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, 2010


Our 2010 Funding Drive ends tonight. This is your last chance to donate to Said the Gramophone, for a whole whole whole year.

Tomorrow, it will be July. We will put our away our hats. We will quit askin' for your slivers of silver. & that'll be that.

Thank you to all who have donated so generously thus far. (More on that later.)

Posted by Sean at 7:13 PM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2010


Laurie Anderson - "Thinking of You"

Tomorrow, wake up an hour earlier than you did today. This should only take an hour, so once you've finished, you'll have wasted none of your regular day. Get out of bed immediately and do not dress. Eat a small piece of raw meat, any meat, coated in sugar. Just pat it in sugar and eat it. This will be your exact amount of energy needed. Get dressed in clothes you don't care about and leave your house. Find a crack in the sidewalk with a flower growing out of it. Near there should be a wall, climb it. At the top you should be able to see much farther than you could before. You're looking for public transport: buses, taxis, a sign for a subway, anything. The first one you see, go and catch it. Take it until it stops, if it's a taxi, hand over whatever money you have and say "take me this far". When you get out, talk to the first person you see, find out their name and where they are from. If you do not speak the same language, at least get a name. Now, use this name in some way, let it change your life. Tattoo it on your body, spray paint it on a wall, masturbate to it, write it on bread and ingest it. Anything to let transference take place. And once transference takes place, you may begin your day as usual, and awake awake awake. [Buy from Nonesuch]

Posted by Dan at 12:02 AM | Comments (3)

June 28, 2010


Girl with flowers

Omar Souleyman - "Li Raja Behawakom (I Beg You, Baby)". Tiny had worked up the nerve. With the stars still out, he borrowed Blacky's car and coasted the bumpy road into town. He stopped in front of Iufi's house. He watched the windows. The living-room light was on. He waited. The living-room light turned off. The bedroom light turned on, and then it turned off. In the car, Tiny waited. He stared at the empty windshield with a clarity of purpose he had not felt in many years. The street was empty. He looked back at the house. All was still dark. Tiny clicked his teeth and swung open the car's door.

He got the rake from the back. It caught the night's faint gleams. Tiny raked Iufi's front yard. This was always the first step, when courting. He cleared away the winter-wet old leaves. He pushed them toward the kerb and then packed them into paper bags. He put them aside for later. Next, he mowed the lawn. This was always the second step. He had to be quiet. He hoisted his hand-push mower from the trunk. It caught the night's faint gleams. He pushed it through the grass, through the overgrown winter grass. He felt like a man caring for an animal. The mower snicked and whispered in the night. When he had finished this, he raked the grass again. This was the third thing. Then he lifted the mower and the rake back into the trunk of Blacky's car.

Next, the pepper ivy. He had reels of this in the passenger seat. The ivy was light as cobweb, green with speckled leaves. He laid the reels against the front wall of Iufi's house. They began to come alive, unfurl, fronds lifting from the wreaths and climbing. Next, the lovers'-trees. Two of them. He set them in their pots on the centre of the lawn. He planted five firefly bushes, in the ceremonial V. He took out a blossom gun and fired this into the air. The seeds rose up like firework dust. They would not drift down for hours. It was dark now. In the gutter, Tiny lit the bags of leaves on fire. He stuck sticks of incense into the smoke. From the back seat he took his box of singing beetles. He placed them one by one at the base of the pepper ivy, on the trunks of the emerald trees, on leaves of the firefly bushes. The fireflies heard them and began to glow. The beetles were singing very softly. They would continue singing softly. Tiny knew this. He knew he would now go to sleep in the front seat of Black's car. He would doze until dawn woke him. Then, the lovers'-trees would be shaking and tilting. The gunblossoms would be falling. The fireflies would still be glowing, the leaves would still be burning, and the beetles would be singing more loudly. The sun would be a portent in the sky. Tiny would go to the door of Iufi's house and with all the strength in his heart he would push the button of her doorbell.

She would wake to a question on her lawn.

[buy / Omar Souleyman plays a free show in Montreal tonight.]

The-Dream - "Yamaha". If you could do this, you would. You would have to. It's like a kid skimmin' along on his bicycle, hops the sidewalk, finds himself on a ramp - and swish, swish, swish, he's done three 360s and a cherry-loop. That kid becomes a BMX star. That kid goes to the BMX Olympics. But The-Dream's not a kid with a bicycle. He's a man named Terius who can make songs like this, alone or (as here) with friends like Los Da Mystro. And when you can do this, you must. You must seduce as many people as you can. You must celebrate them. You must set their beauty to song, with glittering hooks, fluttering synths, undying drums. Terius sings, "I never seen a girl with an ass so fat". But do not be put off by the talk of bums. Terius is singing this to his ideal woman, his Beatrice, his love. Yes, she is callipygous. But this is a song of pure adoration, keen as light in eyes.

[buy, tomorrow; it's tremendous]



I spent much of last year researching and writing a long non-fiction article about the Parisian secret society called UX. It is now, finally, in print - in the summer issue of Brick. Please pick it up, if you live in a place with a good bookshop - there's such treasures as Carl Wilson on Kate McGarrigle, poetry by Steven Heighton, and Gísli Sigurðsson's wonderful tale of being an Icelander on the Irish national handball team.

I've also got a piece in the new issue of Maisonneuve magazine, which is dedicated in part to THE MUSIC WE HATE. I've written an article putting the slam-down on Sufjan Stevens. I've not got my hands on the issue yet, but there's a bevy of critics tackling sacred cows (eg, Michael Barclay on Animal Collective, Carl Wilson on Radiohead), plus a new theatre column by Sheila Heti, et cetera. To launch the issue, Maisonneuve is holding a concert on July 8, with covers of "songs they can't stand" by three acts, including two Said the Gramophone favourites - Pat Jordache and Carlo Spidla.

Land of Talk's gorgeous Take-Away Show is now online, shot in Montreal about a month ago. Wonderful, stupid, platful, heartbreaking sessions - with tree-climbing, underpasses, a censored song with kids. And, in the second (better) video, yr first taste of one of the best albums I've heard this year. (I will share some of it with you as soon as I can.)

Finally, my friend the producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Silver Mt Zion, Basia Bulat) has written a fucking terrific piece for The Sound, It Resounds. He has written about one of his favourite albums, the Velvet Underground's Live at Max's Kansas City. But what makes it special is the elegance and poetry of his words, recalling his younger days bootlegging shows, the role of a producer, and just the hot sound of a band in a room. Definitely must-read. "From the ages of 15 to 17, I snuck a portable tape recorder into every show I went to, spending the following week eq-ing it and editing it to fit on a C-90. ... It was like the aural equivalent of going on safari, and bringing back an elephant tusk."

[photo source]

Posted by Sean at 12:46 AM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2010



Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics - "Pari Ruu"

"If I'm resurrected, I sure as shit better be able to dance," were my grandfather's dying words. I either thought or said, "Do you mean reincarnated?" but it was too late. He was suddenly more lifeless than the rubber plant on the table next to me. I had bought it for him when he had gone in; something that didn't need too much watering. I didn't cry, it had been too long coming for that, but I suddenly wondered about his Buick LeSabre. I told the nurse I would drive it home, but she insisted I stay for lunch first. It was odd, but it was still early in the day and I didn't really feel like going back to work, so I agreed. I sat in the cafeteria with a bunch of the nurses who had been caring for my grandfather off and on over the years and we talked about him and told stories. They talked about how no one wanted to be the one to give him sedatives, because once he was drowsy he apparently became pretty lascivious in his language. I apologized on his behalf, but I could tell they didn't really mind. They said he could be sort of poetic about it sometimes. "If I have earned one prize in this life, it's to have your breasts graze my chin as you change my sheets." I looked out the window at the hospital garden, which stretched on down a long green lawn to a forest. A lovely place for slow-walking patients and visiting loved ones to take a stroll. But as I focused my eyes towards the horizon, at the edge of the forest, there was a figure, facing away towards the woods, as if about to go in. But dancing. Wildly and with rabid abandon. I'm a bit embarrassed of my reaction, I suppose it had only been a couple of hours, but I ran headlong into the plate glass window, which flattened my face and bounced me to the floor. Luckily I was surrounded by nurses. When I came to, I asked fervently about my grandfather, if he was alive. Of course he wasn't, the orderly came in who had been dressed in his clothes and dancing in the garden. I smiled, but still, "Why did you do that?" "He asked me to." [MySpace]

Scissor Sisters - "Running Out"

Here's the coolest thing about the coming World Government. Like, when 1984 gets here. Here's the coolest thing. Everyone will have an implanted GPS tracker (which they will purchase willingly, they will pay (literally) through the nose for it) that will have tons of cool apps on it. One layabout social mooch with no job and all sorts of stolen free time, will design an app that saves your GPS movements, all of them, and paints them in lines across Maps like stringy ribbons. You save these up over a year, and then send them in to this layabout social mooch's computer, and he sky-jects them on a cloudy night, animates them, and people's lives bloom in yellow, pink, mauve, and beige blossoms across the map of the city. You can see some people spread like a sprawling virus all over the city, the world, or ping-pong to a few places like a trapped rat, or stay in one place and seep from the boundaries of their house like a fountain pen held in place too long, like an oil spill from space. That'll be the coolest thing. Well, that, and the escape attempts from the Unpatriotentiary. Those will be pretty rad. People sewing themselves into other people's skin, that kind of thing. [Buy]

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

June 24, 2010



Nut Brown - "I Need A Love Like That". [free download]
David Dondero - "Wherever You Go". [pre-order]

Two great songs that sound as if they were written in bachelor apartments, perhaps a little too late at night. But these men bent over their pens & papers, guitars, keyboards, and in their stale clothes they stopped caring about bachelor apartments, stale clothes, advancing age. They had it. They had it. They knew better to call it "genius": they each called it "a song". One tune about wanting, one about having; messy and riffed, kicker, killer, hurled.


I've gone to see a handful of shows in the past week, all completely excellent: Fiery Furnaces, the Youjsh and Tune-Yards, and then a raft of Suoni Per Il Popolo things, including William Basinski and Will Eizlini's marvellous arrangement of Judee Sill songs. Last night I heard Kath Bloom sing, yes that Kath Bloom, and at 56 her voice was better than ever, incredible, cutting to the quick. She and her band were hilarious, ridiculous, deeply feeling. She's visiting the UK soon: please go see her.

Basia Bulat plays three nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at the MACM this weekend. Young Galaxy, Adam & the Amethysts and Little Scream - three of the city's very finest - play together at the Belmont on Saturday. And Omar Souleyman plays a free show at Place des Arts on Monday night. Montrealers, we are spoiled. Joyeuse Fête National.

Posted by Sean at 10:52 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2010

One Week Left

Click here to lend your support to: Said the Gramophone

One last week for the funding drive. To decide if you'd like to give, you can read the post about it, or read about the prizes at the pledge page.

Posted by Dan at 5:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2010

Headfucks and Headlines

Les Savy Fav - "The Equestrian"

There is a 17-year-old still within me that was brought to life on Saturday, when I saw Les Savy Fav in Toronto. Their monstrous brutality, their charming mischief, and their boundless energy. The show began by a proclamation of "we are going to defile this space!" which garnered from me a mere smug grin. But they were right, we did. I am not a fan of Les Savy Fav, I recognized not a single song, but I danced like I did. Covered in beer, barely able to breathe, I thought to myself, "I'm 27 years old, but they're even older." The show was vivisected, I couldn't even see the lead singer by the time the lights came on, but that was all the better. No bursting crescendo, no end page to the story where I acted like a teenager for one night. [Buy, or even better, see them live before you die (Newton Barge Park in Brooklyn on Sunday)]



People have been writing me about RatTail since I started posting them over a year ago (and since: 1, 2). Recently a young woman named Miela Siy contacted me, she's now helping them with their first Brooklyn show, and I'm so happy for it.

RatTail's show in Brooklyn will be this Friday June 25th at 7pm at 255 McKibben St. #103 (off the Montrose stop on the L). Also playing are Steel Phantoms, Strange Shapes, and Rapdragons. I'm told there will be refreshments.



Sean Dunne has 4 lovely little documentaries to his credit. The first about an archivist losing his collection, the second about a man living in his van, the third about a veteran, and the newest about Rocky Salemmo, "The Bowler". They are gorgeous and very well made, they deserve attention, praise, and that team needs to be put on a bigger project. They are ready.



at Cabaret Mile-End (old Kola Note) join me (say hi!).

Posted by Dan at 12:49 PM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2010


Flower head

Shapes and Sizes - "I Need An Outlet".

A man goes shopping for boxes. He walks the aisles, cart-casters squeaking. From the shelves he pulls cardboard boxes, steel boxes, wooden boxes. He will bring these boxes home. He will put things in them.

A man goes shopping for fires. He walks the aisles, warily, cart-casters pushing through smoke. From the shelves he pulls lighter flames, house fires, forest fires. He will bring these fires home. He will figure it out when he gets there.

["I Need an Outlet" is from Shapes and Sizes' forthcoming Candle To Your Eyes, an album of prowl and purr. This tune is nervy, Rory-led, whereas the others are mostly simmering, Caila-sung. Shades even of Wooden Stars, in with the boiling reverse funk. This is the song of Dorothy's Scarecrow, late in the game. Emerald City, have mercy! -- Candle To Your Eyes. is out August 3, more here, including previous albums.]

Cotton Mouth - "Black Hand".

Roddy Puke was the most feared jockey in all the AAA. He would enter the jockeys' bar and the other competitors would whisper, spill their drinks, fall down, shaken by Puke's terrible black gaze and his thunderous denim stride. Puke had won the AAA crown three times, the Raptureshire Stakes, the Rufus Prize and even the Holly Medal. He had once raced Marchfield in 2:38. Two thirty-eight! Puke would step onto his horse, Springtime, and they would plunge into the course like an avalanche thrown downhill. Before the race, he would sit sipping club soda at a plastic table, no one willing to rest their bones beside him. He smelled of musk and victory.

One day, they realised Springtime, Roddy Puke's horse, was actually a flight of black swallows. It was not a horse: it was a flock of birds. Puke was disqualified.

[from Cotton Mouth's new tour EP / MySpace]

(image source/photographer unknown)

Posted by Sean at 10:23 AM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2010



Johnny Horton - "The Battle of New Orleans"

In the century before this one, before the one you're in now, there took place a perfectly two-sided event. An event of epic proportions and of minor importance, of utter publicity and of complete privacy, of legend and of rumour.

A dignitary by the name of Douglas Millfield Ronce was something of a political gadabout. He was much enamoured with the pleasures of politics; the speech-making, the assurance-giving, the gladhanding. Although he had very little actual power, he liked seeing hope in people's eyes, as if he were an angel to them, bestowing upon them the gift of Heaven's promise. And combined with that, he was also secretly obsessed with the dark arts. He would tell his aides and confidantes that he was merely "seeking out all the aspects of Christianity", and to do that he must wade heavily in the waters of the Satanic realm.

One of his Dark Prophets, for he had many, often as much as ten in his employ, told him one day of the "Earth Mother Achilles". As all massive beasts, the Earth was in possession of a single, tiny weak point. A place that, when ruptured, would completely reverse the volumes of evil and good in the world. All that was good would be sucked into Earth's new orifice, and be replaced by a spewing evil. Ronce, now obsessed with this legend, decided to see if it were true.

He hired his idiot nephew Harlibut, an awkward young man of poor stature and worse manners. So ugly he could never take a wife, and too gnarled for any hard labour, Harlibut was something of a missed beat, like a spark made by a flint that doesn't catch; forgettable, useless, and may just as well never existed. A perfect candidate for Ronce's dark plan. He would send Harlibut to the bottom of the Great Sea, in a suit made of iron, to cut the Earth Mother Achilles, while he filibustered a distraction in the state Parliament. And this, dear reader, was the two-sided event of such note.

On the morning of June 14th of last century, Douglas Millfield Ronce began his speech while at that exact same moment, Harlibut was being fitted into an iron suit, in the hard morning shadows of a shaded dock.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please, I have something I wish to say. For many a year now it has been known that the biggest and most change-worthy problem in our fair society is the proliferation and supportation and encourage-ation of collection thieves. I'm talking specifically about those scoundrels, those no-goods, those contra-swells that pilfer change out of the collection basket while they are passing it on down the row at Church on our fair Sunday masses at our fair Sunday churches. Now, gentlemen, this has got to stop..."

Harlibut walked along the bottom of the Great Sea, the map of his destination now burned into his memory, with an ease that surprised even himself. It was if he were born to find the Earth Mother Achilles, he was moving with grace and aplomb, two things normally never attributed to Harlibut. He felt a crooked stretching of his mouth, a twisting in his bent neck, a pull on his decrepit little soul. He was truly happy. Dark dust kicked up behind him as he belted down the slope of the floor of the Great Sea.

"...and another thing, taxes my goodness, taxes are the very thing this town needs to rid itself of in order to become truly one of the great cities of the world. No great city in the world has taxes, at least to my knowledge. Taxation is a primitive, backwards, step-downy way to live, it's uncivilized and I can no longer support it any longer. Upon completion of my point I will suggest to my colleagues who support my position to...rise up..."

Ronce was sweating. An 82-minute speech thus far, he looked across the room at a man with dark eyes. The man shook his head slowly.

"...But I am not completed, not yet, not yet at all gentlemen, for I have just begun to outline my position on the relationship between state and property. I believe property to be independent of the state and should be available to any man cunning enough to lay down his foot upon it..."

Just then, deep below the calm surface of the Great Sea, the young man named Harlibut found the soft fleshy endpoint of his journey. It was a white supple crevice in the sea floor, and he removed the sacred knife from its sheath and prepared to plunge. But suddenly, in the peace of the dark marine bottom, Harlibut felt sorry for the Earth Mother Achilles. It was a helpless and easy target, it had done nothing to deserve this treatment. It was beautiful. And he was happy.

And he felt a stir.

A stir all but unfamiliar to him. The kind of stir he used to feel, years ago, when he would catch a glimpse of the laundry girl's calf while she gathered soiled clothes from the floor of his hospital room. The kind of stir reserved for dim light, like the dim light of this sea bottom, the soft white light of the Achilles. Harlibut began to remove the suit. Even though he somehow knew this would likely kill him, he removed the suit. And in the moments before he was crushed by the pressure, the drawn-out coldness of the deep sea, he made love, for the first time, to the Earth Mother Achilles.

"...if the Bible says no then I say no, gentlemen, for there is nothing the Bible says that I don't also say. And may I be totally clear when I say, walk with God always because God is like an iron suit, he will protect you and he will keep you, he will carry you and he will shelter you, he will show you the way, the truth, and the light."



(image of General Dynamics, Annual Report, 1959)


Next Week: The Fiery Furnaces play Montreal. They are one of my favourite bands in history, they are consistently challenging, inventive, brilliant. I have written about them many many times. Come see them with me, at Cabaret Mile-End (a new venue formerly known as Kola Note) next Tuesday June 22nd, 9:30, 16$. Tickets available online, or at Cheap Thrills, L'Oblique, Atom Heart, and Phonopolis.

Posted by Dan at 3:10 AM | Comments (5)

June 17, 2010


Photo by Ryan Schude

Tennis - "Marathon" A summer song from a wife-&-husband duo who drift in, er, certain circles, and so there's a little too much hiss here, in a song that would be better served by fidelity, or at least a little fidelity, not too polished either, let's say lo-fi; but this small thing aside, it's a summer song that somehow escapes being too beachy, too calypso, as is the trend in, er, certain circles, and instead Tennis's summertime is wildflower valley, full July, thistle and shade, bursting with glee but not sunbleached; just right. [thanks Chris / MySpace]

PS I Love You - "Starfield". With a mixture of the Pixies' goofy desperation and McLusky's desperate goofiness, PS I Love You make a song that's catchy and elastic, romantic and stupid, a string of "fucks" with a starry sky at the end. It makes me imagine a certain kind of conversation, the kind of conversation that goes like this: "It's okay, dude. Calm down! Have a glass of water. Now we're friends. (... ...) SPACE LION!" [thanks James / MySpace / buy]

(photo by Ryan Schude)

Posted by Sean at 1:47 AM | Comments (4)

June 15, 2010

Cluster Trust


Cotton Jones - "Glorylight and Christie"

In tired lazy clouds, as if heat-exhausted, sun-sick, the yellow dust kicks up in some salute to the flapping of a tattered flag. The land is tired, the trees are tired, too weak to stand, the people are tired, in their dusty leather boots. War is hell, on this day, only because it lasts so long. Only because it allows, nay demands, the accursed existence of some other heaven. Some clean and slippery-seated diner, where some fine young country girl is sipping on a milk, half in shadow, half in light. Her head is empty, save the song on the jukebox, an empty head the final paradise, the greatest gift of modern life.

[MySpace] [out Aug 24th on Suicide Squeeze]


Hockey - "Mercenary Days"

My heart is thumping, my mind is lifted, and my lips can only form two words: "Karaoke Jovi".

[buy PDX Pop Now! 2010 Compilation for 8$]



My good friend Roger has compiled a mix for Sowehere, the home of Moss Bailey. It's a really great mix, check it out.

I only recently started subscribing to the WNYC's Radiolab podcast. Sean's been a fan for a long time now, so I'm sorry if you all know about this already, but if you don't, go go go listen. On their most recent podcast they replayed an episode from early 2008, about Deception (catching liars, lying in nature, and self-deception) and the last act left me harrowed, hollowed, barely able to listen through the tears. Incredible stuff.


Born Ruffians have a nice little video for "What to Say" made by the very talented Jared Raab. There is also a good making-of. Jared produced and shot Nirvana the Band the Show, one of my favourite web series.

(image from Kevin Cooley's Light's Edge series)

Posted by Dan at 2:31 AM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2010


Photo by Shadi Ghadirian

Young Galaxy - "Suzanne". There was something about the Spanish team, that year. They were not the fastest, nor the most precise. They were not aggressive, nor meek. Their play seemed to come from a different place than the other teams'. They moved like fireflies in a copse. They would pass silently across the field, through and among their opponents. Their only sound was the ripple and flick of their royal-blue uniforms. The Spaniards were tireless and strange. They raised one arm when they wanted a pass; they had dark eyes; the balls seemed to follow them; they touched, they touched, they touched. The other team would not understand. They would simply not understand. The vuvuzelas sang their doleful b-flat. The Spaniards passed the ball to and fro, crisscrossing like kites, 32 passes in a single play; and then finally, with something like regret, into the goal. They placed second, behind Argentina.

[buy Young Galaxy's bright ivory new EP, No Art on iTunes / See them on tour this month with the Besnard Lakes, or beside Adam & the Amethysts and Little Scream at Montreal's Belmont on June 26.]

Pat Jordache - "Phantom Limb". I wrote about this, Pat Jordache's debut, last month. Now it has a name. It is called Future Songs. It is available here, for whatever price you name, or on limited-edition cassette. I saw Pat again this weekend, backing Tune-Yards for a few songs. He played his guitar like he was playing the gold prize in a physics contest. He played it like he was a soulful emperor. Future Songs is no longer confused; it is rough-housing; it is stargazing when you're in love, reeling from a blow to the head, wearing sunglasses. "Phantom Limb" is a song you can leave behind and then come back and it'll still be good later.


(photo by Shadi Ghadirian)

Posted by Sean at 1:06 AM | Comments (3)

June 11, 2010

In Yer Eighties


Shotgun Jimmie - "Waist Deep in the Water"

I was reading an old copy of Trapped! that I found nestled deep away, and was enjoying it. It was an exciting tale of a lamplighter's son who, when asked to take over his father's position one night when he's ill, is suspected for a murderer and is chased by an unknown pursuer. The boy highjacks a boat to escape and is washed out to sea, and is trapped. But that's not the interesting bit. When I reached the middle of chapter 10, just as the boy eyes the shadowy boat in the harbour and decides to hop aboard and use his torch to burn the rope and make a quick escape, I turned the page to find a bookmark. With my name on it. Although I had no memory of this story, of holding this book, of feeling its pages or seeing its typeface, I had apparently been reading it at some point. Or some other version of me, perhaps at 12 or 13, I had become too scared for the boy in his predicament, I had given up on the book, shut it closed. But if I read it before, I must have liked it before, and it made me pleased to agree with some ghost of myself.

And it's this way I feel about Shotgun Jimmie. As if I used to be a fan, though I have never before heard his music, and am just returning to it, feeling already nostalgic and impressed with some younger self. [MySpace]

Chin Chin - "Jungle of Fear"

It's 3pm, perfectly sunny and warm and, the air is thick and sweet. The bell rings. First out the door, a kid runs onto the bus, and just sits there, tucked against the window, waiting for it to fill up. He takes out a notebook and starts writing, his glasses slipping down his nose, his back hunched over his knee.

Another stupid weekend at dad's. In his gungy apartment with the Rod Stewart poster and his secret porn. There better be something for breakfast there, not stupid chocolate bars anymore, I think I learned my lesson on that one. I don't wanna watch Carol Burnett and read those same 4 Archies. I don't want that stupid room with the floor mattress and the dusty windows. I don't want to smell onions the whole time. I never realized mom was like some kind of mask that dad would wear, or like a fancy suit that made him look so much better.

[order from Forced Exposure]

(photo of Carole Lombard)

Posted by Dan at 12:22 PM | Comments (3)

June 10, 2010



William Basinski - "Disintegration Loop 1.1 [excerpt]".

I don't do this very often, a big interview on a local subject, but Montreal's Suoni Per Il Popolo festival is not just a treasure that more of the city's music-lovers ought to take pleasure in, but a possible model for festivals worldwide. Small, ambitious, utterly splendid, Suoni's organisers have for 10 years been bringing some of the planet's most adventurous, deep-diving and volatile artists to Casa and Sala during the month of June. This is not staid indie rock: it's free jazz, free folk, noise, contemporary classical, musique actuelle, weird punk. All the stranger stuff, curated with verve and playful skill. For me, much of this music works best in a live setting - that is, I don't always get it when I'm listening to a CD - so Suoni offers an unrivalled gateway into new feelings. It's beautiful, sometimes scary. Every year, a new slate of names I've never heard of, or barely heard of: a hundred different tantalisings.

I reached out to Suoni's Mauro Pezzzente and Kiva Stimac (founders) and Steve Guimond (artistic director), to ask a few questions for my own sake, for your sake, and perhaps for those who mount shows outside of this fair city.

A decade on, how do you maintain Suoni per il Popolo's identity? What is it that sets the festival apart and how do you make sure that it retains those qualities?

Our idea has always to get better and better, not bigger and bigger. Suoni has always stuck to its original mandate: to celebrate Liberation music, music that is inspired by freedom of expression, improvisation, and sonic explorations that appeal to music aficionados worldwide. Having this as a starting point helps us keep things in check musically and philosophically. We have also operated out of the same two venues, year after year. Casa del Popolo + Sala Rossa = Suoni. They are such great, intimate spaces to hear music in, and the bonds created within their walls between artist and listener are second-to-none; they are almost unparalleled worldwide. Finally, the festival has never been about us, but about the artists and the fans.

Organising concerts and promoting festivals are largely thankless jobs. Is this something you struggle with? What rewards do you draw from this work?

We all lead busy lives outside of work (partners, children, bands, businesses), but Suoni kind of keeps us grounded. To see where it's grown to today, in comparison with the earlier years, is inspirational. Suoni has always been about friendships with the artists, and building bridges directly with them. We've managed to keep things very casual and open, and more importantly personal. This is where the joy comes from.

Do you have any advice for people starting a festival?

Follow your heart and your ass will follow. Make sure you are doing things for the right reasons, ie the music you love and artists you respect.

Suoni's programming can be intimidating. It's also a wonderful, wonderful opportunity. What's the best way for people who don't know these names to figure out what shows to go to? Streaming musique actuelle, free jazz or noise MP3s rarely seems to communicate what the artist is about.

Good question. I guess firstly do a bit of research, as we do when we're checking out new artists. The internet has opened up so many listening possibilities and wonderful discoveries. Trust your friends. (Word of mouth is a powerful tool.) And take a chance and trust us! We put a lot of time and effort into programming the nights, and much thought is paid to both fans and non-fans. Much of what is deemed 'leftfield' is actually quite accessible, but for whatever reason, the artists in question just haven't broken through to more listeners. Our website is flush with way more bio info, links, streams, and videos.

For the people I'm gesturing toward above, who are curious but not knowledgeable about this kind of music, which acts should they see at this year's Suoni?

Tough question, but these are the not misses: Grouper, Pocahaunted, Radian [We've already missed these!! - Ed.], Emeralds, Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker trio, No Neck Blues Band, Oneida, all the artists at No Fun Night, William Basinski, Matthew Shipp trio, Vandermark 5, Globe Unity Orchestra, Talibam!, Aki Onda, Kath Bloom.

For those who are already into these kinds of musics, what's the mindblowing stuff at this year's festival which they might overlook?

Definitely one of the most out-there musicians we have ever come across, from Paris, Ghédalia Tazartès. We discovered him a number of years ago through friends of the festival who raved about his music. Last year he presented a trio here, Les Reines d'Angleterre, as he told us he needed six months to prepare for solo shows and he could not ready one in time for June 2009. After last year's performance we arranged to have him come back alone this year. He is an artist who must be heard to be believed. He's created his own language, musical and otherwise, that knows no boundaries and is truly uncategorizable, save for the utter beauty and emotion he conveys.

Further, William Basinski (mp3) is a must. He's a seminal figure in the underground minimal/ambient electronics field, who's been plugging away for twenty-five years now. Only in the last couple of years has people started to pay attention. His music will make you cry.

Finally, how has Montreal changed over the course of Suoni's decade? Besides buying tickets, what can those of us who live here do to help make sure that Suoni - and likeminded projects - never, ever go away?

Ten years ago, Montreal was a wasteland in terms of the presentation of these types of concerts. There was a lack of promoters and stages. There are still too few stages in the city, but the amount of crazy music to be heard has certainly exploded compared to a decade ago. Now, Montreal is a must stop on may folks' touring itineraries. I guess the best thing that Montrealers can do to keep Suoni rolling is get involved. Our doors are always open. We survive each June with the help of many volunteers. And dialogue is important as well; we rely on our friends and fans to keep us informed about new music or bands they've some across. Many of our shows come from personal ties between local artists or promoters and the bands. And of course, help spread the word about our little festival!


Suoni Per Il Popolo runs until June 26. My own dumb-dumb highlights, from the remaining calendar, include William Basinski, Tune-Yards, Julia Kent, Frog Eyes, HEALTH and Jeff the Brotherhood, Tonstartssbandht, Where The River Got The Water, Kath Bloom and the Judee Sill tribute. I also try to make it a priority to attend the various (free) artist workshops - caught a wondrous thing with Akron/Family a couple of years back. But don't mind me - I'm going to follow Mauro, Kiva and Steve's advice above; with Suoni it's always best to stray from the known path.

Posted by Sean at 1:00 PM | Comments (1)

June 8, 2010

Point to the Ghost


The Burning Hell - "The Berlin Conference"

Ület is the only city designed and built by a poet. Dmitri Straße was the nation's most beloved poet, and he was also a genius architect, and given license to design the entire city of Ület, which was to be a center of culture. In the early stages of planning, he had a unique and lovely idea for the city's design: each borough would be inspired by the different forms of poetry. In the north end of town was to be The Sonnet, a place of order and tradition, where the city's twin universities were to be located, the base of which would hold the city hall. To the east was to be Haiku, which would later be dubbed Hai"cool" by outsiders and locals alike, a hip area of cheaper living, where artists, immigrants, and bohemians could live inexpensively and get by with very little. In the south, past the Acrostic Gardens, and down the enormous Sestina Steps (Ület has one large slope across the middle of the city) was Canzone, the hub of industry and business. While Straße himself hated money, in fact he took no money for the commission of designing Ület, he paid respect to what he knew was the huge machine driving the development of the world, for better or worse, with The Epics, two 10-storey sentinel statues guarding the entrance to Canzone. The Roundel transit system, a spiral train that wound its way through all of Ület, would then take you to the west, to Ruba'i, which was intended, as Straße put it "as a transformative zone". It would be meant to respond to the needs of the city, as they arose, and would not be designated as one thing or another. It was where Straße lived, in a small brick-chimney house on the edge of the Sijo canal, with his daughter Amelia, a young but wildly successful ballerina. Ruba'i was the last area to be designed by Straße, and some critics at the time claimed he simply ran out of ideas. But no one made that claim after the accident, after everything changed.

Lonski & Classen - "At a Push"

Amelia Straße was a delightful young woman. The nation's most beloved rising star. She had performed on international stages for kings, queens, presidents and prime-ministers. Her dance was called by one journalist, "a dream that all of humanity is having at once." On the morning of April 4th, the day before Ület was to be unveiled to the world as Dmitri Straße's finest work, Amelia was found floating down the water in the Sijo, drowned in a tragic sleepwalking accident. And on that morning, from when the discovery was made until the next morning's unveiling, Dmitri Straße completely redesigned the city of Ület. He put huge x's through all the maps, he burned all the borough plans and destroyed his original notebooks. He sat hunched at the foot of The Epics, in the shade of their stone, and started again. There would be one central element to Ület, it would be called the Ode, and all things would exist in relation to it. The Ode would be the humming central nervous system of the city, it would be the place of his daughter's death. From his brick-chimney house, out the back steps, and the line down the canal to where her body was found, would encompass the shape and mystery of the Ode. Nothing could be built on the Ode, nothing could traverse the Ode (though you could go around it, you could not go over it, planes included) and the most peculiar rule: nothing could face the Ode. People could face the Ode, by all means, inadvertently depending on what distance they were from it, but everything else must face away. The doors and windows of buildings, the exit doors of the Roundel, all streets, parked cars, even mirrors, must all face away from the Ode. As he wrote in the last line of his unveiling speech, a speech taught now in history classes the world over, "no one should be forced to see the thing that changed us, it is only in looking away that we can truly know we are looking ahead."

[order Berlin Songs Vol. 3]


Thanks to all who made my trip to Berlin absolutely unforgettable. From Sebastian (who releases the Berlin Songs compilations and runs festivals and shows) to Anne at Magnet, and Shotgun Jimmie and Dominique and Jane and Hendrik, thanks for showing me such a good time. Each of you have left me charmed, happy, and adventure-sated.

Posted by Dan at 7:15 PM | Comments (7)

June 7, 2010


Sign on Taman Suria

Silly Kissers - "Sweet Adrian". He gave you his keyring and said, "find me". He was wearing a blue tank-top. As he biked away, the roadster's chrome flashed in the evening light. You flagged down a cab. You said, "follow that boy." He knew you were behind him; he wove and swerved; he jumped a curb and vanished down an alley. You would have to do this by feel. You exited the taxi, paying with a $20. You ran. On a block filled with apartments, you strode back and forth, sniffing the air. He was in here somewhere, with his feet up, waiting for you. The street smelled of sweet smoke. You jingled the keyring in your hand, squeezing the plush ape keychain, wondering which screen-door to break down. [buy, previously]

Nina Nastasia - "You Can Take Your Time". Nastasia's new album, Outlaster is wonderful, better than her last, full of strings and Jim White's prowling drums. Its most earnest moments - like this, a song of advice and comfort - still feel partial, slightly hidden. This has always been her way. Nina Nastasia sings sweet words, and sad words, but she never sings all of them; she leaves things out. These blank spaces are spare rooms, empty woods, cupboards to slip into. [out today - buy]


Even after this weekend's two exceptional shows, am keen for what this week is to offer: Saturday is Tune-Yards, the Suoni festival is due to begin, and before all that, on Wednesday, the grand re-opening of the Rialto - one of the city's most beautiful venues. Just $5, featuring the Luyas, Avec Pas d'Casque and the Hoof and the Heel.

(photo source unknown)

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 5, 2010


There are other great bands too;
I saw Silver Mount Zion tonight.

Posted by Sean at 10:54 PM | Comments (2)


Arcade Fire - Notman House, June 4, 2010.

You could hear them through the walls. We waited, stooped on the steps of the Notman House, and you could hear the unmistakable call of the band inside, soundchecking, rehearsing, throwing full fists of guitar-chords. As the sky left wet pinpricks on our arms, I imagined a thousand people assembling in the street, squeaking to a stop on their bikes, hearing that wild noise through the walls and knowing: they're back.

Arcade Fire had not played in Montreal for three years. Now, before releasing their third album, before touring festivals and arenas, they were playing a small room to a very small crowd. It was not a "secret" show; it was a private one, a warm-up for Monday's warm-up. And although it was an open secret that Arcade Fire had been practicing for weeks around the corner from my house, at the Ukrainian Federation, I don't know that any of us had heard a note. For The Suburbs, they were laying low. And then someone pulled open the door of this dusty, crumbling mansion, and fifty of us slipped inside.

In the Notman House living-room, they played twelve songs. They stood on a ragged carpet, sweating. Christmas lights were braided over amps, keyboards, guitar-stands. It was like I was back in 2002, watching my favourite band play at a party for Concordia grad students. This time, their instruments were new, polished, rare; the crowd concealed tattooed crew-members and a flotilla of photographers; the group were veterans and stars, and I was jaded. But as Arcade Fire fired into their second song, an incredible number called "Ready To Start", I discovered something I had not expected: the eight-piece I had loved and loved and loved were once again my favourite band.

They wore denim, plaid, haircuts shaggy or close-shaved, like junior-high ca. 1994. Régine, Richard, Sarah and Will played with all the unrestrained joy they always have, wide-mouth singing. Tim and Jeremy were proud soldiers. Win looked older, sang better; he stared at us with a doomed gaze, weary and smoldering. Yet this is not the same band who made Funeral or Neon Bible; Arcade Fire seem sharper now, tighter. There are no drama club histrionics. They are not over-serious; they are simply serious. Their hooks and handclaps are underlined by noise, feedback, thundering four-axe attacks. They no longer sound anything like their imitators, and if once they evoked Bruce Springsteen, U2 or the Talking Heads, on Friday I heard the Clash, New Order, Clues and Big Star.

They played eight new songs. At home, I had been warming slowly to "The Suburbs" and "Month of May", listening to them spin on my turntable, ever so slightly warped. Live, both were better. "The Suburbs" crackled with tension, dread rising up in violin, viola and synths. There was a similar feeling to "Modern Man" and "Suburban War" - tunes that seemed both desperately lost and very precise. They felt different than what Arcade Fire has done before: measured, simple, but still tightly coiled. Like the work of Spoon: a song as it is, tempered until it's more than it is. Nothing unnecessary, no loose flames. Win sang like he was made of straw.

It was a different story on "Empty Room" (I think that's its name), a howling rocker with Régine singing lead. And "Rococo" is a delicious maze of a pop song, with the title as its chorus. "Rococo rococo / rococo rococo." Win sings it like it's a death sentence; but around him, behind him, the band make it baroque and birdsong. My favourite was either this or "Ready to Start", a hit in the making; noisy, electric-charged, built on bass riffs and handclaps.

Songs like "Tunnels" and "Power Out" sounded as good as they ever have (and "Keep the Car Running" sounded better). "Wake Up" seemed angrier. But the new songs were so strong that I didn't crave the old; I was almost disappointed to hear "Wake Up" as the encore. Lyrically, the new ones felt like brothers and sisters: suburbia is an extension of Neon Bible's downtown ennui. Win is still asking questions about purity and purpose, but whereas the last album aimed at gigantic idols, the new imagery feels more personal. In these songs, I heard nothing like "Antichrist Television Blues" or "Windowsill"; there were no apocalyptic fables or ambitious world slogans. Instead, there was naturalism: small pictures of joy, calamity and stasis. The images were nostalgic, bittersweet, but never maudlin. I heard regret; I heard loss; and a sometimes direct voicing of heartbreak.

For the first time since the departure of Brendan Reed and Dane Mills, eons ago, Arcade Fire have two drum kits. Régine and Jeremy played together for just the first few songs, but instead of adding elaborate flourishes, polyrhythmic fills, the drummers were each-other's ghosts. It was as if the drums were double-tracked, folded back upon themselves, like the shadows in an old cassette tape. Other than this change, the new material didn't bother with instrumental novelties: no hurdy-gurdy, melodica or accordion. Instead, there were often just four electric guitars, heavy as hell, and charging.

Leaving for the show that night, there had been the frisson of attending a small and secret event; excitement for new music; sadness that I couldn't bring guests; but also a degree of distance, the self-conscious cynicism of going to see a band that I loved less than I used to. Two hours later, I had been completely overtaken. I was dazzled and rosy. I was with a friend, thrilled and thrown, smiling old smiles. Feelings I thought I had left behind were unfurling in me.

I do not know what The Suburbs will be, with its hundred cooks in the kitchen; nor what this band will sound like on an arena's wide, clear sound system. I know just that I went to an exceptional show on Friday night, by a group called Arcade Fire. They had unearthed treasure chests. I'm grateful.

[see Arcade Fire on tour / pre-order The Suburbs]

Posted by Sean at 8:41 PM | Comments (21)

June 4, 2010

Beauty Will Machinate

Les Cox Sportifs - "Reduction Strategies"

size: 2m x 1m
weight: 226kg
description: "Turbikenhaus"
estimated value: less than 1$
insured: 4m$

"Alright, what is this?"

"It's a vehicle. It's built to go incredible speeds, but I drive it at a slow cruise, in the hot hot sun, to pick up ladies. They love it, they called me 'hunny'."

"It's not a weapon?"

"It sure is. You bet it is."

"You can't bring a weapon into the country."

"Then I won't come in. I'll find another way in. Or I won't."

[MySpace] (thanks, Dominique!)

(sculpture by Dan Tobin Smith)

Posted by Dan at 5:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 3, 2010


Girl crying

Connan Mockasin - "It's Choade My Dear". Like a slow jam for martians, tentacles carressing pustules, scarlet red and mint green. A Pink Floyd album rotates in another room, atop an off-balance record player. Vapours waft. The evening tastes of midnight, ice chips and tin. [buy this amazing, spectral record - thanks steve]

Birdie Hilltop - "Rosalia". If you record a song and then play it back, and then record this playing-back, and so on, and so forth, a hundred times, you begin to hear the room itself - its echoes, resonances, ringings. This was the principle of Alvin Lucier's "I Am Sitting In A Room" and this YouTube mimic. What Birdie Hilltop have done is to record a soft song and then replay it. And then perhaps they recorded it and replayed it one more time, or twice more. That was all. They did not transform this into a grotesque, a blur of ghosts. But they left space for the resonances and ringings: the dance of a voice around a room, the long trail of a whistled tune. [buy]


Vastly grateful to all those who have donated to our funding drive so far.

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 4:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2010

Silver Lips


RatTail - "Green Guitar"

Your breath like grassy breeze, your stare like taut string. The clouds lap like sky waves against the back of your head, bursting behind your hair.

You make love like you're filling out a silly quiz. Each answer a play, a reaction, snickering with the pen in your mouth. Writing a bit in the margins, a strange drawing here and there, incomplete faces and shapes.

Suddenly, like blowing out a match, you disappear. But only your body; your clothes, your rings, your socks, your belt, your chipped nail polish, a bit of eyeshadow, your gold tooth, remain.

I will put it all in a small bag, take it home, and leave it by the front door. In case you ever return.

[RatTail release a gorgeous EP today called George Mounsey] [previously on StG]

(motion alphabet by Letman via Big Active)


The Funding Drive lasts all month. If you can, please consider it.

Click here to lend your support to: Said the Gramophone
Posted by Dan at 2:33 AM | Comments (1)