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.

November 30, 2010

Atlas Sound Part 1



Bradford Cox of Deerhunter has released FOUR ALBUMS worth of new material as Atlas Sound. They are wonderful and surprising and full of little marvels. One would think (meaning, "I thought") that given such a huge amount of music in one shot, lots of it would be bad, but I was proven wrong. All four albums, called simply Bedroom Databank vol. 1-4, are available for free via his blog. I will post one song from each, volumes 1 & 2 today, 3 & 4 on Friday.

Atlas Sound - "Wild Love"

At my first painniversary the gift was of course paper. I was given notes, some personal, some to be read aloud. "I never thought it was right", "I forgive you", "I completely understand, I've been where you are", "get over yourself", "this is taking too much, too long", and so on.

Atlas Sound - "Helio Intro"

Wait. Fuck. Wait, wait. fuck. Fuck, wait. Wait, wait wait... Wait, fuck! Fuck. Wait. Wait. Wait, wait. Wait, fuck, waitwait. Wait. Fuck. Fuuuuuck. Wait. Wait, wait. Fuuuuck. Fuck. Wait, wait, wait wait wait waitwaitwaiwaiwaiwait. Waaaaaaaaiit. Wait, fuck. Fuck, wait. Wait, wait, fuck, wait, wait. Fuck. Wait, fuck. Fuck! Wait! Waaaaaiit! Wait. Fuck? Wait. wait. wait, fuck. wait, wait, fuck. fuck. wait. wai-

[Bedroom Databank vol. 1]
[Bedroom Databank vol. 2]

Posted by Dan at 3:35 PM | Comments (4)

November 29, 2010


Tokyo climbing

Snailhouse - "Living the Dream".

Hotel M----- ★★★
Once, this dilapidated hotel was known for its lobster-claws and scotch; celebs and politicians came in their furs to dine on white tablecloths. Today, Hotel M-----'s carpets are ragged, its burgundy paint is peeling, the tablecloths are mothballed. Its cheap rooms are OK and the suites are a relative steal, but don't expect luxury - or even a working TV. The resto offers dinner specials and a mediocre breakfast buffet; the highlight is a lunchtime club sandwich. (Stay away from the crustaceans, and the whiskey.) Despite these dilapidations, or perhaps because of them, Hotel M-----'s bar is still a haven after dark. Arrive early, nab a corner booth, and as the night wears on you'll spy several of the city's stars slip in alone. They sit with the throngs, like lonely drunks, to listen to the Hotel M-----'s house band. The musicians are old hands, capable, playing easygoing country, jazz and lounge numbers, the best of Willie Nelson and Carole King. But what makes them stand out - and what attracts the likes of Keith Richards, Garry Shandling and (the late) John Ashbery - are the group's rare originals. Over wah-wah, pedal steel, lazy shuffle, the M------ band's singer saves the world. He utters poetry, profundity, punchlines; each stanza is wry and beautiful, sideways wise. His reputation is as a midnight sage, and gradually he has become relied-upon: you see the movers & shakers sit there, hungry, waiting for the answers to their lives.

[Snailhouse is, of course, extraordinary; buy many things; Monumental Moments, an EP or rarities and outtakes, is a pay-what-you-want download.]

Family Fodder - "Whatever Happened To David Zé?".

A zingy little pop song about the late Angolan singer, filled in with crayola-red flourishes, gorgeous afropop guitar. It feels like a public monument, an open letter, a eulogy in gold - something meant for public eyes. It speaks for itself, needs no explanatory plaque; you can visit, leave flowers, pose for a photo.


Posted by Sean at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2010



Matthew Friedberger - "Courteous and Orderly" (removed at label request)

A house with thirty staircases. Stairs to the cupboard, to the kitchen table, to the toilet, to the window. Out the window, stairs in the backyard, to the pool, to the tree, to the rainbow ferris wheel, out of service. A winding staircase in the middle of the yard, up up up. Past the treetop, past the top of the rainbow ferris wheel, out of service, to a platform high in the air. On the platform are two chairs and a table, very small, almost crouch-y. Precarious. Up on the platform, on the table, piping hot tea. Tea cups. Saucers. Biscuits, land! Sit up there, with an incantation, a small prayer to "My juggie, my puggie" and hold the tea ceremony. Feel the wind, see the land, sway in the air, enjoy the tea, enjoy the biscuit. Relax, if you do that. Steep, if you can. Sing, as you do.

Napoleonette is a fascinating album, with many great moments (like oh, the hell of it, and underneath the mountain in Monterey), well worth getting.

[Pre-order subscriptions for Solos, an eventual EIGHT-ALBUM SET from Thrill Jockey that will take all of 2011 to release. Oh my, yes.] [image source]




An interactive documentary about the institution of the concrete high-rise apartment. From all over the world, real people have let the NFB glimpse inside their lives, and discuss their apartments, their buildings, and how they relate to the world outside their window. It's a brilliant, and very touching project. Go, with half an hour to spare, and check out (at the very least) some of my favourite stories. In Johannesburg, check out the story of bandit landlords in 'Hijacked Buildings', go to Sao Paolo and watch 'Everybody's Baby', it's a story of a phenomenal, instinctive kind of love. In Beirut, see 'Balcony Bombing Music', and in Toronto, check out 'Yak', the story of Tibetan exiles living in Canada.
*Directed by Kat Cizek with music supervision by Helen Spitzer*


Friends of mine have spent a year putting together a wonderful website dedicated to young women experiencing their first period. It's currently in development, so right now it's only Camp Cranky, the whole Town is yet to come, but what they have so far is pretty astounding. True, funny, lovely stories from women in Canada and around the world. Go look, see some great videos, hear some neat poems (by people like Feist and Emma Thompson!), and maybe share the page with someone who might really need it.
*Created by Jenna Wright, Vanessa Matsui, and Liane Balaban*

Puppets by Jenna Wright, photographed by Ian MacMillan

Posted by Dan at 3:03 PM | Comments (1)

November 25, 2010


Dressed up black and white

Phosphorescent - "The Mermaid Parade". This song didn't ache until Ben told me some more about it, told me that Amanda is the name of Matthew Houck's ex-wife. And Matthew Houck is Phosphorescent, so when he sings that word, Amanda, he is singing to her. He sings it carefully and happily and sadly and brokenly. He sings it because he has lots of things to say. Too much, sometimes, to fit in a rhyme. I know all about your new man / your new older old man, he sings. Oh you be careful Amanda. But the clinching line is this: I found a new friend too / and yeah she's pretty and small / goddammit Amanda, goddammit all. A song which felt like the performance of country music suddenly becomes just country music, a torn heart sewn onto a sleeve. But not tearfully.

Update: Ben advises me that I misunderstood him. Amanda is probably not Matthew Houck's ex-wife, but rather the song's narrator's ex-wife. This is a hilarious mistake. I am trying to figure out if it makes the song better or worse.

[buy / thanks ben!]

Creep - "Days ft. Romy Madley Croft (Deadboy remix)". The xx's Romy Madley Croft sings her disquiet over Deadboy's ghost clatter. She is true, she promises; she longs for no one else. But whereas the original track seems sympathetic, with beats & buzzes rended by the same distress, Deadboy almost seems to doubt her. His remix gallops over Madley Croft's murmuring, pushes and chops at it. The synth-line is murder-mystery noir, there's whispering in the corners. Her sincerity is just catchy enough to be complicit. [more Deadboy/Creep/the xx]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 1:04 AM | Comments (1)

November 23, 2010

Shitty Magic

The Slits - "Shoplifting"
Group Inerane - "Tchigefen"

This is not the time of "us". Each creature lives upon a timeline, extended unseen from their chest jutting forward in the direction of their movements. At each point on the timeline, there is a signature, as a human culture we use a dateline, but in actuality the imprint is much more detailed. Unhappy, rich, hungry, in love but unnoticed, guilty, unborn, pleasing to the eye. On a constantly changing timeline, you can be standing in front of someone, having met another person in this world, and sense keenly but with no evidence, our keys have matched at different points, they do not match now, good bye.

[Buy Cut]
[Buy Guitars from Agadez Vol 3]

Posted by Dan at 3:52 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2010


Blingee (Kazimir Malevich) by Jaakko Pallasvuo

Heists - "High Tide". There's a man somewhere who has robbed a thousand stars. A thief with small hands. He's got Mark E Smith's gold tooth, Woods' old moccasins, two mop tops. He sits in his cellar apartment, surrounded by artifacts, records on the turntable. He flicks David Bowie's silver dollars at candlesticks he filched from the National. He even steals his lunch. The thief knows he will come to nothing, but at least he had taste.

[Heists are from Montreal. They have no MySpace page. You probably know them. And they're probably reading this.]

BRAIDS - "Lemonade (Green Go remix)". If you are going to get famous, better justify it. Build a mansion encrusted in emeralds, a swimming-pool filled with heavy water. Loose piranhas, peacocks, white-breasted thrashers. Obtain the kindest, truest friends - seat them in your breakfast nook, with pancakes. They can be drunk or sober, so long as sometimes they are sober or drunk. Replace the lawn with rainclouds. Tie fires to shoelaces. Replace every great lake with a small, miner-filled, gold mine. Oh - and buy new music on CDs, determined young things from Montreal, and remix them with your VCR.

[BRAIDS are from Montreal. This is their MySpace page, this is their blog, their album is due out soon on Flemish Eye and Kanine. / This is Green Go.]



I am still hopefully soliciting your best songs of the year, for Said the Gramophone's annual list. Please email me your favourite tunes. Send mp3 attachments or a link to download a zip file. (Please don't send me links to Youtube/MySpace/Bandcamp if possible - I have a lot to sort through.) I want everything: your pop glimmers and your dancefloor fillers, from Ted Leo to Jeremih. But honestly - only the very, very best. Imagine you could only listen to 5 songs this year. Send me those. Thank you very very much.

StG's Dan Beirne was heard on This American Life last Friday. Listen!

The extraordinary saxophonist Matana Roberts wrote a guestpost for Destination:Out.

Finally, did you see our special weekend post? "What if THE BEATLES never broke up?"

(image by Jaakko Pallasvuo)

Posted by Sean at 12:13 PM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2010

What if the Beatles never broke up? • THE BEATLES RELEASING COLLECTIVE

Lennon self-portrait

This week, the Beatles' catalogue finally appeared for sale on iTunes. It's funny how this feels like the flood-gates finally opening: at last, we can buy those beautiful songs by John, Paul, George and Ringo! Not just because most of us already have Beatles mp3s, ripped from CDs or as illegal downloads. But because the songs of John, Paul, George and Ringo have been on iTunes for years. Just not their songs together. The Beatles' respective solo material wasn't caught up in the same licensing tangle: Imagine, All Things Must Pass the collective works of Wings - all have been listed on iTunes for years.

But who cares, right? Sure, everyone likes "My Sweet Lord", "Band on the Run" and "Oh Yoko!" - but after the Beatles broke up, "the Beatles sucked". Besides a tiny handful of exceptions, and a single here or there, the Fab Four's post-1970 output is scarcely worth paying attention to.

Or is it?

I'm reading a book that came out last month, self-published by Toronto writer Jeff Walker. Its title is as good a description as any: Let's Put the Beatles Back Together Again: How to Assemble & Appreciate the Second Half of the Beatles' Legacy. That's a 19-word way of saying, Not so fast, kid. Or, Maybe there's something worth saving on that Ringo Starr album.

Jeff argues that the Beatles kept making good music after 1970 - they just didn't make it consistently. The gems are hidden amid the dross, he explains, but today such dross can simply be ignored or consigned to oblivion. Imagine if the Beatles kept making music, just not all together. Alone, or in twos and threes, they went into studio - and then released the best and most Beatlesesque of this solo material as, er, the Beatles Releasing Collective.

This is Jeff's alternate-universe conceit. Allen Klein and Yoko Ono don't wedge the boys apart. A mysterious manager called Albert Zonn (aka "Cap'n Arn'") swoops in and consoles their roiling hearts. Zonn had the psychological acumen to persuade [the Beatles] ... to carry on, in a new form that would address all their separate aspirations.. And suddenly there's room for not just one or two or more Beatles albums - but for 40 years' worth.

Over 500 pages, Jeff creates, curates and defends six "core" albums, 16 bonus CDs, and various LP revisions overseen by the 'Beatles Releasing Collective'. All, in a sense, are imaginary. There's 1982's Moondogs, a kind of Lennon memorial, with songs like Paul's "Beware My Love" and John's "(Just Like) Staring Over". There's 2000's 45, a three-disc set with Anthology's "Real Love" and "Free As A Bird" at its heart. And, um, lots & lots more. Each has been meticulously assembled, sequenced and refined - these are not crude collections of the mop-tops' solo hits. Jeff writes with passion and precision and all the half-crazy focus of a serious Beatles fan.

But is he right? By carefully culling the best of the after-Beatles Beatles, assembling these songs into albums, can you make something that lives up to the legacy? Something worth paying for, one track at a time?

Judge for yourself.

The Beatles, top down
A 'Beatles Releasing Collective' sampler

1. Paul McCartney - "Run Devil Run" (1999)
2. John Lennon - "I'm Losing You (Stripped Down version)" (1980)
3. George Harrison - "Looking For My Life" (2002)
4. Ringo Starr - "Choose Love (live)" (2005)
5. Paul McCartney - "That Was Me" (2007)
6. John Lennon - "Jealous Guy" (1971)
7. George Harrison - "Wah Wah" (1970)

[download entire EP (mirror)]
[buy Jeff Walker's Let's Put The Beatles Back Together Again]

On "Run Devil Run"...
Writes Blaney, "Combining the Poetics of Chuck Berry with the voodooism of Screaming Jay Hawkins, he fashioned a blistering rocker ... Rarely has [Paul] sounded so aggressive on record." For a Beatles original (rather than a cover like "Long Tall Sally"), you'd have to go back to "I'm Down".

On "I'm Losing You"...
[John] began to seriously worry about [Yoko's] dalliances in New York ... "It drove me crackers," [he] remembered, "just long enough to write a song."

On "Looking For My Life"...
You might assume that George was reacting to being stabbed almost to death or to being diagnosed with terminal cancer, but apparently the song recounts an earlier dark night of the soul ... Distress relieved by its very expression.

On "Choose Love (live)"...
Here is Ringo, still rockin' live at the two-thirds-of-a-century mark and still touting the power of love ... This is the only version of the song in the BRC collection.

On "That Was Me"...
The name Iris has two significant meanings for Paul. Cited in this song, the Royal Iris was the Liverpool ferry and showboat on which the Beatles played four times in the early days. And Iris Caldwell was Paul's first steady girlfriend ... Iris recalls one night in a coffee shop with friends when Paul did such a tasteless Lennonesque impersonation of Quasimodo that she dumped an entire bowl of sugar on his head and then bolted. Assuming it was all over with Paul, she arranged a date the next night with George.

On "Jealous Guy"...
John's last public performance outside the US of any song was of this one. He played it while sitting in his suite at a Japanese hotel and was overheard by an elderly Japanese couple. They had wandered in, having inadvertently taken the presidential suite's private elevator. They presumably thought it was some kind of rooftop lounge, perhaps featuring entertainment ... They settled in chairs and waited for some service. John picked up a guitar and softly sang "Jealous Guy" for them. Without a word, they got up and left.

On "Wah Wah"...
Eric Clapton played the wah-wah guitar on the track. (Later he was to give George a real headache by walking off with George's wife Pattie.) With Ringo on drums, the song has a massive reverb-saturated sound, care of Phil Spector, for a massive, reverberating headache ... During the Twickenham sessions, George was getting it on with Eric Clapton's French erstwhile-girlfriend, model Charlotte Martin ... [Pattie] befriended the girl and naively invited her to stay at Kinfauns. Poorly concealed hanky-panky followed, and Pattie left for London to stay with friends. George took full advantage of her six-day absence to see the affair through. He was left with wah-wah headaches in both his marriages, with the Beatles and with Pattie.

Posted by Sean at 6:32 PM | Comments (4)

November 19, 2010

Titular Ventrata


Oberhofer - "Should Have Taken Acid With You"
Mrs. Magician - "There is No God"

There is now a new dimension of dead. There's regular dying; life ceasing in your body. Then, there's all your "markings" being erased; children, works of art, loved ones. But this "new" dimension, which is not new at all, has to do with a chemical in your brain called vogelnine, named after it's discoverer Dr. Hepburn Vogel. Vogelnine is a neurotransmitter, created in the titular ventrata, that activates vogelnine receptors, all of which is responsible for a number of human tasks. A large part is taken up by temperature regulation, speaking backwards, even, if you can believe it, the behaviour of the ear drums during sleep (why doesn't the noise of sheets rubbing against the ear wake us up? thanks vogelnine!) But the most interesting part of vogelnine's responsibilities, the part I'm talking about here today, is that vogelnine is in charge of remembering stories. Yes, stories. It's not a memory bank per se, but it's a guidebook for understanding the unfolding of a story, a beginning, a middle, an end. And by way of giving this process a viable template, the vogelnine is written on, coded, with one story, a "narrative yardstick" that is used to understand the structure and function of a story in one's mind. So, what story is it? Most researchers are of the opinion that there would be no better guidebook than one's own life. There are a few cases of those studied, however, that have a very short vogelnine "readout", which scientists are classifying as the "knock-knock jokers", speculating that they use the most inane and simple story to compare against all others.

Now, what you're thinking: "so what." So there's a chemical in our brain that remembers stories, or rather one story, so what? When we die, it dies. Worm food. Well, no.

Vogelnine has an extremely long half-life, often of a thousand years or more. Core sampling in graveyards will show strong traces of vogelnine, which gets spread by regular decaying processes, but chemically isn't much different than when it was in a living being. So hence the new dimension of death. After all the people on earth who ever knew you are gone, and all traces of you have disappeared, there is perhaps one story left, seeping through the earth, like grass soaked with rain, squishing out around your shoe. Perhaps it's your life story. Or maybe it's a shitty joke.

[Mrs. Magician]

(image by Josh Cochran, full)

Posted by Dan at 7:43 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2010


Art by Caetano Ferrer

Before we begin... What are the best songs of 2010? As usual, I am assembling my list of the year's very best - and as ever, I need your help. Please email me your favourite songs. Send mp3 attachments or a link to download a zip file. (Please don't send me links to Youtube/MySpace/Bandcamp if possible - I have a lot to sort through.) I want everything: your folk ballads and your club bangers, from Fabolous to White Hinterland. But honestly - only the very, very best. Imagine you could only listen to 5 songs this year. Send me those. Thank you very very much.

Young Galaxy - "Peripheral Visionaries". There is a capsule that is going to reach the sun, one day. It contains a garden. When the capsule reaches the sun its silver exterior will blister and come apart, and the leaves will scorch, and the flowers will be lit for the briefest instant by the sun's red corona. When J woke from this dream, she could still see the garden's colours on the backs of her eyes. She still felt the capsule's descent in present tense. She did not know what it meant, to dream of the end of a garden. O was asleep beside her and she touched his arm, but almost immediately she regretted this. She was afraid that she should not touch his arm. She was afraid of the omen. More afraid of the omen than of the chance that it meant nothing. She got up and opened the door to the bedroom.

[Young Galaxy's Shapeshifting, which will be released early next year, is an LP of rays, shimmer and ash. It's open, beautiful, strange and lithe. It was produced by Studio's Dan Lissvik. I wrote the press release.]

Bear In Heaven - "Fake Out (Glass Ghost remix)". Rob Brydon does a bit about a small man trapped in a box. The small man always seems frantic, insignificant, confused. But what if this man is perfectly happy. What if the small man has a marvelous private world, there in the box. There are control panels and switchboxes, screens and dials; and he knows the significance of every lever, every light. The small man in the box watches Bear In Heaven webcasts. He orders in thai food. He listens to Ornette Coleman records, gets stoned and lies on his small couch. The small man in the box has no complaints. He doesn't even long for a partner. He has a partner, a friend he talks with over Skype. She is beautiful and sometimes she takes off her top.

[buy Bear In Heaven's excellent Beast Rest Forth Mouth / more Glass Ghost]


Elsewhere: The first official Twin Sister music video, for "All Around and Away We Go". All those colours!

(photo installation from Cayetano Ferrer's Western Imports series)

Posted by Sean at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2010

Brought Up


Richard Harris - "MacArthur Park"

While on a flight in a little pond-skipper, a friend turned to me and said, "Look around you. Now take away the wings, and the body of the plane, and the oxygen masks, and the seat beneath you. Now look around you again." I feel the same way when I listen to "MacArthur Park". When you take away all the history of music, all that came before, all songs and all meaning, and you find yourself in this swirling galloping seven-minute insanity, there's that feeling beneath. How did we ever get to this? We're hurtling through the air at top speed, and for what? You may understand, or understand less, when he hits that high note. [Buy A Tramp Shining]

Posted by Dan at 5:40 PM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2010


Leonard Cohen and Taylor Swift

Austra - "Beat and the Pulse". I'd seen Toronto's Katie Stelmanis a couple of times. Didn't like her at all. Wailings without songs, atmosphere without substance. I felt bad thinking this, because Katie is a friend of friends; but sometimes you think what you think. When I heard she had changed her name to Austra, I rolled my eyes at least twice. An artist chasing the aesthetic of the instant, spraypainting CHILLWAVE on the side of her tour-van. But then I downloaded the MP3 and listened to "Beat and the Pulse", and it's excellent, and I feel guilty for having had such mean thoughts. This is propulsive, quietly thrilling, with arpeggiated beats and background ah-ah-ahs, and a singer who can really sing. It reminds me of the second half of that Tron 2 trailer (with music by Daft Punk), and of Zola Jesus, but I don't like Zola Jesus very much, so really the pull-quotes are: better than Zola Jesus and propulsive ... thrilling ... Daft Punk.

[buy / MySpace / Austra plays New York in December]

Junip - "Don't Let It Pass". Saw this band in Montreal about a week ago. Their new album, Fields, is very different from their first EP, 2005's exceptional Black Refuge. It's not as good. This is a band led by José González, the Swedish singer-songwriter most famous for his cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats". What I've always liked best about González is the heaviness of his soft, pretty music; his gentle folk-songs are also ominous. This was true of Black Refuge, too: folk-rock bathed in organ, fast forlorn strums, something almost drone-like in its spirit. Doom-folk, I guess - but cryptic, opaque, without the histrionics of Woven Hand. Fields is, well, a lot more stoned. The songs are jammy. They feel relaxed, instead of tense. "Don't Let It Pass" isn't really an exception, but it's great - there's the thrum of the bass string, the stacking of uneasy chords. There's a crispness to its melancholy - like ambiguities can be contained.

Anyhow, live, Junip were an amazing surprise. They were precise, uneasy, really tight. The drummer played so quietly while the rest of the band rose up. It was oddly exciting music, little twists of harmony and beat, repetition and change. The audience demanded an encore, and it was the most genuine demand-for-an-encore that I've heard all year. I was clapping too.

I had set Fields aside, but brought it back out after the show. It is what it is. Out of a good sound-system, it'll warm an afternoon.

[Junip are still on tour / buy]


I went to see Junip because they were - and still are - touring with Sharon Van Etten. Remember her? The one who sang the best song of 2009?

Posted by Sean at 11:59 PM | Comments (4)

November 12, 2010

Unrequite Enough


Lycaon Pictus - "Rough Telephone"

I have a landline with an old portable phone, the original in-house cell phone, and sometimes when I'm about to dial I can hear a phone call that it's picking up. This happened recently, I started taking furious notes.

"Is this an emergency line?"
"What is your emergency?"
"I just want to know what makes an emergency an emergency. What has to happen?"
"Are you in physical danger?"
"Sort of."
"How so?"
"There's a wet spot on my bathroom floor."
"A wet spot? Did you slip?"
"Not yet."
"That's not an emergency. Did you write a note?"
"Yeah, sort of."
"What does it say?"
"'For details, see'"
"Hm. That's your blog?"
"It's not my blog."
"Do you have a plan? A weapon?"
"Um, I guess."
"What is it?"
"Why, you looking for ideas?"
"Okay, I know. Don't hang up. I'm embarrassed to say."
"Well, you can tell me."
"I have...a kitchen knife, lots of aspirin."
"Hm. Not much of a plan."
"No, not much. Do you need a good plan to make it an emergency?"
"No. I guess not. Do you need an ambulance?"
"No. Not at this time."
"Well, I'm not sure how to help you."
"Just talk to me."
"This isn't a chat line, sir."
"How long have you been working there?"
"...5 months."
"Is your supervisor around?"
"She's asleep at her desk."
"Slow night?"
"Every night is slow."
"Hm. I know the feeling."
"So what is it that's bothering you so much?"
"Other people's happiness."
"Well, that's selfish."
"No, I mean, people being happier without me."
"How can you know that? You're just projecting."
"I can hear their inner monologues like megaphones."
"No you can't...silly."
"You sound nice."
"I'm not so nice."
"What do you look like?"
"I've got short hair and black nails and jeans with a rip in the knee."
"Stop it. No you don't."
"What do you look like?"
"Like a freight train, moving slowly on delay, always crawling and rumbling the ground around."
"Ha. I bet you're short."
"I bet you're short."
"I AM SHORT! Oh, shh-- (whispering) I am short!"
"Well then we're both short."
"Do you tag? Like graffiti?"
"No. I can't write on a chalkboard, it gets all small at the end."
"You should try it."
"What should I tag?"
"Write whatever. Write your note."
"I don't wanna write that. What's your name?"
"I'll write 'Anna'."
"I won't be happy without you."
"Shut up."

[strange, surveillance-style fan video]


This is the last day to write to Jumbling Towers for a free copy of their EP. I've heard that the response so far has been great, but let's keep it going! Take a listen, have a read, if you like it, send an email to jumblingtowers @ by the end of the day and get their new EP for free. Previously on StG [1 2 3 4]

(photo by the astonishing Brandon F Wilson)

Posted by Dan at 12:39 AM | Comments (1)

November 11, 2010


Charles Aznavour - "Yesterday When I Was Young"

Dear Café Olimpico,

I am writing this letter from under your roof. Every morning I come and sit here, and I sip a coffee like this one, and I ease into my day of triumphs, backflips, heartbreaks. You are my first stop, Olimpico. You are my social club. You are my home away from home. But there is a very serious problem.

The problem is this: Wifi signal

They seem like nothing, these four pretty arcs. Upside-down bowls, an inverted Christmas tree, stream rising from the espresso machine. But these curved lines mean much more than that. They mean: the internet. They mean: email, twitter, craigslist. Ten billion gigabytes of webpages, plus YouTube. We open our laptops, swipe our phones, and suddenly there is a paradise at our fingertips.

Fuck paradise! Fuck that damn paradise! Olimpico was an oasis. In the heart of hipster Mile End, a café without wi-fi, a room without facebook, a place where people sat with allongés and talked. Warm, convivial, filled with the sounds of clinking spoons, new friends, maybe sometimes a Madonna song. You think I am exaggerating? I am not exaggerating! You know I am not exaggerating!

A little while ago, it changed. One day, ping!, free wireless, wafting through the room. At first it didn't seem to matter. But slowly, slowly, like the ticking temperature of global warming...

The rare computer was always okay - some sad soul hermitted in the corner, revising a novel; a student, three lattés, and a marinating thesis. But laptops are not merely common, now - they are inevitable. They are multiplying, like LCD-lit rabbits, and with them the arrival of Arts Café refugees, Cagibi ex-pats, even tourists on day-trips from Starbucks. Getting to Olimpico at 10am, the tables are filled with silent, dead-eyed double-clickers. As it gets colder and the terrasse empties out, the problem of space becomes worse. There is nowhere to sit. There is nowhere to sit, and talk, and just do regular shit, Olimpico, and the tiny laptops' fans are sucking the life from the room.

It is not your fault. I know it's not. It's there in the name of the wireless network: B&M, your next-door neighbours, your damned neighbours, shillers of overpriced breakfast. But surely you can do something. Surely you can go over to B&M, lean on their shiny counter, and ask that they add a firewall, a customers-only password, a something. Men of Olimpico, you make a delicious cup of coffee, and you have also been such fine stewards of your space. Unlike your neighbours a block away, you know the ones, you never installed an open network. You forbade people from even plugging their laptops in! Dictatorial, philistine, almost fascist? Sure! But in this way, you kept the pixel-toting barbarians from the gates. And we were grateful.

Now, listen: I realise that I am a hypocrite. I am, after all, an emblem of all that I rail against. For three years, I have been coming to your café every day, my laptop on my back, to sit and click and clack. I am that sad soul in the corner, with headphones over ears. But I came to Olimpico because it was not filled with nerds like me. I came for my friends, who strolled in, smiling, and interrupted me, who metaphorically smashed my computer across their knees. And I came because there was no internet: no flashing distractions, just my work. Yes, I am a hypocrite; I am pleading - save me from myself.

Rescue us, champions of Café Olimpico. Before it is too late.

I am writing this letter from under your roof, and posting it, but I dream of the day when I cannot.


Sean Michaels


Elsewhere: Brendan's hosting a wonderful house show on Saturday night, for just $5: Zsofia Zambo, Zombé Mugambe, Becky Foon, Space Ghost Cowboys, and Ramona Córdova. That last one is a very rare event.

Posted by Sean at 12:03 PM | Comments (9)

November 10, 2010



Jumbling Towers - "Ramifications of an Exciting Spouse"

"I don't know why people try and separate fame and promiscuity. They aren't mutually exclusive, in fact, they're nothing less than identical. And that's how it should be. It's one of those animal qualities that you can trace back to evolutionary roots. The ones who have sex with many are at once reviled and revered, desired and despised. It's the most powerful force in humanity. I want to make love to as many people as possible, that's why I paint and write and perform, because for most that will have to do in place of having me physically, since I couldn't possibly fuck everyone. It's a widespread simulation of the same thing."

"Yes, but," he cleared his throat in preparation for eye contact, "isn't it true that you only have actual sex with male models and men who happen to be extremely rich?"

"I've had sex with a lot of people," she said. Pause, look away. Smirking, floating, tattooed.


Jumbling Towers have released a new EP Ramifications of an Exciting Spouse and it's, like all they do, great. You can get it for FREE (!) by emailing jumblingtowers @ by Friday of this week. You need to tell them what city you live in, I think they're making a map with pins in it.


Posted by Dan at 1:39 PM | Comments (1)

November 8, 2010


Girl, with light

Buckhingham Nicks - "Races Are Run". Tusk, Rumours and Buckingham Nicks were produced by different people. This fact is astonishing to me, almost incomprehensible. Because I swear that the magic of a song like this, its gentle heat, the timbre and harmony - these things seem more complicated & subtle than just the woodgrain of Stevie's voice, the way Lindsey's brings out new colours in it. The beauty of Fleetwood Mac's most beautiful songs, and this lost track included, is in the way the tape interprets the sounds; the way their sweetness is heard, remembered, recorded just so. Engineers are magicians, and apparently mimics. [Buckingham Nicks is out of print.]

Motorifik - "Secret Things". So as I understand it, certain rhythms were actually invented in the 20th century. See: the Bo Diddley beat. See: this one right here, a Phil Spector boom, boomboom. When I think about this, I explode with wonder. I get actual goosebumps. I've brought it up with friends, but no one has ever matched my enthusiasm. These simple things, so simple they seem self-evident - boom, boomboom / badda da da, da da - some of them were dreamed up in bedrooms, basements and porches within my grandparents' lifetimes. It's as if a new colour were discovered in 1958, and added to the spectrum. As if a Beat poet found a new integer, located between five and six. (There may have been precedents, Bo Diddley hidden in Brahms, but these are irrelevant: what's important is not who first used these rhythms, but when they - suddenly! so recently! - felt & sounded obvious.) If these new rhythms - thrilling, timeless, a priori awesome - were waiting in the ether for Bo Diddley and Phil Spector, then imagine what other rhythms might yet lie in wait. Treasures hidden between the measures. Undiscovered beats. [buy]



One of our favourite new Canadian bands, PS I Love You, recorded a series of videos around their hometown of Kingston, ON. They asked us to tell you about one of them. "Exclusive!" they said. It doesn't matter that it's exclusive - it matters that it's good. Exciting, stifled, secretly brash. And I love that they don't have video of a new vocals track: "no, we're just gonna shred and play drums by the water." It's the title tune from their debut album, Meet Me At The Muster Station, and we think it's kinda killer.

(photo source unknown - found uncredited on a tumblr)

Posted by Sean at 12:16 AM | Comments (4)

November 5, 2010

If I May, Today


Black Milk - "Keep Going"





Jesse Payne - "Yards of Paint"

A dropped wallet, a kind of monad. No cash, no credit cards, no debit cards, no identification, but everything else. A picture of a child, too young to own this wallet, some 'frequent buyer' cards, coffee, books, sushi, none full. A series of business cards, which look to be in the 'wedding videographer' profession. Either getting married, or is a videographer. Two receipts for the purchase of shoes, a penny from 1961, and a square of tinfoil, flattened. But the most interesting thing was a note, folded in half, that said "go to the doctor". It felt less like an instruction they were yet to follow, and more like an instruction they were yet to give. And finding this wallet anonymously, it felt like they were giving the instruction to me. Like God wanted me to go to the doctor. But what is God doing taping weddings and buying shoes? Two pairs, no less. [site]

(larger photo)

Posted by Dan at 7:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2010


Photo by Eva Michon (

Belle & Sebastian - "I Didn't See It Coming". In the moment the car sails off the cliff, E has a great idea. It is such a great idea that is it at once the culmination of his career as an artist, and of his relationship with M. M is presently standing on the middle seat, hooting out of the sun-roof. First, E lights himself on fire. Next, as flames lick his sleeves, he skips the CD player to the track "Dancing Queen". Finally, with the ocean rocks hurtling toward the windshield (& M still hooting), he freezes time. He freezes it right before a downbeat. There is fire everywhere, and water, and a high-hat ridging the universe. He is plunging with his lover toward the end, and yet not. [buy Write About Love]

Weezer - "Long Time Sunshine (demo)". This is a song about giving it all up, packing it in, moving to Vermont or Maine. Why Vermont? The changing leaves. Why Maine? The sea. For reasons I am sure you can understand, the changing leaves and the lifting sea are often preferable to skyscrapers, failure and loneliness. But here is the lesson of "Long Time Sunshine": jesus christ does it sound nice to sing with friends. Yes, it is nice to say goodbye, sometimes; it is much better to sing it, and then to go for a beer, just around the corner. [buy the deluxe reissue of Pinkerton]

[photo by Eva Michon]

Posted by Sean at 1:17 PM | Comments (3)

November 2, 2010

Thin Legs, Looks, Light


Marnie Stern - "For Ash"

Splash. "Shhh," fizz fizz, "shhh." An antacid in water looks like a victim, somehow. A time-lapse decaying little bone. Like destroying evidence. As I drink it down, I wonder about forensics, of bullets shot into tanks of water, like pills into my stomach.

I have an ulcer, and a headache, and a shitty boyfriend, but I'm not complaining. I'm summarizing the events of the day in a neutral way, to list them out to take a clinical and well-adjusted look in the metaphorical mirror. So the use of "shitty" must be stricken from the record.

He called me yesterday to say he was going on tour again. That was the first I'd heard from him in 4 days. I called a person's hallowe'en costume racist on their facebook wall. I half-choked on a bite of cereal, Froot Loops. I have decided I will not buy Froot Loops again, that return to my childhood was not nostalgic, it just tasted like chemicals.

I brought a stopwatch to work today, which I stopped and started every time I actually sat down and worked. The total at the end of an 8-hour day was 3:31. I was asked by 4 people for change, I did not give change to any of them. I said to myself, "At least that's fair." I voted today, Democrat. I polished a pair of my shoes, I drank ginger tea, I masturbated to the image of being sexually assaulted by a man with no visible face.

I listened to Marnie Stern, she felt like this: a torrent of water being split in two, a ripping rending flow out from the world, a geyser with your thumb over the hole.

I casually called 911 and said "oops, sorry" and hung up. I was so overcome by the tension in my relationship, that I carved the words "nesting instinct" into the paint of my bedroom wall. This caused an attack from my ulcer. Here I am.



Josephine Foster & The Victor Herrero Band - "Cuatro Muleros"

My husband, he is a great man. He drinks and he kisses me when he is drunk, and his cheeks are flush and warm. His hands are big and strong, and he laughs so his teeth show beneath his moustache. He will sing as he cooks, and we often cook together, with the help of our sons. The government is mean, but my husband does not get upset, he lifts his eyes up and thanks the Lord for his job and his family. He smokes too much, I do not like his breath when he smokes.


Anda Jaleo is a fantastic album. I listened to it through three times already today. [Buy from Fire Records]

(photo by Alison Scarpulla)

Posted by Dan at 9:00 PM | Comments (1)

November 1, 2010


Painting by Mandi Morgan

Tonetta - "My Bro". Afterward we went to the loft and we met these three guys with amazing costumes. One guy was a cowboy. The second one was a mechanic, but he said he was a dinosaur mechanic; he had a wrench that looked like it was made of bone. And the third one was dressed up like an fireman but he had put some sparkle on his face or something, and you could tell he was an angel. I don't know how exactly but you could tell. "An angel-fireman?" I said, and he laughed and high-fived me hard. He guessed I was a girl version of Axe Cop. Anyway the three guys were awesome and we hung out with them and danced and partied, and then one of them, I think the mechanic, said he knew this great empty outdoor pool where there was a party. And we went, and there was a bonfire and someone had brought a pick-up filled with plastic flowers, and it started to snow for a sec and then faded to nothing, and we were all partying round the fire and throwing back mini Oh Henry bars. I remember I held one of the bars between my lips and let the fireman take it with his teeth. Just as the sky was getting light I looked over to where the cowboy had been sitting, and now he was lying beside that bench, on the ground, sort of weirdly. I went over and he grinned at me and he offered me a pill. I shook my head and he took it himself, and either he had a seizure or he pretended to have a seizure, and I screamed and called everyone over, but Stace and John had left, and all the people there were suddenly grotesque, even the fireman, and they laughed at my scream, and the cowboy stood up and took out a switchblade and opened and closed it, like some gang-member cliché. I said, "Fuck off." The cowboy snickered. A girl was beside me, then; someone I didn't know, with white face-paint. "Get the fuck out of here," she said. I looked for the fireman and he asked me if I had "any cinders", and then the girl was beside me again, and again she said, "get the fuck out of here", and then the fireman put my hand on his crotch. I got the fuck out of there. The buses were running. The sun was rising. I hate November.

[buy 777 by the incredible, inimitable Tonetta]

(painting by Mandi Morgan, thanks p)

Posted by Sean at 1:23 AM | Comments (6)