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.

January 31, 2011


Western front, 1916

Colin Stetson - "The Stars In His Head (Dark Lights Remix)". On February 22, Constellation Records will release the second album by saxophonist Colin Stetson. It was recorded at Montreal's Hotel 2 Tango in single takes, no overdubs, by Stetson, Shahzad Ismaily and Silver Mt Zion's Efrim Menuck. It features appearances by Laurie Anderson and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden. It is the most exciting and devastating record that I have heard in seasons; it is a roaring, terrible sadness. Some have heard Stetson's strong debut, New History Warfare Vol 1. Some have seen the faintest flicker of his talent, playing back-up with Arcade Fire or Beirut. But for those who have not yet heard Stetson's new LP, the only true harbinger has been his solo live shows, on tour with Godspeed You Black Emperor, the National, or at Pop Montreal in 2008. Stetson plays saxophones, I wrote. This is kind of like saying whalers ride boats. Stetson plays cascades of notes, soft and overlapping, the stuff of looper pedals and sequencers. Only he's not using looper pedals or sequencers: just his lips and tongue. He circular-breathes and so the songs never stop. He adds clicks and thumps and what sound like drumbeats, only it's just his tongue on the reed. Noises come from nowhere as he takes deep, deep breaths, finishing each piece covered with the sweat of a marathon runner. Later, he plays a bass saxophone, a sax as big as he is, and I think of Fitzcarraldo pulling a steamship over a mountain.

On New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, Stetson applies the same techniques. Twenty microphones, planted like roses around a room - capturing the ripple of notes, the wails of resonance, the violent clack of fingers on keys and the shriek of Stetson's own voice, sounding through the horn; like Stetson has two hearts, four lungs, can sing two different sorrows at once. While several of the album's songs have vocals - precise, supple poetry by Anderson, a ghostlier presence by Worden - the power is in the push of breath through brass, the dive and heave and buck of Stetson's playing. Writing breathlessly in early January (I had been forbidden from posting a song here), I cited Nat Baldwin, Mark Hollis, Mogwai, Mt Eerie, Alexander Tucker, Phosphorescent's Pride, Born Heller, Alèmu Aga, Richard Youngs, Peter Brötzmann and James Blake. This scarcely gives Stetson his due. Judges sounds like nothing else. It is like being struck by a comet.

Would you like to listen? Due to the vagaries of Stetson's PR campaign, I can offer only this song, a re-imagining of Bell Orchestre's "The Stars In His Head", a song which you may have already heard (I had), on a 2009 Bell Orchestre remix album. Two more tracks, "Judges" and "The righteous wrath of an honorable man" are streaming at NPR and Constellation respectively.

But really you simply need to order this disc, $12 on CD and $17 on vinyl and $8 as an MP3; or go see Stetson and Tim Hecker in New York, Montreal or Quebec City; the Montreal launch is at La Sala Rossa on February 10.

Because Judges sounds like an ember, a hope, a wasteland's light. It is pain and loss and dumb death; groans and summons from the night. It has been years since so dark a thing has touched me. Like Arvo Pärt's Für Alina, like Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet, this is a work for bare heart and dawn.

It is only January but there is an album of the year.

(image source, of the Western Front, 1916, unknown)

Posted by Sean at 10:37 AM | Comments (7)

January 28, 2011

Gender Fault, Quake


Charles Bradley - "Why Is It So Hard"

This city is leaning on the kill switch. There's heavy brown water in every open crack, in every place to breathe. Dark brown water. It's not a flood but it's definitely a drowning. Everybody's about to throw up. This city's a wretch. A wet, lurching wretch. I don't give change to homeless people anymore, I only give bills. Red alert has never been redder-cheeked. Buses and cars and trolleys and subways, they're just stirrin' shit up. Just stop moving. Turn off the Internet. Cancel all phones and friendships and phonies, cancel all fucking and flirting and flying off the handle. Just take a break from tryin' to get a break. 'Cause if this doesn't stop pressing on my chest, if the heaviness doesn't let up, if gravity doesn't give, if walkin' stays just as hard, then I'm gonna lose it and I'm not gonna get it back. Please, city, swallow the dark brown water, take that on for all of us, one last time and we'll make it better somehow. [Buy from Daptone Records]

Death - "Politicians In My Eyes"

"THIS IS FOR YOUR SAFETY." [Buy from Drag City]

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

January 27, 2011


Mavo - "Pay As You Go". Two blizzards get in a fight. They toss snowballs, lightning bolts, clouds like dumb gloves' push. But the one which wins is the one that sloughs away, eye-rollin'. That says Fuck you with an ambivalent stride. Bruised, feeling its jacket at its collar, this blizzard waits for a bus. It is raining. Blizzards hate rain. The blizzard checks its phone. There has been a message from its lover. The blizzard cannot decide if it wants to answer, or if it will try the same dumb shit it used in the fight. Will the blizzard's lover love it more if it ignores their text? The blizzard doesn't know; the blizzard's moral instincts have been trained on Judd Apatow movies. The blizzard is tired and horny. As the blizzard is rained on, it remembers for a moment the sunshine of July 1, Canada day. The blizzard's secret is that it is deeply patriotic, that it loves Canada Day. But right now it is the middle of the winter and the blizzard is oscillating between giving a shit and giving none. It cannot decide if it wants to snow or to wait til later, to wait til the end of the night after something important has happened. The blizzard is not sure if something important will ever happen. The important things seem to happen to other blizzards, angrier ones. The blizzard looks at its skinned knuckle; it wishes it had a chipped tooth. The bus will never come. [Mavo are from Montreal. They have a MySpace page. This song includes whistling. They are unsigned.]

Reiko Kudo - "Hito No Ko". He says, Come closer, and she says, Come closer, and finally they reach the point where you can come no closer. There are fears here, and uglinesses. There are lines at the corners of eyes, raised breath. But there is also a celebration, so quiet that it can scarcely be seen, not even on a street-corner. Hearts dart into the cold, glancing a look, dropping no footprints at the night. [buy]



I wrote about Braids' Montreal debut in a column for Heineken Music Ireland. I write briefly about hype, expectations, Montreal's perilous hunger. Even more rewarding is Brendan Reed's new project, Black Light Times, where he shoots bewildering interviews with artists, under a black light. He began with Braids.

(photo via The White Hotel)

Posted by Sean at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2011

Sex With Chris Hedges


Jeff the Brotherhood - "Bummer"

He's watching me in the mirror, while he brushes his teeth. He's wearing a polo shirt, same old olive polo, and just his underwear. He's talking (what else, right?) but his voice is muffled by the toothpaste. "I don't want fucking McFloffle again at night." I giggle a bit and rub my feet on the sheets. "What did you say?" He doesn't hear me, "What?" I giggle again. "What's so funny?" "Nothing. You." He rubs his hand on his stomach, I like the way he looks without his glasses, it's like I get to know a whole different man than anyone else does. He spits and rinses and turns to look at me directly. He's coming at me, with a little devilish smile. "How funny am I?" he says and climbs back into bed with me. We make out for twenty minutes and then he rolls over and checks the time. "Oh, snot, I better go." I want us to go further, he's always so frisky when he's doing a tour. And that helps me too, I'm more productive. "Do you have to?" He sighs and rubs his stomach "Yeah, I'd better." I turn on the TV, it's What Not to Wear, and I've got those ghost hands on my body, the ones you get when someone was holding you just right. I look over and all I can see is his butt through the open bathroom door, "Honey, have you seen my glasses?" [temporarily sold out]


[Chris Hedges is one of the most convincing doom-and-gloom cultural critics I've ever read. His world seems to be populated only by corporate zombies, the idle criminality of everyday people, pure-evil greed gods, and the ineffectual but necessary acts of civil disobedience by the truly integral. I'm not opposing his views, he's horrifyingly convincing, I just wanted to imagine that he has some joy in his life.]

Posted by Dan at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

January 24, 2011


Matrioska by Paul Noth

Vokal Ansembl Gordela - "Zinskaro". Somewhere, there is a thing, and it is the answer to everything you have ever asked. It is the fulfillment of everything you have ever wanted. It is beauty, shadow, courage. Perhaps you will find this thing. I hope you will. I will not tell you where it is. [out of print, from Herzog's Nosferatu]

Shugo Tokumaru - "Rum Hee". Two people exchange messages with birds. They leave them, nested, on welcome-mats. One day, a sparrow - this means Hello. The next day, a bluejay - this means Yes. They continue like this, cardinal & stork & toucan & swan, until one day the pair have almost run out of birds. What Shall We Do Now? one asks, in the form of a pheasant. The other replies with a letter, a printed page, typewritten, which details every aspect of their exchange, spells out, literally, every impulse and intention, every subtext. And this is the end of their correspondence. [buy]

(comic by Paul Noth)

Posted by Sean at 9:48 AM | Comments (3)

January 21, 2011

Pull the Trigger Plug

Alicia Bridges - "I Love the Nightlife"

Never a more genuine, more endearing, more true pronunciation of "action". [her site]

Baby Teeth - "You're Not the Boss of Me"

Part Lonely Island, part Ghetto Boys, but has its own cleverness too. Baby Teeth have created a little concept EP called BOSS, and it's not without its pleasures. It takes different perspectives on bosses, from the more realistic "Secretary's Day" where it tells you, the boss, how to treat your secretary, to this cartoonish sociopathic insanity you're listening to now. You will agree it is worth it, when they get to this line: Asshole to ashes and putz to dust. [site]

Posted by Dan at 6:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2011


Photo by Linh Dinh

Hidden Words - "Temple". Hidden Words is a project by Alden Penner and Jamie Thompson, reunited for the first time since the Unicorns, and four more friends. "Temple" is chanté en français, but the words are taken from page 74 of Selections from the Writings of the Báb, a holy text of the Bahá'í faith. As far as I know, all of Hidden Words' songs use verses from the Writings. In a certain way, this makes them a Báb cover-band. So let's imagine the Báb as a silent member, yes Siyyid 'Alí Muḥammad Shírází himself; let's imagine him floating behind Penner and Thompson, behind the guitar and the percussion, floating and standing and listening, serene. Perhaps he nods. Perhaps he snaps his fingers. I am not sure if this vision is blasphemy - I am not Bahá'í, have no strong feelings. But I know that even messianic figures, even those people who are lamps lit with the finger of God, shining with deathless splendour - well those people need favourite bands too, need music for dinner parties and weddings and walking on the mountain. I hope that the Báb heard songs that shook him, which made him certain of things and which made him doubt; I hope he rocked out and moshed and lay on his back with an iPod, thinking of the rain that hides in clouds. "Temple" has not shaken me - I am not sure it could. But it has carried me a few steps, brought me a few soft instants of peace. [The Hidden Words on Facebook, including this song's lyrics and its English translation / Hidden Words blog]

Los Rakas ft Faviola - "Abrazame (Uproot Andy remix)". Revisiting Gyptian's "Hold Yuh" (lately of my Best of 2010), Los Rakas and Uproot Andy make something that is less sly, more doting. It's not just the vocals - Andy is generous with the riddim, filling it out with golds, pinks and royal blues. According to Google Translate, the lyrics mention dreams, lies and ice-cream, but the important bit is in the chorus, y besa me, y besa me, y besa me or kiss me, kiss me, kiss me. I say "the important part" because isn't it what a song like this comes down to? Isn't it everything we're getting at? Isn't all this a prelude to that rosy moment? Where do the golds, pinks and royal blues come from, anyway? Oh c'mere. [Uproot Andy's MySpace/Los Rakas Bandcamp]



Did you enjoy Monday's post on the Red River? You should pick up their newish album, but the band are also giving away A Brief Introduction to the Red River, a sampler of songs from 2005-2010. It's great. Download it here.

One of my favourites from 2009, Cains & Abels, are offering a brand new EP, The Price Is Right, for as much or as little as you want to pay. (Yes, even free.) This is sincere, ragged folk. It's really terrific, and I'll probably write one of its songs soon, but go get the jump on me.

Finally, A Story Told Well has been busy shooting videos of several Montreal treasures (Carl Spidla, Goose, Shaun Weadick, &c), and the best is this film of James Irwin's "Halfway to Mexico". James is a strange, singular voice in this city, quietly singing (and I wrote about him recently), but "Halfway to Mexico" is possibly the best song he's ever written, and it's not yet been released, and this film, shot in the country outside Montreal, not only features James & Carlo & Shaun & Neil Holyoke, but you might even spot la Blogothéque's departed eminence, my friend, Alex Lenot. The song was recorded just a few days after he, James and I sat listening to Cass McCombs.

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 12:19 AM | Comments (3)

January 18, 2011

Haunt The Old


Cousin Dud - "South Dakota pt. II: Chicago & Minnesota"

Nothing about this song wants a neologism like insongniac, but it is, for better or worse, its type. It's surly and hefty and drunk late tired watching Slice until 7am. It has two personalities, the happy social drinker, and the sad lonely drunk. As you can hear, the song has two distinct halves, each representing one of these personalities. The first is easy, swaying, accessible. It's a night with old friends, it's cards, it's beer. The second half is violent, it's a mind racing from whiskey and doubt. What if I can't keep going the way I'm going? What if I don't have what it takes? What if I've forgotten how to love without fear? What if I get found out?
It does not seem like there are any answers, it doesn't even seem like there's a morning.

[Buy from bandcamp]

(image source)

Posted by Dan at 12:44 AM | Comments (3)

January 17, 2011


Wolf Shirt

The Red River - "Apple Valley".
The Red River show us the neighbourhood. It is stupid and fraught. All of our adolescences were stupid and fraught.

  • "Here is the corner where my dad had his accident."
  • "This is the Del Taco where my brother cut his finger."
  • "This is where my friends and I hung after school."
But I remember the last time I took a friend past my old haunts, haunts now hours away. I tapped the window of the car. "High school," I said. An adjective and a noun. All that nonsense, all those aches and joys, just two words and a tap on the window. A grey building and a stretch of grass. Can all our stories be summed up, eventually, into just two words? Into just two chords? For Red River, I think, the answer is Yes; but it is no unhappiness.

The Red River - "Tomahawk".
The Red River play a slow song about long ago, about singing Boys II Men songs on the swing-set. It is immature, but longing always is. And then Bill Roberts sings about throwing my heart out, like a spinning / sharp / tomahawk. I think this: Maybe Bill had to learn not to throw his heart out. But others of us had to learn the opposite, had to learn to throw, how to leave it in the earth.

[Jordan first discovered the Red River in 2006. We have written about them two times since. / buy Tomahawk / Red River on tour]


Said the Gramophone is looking for a coder to help us write an HTML5 audio-player script. Can you help us? Do you know someone who can? We can't pay, but we'd be so grateful. Get in touch.

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 12:02 AM | Comments (6)

January 14, 2011



David Bowie - "Suffragette City"

Part II
The Ghostface Killah
hillbilly Hillary Williams
I'm headed over to X's house. It's so cold! I just want to Apparate over there.
6:45 pm

Hillary walked past closing stores and sparse restaurants, January's shoulders slumped in slush. She went from streets like Mack Ave and Cotton Rd, messy pavement and craggy trees, to finely cobbled windy roads like Silver Birch and Kingswood Drive, huge thick trees, and houses that jut out from hillsides like proud dogs, stoic and still and old. When she reached the Metzger house, she could see Jordan's father's office, a large windowed cube that sat on display over the garage. Mr. Metzger ran a costuming business from home, so lining the walls and piled on racks were dresses, cloaks and get-ups of all kinds. There was a band leader, and a US Marshal, and orderly scrubs, a bunch of what looked like faeries, and a pre-worn leather jacket. Hillary stood on the driveway looking up, but Mr. Metzger didn't notice her, he stared fervently at his computer monitor.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
everyone on this street still has christmas lights up! I should start a business where I take holiday stuff down. I'd be rich.
7:05 pm

Hillary rang the doorbell and Jordan answered. Stocking feet, old Raptors shirt, bit pudgy, he smiled and they went down to the basement. Peperettes and ginger ale, the basement fridge was always stocked. Jordan had two older brothers who both had cars. Jordan and Hillary could hear Ghostface coming from behind one of the bedroom doors. Jordan turned on the giant television, "We've got on-demand everything, what do you want to watch?" "I don't know, what's good?" "I'm paused in the middle of Hot Tub Time Machine, wanna watch that?" "Sure."

hillbilly Hillary Williams
We're watching Hot Tub Time Machine. how romantic.
7:21 pm

Hillary looked at the bottoms of her socks, filthy. From walking on her dirty kitchen floor, probably. She dug her feet into the cushions. The basement was part rec room, part storage space. A dartboard, under which was a stack of books, Stephen King, V.C. Andrews, Dean Koontz, all with no shelf to live on, lying sideways. A large painting of a beach, with an empty boat on the shore, abandoned. On the huge sofa, Hillary and Jordan were sitting an entire cushion apart.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
It's so bright in here. I think every light is on in this house.
7:33 pm

Hillary got up and dimmed the lights. "Is this okay?" Jordan pulled his gaze away from the movie, "Sure." Hillary came back to the sofa, taking her chance to get a little bit closer, making sure to tuck her feet far away.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
That's better :) #settingthemood
7:34 pm

She awkwardly picked one of Jordan's hands from his lap, and clasped it in hers. But less like an interwoven marriage of hands, and more like a never-ending handshake. Rob Cordry bellowed, John Cusack spoke sharply, his face etched with HD wrinkles.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
why does holding hands make them sweaty? my hands don't sweat when they touch normally.

"What are you doing?" "Oh." Hillary looked at her purse, the orange box of condoms not-quite-hidden in the fold. "Just texting Kira about school. She's all stressy about exams." "Oh."

hillbilly Hillary Williams
X just asked what I'm doing on my phone! said I was texting Kira about school! got that, @goodbyekitty?
7:51 pm

From the bedroom, one of Jordan's brothers came out, hurriedly. He wore a thick fleece track coat with a flat-brimmed hat with a gold sticker on it. Carved facial hair. "I'm going out," he said and bounded up the stairs, leaving the light on in his room.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
the movie's almost over. i think I'm gonna try and type WHILE IT'S HAPPENING. stay tuned.
8:08 pm

As the movie ended, Jordan was looking blanched. Hillary smiled warmly, "So, I brought some things." "Oh yeah..." like he'd forgotten. He could hold eye contact only in short bursts, "It's just that I'm not allowed to close the door to my bedroom when people are over." Hillary's hand went for her phone but she thought better of it than to type that verbatim. "Well, there's no rule about closing someone else's bedroom door, is there?" She looked at his brother's room, the Ghostface poster and fur sheets. They went inside.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
X is in the bathroom getting ready. omg im kinda nervous
8:27 pm

Upstairs in his office, Mr. Metzger sent email after email. Some cold solicitations, others old contacts, others collection follow-ups for unpaid contracts. He listened to Rush and The Guess Who and Montrose. He got an email from his warehouse staff: "We got the Nearly Ned contracts today! You're gonna be designing costumes for Eugene Levy!" Mr. Metzger clapped his hands and gave a hoot.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
8:34 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
8:41 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
k that was whatever
8:41 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
8:44 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
i'm in the bathroom and i don't really wanna come out
8:53 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
i'm glad i did this, i'm proud of myself for going through with it, but i think it might have been a dumb idea
8:56 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
i'm sorry jordan
9:00 pm
hillbilly Hillary Williams
pretty funny thing: he took my socks off and they landed by our faces. "what's that smell?" gross! anyway, im rethinking this, bye for now
9:11 pm

[Buy The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars]

[photo source]

Posted by Dan at 8:02 AM | Comments (5)

January 13, 2011


Suspended stairs

Lab Coast - "Really Realize". Two blurs meet on a beach. They take photographs of each-other. They go to the hotel bar, order gins and tonic. One blur looks at the other blur's hand, resting on the bar. The blur wonders what its hand would look like, blurred over the other. It hesitates, then goes for it. A blur straightens. A blur takes its hand away. A blur says, What? Later, they walk down a carpeted hallway. The blurs have been talking too much. One of them kicks off their shoes. The other blur hits the lights. In the darkness, there is the sound of the surf. The blurs kiss. Kisses blur. [website/buy]

Bambi's "Rain Song". A song stricken from the original soundtrack to Bambi. I am not kidding: this song was part of Bambi and then it was not, banished into archives and bonus-features. I do not know why it was excised. Perhaps Walt Disney was unnerved by the raindrops' tiny high voices, something hysterical in them, singing shrilly into the storm. Perhaps he was unsure of their message: I like falling / Have to keep falling / Have to keep falling. What is this about, anyway? What is the lesson? Is it about obligations, missions, destines? Is it about dharma? Is it about cheeriness in the midst of doom? Is this a ditty or a curse? [thanks so much, raphaelle a]


To help us through the end of January, I've made a new mix. Download it here (109mb). Track-list here. Features Clinic, James Blake, Freur, Arvo Pärt, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Les Mouches, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Julie Doiron & many more.

(photo source unknown)

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

January 11, 2011



Long Long Long - "Mandarin Collars With Women"

Part I
Beach Boys and Scarborough Girls

"It's all a matter of perspective," neither Kira nor Hillary were listening as Mr. Hennesy, that perv, prattled on and on. They were whispering in the dark as he read aloud off the overhead. "It's all how you look at it. If you want to livetweet having sex with Jordan for the first time, then who is he to say no?" Kira had her entitled whispering voice on. Mr. Hennesy, in his old gross plaid shirt with chest hair coming out the top, was moaning about the moral landscape under which it's permissible to have an abortion, fuckin' perv. "Even so," said Hillary, "I don't think I'm gonna tell him."

Hillary and Jordan had been going out for a month. He asked her out at the secret santa, as she opened her Kristen Stewart poster from him, budget limit exceeded. She rolled her eyes at the poster, but he was cute and nobody else was asking, so she said sure. They were "dating" over the holidays, but didn't see too much of each other, they texted family thing more than ever in their lives before, until New Year's. They met up, excited, at Kyle F's parents' house, and on the banks of the not-so-frozen lake, under fireworks and weed smoke, they kissed and she liked it.

Hillary had, like most girls her age, been raised on the internet. But unlike most girls, she had quite a following. Her blog "I Used To Hate Myself" was featured on in 2008, as part of a series on weight loss. Hillary, only 13 at the time, was undergoing a transformation from "fat kid" to "regular teen", and was chronicling her journey. Beyond having an interesting and sellable idea for a blog, she had a natural talent for letting her wit through in her writing, and she gained a small readership. Girls her age (plus a bunch of girls younger than her) and also women of a wide age range started emailing her, and showing up as "followers". Mothers interested in the minds of their own daughters, seeking a kind of 'pulse' of their child, younger girls looking for guidance from someone they could actually trust, and writers of all kinds impressed with her talents.

Now 15, and with 40,000+ followers on twitter, Hillary was a well-read figure, and she wanted to give the readers something great. She wanted to livetweet (do I need to define it? tweet live) the loss of a late-bloomers virginity. Her "de-flowerstation". Obviously, this was going to be a tough secret to keep from Jordan, since many people from their school read her writing, including some teachers ("eww, @RHennesy is now following you on twitter, barf!") but she thought easier to apologize than ask permission, and she had been writing for her fans for a lot longer than she and Jordan had been dating, so there.

The night was planned very carefully. Her idea. "I think a lot of people are doing it." It would be next Tuesday evening, way better at his house than hers, he lived in a rich part of town in a huge house, she lived a 20-minute walk away, in a small house with dirty plastic siding, 6 people and 3 generations. "But my dad works from home, he never leaves," said Jordan, into the phone that Sunday. "Yeah, but he's always working, he won't even know." Hillary had had the talk with her mother, frank and almost fun, while her father stood in the doorway scowling, arms crossed, glasses sagging on his nose. She even bought the condoms herself.

hillbilly Hillary Williams
do you need ID to buy condoms? "Okay, Miss Hillary Williams, what's your sign?"
5:19 pm

[continued Friday]

[Long Long Long]

[photo source]

Posted by Dan at 11:12 PM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2011


Image by Jason Holley

Otouto - "Plum". Crack an aspirin like an egg; make an omelette. Maybe a forest will be a salve, maybe a coffee with friends, maybe some strangers' call and answer. It has been a rough year; it's over now. It has been a long weekend; don't worry. Forget the migraine, hangover, fatigue and pneumatic drills. Lay your head on my shoulder, listen to the strum of this beat-up old guitar, the one I found in the cardboard box for an organ. Where is the organ? The organ is covered in mussels. [buy / thank-you andrew c]

Joe Goddard - "Apple Bobbing (Four Tet remix ft Cassie)". I like to tell people I grew up in a small town, but really it was a town that was sometimes small and sometimes very large. I liked it best when it was large. In June the bay filled with a hundred colours of boats, big & little & nimble & slow, and the boats had African masts and American sails and prows adorned with Italian lemons. It was the Malin Herring-Gutting Festival. Our town was called Malin. Visitors traveled miles and leagues to stay in town and watch the finest herring-gutters in the country. These competitors lined up on the pier and from dusk until dawn they gutted fish. Bent over the herring they made quick, precise gestures, careful as clockmakers, grasping and gutting and slipping the filleted fish into their allotted barrels. The boards were littered with silver fish-scale.

The audiences of Malin marveled at the herring-gutters. They hooted and hollered. They bought them pints of beer and drams of whiskey and new red apples. Vendors sold cotton-candy, sold peanuts. They strung paper lanterns across the streets and children scampered between the adults' legs and all of Malin smelled like mermaids' breath.

Every year, my mother transformed our home into an inn. Its rooms became other rooms. Instead of managing the books for Mr Lowry, she spent June making suppers and sweeping the floors. I slept with my mother in her bed. I helped her butter the toast and fold the sheets. She wore her hair in a bun and she was happier then than at any other time; for five weeks every summer the house seemed full. We fell asleep to snores and in the morning there were fishermen laughing, eating strips of bacon in two bites; in the evening there were barristers from Newcastle who passed their fingers through candle-flames; in the wee hours there were Norwegians who played card-games in their bedrooms, games with rules I did not know. I knew one June I would have my first kiss. I knew one June I would fall in love, one June I would run away, one June I would gut a herring and give my mother the trophy. I knew all these things would come one June. And so every January I lay in the cold, still house, in my lonely bed, and I remembered the taste of new apples.

[buy / song via the Guardian]


Just noticed that my old friend Richard Parks is raising money to fund a documentary about Music Man Murray and his half a million records. Support the project & get a DVD.

(image by Jason Holley - source)

Posted by Sean at 12:41 AM | Comments (2)

January 7, 2011

No False Hope


The Granny Smiths - "Boom Boom"

I went gay when you left. Well, I tried, it didn't stick. I sold my pants and my clothes. I shaved "ex-greatest" into my head. I got a tattoo, temporary, of a whirlpool. I was stoned and staring at it in the mirror and just saying "Portal in, or way out?" over and over. Being apart feels like everything. When we get together, you and i, we can still remember what it's like to be apart and that's perfect. When we met it was so easy to remember what it was like before we met. It's when we forget what being apart feels like that we really lose it. I'm not talking in hypotheticals, in theory, I'm talking about this, your wrist and your ankle and my pointy hips. About your letters, all addressed to "P", and your socks, all dirty and white, and my kitchen, with only one chair.

[Buy the Mongrel Zine comp]


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

January 6, 2011


Ancient Kids - "Crystal Family". A song with thick black curls, small strong eyes, emerging yawning from a cave. Ancient Kids evoke Grandaddy, Fountains of Wayne, Blur; "Crystal Family" meanders, glimmering, til it smells blood or love or just a dream, rippling, and then it begins to run - lumbering, powerful, splintering conifers with the plow of its shoulder, sending guitar solos spraying. And the coda's like a small lake. [Ancient Kids, featuring current & former members of Sunset Rubdown, the Unicorns, Adam & the Amethysts, Anemones, release their debut album on January 21. Their debut show will take place March 3 at Montreal's Divan Orange.]

Sleeping Bag - "Slime". A song which uses a familiar guitar sound, doubled vocals, 90s nostalgia, to beat some affection out of you. It's like a blunt instrument, a cotton-gloved fist, pounding the sleepy smile into your face. [website]

Posted by Sean at 11:51 AM | Comments (1)

January 4, 2011

Mixed Messages


Insect Posse - "Satori (At Last)"

I can't understand you. I can't understand what the hell it is you're trying to say to me. I can't even hear you, you're talking in outer space, I can't understand you. Understanding you is impossible, the way you speak. You speak in some backwards code that nobody could ever decipher. You're speaking another language, God sakes. Here's the way you're speaking, here's how hard it is to understand you, here's the kind of noise that's coming out of your mouth: imagine a naked lady. Okay, you got it? A naked lady. Imagine there was only one picture of a naked lady ever in history. Like, I don't know, God made some decree, made it impossible to ever have more than one picture of a naked lady. So they took a movie of her in the silent film days. And now the negative is lost. In fact, all copies in the world are gone except for one shitty VHS transfer in a University library. I DON'T KNOW what University! Washington, let's say, it doesn't matter, you're missing the point. There's one copy, it's on VHS, and it's a shitty transfer, it's hard to make out. And this VHS is disintegrating, it's wearing out on the playheads, it's starting to get all sorts of blue lines on it, you know like when you used to tape over a commercial when you're watching X-Files. So you need to get it off there, but the only thing you can find is a polaroid camera. So you take your polaroid camera and you go frame by shitty frame through this VHS transfer and you take a polaroid of each frame. So you've got, say, 50 polaroids now, all with shitty frames of a shitty VHS transfer of the only picture of a naked lady. This is you, you know? You're sittin' there with these polaroids and you're like, "how do I get this message out to people?" and so you decide you'll go down to the copy center and photocopy the polaroids. Sometimes you even photocopy the photocopies when you want to make more, 'cause the originals have mustard on 'em from your sandwich. And you hand out these photocopies to everyone. You just stand out on the street corner, in front of the copy center, it's snowing, it's slushy, it's cold, and you're all excited and you're handing these photocopies out to everyone. How in the world is anyone supposed to understand what that is? You're trying to say "naked lady" and what everyone's getting is a photocopy of a polaroid of a shitty VHS frame of a picture of a naked lady. You know? You're fuckin' hard to understand.

The Dø - "The Calendar"

What an elegant statue. My, yes, how elegant. Is that soap stone? A lovely deep purple with white etchings. Life-size, my yes. What...I hope you don't take offense to this. What...I ask this only to prove my own ignorance, it has nothing to do with... What is it... what is it supposed to be? Sorry, pardon me, what was that? I couldn't quite hear you. Oh, you didn't hear me? Oh, I'm sorry, I asked..what is it be? Ah, I see, of course! A woman, of course! I am so sorry I had to ask, as that is obviously what it is supposed to be. I mean, it is obviously what it is! My goodness! How elegant! My yes, live-size, absolutely. Ahem. Hm. My. Yes. Elegant. So... Ahem. Elegant, yes. Ahem. So... is that....the head?

(image source: Maryland)


Carey Mercer has a twitter account. As of right now, he does not follow anyone. Which is typical of the way I interpret his creative expression. Huge, uncontainable thoughts, taking forms unexpected, totally right for the time, without discernible reference. Sean pointed me to it, with this RT: "Am I basically arguing that guitars are our real-world emoticons?"

Posted by Dan at 3:34 PM | Comments (2)

January 3, 2011


Hi! Happy new year! Did you know Said the Gramophone's Best Songs of 2010 are still online? All 100 of them? Indeed! Read, listen, leave a note, tell yr friends. They won't stay there forever.


Frederick Squire - "Old Times Past New Times". Let's pretend it's New Year's Day; let's sit with a piece of driftwood on our laps; let's see if we can draw a calendar from memory. Sackville's Fred Squire, the Fred Squire who sang on the best album of 2008, has made a song of recollections, resolutions, "decisions that I've made". Not all of the recollections are true, but our recollections rarely are. It's the resolutions that are truest, that ring cold & solid like horseshoes. Fred makes few of these. He is staying warm, with coat and whiskey, navigating memory, lowering sails, grateful for everything.

[Hero Hill wrote a great, thoughtful review of March 12/buy]

James Leroy - "Wasting Our Time". Set up a frozen puddle in my hall. I invite people over, call to them from the kitchen, Come on in! They hang up their coats and fall on their asses. I slide a fruit-bowl down the floor. This lets them know that I meant well; that this is not a cruel joke. We all sit on the hardwood, beside the frozen puddle, eating clementines. We peel them and put the peels in our pockets. I dream that one day someone will arrive at my door wearing skates.

[buy/via Weird Canada]



Wrapping up the end-of-year: Destination:Out our favourite jazz music-blog, have listed their favourite albums of 2010.

Musicophilia, a blog posting only meticulous full-length mixes, are back after seven months with a new one, Her Heart Had Six Strings vol II, representing singer-songwriters 1965-1977. Their earlier mix, Still, was one of the best full-length recordings of 2009.

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 12:16 PM | Comments (8)