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.

September 30, 2009


In 2004, Howard Bilerman, the producer/engineer of albums by Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, British Sea Power, Basia Bulat and many more, wrote one of Said the Gramophone's first guestposts. In the midst of praising Bob Dylan's "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)", he called "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" "the weakest lead off track to ever grace a masterpiece". More than five years later, he wrote to me with a correction.

Bob Dylan - "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" [buy]

a few years ago, I wrote about blonde on blonde for this blog, and while doing so, I called "rainy day women" some unflattering things. I am currently preparing to interview bob johnston, producer of said song, and after listening again, I would like to say I might have missed the point. I confess, I got caught up in the novelty of the song...the laughter....the inside jokes...the seemingly meaningless title. I also confess, I got hung up on the chorus, taking it literally. not being someone who endorses drug culture, "everybody must get stoned" was not something I could get behind. this was further soldified by going to see Dylan, and having everyone around me chit-chat during "it's all over now baby blue", but leap to their feet in sing-along fashion to the chorus of rainy-day women. but, I realized, this is no drug song. the anthemic chorus exclipsed the verses, but the verses tell us about getting stoned, ie: "cast the first stone". and after listening this weekend, I hear dylan telling a much different story. one about people being about being under about being misunderstood. and, ironically, in terms of this song, I am guilty as charged on all counts. this song is just as much about small-mindedness and oppression, as it is about getting high. i am loathe to try to get inside dylan's mind, but in the wake of the judas-heckling "dylan goes electric" period, "they'll stone you when you're playing your guitar" takes on a whole new meaning. and so, with this new found perspective, i listened again. and what i hear are a bunch of people in a room...just playing together. it has a "realness" that, despite me still feeling is a bit "nudge nudge, wink wink", is honest in ways you rarely hear on record anymore. to place it as the leadoff track announces the mission statement of the recording. this is what happens when people gather in a studio, and make music. it's about documentation, not magic tricks. I wrote this song off...I was wrong.

Howard Bilerman will be interviewing Bob Johnston (who produced not just Dylan, but Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel and Johnny Cash) this coming Friday, October 2, as part of Pop Montreal. The presentation is completely free and takes place 4-6pm at McGill's Tanna Schulich Hall, 527 Sherbrooke Street West.


Pop Montreal 2009 starts today. (My guide here.) See you out there!

Posted by Sean at 10:17 AM | Comments (5)

September 29, 2009

Rain And No Air

Sparks - "Amateur Hour"

I believe in the equality of humanity. I believe men and women are equally important, every piece of humanity is of equal value. Beyond that, I believe in a humility of humanity towards nature, an open-mindedness to the idea that past decisions and lifestyles were mistaken and can be corrected. I believe in progress towards a functional world, a sustainable world, a harmonious world. I believe in the capacity of humanity and all people to put aside political differences, past transgressions and hardships and suffering, in favour of a new deal, a fresh slate with lessons learned and taught. I believe in all that, I believe, I do believe. But now, for right now, I want you to choke me. I want you to slap me across the face and spit down my throat. I want you to throw me down in gravel and smear a diaper across my back. I want you to rip me open like a spoiled kid on Christmas, and I want to feel it like real hatred. I want to feel like I'll never recover, like I'm plunging over the edge with my blood rushing like tides to and fro in my body. I want to be garbage, I want to eat garbage, I want you to be fucking garbage. I just want that. I'm sorry. [Buy Kimono My House]

Thao + The Get Down Stay Down - "Goodbye Good Luck" (removed at label request)

I will give this the completely positive categorization of "dependable rock". [Pre-order]


(I have added a caveat to my sidebar)


Posted by Dan at 3:02 PM | Comments (2)

September 27, 2009


Pop Montreal

Starting this Wednesday is Pop Montreal, one of the finest music & arts festivals in all the world, at least if you like the things we do. It is wild and woolly, joyously diverse, deep and wide and rich and poor and set in the heart of this great city. More than 400 bands, plus films, workshops, lectures, art installations, spread across dozens of venues in Quebec's largest city. Carefully curated, with an emphasis on showing you something new (even if that something is old). This is a festival with a who's-who of indie up'n'comers - but that's a side-effect, a symptom. It's not the fever.

You should come. If it's too late for this year, come next year. And for all those who will be here, here are some suggestions of what you should see. I know but a small fraction of what is playing here, know of a larger fraction, but still - there is much I have missed. Take everything with seas of salt.

Last year, I did a similar guide, but I also wrote up my adventures after the fact, telling the tale of my Pop 2008, for McSweeney's. That will give you a flavour of the kind of things I like. The kind of things I do not like, I have left out of this list. (Even acts that many others do like, eg: Butthole Surfers.)

Visitors to the city, two suggestions: (a) accommodation via Pop Hostel; (b) transportation via Bixi.

How to Use This Guide
I suggest you flip between this guide and the official Pop program, for band descriptions (much more convenient than the website). Hit websites/myspace for audio samples. Build yr schedule by making an account on Sched, print it out, pocket it.

Tickets and Passes
To attend a concert at Pop, you can either buy a ticket or use a pass to get in. Only a certain number of pass-holders are allowed into every show. This means that for extremely popular shows, unless you arrive long before the first act, a pass is not likely to get you in. (Whereas buying a ticket always guarantees entry.)

As a result, if you plan to just attend just a few big shows over the course of Pop's five days - buy tickets. On the other hand, if you wish to enjoy the festival as it is meant to be enjoyed, discovering tons of new sounds (rather than just the big names), I highly recommend a pass. There are so many treasures to be uncovered here, and many of the bands that were "small" one or two years ago are the hot tickets today.

Much of Pop is completely free. The terrific craft and record fairs, all weekend, don't charge admission. There's a free barbecue on Saturday, free concerts (by great acts) in the Phonopolis Record Store basement on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. And two of Pop's greatest gifts, ART POP (a series of art installations around the city) and SYMPOSIUM (a conference with fun, scintillating panels/lectures/workshops) are entirely gratis. Symposium's events include a 3-hr jam workshop with Faust, room-sized theremin demos, DJ-ed lectures on world music, even a screening/lecture by one of my favourite filmmakers, Take Away Shows' Vincent Moon. A lot of Pop attendees forego Art Pop and Symposium - but honestly their (free!) programming makes up some of the festival's finest stuff.

Oh and there's FILM POP! Movies about music. Most of these screenings cost money regardless of whether you have a pass.

Recommendations over several days

  • All week
    • ART POP at the Notman House: Dominique Sirois's office-turned-nightclub, Jessica Campbell & Bridget Moser's pinata room, Kim Kielhofner's extraordinary video tent, drawings by Jean-Philippe Harvey & Adam Bergeron.
    • ART POP at Espace Reunion: Brendan Reed's curious video, Paul Warne's optical illusions, Lalie Douglas's edible creatures.
  • Wed, Sept 30 - Sat, Oct 3
    • ART POP at Articule Gallery: Matt Shane and Jim Holyoak's mesmerising gigantic wall drawings.
    • The Happiness Project at 5202 Hutchison (20h every day). Visual artists bring to life Charles Spearin's wonderful Happiness Project album in this installation project.
  • Sat, Oct 3 - Sun, Oct 4 (11h-19h)
    • PUCES POP craft fair at Eglise St-Michel
    • Record sale & gear swap at Ukrainian Federation

Recommendations day by day
Every day, I begin by describing my plans for that evening. But there are gazillions of Pop shows, much more than any one person can do. Next, I break down some suggestions into three categories:

Staying put:For people who want to spend the evening in one place.
Taking chances:Double or nothing - the shows that will either be transcendent... or terrible.
Sure bets:Good sets, all but guaranteed.

And then a list of the day's highlights, as far as I can tell. I highly recommend everything on these lists, but everything listed in bold is completely CAN'T MISS.

This list has been made using the updated Pop schedule of September 25. All dates/times are as best as I know. [Update September 30 - All Zoobizarre shows have been moved to Playhouse or Saphir, and their Thursday set-times changed.]

Wednesday, September 30

Happily for my weeklong endurance, Wednesday will be a quiet night. Carl Spidla is one of the country's most promising singer-songwriters (he still hasn't released an album), and friends in London, ON have highly recommended Olenka & the Autumn Lovers. So I will start with the one, and follow with the other. And then I'll probably close the evening with the garage-pop line-up that's playing Sala all night.

Staying put:Jay Reatard, Box Elders and the rest of Sala's Shattered recs showcase.
Taking chances:Olenka & the Autumn Lovers. And Polaris nominees Bruce Peninsula, beloved in Toronto, who disappointed me last year - being less than the sum of their influences. But they could yet win converts.
Sure bets:My People Sleeping's glimmering folk-pop, the Youjsh's Ellington klezmer, Carl Spidla's gauzy songwriting.

20h00 - My People Sleeping (opening for Amy Millan) @ Ukrainian Federation
22h00 - Carl Spidla @ Cagibi
22h30 - The Youjsh @ Il Motore
23h30 - Bruce Peninsula @ Il Motore
23h30 - Olenka & the Autumn Lovers @ Barfly
23h45 - Box Elders @ Sala Rossa
00h30 - Jay Reatard @ Sala Rossa

Thursday, October 1

Thursday night is a feast. I would be perfectly happy going to see Clues and Micachu - two furious, weird, jubilant pop acts. But alas, I will not be at Cabaret for those sets. No, I will be at Metropolis, seeing Fever Ray. Fever Ray is Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of Swedish haunted house group The Knife. Her show is the second most expensive production Pop Montreal has ever put on - featuring costumes, masks, lasers, smoke and miracles. This will be eerie & possessed, one of Fever Ray's only performances on this continent. The tip from previous shows is that you should stand close to the front. It's apparently kept so dark that it can be hard to see.

After Fever Ray I could try to hoof it and catch Clues, but I'm more likely to catch something smaller. Silver Starling/Young Galaxy at Il Motore, or Hooded Fang at 3 Minots. I will undoubtedly be ending the night with Sister Suvi - one of the city's most exciting and underrated acts - before dropping by Montag's CATALOGUE, a multi-hour jam by musical luminaries playing vintage synths.

Staying put: The free afternoon show at Phonopolis; after that, yes, either Clues and Micachu & the Shapes at the Cabaret, or Fever Ray at Metropolis (I don't know anything about her opener, Vuk). Note: Anyone hoping to get into Fever Ray or Micachu using a pass: good luck.
Taking chances:Diamanda Galas's lecture on HIV/AIDS will be... something. Montag's CATALOGUE offers great potential for freakout - it's an easy drop-in, going late (til 3am). Besides that, the night's slew of smaller bands - particularly Yukon Gold, Balacade, Drew Danburry and Hooded Fang - whom I've never heard live but long hoped to.
Sure bets:Fever Ray is a sure bet. So is Sister Suvi (an indie-rock trio with members of Tune-Yards and Islands). And absolutely Young Galaxy, playing vast and fiercely yearning pop.

13h-14h30 - Symposium talks on canadian music funding @ Espace Reunion
15h-18h - Tune-Yards, Adam & the Amethysts, Brave Radar, Dearling Physique @ Phonopolis [free!]
18h - Diamanda Galas lecture @ Concordia University H-110
19h - Think About Life @ Maison Radio-Canada
19h - Ceska Rapublika (doc on czech rap) @ Cinema du Parc
20h30 - Nutsak (opening for Butthole Surfers) @ Olympia
20h30 - PDF Format @ Casa del Popolo
21h - Construction & Destruction @ Jupiter Room
21h - Cotton Mouth @ Green Room
21h - Drew Danburry @ Quai des Brumes
21h30 - Fever Ray @ Metropolis
21h30 - Mono @ La Tulipe
21h30 - Supr Fossl Powr @ Balattou
22h - Balacade @ Playhouse Saphir Zoobizarre
22h - Yukon Blonde @ Divan Orange
22h30 - Micachu @ Cabaret
23h - Silver Starling @ Il Motore
23h - Mavo @ Jupiter Room
23h - Montag presents: CATALOGUE @ Espace Reunion
23h10 - Brides @ Casa del Popolo [big Blocks session]
23h30 - Clues @ Cabaret Juste Pour Rire
00h - Hooded Fang @ Les 3 Minots
00h - Young Galaxy @ Il Motore
00h - Cousins @ Cagibi
00h - Soul Clap Dance-Off @ Green Room
01h10 - The Intelligence @ Sala Rossa
01h30 - Sister Suvi @ Balattou

Friday, October 2

On paper, Friday is probably Pop 2009's best day. I'm going to start by attending Symposium at 4pm - because I'm speaking on a panel. At 7pm, Tune-Yards' show is likely to be a highlight of the year - one of Gramophone's favourite artists, always stupefying, now tour-practiced, newly lionized in Europe (opening for Dirty Projectors), playing a farewell-to-Montreal show with friends and who-knows-what gallery-budget tricks up her sleeves.

After that, either Adam & the Amethysts, Yo La Tengo, Snailhouse, or Avec Pas D'Casque/Destroyer. And then to wrap up the evening I highly recommend the line-up at Le Milieu, which Said the Gramophone is presenting. I'm so keen to see Daredevil Christopher Wright (whose Bon Iver-produced debut, indie folk & doo-wop & psych-pop, thrilled me) and the Mittenstrings (who play tough, beautiful folk music).

Staying put:Go see Tune-Yards. There's no question. And after that, disperse like dandelion seeds. Take your pick: Destroyer etc, Yo La Tengo etc, Snailhouse etc - all are outstanding acts, joined by other outstanding acts. Said the Gramophone's Le Milieu gig, with the Mittenstrings and Daredevil Christopher Wright, is the night's secret gem. And if you're one of the lucky few with tickets to Sufjan Stevens/Cryptacize (it's totally sold out), enjoy!
Taking chances:Vintage soul singer Lee Fields, suporting a new record; Espace Reunion's experimentalism (the impromptu "Anthony Von Seck" group, followed by psych-jammer Sam Shalabi) could be revelatory; and Woodpigeon - so long as Mark brings some friends - will be terrific.
Sure bets:I love every band that is listed below in bold. And come see me on the panel at 4pm!

13h-20h - free barbecue @ Notman House
16h - Book This Face (internet music thing panel featuring Sean Gramophone) @ Espace Reunion
17h30 - Roxanne Shante lecture @ Espace Reunion
19h - Tune-Yards - Musée d'art contemporain
20h - Ghost Bees @ Ukrainian Federation
20h - Video Tape @ Jupiter Room
20h - Gobble Gobble @ Saphir Zoobizarre
20h10 - Shapes & Sizes (opening for Sufjan Stevens) @ Cabaret
20h45 - Cryptacize (opening for Sufjan Stevens) @ Cabaret
21h - Adam & the Amethysts @ Green Room
21h - Avec pas d'casque @ Ukrainian Federation
21h - Snailhouse @ Divan Orange
21h - Yo La Tengo @ Club Soda
21h45 - Sufjan Stevens @ Cabaret
21h30 - Duchess Says (opening for Teenage Jesus & the Jerks) @ Le National
22h - An Albatross @ Club Lambi
22h - Destroyer @ Ukrainian Federation
22h - Woodpigeon @ O Patro Vys
22h - Polipe @ Saphir Zoobizarre
23h - Rah Rah @ Bar St Laurent II
23h - Daredevil Christopher Wright @ Le Milieu
00h - Anthony Von Seck & the Exiles (ft. Basia Bulat, Chris Burns, Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, members Silver Mt Zion, etc.) @ Espace Reunion
00h - Chain & the Gang @ Club Lambi
00h - the Mittenstrings @ Le Milieu
00h - No Gold @ Divan Orange
00h - Lee Fields and the Expressions @ Sala Rossa
00h - Shapes and Sizes @ O Patro Vys
00h05 - Receivers @ Petit Campus
01h - Sam Shalabi @ Espace Reunion

Saturday, October 3

First thing on Saturday: Puces Pop and the Pop Record Fair. Oh, and brunch. And then I'm going to zip up to Espace Reunion for two fascinating-looking lecutres - one on "indie culture" worldwide, the other "DJed lectures" (meaning lectures with audio samples) on street music from across the globe.

Starting at 10pm, I'm going to bask in Snowblink and Francois Virot at Le Gymnase (another StG-presented show). I heard Snowblink for the first time at this year's Sappyfest, adoring their restrained, indie folk. And though France's Francois Virot is not the name he will yet be, he's an astonishing solo act - like Animal Collective via Jose Gonzalez - and his appearance at Pop is one of my must-sees.

Later I will either check out Black Wire Red Wire, Thee Oh Sees or Greg Macpherson - and finish things off with DJ/Rupture's, Cadence Weapon's, Poirier's or Think About Life's dance parties.

Staying put:Phonopolis's all-day concerts; Snowblink, Francois Virot and friends at Le Gymnase; or Thee Oh Sees and friends, playing noisy & fucked-up pop, at Sala.
Taking chances:Jerusalem In My Heart are extraordinary, and they are opening for someone singular: Diamanda Galas. But it might feel a little... long.
Sure bets:Several "local" shows - Parlovr/Think About Life at Espace Reunion; Witchies at L'Escogriffe; and The Luyas, perhaps my favourite band in Montreal, playing from their upcoming second album. But if you like singer-songwriters, I can't recommend Winnipeg's Greg Macpherson highly enough - a heartbreaker, song-killer, bridge-buster in the vein of Billy Bragg or Bruce Springsteen.

12h-15h - Faust workshop @ Espace Reunion
15h-18h - Clues, Valleys, Ryan Power, Nutbrown @ Phonopolis [free!
15h - Indie Culture from Stockholm to Sao Paolo lecture @ Espace Reunion
15h - The Family Jams (psych-folk doc) @ Cinema du Parc
17h-19h - DJed Lectures: World Street Music (ft. DJ/Rupture, Valeo, Brian Simkovitz)
20h30 - Black Feelings (opening for Faust) @ Ukrainian Federation
19h - Goblin Market short film @ Espace Reunion
19h - Sufjan Stevens' The BQE film @ Espace Reunion
20h30 - Black Feelings (opening for Faust) @ Ukrainian Federation
21h - Jerusalem in My Heart @ Theatre Outremont
21h30 - Faust @ Ukrainian Federation
21h45 - The Hoa Hoas @ Bar St Laurent II
22h - Snowblink @ Gymnase
22h - Diamanda Galas @ Theatre Outremont
22h - Tanlines (opening for Os Mutantes) @ Le National
22h - Rah Rah @ Les 3 Minots
22h30 - Green Go @ Petit Campus
23h - PS I Love You @ Jupiter Room
23h - BRAIDS @ Saphir Zoobizarre
23h - Forest City Lovers @ Casa del Popolo
23h - Golden Triangle @ Sala Rossa
23h - Valleys @ O Patro Vys
23h - Lemonade @ Club Lambi
23h - Zeroes @ Il Motore
23h - Silly Kissers @ Divan Orange
23h45 - Parlovr @ Espace Reunion
00h - Francois Virot @ Gymnase
00h - Witchies - L'Escogriffe
00h - The Fresh & Onlys @ Sala Rossa
00h - The Luyas @ Casa del Popolo
00h30 - Poirier ft. Face-T @ Club Soda
01h - Thee Oh Sees @ Sala Rossa
01h - Mixylodian @ Saphir Zoobizarre
01h - Red Wire Black Wire @ Gymnase
01h - Cadence Weapon @ Divan Orange
01h - DJ/Rupture @ Club Lambi
01h - Greg MacPherson @ Les 3 Minots
01h20 - Think About Life @ Espace Reunion

Sunday, October 4

On Sunday we will have to measure our hangovers. If mild, perhaps I will take to the Piknic Electronik at Parc Jean Drapeau (I'm always sad to miss Valeo/Khiasma, one of my favourite DJs). If severe, the afternoon offers strange unveilings at Espace Reunion: first an animatronic band built by Max Lawrence, then the long-gestating theremin-as-big-as-a-room. I think I'm also signed up for a "learn how to make a mini-theremin" workshop. Come evening time, I will be at the screening by Vincent Moon - he visited last year and honestly it was one of the best things I saw, these films on a big screen. And then I will skim down to Sala Rossa to see Little Scream and Woven Hand (possibly popping across the street to peep White Pine Waltz).

Staying put:Katie Moore and Iris Dement for folk-fans with a taste for twang; Little Scream's haunting solo songs followed by Woven Hand's brimstone folk; Phonopolis's all-day concerts (especially The Luyas and Parlovr).
Taking chances:White Pine Waltz are a new configuration of great players - members of Arcade Fire and Silver Mt Zion, not to mention saxophonist Colin Stetson, who offered one of the best shows of Pop 2008.
Sure bets:Vincent Moon's films and talk will inspire you to make something.

12h30 - Dan Iglesia's Ghost Jockey 3d art installation @ Espace Reunion
13h45 - Vernissage: Kimberlite and the Pipes (animatronic band by Max Lawrence) @ Espace Reunion
13h45 - How to Build a Home Studio lecture (Wolf Parade's Arlen Thompson) @ Espace Reunion
13h-21h - Valeo @ Piknic Eletronik
15h - Room-size Theremin keynote @ Espace Reunion
15h-18h - Parlovr, Luyas, Vincat, Ryan Power sings karaoke @ Phonopolis [free!]
20h - Katie Moore (opening for Iris Dement) @ L'Astral
20h - Tony Ezzy Gets a Job film @ Green Room
20h - Screening/lecture by Vincent Moon @ Espace Reunion
21h - Iris Dement @ L'Astral
21h30 - Little Scream @ Sala Rossa
22h - White Pine Waltz (Sarah Neufeld, Colin Stetson, Becky Foon & more) @ Casa del Popolo
22h - Ariane Moffatt @ Ukrainian Federation
23h30 - Woven Hand @ Sala Rossa

More updates as the week progresses... (You should follow me on Twitter.)

Posted by Sean at 7:00 PM | Comments (3)

September 25, 2009

This Song Is An Aftermath


RatTail - "Go Green" (demo)

When I was a kid my family moved around a lot, because of work and other things. We had trouble affording to live on our own a lot, so we would live with extended family members, and that would kind of run its course sometimes. I didn't really stay in one place for more than a year. It was good and bad and all that, but I'm only talking about it because of one very specific feeling. I would keep it a secret from everyone I met that I could be leaving forever at any given moment. It was this burning secret that I would keep to myself, and it would lay a thick layer of emotion onto simple interactions. If I was mad at people, it would make me feel better, fuck them I don't need them. If I liked people, if I was in love with someone, I could force that burning secret into the wound and make it hurt even more. This song makes me remember that very specific feeling, of driving away from some place forever. It's early morning, we'd stop for food nearby, and then I'd eat as I watched all the neighbourhood stuff pass through the foggy car window. I'd write shapes or words in the wetness. This song feels like the act of pulling two people apart.

RatTail - "Gasmask" (demo)

Gorgeous, throaty guitar and a thick, fuzzy pulse. I can sleep in this music. Finally, I can sleep.


Posted by Dan at 3:27 PM | Comments (5)

September 24, 2009


Cave Weddings - "Bring Your Love"

On the subject of the inter-mingling of the senses, I've heard much talk about the colour of music or the smell of a dream or a memory. If you're a reader here, you'll know that I am a strict separationist when it comes to the senses. Music can only be experienced aurally, painting is a completely silent aesthetic sensation, sex is a practice reserved only for touch. But I can't ignore this realization I'm having while listening to this song. I have to remind myself, sitting here aching and hungry, that "Dan, you can't eat music." [MySpace]

Think About Life - "Sweet Sixteen"

She keeps three pills in her jean jacket pocket. In her ratty jean jacket, with "reality creator" scrawled across the back in masking tape, and her stringy dyed hair rubbing in her face, she keeps them in her breast pocket in a little baggy. She's straightedge, with grey eyes and messed-up teeth, but she keeps these pills on her at all times. "What's it gonna take for you to take those things?" "Panic." [Buy from Alien8]

Also: Think About Life are the featured artist in The Bitter End episode 1, online now. Also in the Montreal Mirror this week.

Posted by Dan at 2:02 PM | Comments (3)

September 22, 2009

Fountains of Blood


Jookabox - "You Cried Me"

I chased your brother down the golf course, it was wobbling like the Tacoma Narrows. It was dark blue wet grass, the shapes and ovals like ground clouds. I stumbled and scraped my knee, the skin opened up like a chocolate bar wrapper. I laughed and smoked and high-fived a tree. Nothing ever fits enough into your body as much as it's meant to. Your body isn't like an "inventory" bag, but if it were, I wouldn't want to die with all sorts of unused items left over. A blue candle, a pirate key, a magic mask, 4 empty bottles, and a full stock of crash bombs. [out Nov. 3 on Asthmatic Kitty]

Aphrodite's Child - "Four Horsemen"

I went to the University of Michigan in the 80s, and there I studied under Malcolm Everdige Ph.D., at the time a religious studies teacher, right when religious studies was getting pretty fearless and heated. He had a copy of the Bible so rare there exists no version like it. I was left alone with it one night when he went out to find wine at three a.m. and I was sitting in his dusty saggy apartment. I opened it and from page one it was like reading a totally different text, all the while being the same. It's a multi-translational defect, the story passed through so many interpretations that what resulted is astounding. First of all, it's told first person; "I created the world, the water, the animals.." and so on. It's more the story of how God feels about everything that's happening, and how it all stems from his expression of himself. You realise about two-thirds of the way through that God is really just trying to understand himself, and the World is just one of his many ways of trying to get there. God doesn't even really see himself as "God", the idea of "God" isn't even mentioned until Revelations. Instead of fire and brimstone, it's another flood, and once the water fills up the World, it takes hundreds of years to settle, and forms a mirror finally big enough for God to see his own face, seconds before he plunges his face underneath. Literally, the last words are, "now I understand." Why isn't this on Wikipedia? [Buy 666](MCS)

(image source)



As you may or may not know, over the last year I've been creating, with some immense talents here in Montreal, a web series of which I'm very proud. During this year's Funding Drive you actually helped fund the project, so I like to think that I won't be bugging you readers with my bi-weekly plugs for the next 3 months, but rather just keeping my investors informed of my activity. It's called The Bitter End, it's a sitcom, it's about two brothers living in the same apartment and messing each other's lives up. But it's made with honesty, and fervor, and lots and lots of effort. Episode 1 goes up this Thursday (I'll remind you every time a new episode comes out) and then every two weeks until all 6 are available. The series trailer is online now, at Thank you.

Posted by Dan at 11:37 AM | Comments (8)

September 21, 2009


Tea break on the set of METROPOLIS

Vic Chesnutt - "Flirted With You All My Life". Crisp like an apple, smelling of the cellar. Chesnutt has again recruited some of Montreal's finest, members of Silver Mt. Zion who put aside their scowls and furies for at least four minutes and forty-one seconds. "Flirted With You" is such a pretty song, coaxed and caressed; but it's also a song with a twist, an early lyrical pirouette. What seems at first to be a song about, well, a girl - turns out to be a tune about the great oblivion, about the millionfold void, about the thing with a cowl and scythe. Chesnutt is not singing about temptation or infidelity; he is singing the joy of living, of still living, of still still still living, still. [buy/listen to more of At The Cut]

Cousins - "Anxious". Bees that work in a pharmacy, buzzing as they measure and distribute soft white pills. Wasps that work tirelessly at a rollerskate diner, zipping back and forth to the parking lot, bearing malted milks. Hornets at the garage, wiping their black & oily hands with a rag, standing lets apart, watching you drive away. Black and yellow stripes, everywhere. // A blurry beeswax & beautiful song, by Halifax's Cousins. [MySpace/on tour and hitting Pop Montreal]


Speaking of Pop Montreal - it's in just a week and a half! You should come! One of the finest music & film & art & etc festivals in all the world. Fever Ray and Faust and Clues and Micachu and Sufjan and who-knows-what. The program is out and I will be assembling a guide to the festival, like last year, full of recommendations. But in the meantime: book your tickets! And the festival has even organised a billeting program, aka POP HOSTEL, to help you out-of-towners find a place to stay.


(photo source unknown - tea break on the set of Metropolis)

Posted by Sean at 11:36 AM | Comments (3)

September 19, 2009

Hunted Wanted Sought

Califone - "Alice Marble Grey"

This is delicious soup. It's tomato with a bit of chive and it's warm because I left it in the sun an hour. To go with this I have a pair of salt crackers in a plastic wrap. I lick the wrap clean and lick the bowl clean and spit wash it. Tomorrow I'll use the cucumbers as they'll go before anything else, so I'd better eat them first even though I don't like cucumbers much, especially so many all at once. Then the brocolli will be the following week, water should be here by then, I can make another soup. At the end of that week I'll have some of the chocolate and powdered bread. That will bring us through to Valentine's and I'll eat the potatoes then, that will be nice. I can eat those like apples. Oh. Apples. I don't like to think of it, but I hope to taste an apple again. After the potatoes, oh God, there will only be onions left until thaw. 4 candles to last that time, and 17 and one-half matches. I lit a match this afternoon and put it out on my tongue. It crackled and made my spit red. My skin is soft from all the carrots I've been eating these last weeks, my cheek bones feel like soft metal beneath. You'd like it. I sometimes see distant smoke plumes rise like lazy hands raising to volunteer above the tree tops. And I wonder how your supply is doing, if you have enough to last the cold, if I could spare some of mine so that you'd make it through. [Pre-Order]

Posted by Dan at 2:22 AM | Comments (4)

September 17, 2009


Family Circus

The Ukeladies - "Sleep Today". They started the band as a kind of joke. Three girls who played ukulele - haha! The Ukeladies! Yes! They would play a few nights at Stu's, cover-songs mostly, then maybe get booked for Thunder Bay's big Victoria Day show. That was the plan. Nora, Vicky and Kate practiced covers of Beirut, the Shangri-Las, a Sufjan Stevens tune. Eventually they decided the Ukeladies needed a drummer. They asked on Facebook: Vicky Nestruck is looking for a drummer for THUNDER BAY'S GREATEST ALL-GIRL UKULELE GROUP-O! Alas, Thunder Bay is a small community. Northern Ontario did not offer up many female drummers. They ended up inviting Louis Ford, a gangly library nerd who was more into Vampire Weekend than Beirut, but that was okay. He could even sing while he played the toms. After that, it got easier - "Wouldn't 'Tunnels' sound better with a bassline?" They called Ricky Frauman, who Vicky's crush since sophomore year. Later they got Mo Radcliffe and his synths. And then before they knew it, the Ukeladies were half boys, half not-ukuleles. But they didn't mind. Everyone was still having fun, "Elephant Gun" sounded great, the girls had bought matching dresses. They were getting ready for their first show, at Stu's, opening for Timber Timbre.

And then one day, Mo came to rehearsal acting weird. He was listless, slow, hardly said anything. His eyes were bagged, his lips twitchy. His hands didn't sway as he walked. "You okay?" asked Kate. Mo just nodded. He kept playing the same series of creepy chords over and over.

Later, Ricky spoke to Sam Wavey, who worked with Mo at the renovations company. He said they had been knocking the drywall out of this guy's house, up behind the forest, and Mo found something. He had found some book, slipped behind a wall. It was fat and covered in black leather. The lettering on the front was gold - gold or something else that's shiny. It sort of glowed, Sam said. Mo wouldn't show it to anyone. He went off by himself. And when he came back, he was behaving funny.

The Ukeladies shrugged it off at first. They let Mo be his weird, looming self. But one night, Ricky drove him home from practice and when they all met up later that week, Ricky had gone weird too. He had sunken eyes, twitchy lips. Vicky went back to his place that night, so excited to be going - but she was changed at the next practice. She creeped in the back door, wearing torn clothes, unlaced sneakers. Nora tried to lead a jam on Regina Spektor but the three of them, Ricky and Mo and Vicky, started murmuring under their breaths. They murmured complicated words that seemed bent-backward, spidery, confusing. They made Nora's head hurt. Nora quit the band. She sent an email to everyone: I'm really sorry, she wrote, I'm just not feeling it right now. Then Kate quit too. Only Louis was left, Louis and the dead-eyed trio. He had written a new song.

"What do you guys think?" he asked.

They gazed at him, saying nothing.

Vicky licked her lips with a worm-coloured tongue. Mo changed the pre-sets on his keyboard. Ricky said a word in a language older than space.

[MySpace / thanks, Adam!]

Posted by Sean at 9:28 PM | Comments (6)

September 15, 2009

The Myth of the Mail


Irma Thomas - "Cry On"

An ancient Chinese general, in love with his assistant, demanded that a service be set up so that he could send messages to his troops in the field. When his assistant offered to deliver the messages personally, the general refused, declaring that a whole staff of people would be employed to handle the delivery and trafficking of messages. The troops soon began to receive messages like "good work" and "continue fighting", which, while it heartened them greatly to receive kind words from the general, did not improve their tactics greatly. The young assistant, however, would receive lengthy anonymous letters almost daily. "Dear Honest One, your throat is slender like a swan, your legs are strong like bamboo, your smile like a singing morning bird, your soft tongue like a succulent oyster. I only want your purest dreams to come true, I want your life to be a waking dream, where every wish you have is granted instantly and precisely." The young assistant, awed that he would be "chosen" by such a secret admirer, decided to follow the wishes in the letters and make his dreams a reality. He enlisted in the army, and defended his country against its enemies. He was exploded in his second battle, and on his person were found, though charred and mostly unreadable, responses to every letter, unsent.

[Buy] (thanks, MCS)

This. is. genius.----->[via MBV]

(image source) where the source doesn't like the image.

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

September 14, 2009


El Perro del Mar - "Change of Heart". She is in the pillow section and he is in the picture-frame section. He is at the end of an aisle, taking a matte silver frame from a hook. His arms are raised and he looks particularly bear-like, strong and bearded. She thinks of how he will put the frame around his shoulder and come over to where she is standing; he will stroke the arc where her neck meets her shoulder; they will go hand in hand to the warehouse at the end of this vast store. The frame will glint in the fluorescents, and he will choose a trolley from the row of trolleys and wheel the trolley through the tall steel shelves. They will find the melamine desk they liked, identifying it by its ümlauted label; he will balance the long, flat cardboard box on the trolley he chose. In the parking-lot they will bump into one of his old friends from university. Everyone will shake hands. And much later, at home, he will put the lithograph into the frame and hang it above their bed. They will make love like two traincars passing in a dark tunnel.

She stands and looks across the aisles to where he is taking a picture-frame from a hook. She wonders how many geese went into these pillows.


Labani Kalunga & Fikshala Band - "By Air". His name is Peter Parker and he is a mathematician. The other lecturers like to make jokes: "The Spider-Man of MATHS 120A!" Students put references to Mary-Jane and the Green Goblin in the titles of their papers. Once, someone left a box in his mailslot that contained a small spider. This is particularly funny because Peter Parker is a small, gentle man who recedes quietly into his little brown suits. He is 52 years old. He has probably never read a Spider-Man comic in his life, they think. He has probably never raised his voice, or danced, or laughed at a fart joke. They imagine him sitting in silence with pages of mathematical notation, a pencil in his fingers, the symbols passing into his mind with the dry sound of graphite scrape. What they do not know about Peter Parker is that when this little man looks at G(n) ∼ (lnn)2, what he sees is dancing fireworks. When he gazes at the twist and leap and dive of an equation, at the cresting hope of a proof, he hears a filligree of joyful electric guitar. He heard a dance of gold and silver, a riff as beautiful as the most beautiful girl. [from Awesome Tapes from Africa/buy]


My friend Abby McDonald (once of the Poptext music blog) is about to release her second novel, a book called The Popularity Rules. She has launched a website and video-thingy to promote it. Go look.

Posted by Sean at 2:36 PM | Comments (3)

September 11, 2009

Poised For Dedication

The Dutchess and the Duke - "Hands"

I know the moment when things looked different. When your body looked small like the way a stranger's body is just a body, yours was always a body until then. I saw the way one of your eyes opened a bit wider than the other, the way your ears sat high on your face, which slung your chin down low, like a lonely diabolo. The way your crooked smile kind of limped across your face and your hair fell like it always had, down. If I drew you, it wouldn't match up. You're more beautiful than my mind is able to see, it wouldn't be fair. I remember the moment. You were on the phone, doodling casually, and you drew a really nice face. A nice face that looked like a kindly doctor or something. And then you drew a jar around it. And I just thought, so loud in my head, so loud I knew I would never be able to make it quiet again, "Why does everything have to be in a fucking jar?" [Buy]

Zerditou Yohannes - "Bolel"

You hold the spoon and I sip the soup. You push the gas and I steer the wheel. You gather the wood and I gather the sticks. You spin the girl and I hold her shoes. You hold the keyboard and I type the words. You roll the camera and I say the words. You wink the eyes and I give the smile. You start the fight and I keep the peace. You hold the penny and I shine it up. You hold the bottom while I sing a song. You start the sentence and I lift it to Heaven. [Buy]


Oh, and please more comments on the amazing post by Michael Krueger!

Posted by Dan at 1:22 AM | Comments (4)

September 10, 2009


Correatown - "Valparaiso". "For the six years before the bankruptcy, your father had a trick. He would bring home a dish from the factory, something simple with a lid, unwrap its newspaper on the dining-room table. I would say, 'That's nice,' just like that, nothing fancy. They made simple things. Simple but nice. We would use the dish for sugar, or herbs, or apricot pits. Two weeks would pass. And then one day I would be putting an apricot pit in the dish and your father would say, 'Do you know where you just put that pit?' And I would say, 'In a dish'. And he would say, 'You put it in the stuff of Manawaka beach'. We'd have been at Manawaka beach two, maybe three months before; lying under the sun on holiday. And your father would have secretly taken a handful of sand, taken it all the way back home, taken it to the factory, thrown it into the vats. That was his trick. Made glass with it. His partner, Ralph, always rolled his eyes. The sand from those beaches - Manawaka, Lake Andy, Huron, San Marguerite, from Porto once - was impure. 'Not glass-grade,' Ralph would always say. But your father didn't care. 'The stuff of our sweet times,' he would say. 'Do you remember?'" [MySpace]

Speech Debelle - "Spinnin'". In my to-post folder for weeks, but then Speech goes along and wins the Mercury Prize and I'm just a bandwagon-jumper, trying to nick some gleam from her trophy. And yet on tracks like this, Speech Debelle shows she has enough gleam to go around; she's gleaming so hard that her running shoes, her chewing gum, the creases between her knuckles gleam. Optimism that's a little banal, sure, but ratatat drumstick whoop, yes yes, just the thing for here & today. (A lovely record.) [MySpace/buy]


Please do leave a comment for Michael Krueger, yesterday's guest-blogger.

Posted by Sean at 1:33 PM | Comments (4)

September 9, 2009

Said the Guests: Michael Krueger

You will love Michael Krueger. He is an artist from Lawrence, Kansas whose work pricked my heart like the sharp tip of a coloured pencil. Discovering his drawings was like discovering a forgotten album of photographs - shots from when I was growing up (like I am now). Oh yes, I remember this time. And also this time, banded & prismed. And when this happened. Only then when you go back to the first page to go through these memories again you realize no, they did not happen; these are souvenirs from dream. From when you decided with all your soul to climb that bluff and you packed your pack full of apples and you got up there but there was the woman in the calfskin and the milkmaid looking at that man with eyes full of lust, and the sun was setting, and there was the tree, and earth, and blues.

Which is to say that Michael Krueger draws hidden things as if they are unhidden. His bright lines camouflage his seriousness, like the holster of a gun. The men and women he draws have regrets, footprints, constellations over their heads. There is a face on the back of every penny.

Michael Krueger has a solo exhibition open now at Boston's Steven Zevitas Gallery. It runs through October 17. If I were there, I would be there. I have been working on the drawings for this show for the past year, he says. You can read an interview with Michael at Fecal Face.

Michael has done two drawings especially for us, for Said the Gramophone, giving image to two songs he loves. Please look, listen, look again; and please do leave some comments in the comments. (Thank you so much, Michael.)

Where YoU Wanna Be, by Michael Krueger
Michael Krueger - "Where You Wanna Be", colored pencil, 15" x 20", 2009.
(click image for full size)
inspired by
The Cave Singers - "Cold Eye" [buy/MySpace]

Where YoU Wanna Be, by Michael Krueger
Michael Krueger - "Young Lieutenant", colored pencil, 15" x 20", 2009.
(click image for full size)
inspired by
Drakkar Sauna - "Paul's Letter to St. Job" [buy/MySpace]

I listened to these two songs a bunch while I was working at the Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee, Belgium. I spent a month there this summer with my wife making art and drinking beer.

Belgium is Beautiful!

For me making art and listening to music go hand in hand, and I am grateful to all of the musicians past and present who continue to inspire me.

[Michael Krueger is a father, an artist and a teacher. He was born on January 5, 1967 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He now lives in Lawrence, KS where he teaches at the University of Kansas. He has given lectures and workshops at over 80 venues including City College in NYC and the Edinburgh College of Art, and one of his images of Thomas Jefferson hangs at Monticello. Michael's new solo exhibition, Endless Colony, is currently on at Boston's Steven Zevitas Gallery.]

(Previous guest-blogs: artist Amber Albrecht, The Whiskers, 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 Sean at 10:29 AM | Comments (10)

September 7, 2009


Painting by Jennie Taylor

Fulton Lights - "Monsters We've Built". A sea-change, a vaulting forward in the songwriting of Andrew Spencer Goldman. He has been a master of sound for as long as I have been listening, but on Healing Waters the songs-as-songs have more substance. These are not in any way "soundscapes" - they are tunes. In places they recall the Flaming Lips' basement anthems, or Stars' bedroom warnings. But these are just touchstones; "Monsters We've Built" is so much noisier than that. There's the crash of demolition, the shriek of tearing metal, an apocalyptic roar. The sound of something ripping through its old skin and taking a deep, deep breath. (Also, he covers David Byrne's "Glass, Concrete and Stone"!)

[buy for a ridiculous $6 (or less!) from Catbird Records]

(painting by Jennie Taylor)

September 4, 2009

Bicycle Bed

Circulatory System - "Tiny Concerts"
Circulatory System - "Electronic Diversions"

Yo yo, come here and check this out. Come here, shut up, come here. Remember I was telling you that time that the swamp behind my house is haunted? Remember I was sayin that? I know it's more of a pond, but we call it the swamp, that's just what we call it. Well, check it out, I'm not--I were-asn't lying. Check it out, check out this picture. My cousin took that, his name's Jeff, he's like 25 now, but he took that when he was our age, he took it right back here, see that tree? It's the same tree, and the water in the background. He took it right here, and I guess there was this old ratty oil drum back here, but he didn't care about it, he just took the picture, 'cause who cares about an old ratty oil drum, why would you take a picture of that, right? Well he said he just took it, like he just felt like taking it, but now when you look closer you'll see why. You see that? on the edge there? the white? you see that? see how it kinda comes all the way and it kinda starts from the oil drum? see that? Look at that, it was taken right here, and there's a shape coming right out of oil drum and my cousin said he must have caught the ghost when it first came out. And what else? my stepmom sees all sorts of stuff back here. One time she saw a man that was wearing a mask, and a woman in a red dress. And one time she heard a person crying but it was like the middle of the night, so no one even was awake. And plus even me, I lose stuff out here all the time. One minute stuff's there and another minute it's gone. Just gone, like you turn your head and it's gone. Like my brother's comic book Hell Night, that happened to me with...and like, food, of mine, and stuff...and, oh, even like, your Ewok bank it happened to. Yeah, your Ewok bank. The swamp took your Ewok bank, I meant to tell you. I'm telling you now.


Posted by Dan at 3:04 AM | Comments (5)

September 3, 2009


Withered Hand - "Hard On". Withered Hand's debut LP, Good News, is not lo-fi. This is a change from the shambolic stuff that so struck me last year. When Dan Willson revisits those old songs - "Religious Songs", "New Dawn", "I Am Nothing" - the results aren't (sorry) very good. I don't know whether it's because of the nature of the songs or simply because the higher-fi adaptations are so-so. But they sound too careful, too choreographed; no one is going to get stung.

However this is all an unfair introduction to Good News. Because Withered Hand is great, and most of Good News is wonderful. The album's best songs feel fully born into this studio - sharp and fully realised. Listening, you get stung. "Hard On" is ultimately about erections, but mostly it's about the intersection between yearning and doing. And bless his heart, Withered Hand has realised the sound of yearning; it's this, simple and splendid and fierce. It's a chant that keeps changing, with words like flashpaper. Listen to the way he sings man, good, could, knife, car, go, FM radio, guitars, Thin Lizzy, pen, John Updike, hard-on. Each one, carelessly cast, could start a housefire.

Go buy Good News. [MySpace]

(Update ~6pm: Edited this post to remove an embarrassing mistake about who produced Good News. Apologies to all.)


Earlier this year, I wrote about a Spirituals remix of Shelby Sifers' "Are You Devo". It's still one of the best things I've heard this year, and now Shelby has re-recorded the song (and added a different Spirituals remix) and loosed the whole thing onto the iTunes Music Store. I'm not offering it here because the whole thing is a grand charity project - a fundraiser for We Heart Arts. They're hoping to sell 2,500 downloads of "Are You Devo", boosting it into UK singles charts. It's a marvelous track - well worth that 99 cents. Go give them a hand.

Posted by Sean at 4:37 PM | Comments (4)

September 1, 2009

Ian Curtis Donuts


Capybara - "Soft"

Clean playing, clean notes, clean leaves and clean breath. Animated rose envelopes, eloquent children and light breakfast. Sparse decoration, felted palms, thoughts like open windows and sidewalk sales. GUI, "phooey", and donc. The smell of pine and pining.

Capybara - "Happiness / Let Child Roam"

I feel it would be wrong to say the alphabet was "invented". It seems more appropriate to say it was "discovered". There doesn't seem to be a sound missing to convey any English thought imaginable. At the discovery of the last letter, let's presume it to be "h", there must have been such a sense of relief. As if finally, now, we have all the tools we need to use, the alphabet (formerly alfabet) is complete, and anything we need to add will be to accommodate other languages, English is fully-equipped. As I lie on my back, on the roof of a car, in Hatfield MA (can you see me?) I wonder if a symptom of growing old is feeling like your alphabet is complete. I wonder casually if "Happiness / Let Child Roam" is the last piece in the puzzle of how-to-perpetually-enjoy-myself-eternally. So between "Post-Modern Girls" and "Father to a Sister of Thought" and peanut butter-banana sandwiches and cold coffee and kissing and The Philadelphia Story and coasting down a hill on a bike and the way scotch tape cleans a cell phone I just won't ever need anything else to always be having a great time, I can just rotate between all of these perpetually for the rest of my life. Of course it's completely egotistical to think that all the most enjoyable things will happen during the time in your life when you're open to that sort of thing, but I mean it only in the nicest way. The way Capybara boom-in that fuzz guitar halfway through and end with their stick-clacks and sailors' choir, maybe that's it, maybe that's all I need.
(see you Friday!)



Titus Andronicus Contest:
Some great submissions, good work to all who submitted. The first runner-up is "Tu: Unicorn Sadist" and no one got the instant-winner I had in mind (today's title) so the WINNER IS "Custard Unionist" by Drew. It makes me think of the Pudding Riots in the 20's and lines and lines of beige breadline dessert passionantes. So congrats, Drew, email me your info and we'll get you that vinyl.

TITUS ANDRONICUS PLAY IL MOTORE FRI SEPT 4th. Go see them. Other dates here.

Posted by Dan at 3:40 AM | Comments (1)