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.

March 31, 2011


Image by Steve McGhee

Mozart's Sister - "Single Status".
Mozart's Sister - "Contentedness".

LOOK OUT. Sometimes I think that Montreal needs to be festooned with warning signs, like the alerts for avalanches and deer crossings. Yes, for ice-patches; yes, for croissant and pupusa joints; yes, for places you ought not leave your bike locked up. But mostly it's just LOOK OUT, YOU ARE ABOUT TO HEAR SOMETHING MAGNIFICENT THAT YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD BEFORE. It's like sticking your hand in the water and catching a bucking trout, or sitting on the dock of the bay and getting a flying fish to the temple. It's not that you don't have to dig & hunt, it's not that Montreal lacks mediocrity, and it's not that discoveries are common. It's that the rarenesses are everywhere. There's something precious in the water. LOOK OUT!

All this to say: Mozart's Sister!

Mozart's Sister is Caila Thompson-Hannant, whose free debut EP, measuring three songs, was released on Tuesday. It was self-recorded. Download it. Previously, Caila has written songs with Shapes & Sizes, played bass for Think About Life. She sings like Lesley Gore, Avey Tare, Debbie Harry, Rivers Cuomo, Erykah Badu, Cher Lloyd, Bill Callahan. She does not have a label.

And these songs are many different things - klaxoned electro-pop, surfer lope, whistling whimsy, coalmine funk. While "Single Status"'s tingling synths send it air-mail to the dancefloor, "Contentedness" is patient, weird, plaintive. With glittering guitar-line, crossed-eyes spoken-word, this track feels like a particular & chafing dream, fumy and erotic. It's not a single, but it's the best kind of b-side. You can imagine it hiding birds, mice, boyfriends.

These three songs are various yet unscattered. They are roving and mischievous. They are pierced with arrows and jumping into trees. Mozart's older sister was called Marianne. And she was better at harpsichord than Wolfgang Amadeus you-know-who.



New Miracle Fortress single! It's "Raw Spectacle" (MP3). It's gorgeous, overblown, half-crazy. Graham Van Pelt has been listening to Kate Bush, Daft Punk, Peter Gabriel and Lebron James. Probably. (He should definitely get that new Katy B record.) You could dance all night to this. Or you could listen to it alone in your room, perched by a bay window, watching the wagging willows - and imagining that dancing. I look forward to hearing the rest. (Was I The Wave? due April 26. (!) Pre-order.)

James Irwin has released "Blue Dust" (MP3), a song from his upcoming debut. I have written a couple times, recently, about James. His spectral, unwavering folk is some of my favourite new music in this city. "Blue Dust" is the first taste of what's to come. Produced by Pat Jordache's Pat Gregoire. Stunning music video forthcoming. Longing and certain, rich with jangle and (yes) squeezebox. Like I said, go get it at Bad Panda.

Finally, amid all these other Montrealers, let us not forget the incredible new work of Adam & the Amethysts. MONTREAL WILL ELECT HIM MAYOR, I wrote in that post. That was a figure of speech. I meant: LISTEN TO THIS GREAT MUSIC. LOOK OUT!


(image - which is not real, constructed in PhotoShop - by Steve McGhee)

Posted by Sean at 11:56 AM | Comments (3)

March 30, 2011

H and H

John Martyn - "Head and Heart"

"Head and Heart" is a sad song. Or, at least, though the evidence is inconclusive, that's how I hear it. Is it because of the context in which I discovered it -- during the scene in The Rachel Papers, the 1989 film adaptation of Martin Amis's first novel, in which the young British protagonist first starts to doubt his feelings for the beautiful American who, with great effort and against the odds, he successfully wooed? (I hope so - I hope it's nothing more than that, no indication of a growing cynicism.) Though "Head and Heart" could just as easily be a song about a man scared of his love not being reciprocated, I hear in the restless sentiment of the second verse and in the ache between chords a desire to be both loved and free from love, to run toward and more quickly away. [Buy]

Daryl Hall (with Robert Fripp) - "Babs and Babs"

Babs and Babs lie in bed together, "arm in arm, head to head." They are as different as can be, these two Barbaras, and each is unable to compromise, but they stick together - they have no choice, they occupy the same body. Babs is the thinking Babs and Babs the feeling Babs and their interactions yield a third Babs, the one we might have access to. Think of it this way: Babs is to Daryl Hall, the great purveyor of blue-eyed soul, as Babs is to Robert Fripp, the technical master of progressive rock guitar; only the union of Babs and Babs, of head and heart, can produce something as whole as "Babs and Babs." [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 7:54 PM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2011

Dead Links


Long Long Long - "To Be Alone"

When I was 14 my grandfather died. He left me a .zip file. I didn't open it for four years. I was cleaning out my computer before moving away to college and found it again. I opened it; 25,000 jpegs. Screen caps. His Social Wall. From when he joined Social back when he was 14. I was suddenly touched and embarrassed. I didn't appreciate the gift then (my dopey cousins all got four hundred bucks each and I was so jealous cause they all bought xboxes), and guiltily but ravenously spent the summer going through them, projecting them on the side of my parents' house on hot nights, following comments, patterns, and dead links.

Birthdays would swell and shrink depending on the kind of year he had, where he was living. He spent a year in the Kingling Mountains, and he only got about 3 birthday wishes that year (but lots of "hey, long time"s). When he got sick there was lots of attention. Some prayer-ish, some philosophy-ish, some practical wisdom-y. "If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, let's go for drinks some time." And this level of casual speech, this constant lapping of soft compliments, small talk, brief nudgings, after a while made me wonder why he had left this for me. At first I was just interested in the way people talked 75 years ago and the kinds of things they cared about, but then I started to think "this is not the way to show me who you were." The people who cared about him most would never post on his Social Wall. They were too close for that. But maybe this is what he was telling me. That, for a man who kept no record of his own life, this was as good a record as any, as valid. He existed something like a monad, my grandfather, visible only through the reflections he made and never present himself, save the odd news story he posted: "Camel on Mars Hoax", or cryptic status update: "I'll never do that again"


(image result for 'Perishable Mountain Cat' (dead lynx) search)


past: my entry on Parenthetical Girls' "The Pornographer" has been edited to include the new, NSFW video. The ever-compelling Zac Pennington dispels once again any rumours that there is such a thing as fixed sexuality.

Posted by Dan at 4:59 PM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2011


Plug ring

Britney Spears - "How I Roll" [buy]
Fucked Up - "The Other Shoe" [more]

There are several ways to:

  • tie your shoes;
  • quit a job;
  • pot a plant;
  • break a window;
  • reach the moon.
There is just one way to:
  • spill a drink;
  • win a friend.
OK wait, wait, wait; I can't even remember if I'm right. Where'd I learn these lessons? Who taught me these wisdoms? Was I drunk on sugar, high on gin? Had my bike-treads got caught in streetcar-tracks? Was I chasing a girl? Was I lost & doomed? These days I can't tell sages from casanovas, logicians from minxes. Truths seem slippery as saltwater, odd songs seem sibling. It's springtime. Sprouts are budding. Buds are sprouting. On hillsides and in pubs, all the lambs are sneezing.


CONTEST - Destroyer in Montreal! This Friday April 1, promoting the exquisite new album Kaputt, Destroyer is coming to Cabaret Mile End. We have one pair of tickets to give away. To enter, leave a comment on this post with an imaginary Destroyer song-title, all in caps. Here is an example: YOUR LETTERS, JOSEPHINE. Enter as many times as you like, with separate comments. Merge will choose their favourite. Contest closes at 11:59 am on Wednesday. CONTEST CLOSED: Merge are picking a winner!

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 7:36 PM | Comments (58)

March 25, 2011



Matthew Friedberger - "The Sainte-Barbe Triangle"

It's true that I was once commissioned to perform emergency and controversial surgery on Laureen Harper, Stephen Harper's wife. I've been a cosmetic surgeon since 1998, practicing mostly out of southern Alberta, but recently moved to eastern Canada. In 2001, about 9 weeks after September 11th, I received a page reading "911". Obviously, 9/11 was still fresh in everyone's minds, and so I quickly panicked and returned the call. It was an insensitive use of the emergency page system, and I found out I was needed for, although not what I would consider a life-or-death situation, still a rather urgent and unique request. I was to go to Champlain Mall, wait in front of the New York Fries (again, I thought of firefighters) until exactly 6:20 when I would receive further instruction. The man on the phone informed me he was from the RCMP, so I obliged, despite the fact that the New York Fries closes at 6:00 (the whole Champlain Mall closed at 7:00 for goodness' sake) so I received not a few sideways looks. But at 6:20, as promised, I was approached by a man in a blue windbreaker who escorted me to the parking lot, and I was whisked away in a Ford Explorer. Everyone was very friendly, and they had dried cranberries for the ride, so I was happy. But still I was anxious to know what the hey was going on. On the hour-and-forty-five drive, they explained the situation: Laureen Harper had a "growth" that she needed removed, and I was being hired to remove it.


Let me tell you, I nearly clobbered these nice officers. "A growth?" I said, "All this for a growth?!" "Well," they said, "it's not an ordinary growth. Mrs. Harper is suffering from a condition whereby a foetus, rather than gestating in the womb as is proper and natural, has grown topically...on the surface." I paused, half-chewed cranberries in my mouth. "Where?" "On her upper arm." Apparently they thought things would resolve themselves on their own, they spent the regular gestation period keeping her out of sight, or at least covered (there was talk that she wore a fake belly in public) and took care of things the best they could. The foetus developed up to a point, but of course, given its situation, half-exposed on her upper arm like some sort of nightmarish three-dimesional tattoo, it couldn't survive. And now it was up to me to remove it.


I won't describe the process to you, I've been asked many times by those (often in their cups) curious to know, but I've never told a soul. I think of it much the same way I suppose veterans must think about war. I'd rather not put you through it, and besides, it would require some re-living so if you don't mind I'd rather just avoid it. But I will say this, as I worked away for hours, under flickering flourescent lights, trying to finish in time for a morning press conference, where Stephen was supposed to announce his candidacy for Prime-Minister, I heard him moaning in what seemed like a kind of zombie-like half-sleep. I was questioning the motives of how rushed this operation was, how secret it was, when I heard him moan, quietly to himself, "It was the only time. It was the only time we..." and then a drag of his Player's Light. I looked down, at my work, at my disgusting, devilish work, and soldiered on.

[subscriptions to Solos are sold out. But you can hope to find Meet Me in Miramas at stores like Phonopolis in Montreal]

[previous Stephen Harper fan fiction]

Posted by Dan at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2011


Image by Tolia Demidov

Code Pie - "Operator". Maybe "Operator" is about God, maybe it's about ourselves, maybe it's about a flashing switchboard that controls our days. Whatever it is, the song hoists them on its shoulders, parades them through the neighbourhood, high-fiving & jaywalking & pausing for shots of snowmen, sunrises, poodles. Montreal's Code Pie make a racket with percussion, glockenspiel, synths, horns, but although the instrumentation is familiar, the arrangement is mischievous, fresh; it's determined and shambolic, like someone who is very carefully falling down the stairs and into his next move. [listen on bandcamp / album launch on Sunday]

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers - "Go". A fine song, worthy of country radio and vintage jukebox - but Olenka's not from Nashville, not from 1981: she lives in London, ON and makes indie rock with the Autumn Lovers, certain and smouldering. So set aside the image of a bridle, a kerosene lantern, a hill - imagine instead a beat-up Civic, a cell-phone, a highway. Betrayal persists, heartbreak adapts, loss lives. [buy And Now We Sing]



Honestly, holy shit, what a wonderful, wonderful video for "Bizness", from Tune-Yards' upcoming album.

(image by Tolia Demidov - source)

Posted by Sean at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2011

Play Fight


The Kills - "Pots and Pans"

When I pull your hair, make sure to grab my hand, make sure to move with me, otherwise it's really gonna hurt. When I trip you, make sure you fall, otherwise you're really gonna fall. When I give you an uppercut, throw your chin up and thump your chest, it'll make it look good. When I slap you, don't anticipate it, it'll look fake. When I'm driving, grab the wheel, 'cause I'll let go at some point. When we're walking, walk ahead of me, and don't look back, I promise I'll be there, looking down. When we're in there, don't say my name, at least don't say my real name. When you make the call, make sure to use details, like the name of the contact you last called in your cell phone, that'll make it sound real. When you're out there, when you're waiting for them to show up, make sure to struggle, your wrists need to be chafed, otherwise they'll know. When you're riding back in the car, make sure you don't say a fuckin word. They don't wanna help you, they don't wanna get things right, they want to break us up, and that's it. They are not on your side, no one is on your side. Except me. Move with me. Otherwise this'll really hurt. [Pre-Order for free track]

(image of the (possibly boring?) super moon by n negovanlis)

Posted by Dan at 11:17 PM | Comments (2)

March 21, 2011


I've made a mix for the end of March.
MARCH MIX - fuck you winter
[58:18 / 80mb]

I started working on it last week, traipsing through the slush & sleet, wishing for some rock'n'roll to just blast this season away. I love winter, I love the Montreal winter, but come March I'm always ready for whatever's next. Bring on spring, bring on summer, bring on autumn and the thing that follows. So I started making this, a mix full of shouts, noise, bashed electric guitar. And then the weather got nice, the bikes came out, and it seemed for a few days that my mix might be obsolete. But today: there is a blizzard in Montreal. The streets are blanketed. So I'm going to turn on this mix, put it in my ears, and have a snowball fight with the cowed & cowardly sun. POW, BANG, CLANG. No more carrot - it's time for the stick.

01. Sleater-Kinney - "The Fox"
02. Futureheads - "Carnival Kids"
03. Exploding Hearts - "Throwaway Style"
04. R.L. Burnside - "The Criminal Inside Me"
05. Withered Hand - "New Dawn"
06. PS I Love You - "Meet Me At The Muster Station"
07. tUnE-yArDs - "Bizness"
08. McLusky - "There Ain't No Fool In Ferguson"
09. Haunted House - "Sierra Trail"
10. Eternal Summers - "Dye"
11. Ponytail - "Easy Peasy"
12. Sister Suvi - "Desolation"
13. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Full Grown"
14. Baby Eagle - "Crooked Coin"
15. Spoon - "Is Love Forever?"
16. The Octagon - "Cross Tops"
17. The Pixies - "Debaser"
18. Mavo - "Pay As You Go"
19. Shotgun Jimmie - "Bar's Closed"

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 12:01 PM | Comments (3)

March 18, 2011

Serious Eyes


Sean Nicholas Savage - "Can't Get My Mind Off You"

In a room with light pink carpeted floors and walls, plush and thick with swirls of cream. Bare white socks dance silently, web-cammed and wide-lensed. Pastel cuffs, wrists fleshy, pink and spurting long fingers. Palm leaves burst from the corners of the ceiling, bright green and dewy. Soft white shadows, bright white underwearings. Pants that dance so quiet, with eyes to the light. And white mic cord to the MegaBass, gold and pastel teeth, chipped with stretched lips. The blond curls of an adult newborn, blinded by LEDs, cooing sweetness and consensual silence.

Sean Nicholas Savage is from another world, one that received only AM-band-MJ and Tiger Beat as earth history. [Buy (or DL by donation) from Arbutus Records]


ABX - "Kaputting it Up (Raekwon vs. Destroyer)"

Security is lazy and sad. Anyone could get away with anything these days. Bouncers are checking their phones, cops are bummed right out, border guards are googling themselves. Airport security is hugging a mug, nursing a cold, the secret service is taking a "couch day". Bodyguards have diet depression, Brinks drivers are picking the sticker off a pear, putting it back on, and picking it off again. The door is unlatched, the locks are swinging open, wave your hand in front of their eyes, they won't notice, go on in, take whatever you see. [free]

(images by Frohawk Two-Feathers)

Posted by Dan at 3:59 PM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2011


Floating barbell

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Full Grown". Before I ever give a woman flowers, I put them in the oven. I give them to her hot. [buy]

The Beatles - "I've Just Seen A Face". Each time I fall in love, I write a beautiful song, one of the greatest-ever songs. It's just what I do. With my heart so rosy in my chest, I throw a dart at a chart on the wall; it lands on the name of an artist, Mastodon, Tupac or Simon & Garfunkel. And then I make that artist redundant, writing a song so good that they simply ought to retire. I guess some people write poems, buy bouquets, gorge on ice-cream. But when I fall in love I just can't help myself. I write a song which will soundtrack ten thousand weddings, which will sound from radios for a thousand years, which will earn me & my baby ten million dollars. It's the only thing I know how to do. Every time I fall in love. [buy]

Posted by Sean at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)

March 15, 2011

Numbered in Blood

Parenthetical Girls - "The Pornographer"

A body like a walled castle; sturdy with a one-way quality. Semi-permeable. Membranous. Valved. Clutching, fanged, a dripping snug. Orificially strictured. In short, a trap.

Parenthetical Girls - "YOUNG THROATS"

Do not invoke the stars in fiction. Do not invoke the stars in poetry. Do not invoke the stars in writing, words cannot represent the stars. The stars can only be seen, naked of everything, cameras, scopes, treetops, the backs of necks. Naked even of eyes.

[Privilege Pt. I featured last year]

[Order Privilege Pt. II]

[Pre-order Privilege Pt. III a 5-part vinyl release from PG, so far incredible and so special. And yes, literally numbered in the blood of a band member]

Posted by Dan at 8:43 PM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2011


Mirror, by Celia Perrin-Sidarous

Moudou Ould Mattalla - "Benja - Oh ma mère Leila (Oh My Mother Leila) [Mode Varhou]". A track that sounds more like a beginning than like a middle. I wonder what this Mauritanian group would tell me next: whether Leila is well or sick, whether she is in love or drowned. For now I feel only that I know she exists; Moudou Ould Mattalla and friends stand under a night sky and present her. They show me her face, in curls of guitar. They show me her spirit, in drum and handclap. This is all I know. (The crickets know more.) [buy]

Robin Pecknold - "I'm Losing Myself ft. Ed Droste". Pecknold says he is a slow mover, the gathering fog, best-laid plans. He says he sits with his head in his hands. He sings this gently, over acoustic guitar, and I believe him. But Pecknold is the leader of Fleet Foxes, arguably America's most successful folk act of the past five years. Their debut album has sold more than 350,000 copies. As Pecknold murmurs - with fingerpick, tape-hiss, the gorgeous & understated accompaniment of Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste - this commercial trivia colours my listening. I think, How can a champion feel so forlorn? I think, A thousand musicians would give their loves away, for a success like his. On some level, I know, such triumphs might underline a heartache; they might make a heartache worse. Even winners lose. Yes on some level, I know all this. And so I feel guilty, judging him. I listen to Pecknold's sad song and I feel sorry for my stony heart. [download Pecknold's free EP]

(photograph by montreal's celia perrin-sidarous)

Posted by Sean at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2011

Limb By Limb

Au - "Here's To Forgetting (Parenthetical Girls)"

Messenger bees! Send out the messenger bees! Set them off! Don't hold the trigger, pull you bastard! Send the messenger bees!

[click] [silence] [rush] [buzz] [wind] [rain] [the drums of war continue]

"The Weather War will be fought on all sides like plump children devouring a pizza", so goes the saying. I suppose we all know this will lead to nothing, we'll eat our pizza and one lucky child will be left with a dough ball and a little plastic table, a rather worthless prize, but still that is how it is shaping up."

"In the throes of the Weather War, opinion will be key, approval will rattle in the wind like all ratted and torn flags, and it is imperative that we hold on to opinion, that we steer it through these storms like a sound ship. Our greatest enemy, of course, the messenger bees. At this point, it seems they will be unstoppable. It will be the solving of the messenger bee problem that will be the crux of the Weather War, the lynchpin, the foothold, the grounding wire, the deciding factor. I leave it to a smarter man than myself to solve this problem. One of democracy's greatest, to be sure."


Parenthetical Girls, one of the most underrated bands in the world, have released an album of covers. Covers of Sparks, Tori Amos, Daniel Johnston, plus a bunch of other bands covering Parenthetical Girls songs, of which "Here's To Forgetting" is one, covered by the magnificent Au. Buy this record, it is wonderful.

And, more Parenthetical Girls to come very soon.

Posted by Dan at 5:37 PM | Comments (3)

March 10, 2011


Severed arm

The Boggs - "Plant Me A Rose". White out. The world sends a blizzard and you wonder what the sky is trying to undo, what it's trying to blot with snow, what it'll write across the city after it has made everything disappear. I fire flares, put on my most brightly coloured clothes, I stand with my lover on a street-corner, touching red lips. You will not undo this, sky. Blizzards have their limits; their limits are right here.

Kris Ellestad - "Hour of the Rat". Coat of arms gets slipped through your mail-slot. Coat of arms arrives down your chimney. Girlfriend slaps a coat of arms on your cheek. You're finding coats of arms everywhere: pull back your bedspread, shake your fruit-tree, open your father's memoirs. A coat of arms is like a mirror. It's like a person's heart, subdivided, allegorized. Clumsier metaphors have never adorned flags. // And this sour keening racket is the work of Kris Ellestad, from Calgary, leading his shambles off a cliff. I can't figure out of it's a fanfare or a falling-down, Medieval England or post-hashtag Brooklyn. It's folk-music with the sense taken out, a garden turned into a face. [buy No Man Land / more by Kris]


Our friend Ilse, who was responsible (I think) for Shotgun Jimmie's torrid pipecleaner promo, has made a stop-motion video for an unreleased Ladyhawk track. Watch it here. It makes me think that when objects come alive, they simply want to do simple things, well. (That's what I want to do, too.)

Thank you to all those who entered our Withered Hand contest. I'm emailing the victors, and the runners-up have been listed. Fingers crossed that Withered Hand makes it past US visa folks and into the country - follow the drama here.

(thanks to patricia for the image - source)

Posted by Sean at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)

March 8, 2011

Outer Spatial Reasoning


Queen - "Don't Stop Me Now"

Tom Scharpling and The Best Show on WFMU are raising money tonight for freeform radio. It's my favourite radio show in history, and every day inches closer to its inevitable legendary status. Be a part. Listen tonight 9pm-12am EST at and pledge during the show.

For a 75$ pledge:
• Rated GG 7", cleaned-up versions of GG Allin songs by Ted Leo, Mountain Goats, Ty Segall, Fucked Up and more
• original Scharpling & Wurster content
• a Best Show poster by Charles (holy, yes) Burns!

and the person who pledges the most of the whole marathon gets the lightbox pictured above.



The Barbarians - "Moulty"
Zoobombs - "Highway A Go-Go"

A New England siren song and steep Japanese shoals.

[DL Mississippi Records' Afraid of the Dark]
[site for La Vie en Jupon]

Posted by Dan at 3:37 AM | Comments (1)

March 7, 2011


Cowboy trampoline

Adam & the Amethysts - "Prophecy". With Flickering Flashlight, their upcoming second album, the Amethysts' Adam Waito has emerged from his home studio brandishing a treasure. It is a hunk of beautiful rock, granite studded with silver and mica and quartz-crystal, veins of feldspar, spurs of pyrite, amethyst filigree. It is heavy enough that you could take it in your hand and punch a hole in the wall. You could throw it at a bird and knock the whole tree drown. You could set it on a mantelpiece and make that house a home, heirloomed. You could use this hunk of rock to marry a girl, to start a campfire, to bankroll a locomotive.

There are people everywhere making folk music, making rock music, nursing nostalgias in low fidelity. Adam & the Amethysts' work is set apart, not just by geography - the Canadiana in these songs, the vast woods and great lakes, - but by its sound, weird and kind. It is some of the highest-fi lo-fi music I have ever heard - imagine dusty songs, the way a bar of sunlight turns this dust to gold. Yes, it evokes the ragged sincerity of Neil Young, Tim Hardin, Woods, Kurt Vile, but what sets it apart are the stranger influences, baroque and psychedelic, grinning and eldritch: the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Van Dyke Parks, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Jesus Christ Superstar. These are quarries not yet plumbed: the Amethysts' music is splendid, fertile, new.

And so "Prophecy", a song that recalls Brian Wilson, the Unicorns, "Auld Lang Syne", Macbeth. Drumsticks and acoustic guitar, pinned by whoops, hooks like arrows fired at the clouds. It's a tune that cuts through this winter like confetti through an empty room. It starts by telling you to chill out, ends by summoning witches (in three-part harmony), and you'll not hear a sweeter, catchier nonsense before the summertime swoon.

[Adam & the Amethysts are seeking a label / bandcamp / website / they are performing in Toronto on March 11, as part of Pop Montreal's CMW showcase]


You have until Wednesday night to enter our Withered Hand contest - peep the amazing hundred-plus entries so far. But just as importantly, Withered Hand is apparently having problems convincing US authorities that he is deserving of an artist visa for SXSW. This is ridiculous - please follow/retweet/spread the word.

(photo source unknown)

Posted by Sean at 12:06 PM | Comments (4)

March 4, 2011

Express Your Unremarkable Self


BOAT - "Dress Like Your Idols"

The world of BOAT is ultimately cold. Although full of chorus and smash, there always seems to be something underneath, some pensive distraction, like talking to someone with the television on in the background. BOAT seem to have really perfected their entire aesthetic with their new record "Dress Like Your Idols". BOAT have always seemed to say that cool is a thing that, even though we may not like it, we all have to give a try. They have advance hangovers, they're recovering addicts of drugs they never even liked, they sing about being young and having no choice but to squander youth. Their love songs are honest, they come from a true place, but are always sung from echoing halls. Bare-walled, pin-pocked, palm-streaked halls, two-tone and barren. BOAT comes from some kind of post-alcohopalyptic world, where no matter what age you are, you're never too far from the next binge, the next break-up, the next never-was. The sky always has warm gathering clouds, but never a storm, buds on the trees but never never never a leaf. Beer-soaked branches and limbs like sticks, weak but striving. And every night there's a vernissage, a book launch, a CD/vinyl release, an open mic, a non-pro fashion show, an embroidery seminar, a pick-up soccer game, a night-nic (BYOBFFs and wine), and birthday drinks. And all of them are okay. None is worth canceling the other.

[first 100 pre-orders get secret cassette with covers!]

(image by Irina Werning)

Posted by Dan at 3:29 AM | Comments (2)

March 3, 2011


Withered Hand - Good News

Withered Hand - "Hard On".

It's been 18 months since I first wrote about Withered Hand's debut LP, Good News, and this terrific track. But it's taken 18 months for North America to catch up with what my Scottish friends have been saying for yonks, in emails and crackly Skype calls: Withered Hand, aka Edinburgh's Dan Willson, is the realest of deals, a songwriter with a quiver full of arrows, a voice that, er, lunges for the throat.

"Hard On" is a cover of a song by Charles Latham. Ultimately, I wrote, it concerns erections, but mostly it's about the intersection between yearning and doing. Withered Hand has realised the sound of yearning: it's this, simple and splendid and fierce. It's a chant that keeps changing, with words like flashpaper. Listen to the way he sings man, good, could, knife, car, go, FM radio, guitars, Thin Lizzy, pen, John Updike, hard-on. Each one, carelessly cast, could start a housefire.

"Hard On" is scruffy and sincere, but neither banal nor precious. Willson sings it like he's learned some things on lonely roads and bathroom walls - he hasn't yet figured out how to live, but he's figured out the way living is gonna rhyme.

On March 15, Absolutely Kosher - the label which helped along the Wrens, the Mountain Goats, Frog Eyes and more - is reissuing Good News in the United States and Canada. To celebrate, they've given us some Withered Hand goodies for a contest. Inevitably, we have one copy of the vinyl LP up for grabs, but also a second, grand prize: Absolutely Kosher's deluxe Good News box set, which includes the CD album, another disc with Withered Hand's preceding EPs and unreleased material, buttons, stickers, and a signed note and drawing by Mr Willson himself. All this, in a hand-numbered and decorated box. There are only 200 of these things, and, um, one of them is for one of you.

To enter our Withered Hand contest, leave a comment on this post with an imagined headline, all in caps. This headline should be the headline for the best-ever piece of good news. Good News, get it? Here are some examples:


Enter as many times as you like, with separate comments. Contest closes at 11:59pm on Wednesday, March 9, and we'll pick our two favourites.


There were 175 extraordinary entries for this contest - view them all. Such amazing, hilarious, poignant, ridiculous headlines. I wish we could have given out twenty prizes, but alas there are just two. Here were my favourites:


If you missed the contest, never fear: buy Good News or the box set. Listen in full on Bandcamp. Withered Hand is playing SXSW and a couple of west coast US dates. Visit his website. Thanks to Shaker Maker PR and Absolutely Kosher for this invitation.

Posted by Sean at 10:00 AM | Comments (175)

March 1, 2011

Getting Screwed in Hot Rain


Crystal Swells - "Swamp People"

My partner (in crime? I guess you could say we were both accomplices) and I have had a hell of a few weeks. My partner tends to talk with his hands, and not in the way my aunts Susanne and Blondie used to talk with theirs. Not so much she had a pair of bazoobs like this and more bam! there's a word, bam! there's another one until we had written enough for a Sunday Edition. And that was fine. I mean, it was hell and I couldn't eat without my stomach crumpling like a paper cup, but at least I understood it. Fight or flight, one of the most understandable feelings there is, actually. Hard to sit in that pool of adrenaline for days like some kind of sick jacuzzi, but understandable. What I didn't understand was the silent treatment that came after. Eventually it turned into the silent long-term care, and I was beginning to wonder if I could even speak English anymore. We spoke in sex. I like this about you, I hate this about you, this is what you mean to me. It's a lot. It's nothing at all. It's fucking less than nothing. The only words that he spoke the entire two weeks before we broke up, were: "Must suck to be mute, huh?" And he said it while he was coming into the kitchen and I was leaving it. Like we were passing each other on the street. That made me think he must have been saving it up for a while. What a great line to save up. A doozie. The way I see it, that's like choking for air when you're drowning, catching your breath for a second, and your only words being, "It's hard to breathe down there!" Nothing about the ocean or the corral or the fish or the taste of the salt water, just "Must suck to be mute, huh?" So that's when I dumped him. And I did it with sex. This is the last thing you'll ever get from me.

Boris with Merzbow - "Akuma No Uta"

[Buy Crystal Swells' Goethe Head Soup for an amazing 2$USD]
[Buy Boris & Merzbow's Klatter from the admittedly suspicious Aural Exploits]

(photo by Lu Chusheng)

Posted by Dan at 5:29 PM | Comments (2)