there lay candles on the runway, candles in the clothes, candles in the cameras, candles in the food. Tonight was Beast, pure Beast. Tonight forgot who it was, left the wrong mad message in the wrong damn place. I'm going out tonight, and I'm going out with tonight. A small supper and a pre-drink is my hot hot boyfriend.

Smith Westerns - "Diamond Boys"

M'lady likes a cold bath in the fresh air of dawn. Dried with cotton and fed strawberries, I was once caught peeking at her porcelain flesh. I was beaten severely, but no amount of heavy blows could rid the image from my mind. I spent the next week cleaning grime traps in the corners of the kitchen, all the while smiling, thinking of the way she gasped when she spied my wandering glance. I know the beating was a formality, something she felt she had to do for the sake of appearances. We'll be together one day. I could find myself on an errand in the far wing of the library when she's studying her scripture. I could bring her extra lemon water for her lunch of bread and flowers. I could break open her bedroom window in the sludge of the night and steal her away. It's only a matter of time, we'll be together. And my young lips will grace her vile beauty with their passing.
Then I will be king.

[Buy Buy Buy now now now]

Posted by Dan at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2009


Photo source unknown

Unknown artist - "Unknown song" [I call it "Say Yes (Fashionable Matador)"], from David Barclay's CD of found Taiwanese tunes.

The fashionable matador is the talk of Taiwan. He arrived on a sky-blue yacht, standing on the prow. He is tall, but not too tall; broad, but not too broad. He has dusky eyes and thick eyebrows. The fashionable matador walks as if parts of him are oaken - steadying, strong. Other parts instead seem made of rope, or soapstone, or man. His matador outfit is at once classic and modern, with velvet epaulets, sequins, sunglasses. He has a five o'clock shadow and it is only eleven in the morning. He sits eating scrambled eggs in a Taipei square and the girls gather around him, silent, hands clutched to chests, wondering how quickly he can kill a bull.

(photo origins unknown)

Posted by Sean at 1:11 PM | Comments (5)

June 19, 2009

Wendy Myth

I haven't seen her in ages. We used to go out in high school, but a lot has changed since then. I'm married now, I've got Jared, who she's never met, and I weigh a bunch more (ha ha). I've found myself guessing what she's like now, I picture her face on a slightly taller body with a bit more wrinkles. She was funny, like a bit crazy, she would make weird sounds and motions with her hands. But I liked her a lot, and I'm thinking about her. Why do I keep thinking about her? I feel like I shouldn't, but it doesn't matter, I'll just go watch her band and say hello and we'll chat about our lives and that'll be it. But I keep thinking about what seeing her will be like. What will her band sound like? Maybe like soft folk or alt country. No, probably not. Maybe. I don't know! She's still kind of a mystery to me, a bit. I guess that's why I'm thinking about her so much. She used to wear a leather jacket that had a big picture of Bill Cosby on the back. And she wore a leopard-print skirt that the teachers used to look at and scowl but never said anything about. I was kinda proud that someone so weird liked me. I wonder what her band will sound like.

Finally Punk - "Piranha"

[Buy something, anything]


Piranha-related content: Tom Scharpling held a 6-hour Best Show a few weeks ago, and Paul Scheer made an incredible call about being on the set of Piranha 3-D. It's 23:14, so you know.

Posted by Dan at 3:17 PM | Comments (3)

June 18, 2009


Dutch Urban river

John Vanderslice - "C&O Canal". A comely, demure elixir. Elided flukes - lilting, rippling, fetching. A billet-doux to a former dalliance, to her vestiges (to the denouement, to the whole ineffable imbruglio). Vanderslice gambols, with tintinnabulous vibraphone and ebullient percussion, offers a mellifluous lagniappe to an erstwhile ingenue (now nemesis). They could have been dwelling in a riparian bungalow, by a burbling lagoon, aestivating under wafting skies - with glasses of susurrous, effervescent soda, luxuriant with languor and lassitude. But no: their romance is beleaguered, a desuetude. And so this song is an efflorescence, a sumptuous offing of the ephemeral a&d halcyon. An epiphany, maybe. Becoming, becoming, becoming (and still forebearing). [buy / these are 44 of the 100 most beautiful words in English]

From - "Maple Drive". From takes her pleasant little song and strikes it through with cacophony - a racket of synthetic horns. They are distracting as hell, but not in a bad way. They're like the montgolfiers that draw your eyes up from the street, a dozen wheezing & whirring & bulbous hot-air balloons, and when finally you lower your gaze to the pavement you're smitten with the wondrous surface world - the fruit-stands, trees, barbecues, mail-men, glass. [buy/MySpace]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2009

Sunday Shut-In


Fiery Furnaces - "Drive To Dallas"

Inlaid Tuesday, wake up dry and heavy. Breakfast of toothpaste and fresh air, up the hill to the crest. It's quarter to nine, phone left bedside, sun shining shapes off the windows, strangers look happy today. Cash a cheque and mail a letter to an old boss, tying up loose ends. Trying to make a date by 5:30, tipped the day and let everything slide to the front, found wandering by 4:15. This is the part where only a few mistakes have been made. Our love is yet unpacked, obscured in cardboard boxes, forgiveness creamy and thick and cold and plenty. Stand marbled in a room made for big paintings, ceilings as high as the highest canvas. Waiting, keys and a tenner, and maybe a kiss, maybe a gift. I wonder what a fight will be like. Will it be cheap? Will it be quiet, full of guessing? Best not to think about it.

[pre-order from insound]

(image, thanks matt)

Posted by Dan at 12:46 PM | Comments (4)

June 15, 2009


Creature 2, by Brian Michael Roff

Brave Radar - "Shimmer". Maybe one hundred million light years from here, there are scientists who have learned to find planets just by their light. The sun reflects on the earth, glazing it, and as they peer into their telescopes the alien scientists say: Look! A place! But not just that. The scientists watch in their ratty labcoats, gravel and grass stuck to the soles of their shoes, thinking about the movies they're going to rent this weekend, thinking about the extra-terrestrial equivalent of Denzel Washington, and they make further discoveries. They see that there is too much light coming from the planet Earth. The shimmer on our planet is not just the reflection of our star. No - we make light here. We make it with fire, with gunpowder, with incandescents, with fluorescents. We make it by turning the dimmer switches in our family rooms. The scientists watch this. They make tick-marks on their space-clipboards. By this time they are not merely daydreaming about the alien buddy-cop movie starring alien Denzel Washington and alien Daniel Craig. They are thinking about the girlfriend they had three years ago, the one who loved alien Denzel, who used to grinning make jokes with her friends about him. And the way the scientists used to squirm at this - were they supposed to feel threatened? Did they feel threatened? All this as they watch the glimmers on the planet Earth. They are still thinking about their ex-girlfriends as their instruments detect tiny interrupted flickers of light. The scientists stare at the readings. The chief scientist wonders why none of the scientists are female - was he sexist in the hiring process? did he reject female applicants due to his emotional baggage? He remembers the way tangled sheets are differently tangled when two people have laid there. The scientists chew on the ends of their space pencils and look at the interrupted flickers. These are matches, they deduce. Beings on this planet are standing in their driveways and passing their hands in front of the flames. Just as the scientists do, sometimes, at night. They do it and they don't know why. Back and forth, darkly lit. A hundred million light years away, someone may have been taking notes. [buy/MySpace/release party in Montreal this Friday!]

Blake Miller - "This Morning". When David Foster Wallace died, he was writing a book called The Pale King. This book will eventually be published. The Pale King is reportedly a book about boredom, about the mind-numbing boredom of work and taxes and days' daily cycles. And it is also a book about reaching the sublime, about touching the light, by way of the mundane. The book, I assume, is itself boring (by design), and Wallace will try to create the same effect: to bring the reader past monotony, past fatigue, and through through through - up close, ear-to-keyhole, to the Beautiful. In Blake Miller's "This Morning", he asks if This is what life is all about? These are stupid lyrics. But they are not stupid lyrics as they are applied here. They are repeated, over and over, amid thrum & shudder & drone: a mantra. The mantra becomes the apparatus of Miller's experiment. Is this what life is all about - this asking? Let's find out. Let's listen and see if in the song's asking hush and hum we find a pearl of truth. [buy/more songs]

(image by Brian Michael Roff)

Posted by Sean at 1:22 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2009

Brandishing Forked Fingers

Double Dagger - "Vivre Sans Temps Mort"

"Hey everybody, how ya doin', I'm Trevor, I'm gonna be your team leader today up there on the climb, okay? You ever need anything, you talk to me, don't hesitate to ask me any questions. There are no stupid questions, okay? Not at all, I'm open to any and all concerns. 'Cause I'd hate for you to NOT ask me a question and then something happen because of it, you know what I mean? So, what you're gonna need to know as we start up the slope here is that it's all difficult, okay? There are no easy parts to this climb. There's not a time when you get to relax and say "gee, oh, okay, I'll have a chat and a snack and not pay attention to what I'm doing." There's no time for that, okay? It's all difficult, it all requires your attention and it doesn't ever get easier. And that includes, and this is deadly important, the climb down. Everyone thinks that's the easy part and they can just fuck off for the ride of it, you know? And it's fun, oh sure, it's exciting, la dee da, I climbed a mountain, I'm a big fuckin' rich white guy, or girl of course, and I'm flyin' down this mountain like I'm a big stupid idiot 'cause I can't wait to get to the bar down at the resort at the bottom. Well, wake up you sissy bitches, this is real business, this is your life, you have to concentrate, otherwise you'll have your life privileges revoked. By me. And by God. By me and God. Me and God are gonna kill you, understand? Concentrate. Focus. Look at me. Look at the back of me, of the back of your in-front buddy, and maintain some damn awareness of the things that are about to happen." *a wide-eyed finger across the throat, he quickly turns and bounds leaping up the side of the mountain*


Posted by Dan at 12:19 PM | Comments (3)

June 11, 2009


When I Am King

Bombadil - "I Am".
Bombadil - "Pyramid".

Bombadil's giddy new album, Tarpits and Canyonlands, is sunburst and lime-wedge, is summer folk and afternoon pop - but it's also utterly weird. There are songs in English, in Spanish; a happy song about a sad birthday (which is wonderful, and still up at Fluxblog); a song called "Koala Lumpur" - whose main lyrics are that same "Kuala Lumpur". The album's aesthetic is very pop (and in a small way it's They Might Be Giants - wait! wait! i mean that actually in a good way), but oddly the thing it most reminds me of is a defunct webcomic called When I Am King. Sentimental, sandy, absurd, vulgar, narrative, shot through with smiles. Tarpits and Canyonlands opens with a song called "I Am" (which might as well be called "I Am ... Building You A Pyramid"), offering chanted vocals, heave-hos, and a sort of glib piano-line. That song is later answered with another, "Pyramid" - a track with drumsnaps, pan-pipes, crash cymbals ... and those same heave-hos. They make a bizarre pair, twins whose talents are considerable but undeclared. You wonder what these songs are for, what caves this band can unlock.

[Buy/MySpace/Get well soon, Daniel]

Posted by Sean at 12:15 PM | Comments (4)

June 10, 2009


Thanks to the late-breaking generosity of Domino Records, one of my favourite songs of the year so far - originally taken down at the label's request - is now back online.

Go listen to the Dirty Projectors' "No Intention", read my mumblings, and then remember to buy Bitte Orca, since it's wonderful.

Posted by Sean at 10:31 AM | Comments (2)

June 9, 2009

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants


Marmoset - "Run Away, Teri"

Clothes held together with glitter glue, skin like rocky planet smoothscape, smile twisted twice like party streamers, taped at the corners. A walk basmati, speech untied, gestures make-believe, jokes gummy-shy. Incomplete mannerisms, unfinished philosophy, step-printed attitude and gorgeous guff. Warm heft, and night-cry pinball flash-picture catch pose. Unintelligible, thankfully unheard. Complete space-out, ripped-shirt filth. [info]

Rat Tail - "Racecar (demo)"

I'd call her writing a piece of 'ergonomic fiction', it's fitted with the body in mind, the shape and placement of body parts in a comfortable fashion, maximizing ease of movement. I'd call her body a work of 'homophonic friction', she's a tease, drinks teas, wears tees, lisps t's, climbs trees. In the dark sweaty concrete of summer she lives and hoos this song to windows open and blown. Her voice like a flag at night, stark simple beauty hidden under cover of the fact of no wind and no eyes. [MySpace] (thanks, Michelle!)

(image source)

Posted by Dan at 1:02 AM | Comments (4)

June 8, 2009


Drake ft. R. Kelly - "Best I Ever Had (Skeemix)". Ralph heard the song in the car. Clouds were skating across the blue sky and he was switching between stations, search, search, and as he went into a left turn -- this. "You the fucking best. You the fucking best. You the fucking best. You the fucking best." His foot eased off the gas. He thought of Lucy in a summer dress. Lucy was twirling under a willow-tree in a blue & white summer dress. "You the fucking best. You the fucking best. You the fucking best. You the fucking best." He listened to the sunsoaked beat and he began to nod his head with it, tap his steering wheel. He thought about how he had thought of Lucy, thought of Lucy immediately; as soon as those lyrics had come crooning - he had thought of Lucy. He smiled at the irrefutability, the unassailability of this. Of how much he was in love!

He had thought of Lucy!

As he breezed down Constance Boulevard, the song sounded like glints, like glints on locks, a hundred different locks, a heart strung with a thousand different glinting locks, ten thousand gleaming certainties. He said "Woo," gently, into the air. He shook his head and nodded his head and drew a few little circles with the tip of his finger. He accelerated and braked and changed gears as he made his way to Lucy, to where she was standing on the corner of the street, purse slung over her shoulder.

That night after dinner, Ralph called Lucy into the living-room, asked her to sit down beside him on the couch. He had found the song on YouTube. He loaded it up. "Listen to this," he said. At the beginning it didn't sound as he remembered - but then the rhythm started, the beat, the hook, that sunsoaked sound. Ralph remembered the blue sky and the straight streets and the way he had thought of Lucy. He thought of Lucy again. Her face was scrunched up as she listened to the laptop speakers. He loved her. "I love you," he said to her.

"What is this?" Lucy asked.

"A song I heard," said Ralph.

She listened some more. "It's filthy," she said.

"No no," he said. "It's in love. You're the fucking best, you're the f--"

"I get it," she said.

"As soon as I heard it, I thought of you," Ralph said. "As soon as. Immediately." He tried to communicate the irrefutability, the unassailability. "Without trying," he said.

"'I can make your pussy whistle / like the Andy Griffith theme-song?'" she said.

"That doesn't matter," he said. "I thought of you."

[Drake's MySpace]



Sing Statistics has launched a mailing-list surrounding a particularly mysterious and ahem wonderful book project, I Am We Are The Friction.

John Darnielle (of the Montain Goats) with a wonderful analysis of (and repping for) Blackout Beach's Skin of Evil, one of my favourite albums of the year. I like the way he takes it to task. See also Carey Mercer's (aka Mr Blackout Beach's) recent blog-post about assisting at a Wolf Parade music video shoot. Hilarious.

Tickets are now on sale for Sappyfest. Sappyfest is a remarkable music & art festival in Sackville, New Brunswick. I will be attending for the first time this year, doing a writing project with them. (To be announced shortly.) The music line-up so far includes Calvin Johnson, Clues, Destroyer, Eric's Trip, Eric Chenaux, Feuermusik, Jon-Rae Fletcher, Julie Doiron, Ladyhawk, the Luyas, Mount Eerie, Shapes & Sizes, Snailhouse and Women.

I also recently wrote about Buraka Som Sistema for McSweeney's. "...when they play it's as if there is another member perched on a black corner speaker, hurling plums and diamonds onto the dance floor."

Someone started a Said the Gramophone Wikipedia entry - but it could use some sprucing up.

And as for our Monks contest, looking for a description of the best tattoo ever... So many amazing entries. Go look! From the Petit Prince to freckles to EAT SHIT. But the winner is weeghiz, with this entry: There's a bus and god is on the bus with a crowd of normal humans. god is dressed and shaped like any of his people. Joan Osborne is also on the bus. Joan doesn't know god is on the bus. No one but the owner can tell that god and Joan Osborne are on the bus because god is blending in and Joan Osborne is pretty generic looking; also her nose ring is facing away, towards the windows opposite the ones we are looking through. Because it is too annoying to always have to explain that he has a tattoo of a memorable image from the 1995 top 40 hit "One of Us" on his back and then point out the characters, he always just calls it "people on a bus" when he is forced to respond to inquisitors, like at water parks. We'll be in touch.

Posted by Sean at 3:02 PM | Comments (6)

June 5, 2009

Tour De La Nuit

Megafaun - "Darkest Hour"

The rain fell as it normally does, in thick brazen sheets. But as I looked out at the soggy, humiliated trees and streets, I couldn't help but think very specific drops were hitting my window. Like letters cut from a magazine to form a ransom note, each drop meant something, they were trying to tell me something. They started to present themselves in a pattern I could discern. It was repetitious, though complex, and I can't describe the message as being in any "language", as there were no rules to the evocation of meaning, just a pure sensory response. The way mountains don't "tell" you what it feels like to look at something huge, to feel small and intrepid, you just start feeling it. It was telling me direction and history, travel and distress, the message swayed and dipped and strummed and sunburst and ---oh, it's music. forget what I said, it's music.

[MySpace] [on tour with Bowerbirds in July and August]


enter the Monks contest below!

Posted by Dan at 8:54 PM | Comments (6)

June 4, 2009


Heavy Metal Hysteric

The Monks - "Pretty Suzanne". The Monks at their most sentimental. Which is to say five former American GIs, living in Germany, the sort of men that that flick cigarettes into the harbour's empty boats, that read the newspaper on the toilet, that gaze frightened into the sea at night, that teach visiting girls about drugs, that dream of weddings in sewers, that wish they knew how to build jukeboxes, that wear dark turtlenecks, that kiss like dreamboats, that shout the words of "My Girl" as they ride the Hamburg busess... which is to say a quintet of black-pepper musicians falling head over heels in love, at least for a bit, and needing to trace these feelings in coo, shriek, doowop and the growling prong of a distorted electric guitar.

"Pretty Suzanne" is one of several unreleased tracks included on the new (beautifully packaged) reissue of Black Monk Time - the Monks' single, legendary record. (Previously on StG... 1 2) Buy it from Light in the Attic on CD or 2xLP.

Monks contest! Thanks to the generosity of Light in the Attic, we are also giving away one copy each of Black Monk Time and the Monks - The Early Years 1964-1965 collection. To qualify, all you need to do is leave a comment describing the best tattoo ever, real or fictional. Particularly tattoos you can imagine on the shoulders of the Monks. Our favourite will receive both CDs. Deadline: Sunday, June 7 - 11:59pm.

(photo source unknown)

Posted by Sean at 11:37 AM | Comments (31)

June 2, 2009

A Little Bit of Hurt


Garnette Mimms - "Cry Baby"

I deliver pizzas. For 8 hours, sometimes 9, at a time, I drive around and get as many pizzas to as many people as possible. When you think about how much pizza that is, and how much pizza people are eating, it's kind of disgusting. But if you let the poetry of it be the shining quality, it can be nice. I get to see a small window, opened briefly and slightly hidden from me, of people's lives. A tall girl with a short boyfriend who acts like I'm trying to interview him for his court case. A fat man alone. A bunch of teenagers laughing and showing off their beers. People who apologise for ordering pizza, as if I'm taking note or casting judgment. Gruff people who grab the box and stare at me like I should leave. Overly nice people who put the money on the box, so I can't even get it without putting it down. People who are trying to be funny, with me as an uninvited audience of one, people who look like they pity me, and people who look right through me out into the street. I take my tips as a measure of how much my charms are working. On average, they're not working very well, but cold calls were never my strong suit. The wet streets sing a song between houses, and the red lights, reflected, like chorus singers, triple-lunged baaabyyy...

Tarheel Slim & Little Ann - "You're Gonna Reap"

In the realm of the first slowdance, sweat is an international power. It casts its name firmly in the iron of history, written a signature of closeness and smell that will last eternally. I remember the smell left on the shoulder of my long-sleeve shirt, a smell I left there for as long as I could. In the May heat of the darkened afternoon gymnasium, her chin hooked over my shoulder and her neck, perspiring quickening on my shoulder, it was indelible, permanent. I succumbed to its firm policy of maintenance, upkeep and heed. I'm left scarred, proudly, as if each mark on my character were an initial, a signature in the guestbook of my existence. An "i was here" where someone thought my body worthy of such vandalism.

[from a compilation called A Little Bit of Hurt available to buy only at the Mississippi Records Store]
[Mississippi Records Store in Portland]

(image source)

Posted by Dan at 9:57 AM | Comments (5)

June 1, 2009


Oxkintok Blue, by William Hundley

Sharon Van Etten - "Much More Than That".

Sometimes I do not have the word. I thought about this for a long time. There are always two possible reasons, I realise: (1) that I am not a better writer; (2) that there is no word.

And so, later -

- I find myself in a starry garden, my hand cupped to tiny flowers, breathing in. I have no word for these blooms. And I wonder. Is it that I am not a better writer? Or is it that there is no word?

Perhaps an encyclopedia tells me. There is a word. There are several. "Snow-in-summer", "Cerastium tomentosum". It is I who was lacking.

But suppose I go back to the garden, moonlit this time, and I cup my hand to the tiny flowers; and I breathe in the night-time; and what if then again I find I do not have the word? What if "snow-in-summer", if "Cerastium tomentosum" is not sufficient? What if with my knees on the grass the word I need is something else, but again I do not have it?

Is it because I am not a better writer? Or is it because there is no word?

I have wondered this often. Watching the wind push down a plastic chair. Standing and holding my grandfather's hand. Seeing a girl turn away. I have wondered this as I stared at a padlock; as I stared at a key; as I stared at a swan; as I bit into an apple; as I woke, at 6:45am, to the bleep of an alarm. There are no words, I thought at these moments; and always I ask if it is the words that are lacking or I who lacks them; and like Sharon Van Etten I wonder if I can improve, if I can become better, if one day I will have words for everything. If I will be able to say I love you in a way that speaks its every leap and ridge; if I will be able to say I'm sorry with words that do not tremble or glow; if I will have another word for darling, a better word, hidden and small, and dawning.

[website/buy this beautiful album]


Elsewhere: In Paris last week, I attended a screening of this 3 Days of Take-Away Shows - a short film of a road-trip by the Blogothèque team, together with Beirut, Slow Club and Mami Chan. The film is tender and charming, but it's also utterly hilarious - anchored in large part by the vif spirit of Mami Chan (and to a lesser extent cameraman Vincent Moon himself). It's one of those little movies that underlines why I so love the work of the Blogotheque's concerts à emporter - they are wonderful films, regardless (sometimes) of music; not just recordings of a performance but a story of the things it evoked. This one is definitely wonderful and you should go watch even (especially!) if you're unfamiliar with most of the artists.

(photo is "Oxkintok Blue", by William Hundley)

Posted by Sean at 12:55 AM | Comments (4)