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.

April 29, 2011

Landed Diagonal


Tune-Yards - "Powa"

She walks, split skirt with drum skin. Hiked-up smirkways and trodded curls. Hands grasp, weightshiftingly pulled, a tidy swing. With purely magnetic horizontation, stretched livingly lain. Bent in cratered sexography, perpetually libidoing, breathing, given give-ins and a whole beating, succumbersome mid. Illiterate gasping, monogrammed clasping, anonymous help.

This song is pure, heavy, vital. It is, right now, the very best. [Buy from Rough Trade]

Ponytail - "Music Tunes"

"a day on the lake" is not the same as "stranded in the middle of the lake"

A lake so big there are places where the horizon is all water. This is one of those places. The water shimmers black and smooth. From below it sparkles and rises to meet you. To sit floating on the border where the world changes from air to water is not comfortable. Even with no one around it's easy to feel watched. As if something were waiting to catch a mistake, something to exploit, a reason to tip. But that reason never comes. For a year or longer the worlds of air and water sit locked in a stalemate, undecided over who will get to kill me. [Buy]


The new video for Titus Andronicus' "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future" directed by Tom Scharpling. Scharpling has directed The New Pornographers' "Moves" also this year, and Ted Leo's "Bottled In Cork" last year. No Future is, I think, Scharpling's best video work so far. Not just because it's beautiful and sincere and totally right-on nostalgic, but because it doesn't have stars in it. The first two videos are full of comedy people who make the videos necessarily pretty enjoyable, but they also can't be divorced from their "star" quality. In "No Future" we see the band on their own, exploring an idea, namely showing New Jersey in a new light, and it's a much more self-sufficient and personal experience. Love shines through in this video, and it gave me chills.

Also: Emma Healey, who guested last week, was just in studio for this week's Best Show on WFMU. Hear her, and a not terrible call from me at 1:27:30, here.

(photo source unknown, via We Can Build You)


and Kickstarter hit a milestone this week: 2 years, 20 000 projects, and 40$ million in actual collected money. Pretty mind-blowing. I was about to point you to a nice project started by Jumbling Towers for help with their video of Ramifications of an Exciting Spouse, but cheerily, they've already made their goal.

Posted by Dan at 1:16 PM | Comments (7)

April 28, 2011


Tree 14 by Myoung Ho Lee

Ryan Driver - "It's Tulip Season".

Ryan Driver cannot quite sing like Chet Baker, but he can listen to Chet Baker. He can study 16mm film and practice Chet Baker's walk, learn the way he shook hands, the way he shrugged on a coat. He can listen to wrong notes the way Chet Baker listened to wrong notes, nodding, feeling them go right. I have not been able to google the colour of Chet Baker's eyes, but let us imagine that they were blue. Blue eyes are a state of mind. Blue eyes is a nickname for the thing Driver is doing with his piano, here. "Play it blue-eyes," he tells Martin Arnold, on guitar. None of them have ever seen a man with blue eyes. They do not smoke. They are lovesick and it is springtime.

[Who's Breathing?, a stunning and excellent album, is out soon. Buy it, buy it, buy it.]

Daniel Romano - "Louise".

It is not easy, to sing a song for a departed loved one. The stakes are high. The song must stand for the whole of your heart. If it says too little, it is a lie - but it is also a lie which corrupts, which can slowly become true. A song is not a reflection of one's true feelings; it is an illustration. We gather these illustrations about us, take them with on anniversaries. As time goes by, the illustrations are the most certain things we have.

Daniel Romano's "Louise" is beautiful and slow, a remembrance on high cliffs.

[buy Sleep Beneath the Willow]

(photo is Tree #14 by Myoung Ho Lee/ source)

Posted by Sean at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2011

Love in the 1980s

Willy DeVille - "Assassin of Love"

Engaged to a well-bred blonde beauty and with a promising career in science before him, Andrew McCarthy forsakes everything, crossing the tracks (and, in the process, his best friend, Ben Stiller) to pursue an impossible affair with Molly Ringwald, a married, unrefined sixteen-year-old. Emilio Estevez drives hours in a blizzard to track down Dr. Andie MacDowell, only to find her at a ski lodge with her boyfriend; he accepts that his romantic obsession is doomed, but kisses her anyway, and she, in her white cable-knit sweater, nearly invisible in the falling snow, kisses him back. In the back seat of his car, John Cusack lies next to the perfect, porcelain Ione Skye, naked, post-coital, shaking.


Nina Simone - "Turn Me On"

I've gone to bed at midnight, at 2 a.m. and 4. I've dozed off at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, hit the sack at dinnertime and woken up at dawn. I've seen the remotest hours, those at the farthest reaches of time, when the radio plays silence and the tv test patterns, the internet is down and all the books blank, hours when real aloneness is possible, when there's nothing to do but wait for the world's return. In those times, the mind's wont to wonder and on a recent such morning mine turned to the creation of a list of songs likely composed in temporal isolation. But tired as I was I didn't get past the first item -- this song of similes, as simple as ... And before I'd finished playing it, I heard through my bedroom window the soporific swell and decay of the morning's first passing car.


Posted by Jordan at 6:11 PM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2011

Water Glass


Litrugy - "Generation"

In the most recent version of it, this is the music used in the trailer to sell the universe to potential invenstors. I will not describe the "bud-grows-into-full-tree" time-lapse footage, nor the condensed Crusades, nor the "shrinking-microchip-space-program" montage. It's a bit Mr. Brainwash, honestly. And if you die before the deal goes through, or if you die as a result of this deal going through, you won't get to share in the spoils. Which, I'm told, are going to be pretty sweet. Everyone gets their percentage of the percentage, and a No. 2 pencil with your name engraved into it. [Pre-Order]

Paul McCartney - "Love is Strange"

"Hey, look" geese fly, expressionless, in a loose shape across the sky. Must be North. Henry stares straight up at them, his shoes twisting in the mud, and squints. He blinks into the sun, and he can see some of the geese are missing feathers in their wings.

Henry is the first-born son. He is proud of this, it's a title that sounds like a prince or someone with a destiny. He is at the park with his babysitter, Carrie, who is carrying his little sister Darling, in her arms, in a pink swath. Henry's face is cold but his body underneath his jacket is hot, almost sweating.

"Do you know yet?" Henry grabs Carrie's hand and they head across the expansive field, soft with wet patches. "Know what?" Carrie knows exactly what, but says that anyway. "About your school? Did they call you?" A day last week, while they drank apple lemonade and cut construction paper shapes, Carrie had told Henry that she was waiting to hear from a very big school. She wanted to go there and they just needed to let her in. Henry did not want her to go, but also wanted her to be happy. He has asked her every day since whether she knows.

"No, they haven't called," says Carrie, the dangly ends of her dangly scarf have little shiny bits in them, and she sparkles when she walks. "Is it hard to get in?" Henry is sure he will have no problem getting in, he is the first-born son, but not everyone is so lucky. "I don't quite know," she says, her arm holding Darling getting weak, "I suppose if I don't get in, then I'll say it was hard to get in."

Henry thinks about the geese, expressionless. "I hope you don't get in," he says, knowing that she might think that was mean. Henry doesn't care; as first-born son he is entitled to his feelings.

[from the Soily mix, at Elasticheart, via Jez Burrows]
[or buy the 1 vinyl copy left for 602.72$CAD]


As Sean said, thanks to Emma and Chandler for taking up the reins for me while I was away. I'm so glad you liked what they brought.


Elsewhere: Sean Dunne got in touch with me this morning about a new film he made. It's a gorgeous little doc about a country singer turned marathon runner. It's called Stray Dawg, and I recommend it highly.

Posted by Dan at 3:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2011


Men on a boat

Miracle Fortress - "Raw Spectacle (Pantha du Prince remix)". Graham van Pelt's wish and longing overtaken by knock and clap. Pantha du Price's beats consist of huge structures, galleries bounded with bridge and cupola, an architecture of white marble and faded copper. The city becomes much bigger than the wanting at its centre; there are lone towers, canals which do not meet. I do not know how long a man has been standing on the wall, looking east. I only noticed him this morning. But lines are appearing, like cracks in the ice, upon his face. [Was I The Wave? is released tomorrow / He's celebrating by playing an in-store at Montreal's Phonopolis]

Sun In Sound - "Such A Let Down". Norway's Sun In Sound follow-up the outstanding "Up North", and like that song, "Such A Let Down" will make you feel either nauseous or smitten. It is like chewing too long on a raspberry, staring at a bee-sting, listening to the Flaming Lips too loud. If there are any lessons in this song, they are about avoiding nooses, slipping on mud. My sleeves are so tight I sometimes forget I have hands. [more]


I think Dan's back this week, after two weeks away; but I wanted to extend thanks and admiration to Chandler Levack (1 2) and Emma Healey (1 2), who were filling-in in his absence. It was a pleasure reading their writing (and hearing their songs). I'm actually about to go on holiday too, but it's a more familiar face - Said the Gramophone's reclusive Jordan Himelfarb - who will be picking up the slack. Please leave feedback for our visiting scribes!



Gizmodo republished my long investigative piece from Brick 85, concerning a secret society and the Paris catacombs.

Adam & the Amethysts have released a new video for "Prophecy", a song I posted here last month. 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. The video's got good times, bad hair, skateboards and a VHS flicker.

(photo source)

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

April 22, 2011

Not Good Enough

Chain & The Gang - "Not Good Enough"

I phone this song at 8 a.m. and after two rings it picks up but doesn't say hi.

"Hi," I say, into the silence. This song and I have been best friends since the seventh grade and it knows why I'm calling. It knows everything. Have you ever had a best friend? This song and I do everything together, we finish each other's sentences, we have nicknames for people we don't like, I can call it whenever. Sometimes things get so close it's like sharing a spinal cord. We breathe the same. We repeat ourselves. We get each other. This song and me.

"I'm heartbroken," I say anyway, even though I don't have to. My ribs swell and ache when I breathe in. I can hear it lighting a cigarette. "Like but actually though." This is true. Things are not good. I'm sitting on the kitchen floor wearing men's boxers and a dumb t-shirt, with my knees pulled up to my chest. So far tonight I've eaten three toaster waffles, all dry, two still frozen a bit in the middle, and half a thing of "Italian-Style Seasoning" because it was green and in the cupboard and I don't know. You know how in CPR training they tell you that to save someone who's not breathing you have to crack their sternum first? This song knows I hate silence. Even though we're exactly the same height people always seem to think it's taller than me. I can hear it exhale, long. I wish it would say something.

"I'm going to go to the clinic. I feel like I'm going to die." Quiet, still. I spent all night pacing around, remembering things, and my hands won't stop shaking. The kitchen floor suddenly seems like the wrong place to be, I can feel morning starting to push through the windows like it's going to climb over me. "I looked it up on WebMD. It's a thing." The silence goes, Heartbreak? I'm blushing now, into my knees. I can picture it lying in bed, dangling its non-phone hand lazily over the side, smoke listing up, with the hedgehog skittering in nervous spirals on the hardwood like it does. I've never seen this song sleep. I'm not sure if anyone has.

My breathing is weird-paced and ragged. My arms feel too hot. I go, "I can't deal with this anymore." I go, "What I'm saying is." What. Still the silence. I've been awake for a full day, I feel flushed and bruised and stupid for calling. Can somebody explain why me and this song are still friends? When we go to parties everyone always talks to it first even though I'm clearly the better conversationalist, and last week it invited me out to the movies and never showed up or said sorry. This song answers its texts maybe 30% of the time and never asks how my day was and when we were seventeen it would steal my little brother's adderall and sell it to kids at the Catholic high school across the street, like I wasn't going to notice, and two weeks ago it borrowed my favourite pair of jeans and has yet to return them and probably it never will, probably it's wearing them right now, lying there in bed, not listening to me, this song has a dumb haircut. I don't care.

"Are you sitting on your kitchen floor wearing men's boxers and a dumb t-shirt?" it asks.

"No." Whatever.


I've been eating my food out of mugs because doing the dishes is too much for me, because of the breadth and intensity of the heartbreak I've been feeling, and how hard things have been, how I haven't been sleeping, how everything tastes like pavement anyway, except now there aren't any mugs left so last night I made tea in a salad bowl and just drank it that way, tipping the side of the bowl to my face, still sitting on the kitchen floor. I can hear this song smiling, down the line. One time at a party it stole some guy's wallet just because he'd been mean to me and we bought three 24s of expensive beer with his credit card and then threw all his I.D. into the river. There's sun now and I can feel my roommates moving, through the floorboards. I feel tired for the first time in days maybe. The weather. Something diffuse in my bloodstream. This song isn't saying anything, but I know that it's lying there, grinning its stupid smug grin, with its eyes closed, just waiting.

"It's not funny," I say, way too loud. And of course.

[Buy Music's Not For Everyone]
[Buy Meet Me At The Muster Station]

Posted by Emma at 12:17 PM | Comments (6)

April 21, 2011


Falling beefeater

Destroyer - "Farrar, Straus and Giroux".

The song fish-hooked me.

I'm walking, listening, and then suddenly each image is a chime; each sentiment familiar. We want this from music - to hear something so close that you feel it slip down your throat and catch in your chest. We talk of "hooks" in songs. Of being "grabbed" by a "catchy" song. We remember such moments: strolling and hearing a track that expresses all that rustles in your bones. The song at the concert, that time, when you felt like you were tearing in half. The song as you walked down the aisle. Something on the tape-deck as your headlights are white beaming. The last dance. Everything just yes.

"Farrar, Straus and Giroux" was destined for a mix CD I never made. For many weeks I kept the song aside. And when I took it out it had changed. Become a long line of familiar truths - of coincidences (eerie, splendid) reeled out slow. From smiles to stones to my "temporary age of 24"... Each time one of these things rings & stings, I feel the fish-hook tug.

"If there is such a thing as ill-timed August rain?" Bejar sings, and the way he asks it would almost break your heart were he not caring enough to shrug and pivot, to say "all right" and then play the piano runs generous and inevitable, Destroyer-typical, that will remind me always of the "Aria".

Yesterday my friend Darek, whose first language is not English, asked me the difference between the words coincidence and synchronicity. I said that synchronicity was Jung. That it was a "system of coincidences". This system might spell the name of God, or humanity, or truth. Or love. Or nothing at all.

But I regret speaking of systems. Let "synchronicity" be instead the collective noun for coincidences. A flight of swallows, an anthology of flowers, a synchronicity of coincidences. A synchronicity. Who's with me? (Who's even still reading this?)

It's such a shiny word, synchronicity. Shiny as a new Farrar, Straus & Giroux paperback. Shiny as Destroyer's electric guitar.

Shiny, friends, as fish-hook.

[buy / this post first appeared in 2006]

Sleeping Bag - "Beside". Two jewelled saddles, resplendent. The cowboys ride, with underarm cereal boxes. Crunch, crunch. Two crunches, like a Japanese poem. The first cowboy squints at the horizon. These are the richest cowboys in the West. They got rich on friendship. They look at each-other now, putting simultaneous toothpicks between simultaneous canines. The cowboys have never high-fived. They have never shaken hands. They have exchanged glances and these glances have stood for embraces. Their saddles are made of onyx and emerald. Their horses were raised in Delaware. When they are ready, the cowboys will gallop through the scrub the way that birds move through Spring. They will gallop all the way to the lake.

[I last wrote about Sleeping Bag's 90s nostalgia in January. It's like a blunt instrument, I wrote, a cotton-gloved fist, pounding the sleepy smile into your face. The band's entire album is now streaming at Bandcamp and, they say, it desires vinyl pressing. I hope it gets its wish.]

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

April 19, 2011

Voting Season


[Emma Healey is the creator and curator of The Incongruous Quarterly. She is a very gifted writer, gifted with vision and voice. But in the sense that what we work extremely hard for can seem like gifts to those just meeting us for the first time. Please enjoy, I certainly am.]

CBC - "National Research Council Time Signal"

In the end we elected our friend Jeff prime minister. To be honest we were just all so tired, so bored with the fucking around, and Jeff seemed like the best option, it was April. Could you blame us? (Answer: No you could not.) Things were desparate, in those days. The smell of everything reminded us of hair gel, even cats, and the skin around our eyes was pool-deeper and gradient. We undertipped constantly and were stealing our neighbours' wireless without guilt or apology. Our faces gave off this pale, sickly glow and in motion in groups we looked like a school of dying squid, but resigned more. You could tell time by us and not the good kind. The steady lurching. We felt stuck under glass, there were other things in our lives that needed looking after; our boyfriends sent us ellipsis-heavy text messages asking when we thought we'd be home and our wives were DVRing shows we had never even heard of. The season was coming, outside, even in our shoulders you could feel it, and Jeff had the best jeans and interpersonal skills of any of us. It seems obvious, now. When we had dreams they were anxious and posture-mangling: podiums, compact fluorescents, reasonably paced train crashings, all achingly lucid and bilingual. Coffee - coffee - was no longer a thing that we liked but a thing where even the name of it made us throw up, totally instantly, regardless. When we kissed (if we kissed) it made sounds like the CBC and we tasted like press release, our parents were quietly worried, if you say the word rhetoric ten times fast it sounds imperative. Jeff has an excellent record collection. Jeff had helped us move three times and once burned all five seasons of The Wire for us, and he didn't correct other people when they mispronounced the names of foreign countries, even though he always knew.

Probably we came on a little strong, our voices pitched maybe too keen but in the end it still worked, we could see it even then, that first day in the kitchen with all our materials spread out across the table and Jeff nodding, Jeff-like, into the afternoon. We come prepared, always. We felt clean all the way to our nerve endings. Hope had renewed us. We wanted to sing. Even when we went into his room to count his sweaters we already knew, while he stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, his eyebrows a little bit raised that way he has, watching us. We felt around in the closet but already we were imagining what it would be like to hold hands with girls we didn't even really know, to teach our children to skateboard, to sleep in until 11, to make nachos for dinner and enact policy reform with a swift, stunning grace, to wear good shoes again. Jeff pushed into the doorframe a bit and asked us if we wanted coffee. We politely declined. When Jeff speaks you feel comforted but also like you're ready for something you weren't previously ready for. Outside, spring was petitioning the neighbourhood. We lost count and it didn't even matter. We'd already won.

Sonny and the Sunsets - "Too Young to Burn"

(image by Caroline)

Posted by Emma at 10:42 AM | Comments (5)

April 18, 2011


animal brains

Digits - "Desire". [download EP]
Jamie Woon - "Echoes". [buy]

It was dark when the Israelites traipsed away from Giza, crackers fastened to their backs. The only sound was the murmuring of mothers to their infants, the squeak & creak of leather straps. Sand swished. Mules exhaled. Lanterns glowed in the darkness and this light accorded the procession an appropriate atmosphere: deliberate, steady, secret. These families were leaving the tent-city for the desert, for whatever comes next. Some of their hands still smelled of lambs' blood. All of them dreamed of whips.

Gil strolled somewhere in the middle of the throng. He strolled alone. He led Lucy by her harness and sipped intermittently from his water-skin. He looked out over the black of the dunes and remembered the nights when the full moon had loomed, larger than the pyramids, larger than anything, and he had leaned under a palm kissing girls with black hair.

The Nile did not glitter. It was still.

Gil had had many lovers. Some were Israelites, and these women now marched nearby, huddled with their parents, with their siblings. Many were Egyptians. Gil wondered if he would ever see them again. He sipped from his water-skin. He would go with his tribe to wherever they were going, to wherever God was leading them; they'd set up and live their lives. And then maybe one day Gil would come home and go dancing again with Rena or Shariti, would lie by the wall with Nefila. He looked at the way his sandals pressed into the dirt. He wondered if they would reach their destination and he would fall in love. With Leah or Shoshana. Would he wake up one morning and look into the sun and want nothing more than to hold Leah's hand? Forever? Would he never come back to Egypt? He looked back over his shoulder. You could see nothing of Giza. It was as if Giza had never existed. In the part of Gil's chest where hIs heart lightly rested, he felt a soft, terrible sadness.

[Digits' Lost Dream EP, released today, is a free download. It is slow, sensuous electro - from Toronto. Alt does beautiful things with pastels, flickers, coloured shapes, and we look forward to hearing more.]

(image source unknown)



Artists have about a month to apply to one of the sweetest deals in Canadian arts funding: the Banff Indie Band Residency. Visit one of the most beautiful places in the country and spend two weeks meeting other acts, working on your music, and finally recording in studio with engineers like Tony Berg and my friend Howard Bilerman. Previous participants include Basia Bulat, the Witchies, Woodpigeon and Ohbijou. (For bands that have fewer than five members, the only cost for the program is transportation to Banff.) In 2009, I spent a month in Banff writing about the Paris catacombs; it was a joy and a privilege.

Posted by Sean at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2011

Three Confused British Men

Rod Stewart - "Mandolin Wind"

My friend David Marchese wrote about rewinding this song over and over on his cassette player as a kid walking his dog in North York and I fell in love with him a little after reading that. Rod Stewart, who writes most of his worst songs about being a flighty blonde bimbo, writes his best songs when he shows the soul behind the bimbo. "Mandolin Wind" is off his first album Every Picture Tells A Story and unlike "Three Time Loser" (where he admits to jackin' off to Playboy) or "Maggie May" (where he admits to getting kicked in the head by his MILF girlfriend), the song is all soft sweetness and hidden feelings. "Mandolin Wind" is a song about winter in Buffalo where things get really cold and bleak and a guy that's not great at communicating. The soft opening guitar lines track the beginning of a relationship, through the endless snow and rain. Stewart keeps repeating the refrain "and I know I love ya" over and over, but it doesn't seem like words are enough in this doomed Buffalo shack-up. The lyricism is simple - "Don't have much but what I've got is yours/except my steel guitar." At the 2:30 mark, there is a brief moment of silence, like crossing the threshold of a big drop on a roller coaster, and the song dips into the greatest, most life affirming mandolin solo of all time that sounds like babies being born, and trees sprouting buds and riding your bike with no handlebars. Then the song picks up again where it left off as the couple grows hungry in the winter and the love goes away. (Even Rod feels "it hard to hide my tears.") The mandolin wind, this ecstatic rush of passion, can't change a thing - but the song remains the same. I've probably listened to this song a 100 times and it doesn't get any more perfect than that mandolin solo or the hard rocking resilient conclusion. The moral? Don't move to Buffalo with Rod Stewart and protect your feelings carefully.

Joe Jackson - "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"

Lately I've been doing this thing where I sing along to pre-recorded karaoke singles on my iPhone when I'm convinced myself that my roommates aren't home.* This practice (and I consider it one, the way self-righteous yogis talk about perfecting their internal breathing) has changed the way I think about the performance of pain. Joe Jackson is the single karaoke singer's hero. He writes songs about lonely people who think they're better than everyone else but feel wronged by society anyway. For years I thought "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" was about a man who couldn't believe that the girl he loved was dating a schmuck. Perfecting my "look over there - where?" in my messy bedroom, I realized that "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" isn't a love song about one girl in particular, it's a song about how society as a whole is fucked. Why won't anyone love Joe Jackson? Why doesn't Joe Jackson love Joe Jackson? I don't know, but I like him a whole lot better than Elvis Costello.

The Streets - "I Love You More (Than You Like Me)"

Mike Skinner sounds like a vaguely autistic man reading a series of drunk text messages on this rap song (off the highly underrated 2008 Streets album Everything Is Borrowed)*, which is why I like it. This complicated rap song sounds like the inner monologue of a sensitive loser - and if my thoughts and feelings were as badly articulated as they are in Skinner's rap, I wouldn't send those texts. In some ways, it's the "geezer" reversal of Stewart's song - a plain, matter of fact deterioration of a would-be love affair told through the guise of a British faux gangster. "I think I love you more than you like me" goes the chorus to Stewart's coda, accompanied by a dainty piano track. And when he starts whining about how he spent the night drawing but secretly sucks at it ("drawing" pronounced the way Paddington Bear might), you know this girl is better off.

*Cool, right? My repertoire mostly consists of Patsy Cline's "Crazy," The Smiths "This
Charming Man" and sometimes when drunk, Alicia Bridges "I Love The Nightlife."

**Am I the only one who still likes The Streets? I think most of modern society has
forgotten Mike Skinner exists, which is sad because most of his raps are about this very problem.

[Buy Every Picture Tells a Story]
[Buy Look Sharp!]
[Buy Everything is Borrowed]

Posted by Chandler at 9:56 AM | Comments (5)

April 14, 2011


Morning Glory Pool

Pacific! - "Unspoken ft. El Perro Del Mar". Ringing, ringing, siren & dulcimer & dancefloor. It's gorgeous electro-pop, threaded with gold, but there's also a quirkiness to what these Swedes have done. El Perro Del Mar sings solemn, sultry, above click & ring & echo, yet for the chorus she's joined by another voice, one of Pacific's boys; and he is more Ringo than Nico, like he was hauled in from a telephone booth. It's a peculiar combination, but everything comes down to the beauty of the sound, the whorls and slips, the different metals of the disco-ball.


Gardens & Villa - "Black Hills". Sometimes good songs seem like such simple things: it takes just a panel, a doorknob, a hinge.

[LP is due on Secretly Canadian on July 5 / bandcamp]



+ I profiled (and interviewed) Pat Jordache for Hour.

+ Lovely new video for Little Scream's "The Lamb", all lamplight and shadow and headdress and snow. Made by friends and acquaintances. Buy The Golden Record now. (I'm going to write about another of her songs soon.)

+ Ryan Mills (available for mastering jobs!), has uploaded a video of Arcade Fire playing "My Heart Is An Apple" in March 2002, at a loft on St-Laurent. I think it was an afternoon all-ages gig, organised by Chloe Lum and David Barclay, with the Unicorns opening. This is perhaps my favourite era of the band, playing perhaps my favourite song, at a show that meant a great deal, in the end, to my friendship with Dan Beirne. Watching it, I feel a whole lot of things.

(photo is of Yellowstone's Morning Glory Pool / source)

Posted by Sean at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2011

On Sluts

[Chandler Levack is the music writer for Maisonneuve Magazine. She has written for Spin, The Village Voice, EYE Weekly, The Varsity, and others. She is also a friend and good person. Which is why I'm just as taken aback as you will be with her contribution today On Sluts. Sean and I are normally such gentle writers, so it's nice to have someone come in and shock us a bit. So thanks to Chandler, and to you, enjoy.]

Dory Previn - "The Lady with the Braid (Live at Carnegie Hall)"

Sluts are opportunists. Sluts are hard workers. Sluts say "carpe diem!", which in slut is roughly translated to "seize the dick!" A slut says why settle for a goodnight kiss when you can fuck a guy in an alleyway? Why end the first date with a handshake when you can give a handjob?

People underestimate sluts, call them easy, but there's a lot of heavy lifting in convincing a guy to have sex with you against his will. After six or seven beers at a bar near your house, the slut will ask you to take her back to your place. They don't want to be held, they just want action. The slut says, "where's the action?" And after a third bottle of 50 procured from your fridge, talking under your breath as to not to awake one's roommates, the slut will act.

The slut will mention a DVD you have on the Criterion collection. You will pull the slut
into your room, showing off the loft bed you have built from scratch, nailing pieces of
hardwood into an IKEA frame, like Jesus The Carpenter. You will watch the first fifteen minutes of If, thinking, when can I touch her boobs? But the slut already knows. She has planned it, weaved her web of mystery. And you are now trapped, trying to take off her bra before falling off the loft bed.

Thunk! You fall off anyway. A five foot fall and your head might be bleeding. Fuck
the emergency room! The slut presses on. The slut is used to the disturbances of having sex with someone one time and one time only, clad in Haynes Her Way period panties because the slut wasn't expecting this sex. It doesn't matter! It's Haynes Her Way. Keeping the momentum, the slut takes off your pants before you wonder why no one laughs at your jokes anymore. Plaid boxers. All boys have plaid boxers and plaid bed sheets that have the sweet sickly hamster smell of boy. Plaid is the essence of boy - squares of flat shapes that are always rubbing up against each other.

Press on! The slut has a schedule to keep. Face kiss, neck kiss, breast kiss, take off shirt, take off pants, take off underwear, feel around, you go down on me, I go down on you, possible sex, orgasm. You can't help but think, wow it's weird that we are naked. Men's bodies, men's rooms - always ugly and idiosyncratic. Sometimes abs, sometimes a thick fur of hair on their lower back. Sometimes white walls and milk crates, sometimes hardwood and incense lilting in the breeze. Don't think! Press on! You ask, "what do you want to do?" The slut mumbles something. What do they want to do? They're doing it! The aftermath is more important. The congratulatory "I got laid last night" text message. The awkward run in months later. The "sorry I never called..." Don't you know anything? You never call a slut!

Finish what you started. Wake up the next morning after a fitful sleep because your brain is used to sleeping with girlfriends, not sluts. You hand the slut a glass of tap water like a sacrament. Tap water in an Alf mug is the slut's nectar of the gods. Whack your head on the loft bed and swear. Hold in every fart. The slut made an exception by sleeping over. Sleeping over destroys a slut's nervous system, reduces their shit to tap water and their stomach to rubble. Should we get breakfast? The slut says no, but you think some eggs with a stranger might be nice. The slut says no and puffs on a cigarette as she tousles your hair and waves goodbye on her bike. You stand on your porch, basking in the solitude of being unkempt and lonely, but satiated for now. Satiated with one time sex with a slut. Until, you aren't.

Posted by Chandler at 12:49 PM | Comments (4)

April 11, 2011


Yuri Masnyj, Tied in a knot, 2006

Low - "Nothing But Heart". More than a decade ago, this band helped invent the thing called slowcore. Since then, Low have walked a crooked path away from that notoriety, made songs that groove and shimmer. Not here. Here, they cloak themselves in their old cloaks. They slip their old strings into their new guitars. Secretly, they murmur a mantra they learned from Neil Young. Then they flick the switches on their amps and begin to play, slow and hardcore, beautiful and roaring, standing under studio lights and showing all the ways they're different from, all the ways they're the same as, the Minnesota couple that clasped hands in 1990. "Nothing But Heart" is a flag that unfurls over eight minutes; not just bands of blue, black, indigo, but swathes of gold and silver, illuminated stars. It is deafening heraldry, howling guitar and banded voices, building shapes in the air. [C'mon is released tomorrow / LP is just $12 at Sub Pop]

Trey Songz - "On Top". The topic of Trey Songz' ballad is unambiguous. Also, its purpose. In fact, almost everything about this track is crystal clear - Trey's feelings, his tactics, his preferred sexual position. And yet this song is hot, hazy, torrid; it is indirect and fragile. On paper, Trey's ministrations are transparent & crude. On wax, they are soft as butterfly-wings. It is not just the clap and shuffle of the beat, but that melancholy piano-line, more Satie than Neptunes, made of moonlight. [download 2009's Anticipation]



Emperor X, a Said the Gramophone favourite, has a new and extremely limited cassette for sale. Comes with digital versions. Songs and then backwards songs. Go get it. (Via Tyler, who shares one of the tape's sad, angry, racketing songs at Wattled Smoky Honeyeater.)

The Guardian is streaming all of w h o k i l l, the new album by Tune-Yards. It is an extraordinary fucking record, and we're head over heels for it. Merrill Garbus is an old friend, and she's gnashing teeth in every new way. Also don't miss her new video, which we linked to last week, and this weekend profile from the paper.

Speaking of excellences, Southern Souls have posted a great video of Pat Jordache, performing at Toronto's legendary Honest Ed's store. We've written copiously about Jordache, one of Montreal's best acts (and Merrill Tune-Yards' former bandmate in Sister Suvi). Future Songs - a favourite from our end-of-year list - is getting reissued by Constellation later this month. It's a gorgeous (improbable) re-master.

(image is Yuri Masnyj's Tied in a knot / source)

Posted by Sean at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2011



Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo - "Ma Vie"

How many notes did you know when you were a child? How many notes do you know now that you are old? How many of them do you play? You are difficult to understand. I don't mean speaking, I understand the things you say, you say you love me and I believe you. But I mean your body. What are the codes, where is it written, the map to understand your body? What do the different parts mean? What does it mean when they move? What does it mean when you look at something but point at something else? What does it mean when you walk with one foot on the sidewalk and one in the road? What does it mean when you press fruit, when you close your eyes to taste something, when you kiss at yourself in the mirror? I think it is perhaps better not to look for meaning in your body, for that is like looking for meaning in the way a bird flies, or the way a dog kicks up dust when it walks on dirt roads. Better to look instead at what is there, as an empty thing and not a thing that is meant as a gift to me. But this can be tiring, as I would like some things that are meant only for me. But there is nothing in the world that is mine or has ever been mine. Not my house, my clothes, my skin, or the skin of my children. This feels like the truth, and even though it is tiring, it makes me happy. Every time I see the way, I see that it is very far.



I will be taking a little break starting next week. But I will have great people coming in to take my place, like music writer Chandler Levack and fiction writer Emma Healey.

Posted by Dan at 8:56 PM | Comments (4)

April 7, 2011


Efrim Manuel Menuck plays 'High Gospel'

Efrim Manuel Menuck - "chickadees' roar pt 2". This is the smallest and in some ways the largest song on the debut solo album by Efrim Menuck, co-founder of Silver Mt Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It is not the shortest song, but it is the lightest, the dawnest. It leads into the album's fanfare closer, its song of rousing & outright triumph, "i am no longer a motherless child". But before we get there, these roaring chickadees, this song without words, this blush of sounds - birdcalls, strings, kindly ghosts, summoned without computers, from strings & wire. High Gospel is a record of strife and surmounting, of findings, and on "chickadees' roar" the epiphanies come most easily. Like fireflies rising in the fields. Or maybe a more humble metaphor: like a train coming in.

It's beautiful. It reminds me of Stars of the Lid, Philip Jeck, but mostly of night rides, screened windows, the change of light on the inside of an arm, of a highway barrier, of a tentsheet. Yet this isn't a stodgy, countryside, Walden dream: the chickadees fly up over fluorescents, lost credit cards, heavy phone-calls. This music, I think, was imagined in a city. Our backs to concrete, we could use its help.

[Efrim Manuel Menuck's plays "High Gospel" is released May 24 / pre-order available soon]

Posted by Sean at 11:45 AM | Comments (5)

April 5, 2011

Everybody's Friend

Bill Callahan - "Riding for the Feeling"

"You get one thing, don't ask for more than one thing, that's the deal." Ham and his sister Ellie, Ham 'n Ellie, walked almost (but not quite) hand-in-hand to Muscles' house. Muscles lived on Pape by the poplar. On Pape, by the poplar. Saggy tree and saggy christmas lights, year round sagging in the front-yard tree. Like decorations so old they're new again, like daylight fireworks, that was Muscles. Muscles wore the same blue jeans, the same jean jacket since Ham and Ellie were little kids. Now they were 14 and 13, and they wanted one thing each. Ham knocked on the door, "Hey, Muss!" Ham liked pounding on the door, it felt good to treat something the way it was meant to be treated, like pounding on a door with your full fist. Muscles came out and he laughed and he picked up Ham by the waist, even though Ham was almost heavier than Muscles. He high-fived Ellie, because he didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable. Girls at that age don't generally like to be shaken and jostled. Not like when girls are 11, they're fun kids then, you can pick 'em up and twirl 'em over your head like a maple seed, like a helicopter seed. But 13, best leave them alone. "What do you rascals want?" Muscles talked loud, and the neighbours didn't all like him. Ham looked around, a bit nervous, and lowered his voice, "Can I have a beer?" Muscles lowered his voice in fake secrecy, "One beer," like a waiter taking orders, and pointed to Ellie who said, "Some pot."

Ham was embarrassed. Asking for pot from Muscles was like seeing one of those "please take one!" bowls on Hallowe'en and just dumping the whole bowl in your bag. He should have asked her what she wanted before they got there to avoid this situation. "Ellie!" he moaned, looking at his sneakers. "What?" she said, "It's one thing!" But Muscles took it in stride, "Naw, naw, it's cool, man. It's cool. You want a bit of pot? I don't know what I can do about that, but come on in and we'll see what's up." They went inside and saw Muscles' familiar Creed poster and Godfather quote poster, and sat meekly on his extended sofa, with TLC blaring on his now-aged projection TV. His coffee table was dirty in the coolest way possible. Dated men's magazines, fishing magazines, a couple take-out boxes, an ashtray, a spoon with old ice cream on it, all the stuff Ham was planning on doing as soon as he lived by himself. Muscles came back in the room with a Lucky Lager and a little baggie, "Presto!" They knew from other kids that the rule was if you were going to smoke pot, you had to do it 'on the premises' because Muscles had some legal loopholes that he was working. So they all sat together and enjoyed a show about a family of little people and their average-height children, while smoking a joint together. Ellie had a smug look on her face, like see? you get pot AND beer thanks to ME. But Ham was so happy he forgave this smugness. And in the June afternoon, they walked home almost (but never actually) hand-in-hand back to their house, talking about ways to make their clothes smell better and sharing a pack of gum.

[available today at Drag City]


Happy Birthday to my father.

Posted by Dan at 1:11 AM | Comments (1)

April 4, 2011


Little house on the prairie, by jchotz

Timber Timbre - "Bad Ritual". He had eyes like garnets., He threw these across the room, like dice. When he murmured in a woman's ear she wilted or she bloomed. He bit her with his teeth, circled her wrist with finger & thumb. Whenever he lit a fire, it sputtered and spat, like it was resisting. He breathed in the smoke, eyes open. He spoke. [Creep On Creepin' On is out tomorrow / buy]

The Donkeys - "I Like The Way You Walk". He knew that she was too cool for the song, so he never gave it to her. He'd be listening to it on repeat, cranked, with the windows open; then he'd hear her at the door and lunge for the iPod, switch it to Beach House or Emeralds, get up to meet her with a bouquet of kisses. He'd listen to it in the car, cranked, with the windows open. He'd listen to it on the way to get groceries. He'd hear the bit at the end, with men sorta yelling I love you with all my heart!, and he'd feel that hoarse feeling in his chest. Even if she was too cool for this song. Even if she listened to different things, cranked, with the windows open. But it wasn't until he left her, on the 13th of July, that he really understood what this song was for. He came home to his empty apartment, and it was raining, and he put on the country song that wasn't true any more. [buy]


Elsewhere: For Matt Perpetua, the final LCD Soundsystem show provokes some reflections on Fluxblog.

(photo by jchotz)

Posted by Sean at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)

April 1, 2011



The Rolling Stones - "Emotional Rescue"

I was walking home, and it was late at night. I was pretending to be on my cell phone, but that still wasn't really working. I didn't feel safe. And then I saw a guy on the road ahead of me. He was walking the same way as me so I followed him. In case something happened, he'd be close enough to see. I guess I trusted him, I'm not sure why. I walked for like twenty minutes this way, and he kept making the same turns as me, but he was ahead of me. I kept following him 'cause it was working out for me, and then when we finally got to my street, and he turned down it too. We walked all the way down it, past the closed bakery and church, and then he turned into my building! I shouted down the hall to him as he unlocked his door, "Hey!" and then I didn't know what to say, "Thanks." He didn't say anything, he just walked into his apartment, he didn't even look at me. I went up the stairs and put on Jolene and ate the last of my fancy salad. I turned it up, loud as I could, even though it was the middle of the night. Nobody complained. That night I felt invisible. I felt like a missed re-incarnation, like a squeezed-off bit of consciousness for someone more exciting, and then whatever being they put in charge of putting minds into bodies was like "Well, no sense wasting it, there's some good stuff in here." I started wishing something terrible would happen so I would know I affected someone. Then I looked at the label on the bottle of OV and started making up a new name for myself. Olivia Violet. Ophelia Vulgaris. Odessa Voss. I went to bed and the room was spinning like my brain was the drain and someone had yanked the plug out. [Buy]

(image of Karuna Khyal)

Posted by Dan at 9:37 PM | Comments (3)