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.

May 31, 2011

The Bugs

T Rex - "The Slider"

The Bugs. God started the war on drugs, to make a weight so heavy even He couldn't lift it. The Bugs are spies, and they report what they see. Every word, every gesture, every curled lip and thrust hip. Every desire, every secret thought, they see it. They remember it. They write it down. Most of spying is boring to The Bugs, cynical after centuries. Ugly people fucking each other, people talking about things they don't understand, eating poorly, making the same mistakes, not apologising. But it's the moments, when they're high and quiet, when brain buzz stops, and breeze blows soft, that The Bugs enjoy the most. They write down those moments, "I think they look like happy, I think I see to smile. They say empty, they face nothing. They want and don't want. They all so quiet."

Ty Segall - "The Slider"

[Buy The Slider resurrected by Fat Possum Records]
[from the now out-of-print Record Store Day release of Ty Rex from Goner]

Posted by Dan at 2:38 PM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2011


Stunt men

Venuses - "Dump Rat (Goddess In Light)". He was slippery as a river. He knocked on a brick wall, ran away when it fell down. He snuck into strangers' photo-albums, baked black-pepper rolls, left fingerprints on churches' new stained glass. His prank-calls made you laugh so hard, so hard, that you became friends and asked him to call for real, for real, as often as he liked. And when he fell in love with Kim, none of that changed. He spoke to her solemnly, tenderly, saying You rule, Bird, like it was a benediction. He called her Bird. He imagined her flying circles around his head. And he kept on tricking spring into summer, kept tossing sugar with salt, kept scoring every improbable shot in the bar's endless game of pool. [Venuses are a new band from Montreal.]

Prinspóló - "Niðrá strönd". J grew up in Mexico City. He went to public school, got bullied in high school, scored a basketball scholarship to college. After earning his B.A., he studied law, passing the bar in five years. Then he glimpsed a need and an opportunity, a feebleness in Mexico's government. He ran for office - just 27 years old, a 6'4" former pipsqueak from Peralvillo. He won in a landslide. He addressed the country on state TV, rallying them to a bright new future, a realm of dream and possibility. He was unmarried and blind. He could speak no Spanish. But his gibberish resonated, it glittered, it told the people, meaninglessly, every single thing they needed to hear. [Prinspóló are from Iceland.]


As I mentioned on Twitter on Friday, I've released a music-mix for the late May sunshowers. Download here [110mb / 1h17]. Includes tracks by Tindersticks, Julian Lynch, Teedra Moses, Kurt Vile, Ryan Driver, Shlohmo, Colin Stetson, Woodkid, James Irwin, Nicolas Jaar, Wild Beasts and lots more.

(photo from Horses Think)

Posted by Sean at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)

May 27, 2011

Junkie Cult Army


Digital Leather - "Blackness"

Addicts are weak, they can't withstand temptation. But addicts' motivation is strong, they're fueled by chemicals, by having nothing to lose, they can't be reasoned with. This means, in a true War on Drugs, if the addicts were just able to organize, they would certainly topple the forces of the reformed. The reformed are relying on self-made justifications, of 'purity' and 'long life', the addicts need not worry about that. And although the addicts seems to move unconsciously, there is some pleasure taken from succumbing to a power greater than themselves. "Blackness" is a succumbing, a pleasured surrender, to the hand, the wave, the wind.

"Blackness" is an exclusive preview of the upcoming Digital Leather LP. To be released on June 21, it's a dark, delightful album. Heavy in all the right ways, with a relentless energy, a snarling lilt. It's fantastic.

[order here, it's worth it]

(image cropped from a painting by Gerard van Honthorst)

Posted by Dan at 11:22 AM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2011


Easter Island, dug up

Beyoncé - "1+1". I did not expect it to be so easy to find happiness. I was twenty one years old when I met her. I still drank Bailey's Irish Cream and I still listened to Oasis. I feel funny even writing that down. Six years later, I don't do these things. I pour M red wine and we put on Ethiopiques. In the morning we kiss goodbye and in the evening we ride our bikes over overpasses, along canals. You cannot see the stars in the city but still we lie on our backs in the grass and we pretend we can, like when I was twenty one and she swept me off my feet. Six years. I did not expect it to be so easy to find happiness.

Last night she turned to me with colour in her cheeks and she said something that felt complicated and direct and unwavering, like she was taking my hand and putting it in a fire, and taking my eyes and making me see that our hands were in a fire. As she spoke, I listened without any confusion, because she is M. I watched each expression flicker across her face. Colour in her cheeks. In my heart I said, secretly, Okay, enough. Let's. Let's. All our lives, we shall lie in the grass and see certain stars that one-another has imagined.

[Beyoncé's 4 is out June 24]

The Brian Michael Roff Catastrophe - "Symbols". Toward the end of this song, there is a synthesiser - or a guitar? or a saw? or a small man happily tearing his arms off? i can't tell - and this is one of those rare moments when an instrumental solo says just as much as the entire rest of a song, not because that song is simple, but because the solo is bizarre and magnificient and very slightly wrong. It's the fitting end to a song about symbols, some of them clear and others opaque. Roff sings of symbols in the light, a phrase that can stand for film, or ink, or even our computer monitors' projections. Such symbols are at once art and distraction, thin reassurances. Roff cannot decide if wants or needs them. He sings the asking, with shambling drumbeat and a living electric guitar. These are his friends; with warmth and care, they refuse to answer each question.

[buy the Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly, Winter 2011 issue]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2011

Vince Vaughn on the Metaphysics of Music

The Byrds - "You Ain't Going Nowhere"

There is one moment of light in the otherwise frustrating and unfunny Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma. In one of his trademark virtuoso verbal improvisations, a nervous, lying Vince Vaughn, desperate to change whatever banal subject is at hand, spirals into a brief discourse on the metaphysics of art. Channeling Schopenhauer, Vaughn says, "They say music is the highest art form, that it can do the most emotional work the fastest." Such a lofty, irrelevant claim - I couldn't help but laugh.

Music acts on our emotions as quickly as our brain can process a single chord. Major chords tend to evoke happiness, minor chords sadness, diminished chords are disconcerting, augmented ones are scary. And yet we use this powerful tool perversely - why in our saddest moments are we more likely to listen to Bonnie Prince Billy than The Beatles (or when we're being hunted do we long for augmented triads)?

In truth, there's no reason for us ever to be sad or troubled. Better than Xanax or therapy and faster than fixing our problems is the chorus of The Byrds' cover of Bob Dylan's classic "You Ain't Going Nowhere." Heart-broken? Mourning? Profoundly alone in a dark, violent storm? It's nothing claves, galloping drums, pedal steel, and hope sung in close harmony won't fix. So take control of your emotional life and buy.

(Or if you're immune to The Byrds, try this: Burning Spear - "New Civilization".)

Posted by Jordan at 10:39 PM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2011

Waif and Stray


Jodlerklub Thun - "Alpufzug"

A dull knife spreads butter on a crumbly bun. The knife is set down and the plate is carried away. The knife is rested on a page, and butter stains the paper. Oil stains the paper, in a see-through spot. There are words on the paper, the words can't be read and can't speak for themselves. A fly lands on the butter, its feet stuck in like mud. The window is open and the fly turns towards the light, the breeze, the chimes. Its eyes fragment the light, geodesic in the spring. Outside there are dogs, and hillsides and whole town, cities, oceans. But in here there is only butter, a fly, some crumbs, a letter, and the stain.

[Buy Brass Pins & Match Heads (Mississippi Records) from]

Posted by Dan at 5:20 PM | Comments (3)

May 23, 2011


Giraffes and plane

Grant Hart - "Evergreen Memorial Drive". Landed beautied & battered back in Montreal City. Heard chimes in the branches, saw streamers in the tulips, felt sure-footed with two soles on sidewalk slabs. You go a long way and then you come on back; you hear bad news and brace yourself for the good; you throw on "Evergreen Memorial Drive" and imagine driving for one whole viridian night. Grant Hart may have written this song about a road into Duluth, MN, but that scarcely matters; forget "the actual intent", "the original intent"* - let this song be the small anthem for any voyage or return, for the moment that you refuse to be depleted, for hearing chimes and seeing streamers. Summer, brothers and sisters, through a cloud.

* For years people have said there are covens of witches in Askov ... And farther up the road there's a town called Nickerson and everyone from Duquet was like, "Oh. Don't go to Nickerson. They'll just overcharge you if they know you're from Duquet." [So] I liked the way that Nickerson worked with "son-of-a-bitches." That's how it goes: "Askov has northern witches, Nickerson has son-of-a-bitches." That's the insider version of it, which is... meaningless. Whatever other people are putting into it is probably more valid to more people than the actual intent, or the original intent.

[Originally released by Nova Mob in 1991, "Evergreen Memorial Drive" is at last back in print. Buy it from Hazelwood Vinyl Plastics.]

Fairewell - "Others Of Us". She was rashly beautiful. He knew it, from the first day they went down to the canal and she seemed like she wanted to shove him over the edge. The water was dark, filled with steel points and ridges, cold muck. There were gardens on the banks but when she talked he could see the wish in her eyes, the yearning to lean back and throw him bodily down. Her eyes and hips and arms made her pretty, but it was this that made her beautiful; just standing beside her, he felt scraped up. He imagined a hundred years of awful gorgeous love-affair, empty cups, torn anniversary cards. He knew if he didn't take her, someone else would. He wanted to clutch her in his arms and hold her still in the azaleas until she stopped writhing and just lay beside him, inhaling slowly through her nose. [Fairewell are a new act from Britain]


Internal business:

Thank you so much to Jordan for filling in for me during my absence. He wrote such good things and chose such fine songs. I am not sure whether we have persuaded him to come back more regularly, but certainly we continue to expect him on the last Wednesday of every month.

Montreal business:

Three wonderful record launches in YUL this week, from three Said the Gramophone favourites: On Wednesday, Little Scream launches The Golden Record at Il Motore and James Irwin launches the handmade version of Blue Dust at Cagibi. On Sunday, Snailhouse debuts Sentimental Gentleman (discussed here last week) at La Sala Rossa. There's also a lovely folk benefit on Saturday night, starring the Mittenstrings and local legends the What 4.


  • My friend the filmmaker Vincent Moon has debuted his new project, "a collection of recording projects" called Petites Planetes. The best introduction is simply to look at one of his releases. (There are two so far, by Iceland's Ólöf Arnalds and Brazil's Tom Zé; the Zé is better.) Moon is building on his work as co-creator of the Blogotheque's Concerts à Emporter - taking musicians into unusual spaces, standing with them as they make music. But Petites Planetes is conceived as a kind of label, releasing these films and soundscapes for download, coordinating private screenings. And so far these works are more provocative or collaborative than a lot of the Take-Away Shows: Moon is challenging the artists he is working with, blurring art and the artistic process, life and performance. There will be new releases every couple of weeks, and perhaps the most exciting aspect is just the sincerity of Vincent's appeal for collaboration. Inevitably, the project depends entirely on donations: if you like what you find, please give.

  • In contract with Vincent Moon's artful excavations, Elif and Erik have made a really charming video for Balacade's "Roadhouse", following a girl in a yellow rubbery creamsicle suit as she drifts around Glasgow [?]. The key moment is at 2:10.

  • Essential Montreal reading: Local jazzo David Ryshpan has laid out his guide to this year's Jazz Fest.

  • Finally, I'm completely smitten with Bla Bla, a "film for computer" by Vincent Morisset, the designer who helped make some of Arcade Fire's finest interactive web things. It's at once gizmo, toy, dream and conversation. Beautiful and stupid and whimsical and fun. Like a Flash game that pings yr dumb heart.

    (photo source unknown)

    Posted by Sean at 2:16 PM | Comments (2)
  • May 20, 2011


    Snailhouse - "Sentimental Gentleman"

    Fellow fans of Mike Feuerstack, aka Snailhouse, will not be surprised by the titular claim of the title track of the singer-songwriter's imminently upcoming album: that he is a sentimental gentleman. His songs, dating back to his 1994 debut, have appealed unabashedly to the tender emotions, and his disposition, since at least 2001 (when I first met him), has been nothing but courteous and kind. Similarly unsurprising is the fine musical craftsmanship on display here: the simple, affecting melody, the pure tenor voice, the precise guitar work - hallmarks of the Snailhouse sound, well honed over a 20-year career. For the third verse, Feuerstack sings the tune over a lovely muted guitar part that becomes lovelier as it ascends to an unexpected height. The only surprise is that it keeps getting better. [Pre-order]

    The Band - "When I Paint My Masterpiece"

    Considering that "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is an ode to all-consuming artistic striving, it's ironic that my primary ambition in life is simply to listen to it all the time. My parents may worry about my financial security, but when it comes to listening to this song I have a gift, and not to vigorously pursue it would be a gross disservice to me and you. If it's true that when a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it it doesn't make a sound, then the very existence of Danko's astounding bassline, not to mention that of the romantic interplay between Helm's mandolin and Hudson's accordion, depends upon a constant listener. I volunteer. [Buy]

    Posted by Jordan at 4:55 PM | Comments (2)



    RatTail - "BYEBYE"

    "I can't be expected to navigate in this fog," Henry twisted the knobs on his softly ticking machine. A ticking squeak that sounded like a mouse that swallowed a clock, was supposed to be the "diviner", or so the advertisement said. Better than a compass, and uses wind-up power. Always man the helm, and never get lost again. Sylvia smirked and looked down in her tea. Her face felt dewy, the fog was thick like silk curtains, and her watch had stopped long ago. "Derek and I are thinking of buying, finally." Henry didn't want to talk about Derek. Derek only came up when things weren't going right. She looked out at the grey, "If we ever get home, that is." Henry thought of the portrait of her and Derek in their salon. His face had a gathered look, it seemed to build towards the scooping nose in the center. His face seemed frugal, as if it let nothing through for free, the way he made his money. A specter of his gathered visage seemed to hover before Henry on the fog's grey canvas, and he steered blindly towards it. The ticking squeak of the machine whinnied and warped, and Henry cast a look at Sylvia. She dumped her tea over the side of the boat and went below deck. Henry started to sing to himself, quiet, furtive, low.

    RatTail are on an east coast tour right now. Nova Scotians, New Brunswickers, Quebec City-ites, check them out. They have a lovely 4-song EP that they're bringing with them on tour. The EP is streaming at their bandcamp site, and can be purchased there also. Enjoy.

    (photo from Papua New Guinea, taken by Timothy Allen)

    Posted by Dan at 1:17 AM | Comments (0)

    May 18, 2011

    I'll Go Without


    Chad VanGaalen - "Shave My Pussy"

    Martijn vanRisse was a medical artist from Swedemark in the earlier part of the last decade. He gained his first bit of fame with his architectural x-rays, life-size of buildings, using lead paint and de-boned livestock. He stepped it up with a sophomore effort in raising awareness of handicapped persons by getting every self-identifying handicapped person in Norway to wear a giant panda suit for a week, the pictures of which were amazing. And of course we all heard about his re-creation of the spread of cancer through the infamous "Garbage Tumour" that he built at the foot of Swedemanish parliament. Eventually had to be fitted with a flashing red beacon at its apex to keep from being hit by passing planes. Always an avid promoter of health, it was not widely known that he smoked for the entire last half of his short life. He had an intense vanity and wanted to keep his weight down at any cost, and smoking seemed to him the most effective. But to make matters worse, he always hand-painted his cigarettes gold. He used to love smoking while making love and to him a piece of smoking gold between his lips was the most erotic thing in the world. It was the combination of carcinogenic fumes from the cigarette itself and the burning gold paint that quickly robbed him of his health. And in the dwindling months of his life, he spent a large amount of that time being examined by doctors, all the while keeping quiet about his habit. His body was breaking down, parts were ceasing to function left and right. So for his final artistic project, Martijn wanted to make something about the hideousness of the dying body. He placed his whole body in a scanner, and bound RFID bands around all the joints, or as he called them, "gates", of his body. Around his wrist, at the base of each finger, but also at the start of his nose, the base of his penis, the wide of his heel. He wanted to signal the passage of blood and other problems from one area of his body to another. He wanted to signal the steps of the body spreading death through itself. So each time blood passed through a "gate", a note would play from a synthesizer connected to the scanner. Some gates were note-gates, some gates were word-gates, where a pre-recorded singer would sing a word. Due to the noise of the machine and the need to be in a dust-free environment, Martijn could never hear the resulting music that would play from his experiment. But it was not the cacophonous death screams I think he imagined. It sounded more like a sloppy summer camp song, sung in rounds, played by tired, happy, sunburnt people.

    [Buy from Sub Pop]

    (image by Maya Fuhr)

    Posted by Dan at 5:05 PM | Comments (2)

    May 16, 2011

    Still Lifes

    Kate Bush - "Wuthering Heights"
    Kate Bush - "Wuthering Heights (New Vocal)"

    Kate Bush was only 28 years old when she released her first greatest hits collection. Eight years had passed since the release of her 1978 debut, The Kick Inside, an album of ornate musical curiosities, which despite its complexity and occasional shrillness became an enormous success. During the intervening years, Bush had become dissatisfied with the girlish quality of her voice on the album's hit single, "Wuthering Heights" (based on a BBC adaptation of Bronte's dour book), and decided to re-record the vocal for the compilation. Listen above to the teenage prodigy's masterpiece and the veteran 28-year-old's cover.

    The effects of age on an artist are much like the effects of age on a fruit. The Kate Bush of the second version is softer, even a bit mushy, and a good deal sweeter. Take the sublime chorus, beautiful in both versions, but icy in the first and soulful in the second. Or consider the second version's thunderous, echoing snare drum, which underscores the more emotive quality of the re-recording. In the later song's final, oversung minute, Bush may even be displaying the first signs of putrefaction.

    In fruit I tend toward sour and in song toward sweet. The highlight of the two versions is the wrenching bridge of the second (2:14-2:34), which could not have been achieved by a greener artist, and on balance, despite its faults, I prefer the re-recording. But then I'm 29 now, perhaps a bit putrefied myself; who knows what 20-year-old me would have said.

    [Buy The Kick Inside, The Whole Story]

    Posted by Jordan at 10:15 PM | Comments (1)

    May 13, 2011

    A Pattern Emerges


    Austra - "Darken Her Horse"

    In a cold chamber on the 95th floor, in a sheer black tower perched above the city, there is a blinking light. A message is waiting. A spherical chair, empty and dolloped in the middle of the room, in front of a permeable coffee table with a few half-read pdfs lying open, their seams cracked with age. After a few moments, the message forces its way in; marked urgent. A voice, a synthetic approximation of the sender's vocality, speaks in a rushed whisper, an accent from the North.

    Your highness, it is of the utmost importance that I speak with you. It's regarding your plans to travel. It's not safe, your highness. Since the outages, the trails have become insecure, accessible to fence-breakers and Gypnotic tactics. Not even your mind is safe on these trails, sire. I saw my first hand..--well, I saw him turned inside-out with madness, sire. You met him once, Handish deGrasse, with the long locks and the knack for counting teeth from a single smile. He was a great man, sire, and a loyal servant. It's not safe, sire. I hope this reaches you before you leave. If not, I fear the worst.

    On the 95th floor, man is prey to nothing save the winds and the weather. And even in the darkness that stained everything in sight, clouds could still be seen to gather in the distance. They seemed to shuffle together, almost out of need, like Gypnots on a soup line.

    [Pre-Order Feel It Break]


    Träd Gräs och Stenar - "Tegenborgsvalsen"

    How happily the bird makes its nest, how singular in its movements. Surely it must understand the world entire to build such a lovely nest as that.


    Posted by Dan at 7:49 PM | Comments (1)

    May 12, 2011

    The Many-Sided

    Dave Van Ronk - "Both Sides Now"

    After reading Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, Joni Mitchell wrote this song that posits love, like a cloud, as an amorphous, inscrutable thing whose shape is constantly shifting along with our perception of it. It's a song that makes me think of the clouds in Carly Simon's coffee and then of another Mitchell, the novelist David, who writes of "a galaxy of cream unribboning" in his cup. (If I were a reactionary YouTube troll I would complain about the dearth of contemporary Billboard hits inspired by or evocative of great works of fiction, but I dislike those people and anyway I have no reason to believe music was ever more literate on average than it is today, which begs the question: why did I raise this?) When the late NYC folkie Dave Van Ronk first listened to Mitchell's song in 1969 he heard no Carly Simon, no David Mitchell; he heard in it the possibility of something slower and gruffer, warmer and more deeply felt in the singing.

    It could be said that there are as many great versions of a song as there are great appreciators. But it's only when a great appreciator is also a great musician that the rest of us get access to one of these versions. The best interpreters of song are both preservationists and stylists; they protect the essence of a piece of music and add to it something of themselves - Ronkness, for instance, in the case of Ronk. The best interpretations, such as Ronk's lovely live rendition of one of his friend's many masterpieces, are those that show us that even when we think we've looked at it from both sides, we still really don't know the song at all. [Buy]

    Rufus Cohen and Wade Patterson - "So Long: Go"

    And when Rufus Cohen and Wade Patterson listened to West African folk music they heard in it something of the early sound of the American south. [Buy]

    Posted by Jordan at 10:14 PM | Comments (2)

    May 11, 2011

    Freckled Deity


    Thee Oh Sees - "Corrupted Coffin"

    In the cold storage cellar of a mansion in the Catskills, a letter was found in the distinctive hand of legendary disc jockey Wolfman Jack. His large, swooping bottom curves and his upright, almost teetering long-risers were indicative of his script but could have been easily forged. It was the subtle cinching of his bridled consonants and the jaunty squiggle on his capital H's that truly sealed the decision that the letter was indeed from Mr. Jack to his then-girlfriend Melissa (who Jack referred to as 'Wolfwoman'). And it is with a great deal of pride stirred primly with a modicum of dread that I present to you today the letter in its entirety, for better or for worse.

    Dearest Wolfwoman,

    I hope you fine lookin thing you are alright tonight. I hope you are afeelin fine and you are afeelin great. I hope those fine young thighs are creamy as ever, I hope those luscious lips are as tasty as ever, I hope you are ahoppin and aboppin all over this fine city at night tonight. I hope youre nothing like me tonight. Because you see, Wolfwoman, I am in the pits tonight. How do I say this without sounding completely crazy? Without you awalkin out on me and never ever ever lookin back? But I just got to say it, fine lady, if we are ever to be married by a preacher in a chapel. If we are ever to swear our burnin love to each other for all time and all the rest of our lives to each other, I just have to tell ya. And there's no way to tell ya better than just havin out with it because I need to. I am a real werewolf. That is to say, sweet pretty young thing, on certain nights I become a werewolf, in body and mind. My back arches like the arch under which we'll be wed, my teeth grow like my love grows for you, my eyes go yellow like the headlights of a 57 chevy. Cherry chrome. I love you, Wolfwoman, and please don't hate your man for what he's told you. I've killed. I'll kill again. But I'm sorry, and I have some methods of control. But I need you to trust me, and I need you to love me whatever the cost. And let's stay cool, little kitten, cause youre my best girl and I know I'd just flip my lid if you said you'd never stay.

    All my lovin, Jack.

    [ink drawing of slash marks as a kind of signature]

    Kids on a Crime Spree - "I Don't Want to Call You Baby, Baby"

    [Buy Castlemania]
    [Pre-Order We Love You So Bad]

    (image via Françoise Gamma)

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

    May 9, 2011

    Dear John ... Love, Feinstone, Logger, and Farbus LLP

    Etta James - "I'd Rather Go Blind"

    While it's appreciated that Ms. James would be willing to trade her sense of sight for an opportunity to reunite with her former lover, it must be said that he has no interest in reuniting with her and sees no benefit for anyone in the promise of this adopted disability. As Ms. James knows, her ex has found a new partner, who, on the whole, he finds more desirable than he does Ms. James; blindness would make Ms. James no more attractive and thus would not change the equation to her advantage. Yes, he has heard and understood her plea - he recognizes the low trill of Ms. James's guitar as an echo in a hollowed heart and the crooked coos that emanate from her mouth as the plaint of a wounded bird - but he stands by his decision and will not be swayed. If she insists on going blind, so be it, but she should not do so under the misapprehension that this would constitute the purchase of his love. His love is not for sale and certainly not for that most unusual price. [Buy]

    Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - "Fire Lake"

    It is with deep regret that we must inform you that Uncle Joe will not be returning to resume his marriage with Aunt Sarah. A good and loyal wife, Aunt Sarah has nevertheless come to represent for Uncle Joe a plain and predictable life - a prison of safety. As such, Uncle Joe has made the long-contemplated move to Fire Lake, where it's said there is a population of bronze beauties, flirtatious and easy, for whom, to be frank, Aunt Sarah is no competition. You may think this is crazy - a quixotic "long-shot gamble"; however, we assure you Uncle Joe is in full control of his faculties and has taken a calculated risk. Do not seek power of attorney. Do not come to Fire Lake. [Buy]

    Posted by Jordan at 8:04 PM | Comments (0)

    May 6, 2011

    Inherited Debt


    Wild Beasts - "Invisible"

    "My brother's gonna get you," shouted spraying through a bloody lip and embarrassed tears. "He's trained in Judo, you fuckin creep. JUDO!!" said half running, jeans twisted and hugging up too high, making everything tight and not right. Grass scraped onto surfaces normally ungrassed. Kelley tripped on his own shoes on the way home, while sending an urgent text message. The shoes were bought a size too big so that there was room for growing, but once he grew into them it would be time for new shoes anyway, and they would most likely be a size too big. Kelley went straight to his room and got on the phone. He called (514) HIM-BUTT, and got the voicemail, "Hey, Derek Cannon--" "Derek it's Kelley, answer your phone or text me back!" After refusing dinner and picking at his lip in the mirror, purposely not washing blood off his face, Kelley explained the whole thing to Derek. "Hmm, that's pretty rough." Kelley just stared, his hair still stranding with grass. "That's all you can say?" "What do you want me to say?" "What I want is for you to go over there and beat the fucking fuck out of him, Derek!"

    Derek was indeed trained in Judo. When he was 9 he saw a Judo demonstration at the Vars Fair, done by some fellow fourth-graders and some older kids. It was exciting: white uniforms, throwing people over your shoulder, hanging out with older kids. So Derek signed up, got the uniform and went for three months from April to June. But once school ended for the year the family went on vacation to Yarrow Beach for a couple weeks, then spent two weekends at the Peters (friends of Derek and Kelley's parents) and then a typing course in August, by the time there was a free moment for Judo, he just wasn't that into it anymore. But for some reason, for the past 5 years since then, whenever he was introduced by his parents, they would say "This is our son Derek", and it took about two seconds for them to say "he's a Judo master!" and make a hand chop. The hand chop was not even used in Judo, that was more like Karate, so it was embarrassing for many reasons. But mostly because it was this outdated summation of his character that he somehow couldn't shake. He felt as if he were wearing the Judo outfit every time this happened. But the Judo outfit from when he was 9, all shrunken and small and kiddish. He hated it, and he wished no one would ever talk about it again. "Beat the fuck out of him? Kelley, I..." He trailed off.

    "You're a Judo master, Derek!! DO SOMETHING!"

    Derek's face went quiet. He looked at the floor, little blood spots on the carpet from Kelley's own blood. "After Mom and Dad go to bed." Kelley lay in his bed fully-clothed and staring at the ceiling. The lights from the garden shined up into his window, and made the same shadows every night. When they went off, that was the timer, that meant it must be the middle of the night. Click. They met in the hallway. "Why are you dressed?" "I'm coming too." "No you're not, you're staying here. This can't come back to you." Kelley saw the seriousness in Derek's face. He stopped saying things and just listened. "You're gonna stay here and keep your phone plugged in. I don't want it going dead." Derek went down to the mud room, where the laundry machine was, and went in the closet. He took out his hockey stick. Then he went under the laundry sink for the toolbox, and put a hammer through the back of his belt. He went quietly out the door, as it reflexed with a tiny beep-beep for security. Kelley watched out the front window for what felt like forever. He thought about professional wrestling, and being lost on the ocean, and how blood cracks off like dust when it dries.

    [Album stream, in anticipation of release next Tuesday]

    Posted by Dan at 11:08 PM | Comments (3)

    May 5, 2011

    Two Views

    Yo La Tengo - "Autumn Sweater"
    Jay and the Techniques - "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie"

    Because John Locke said it, it must be true: the argument from authority is a fallacy - we cannot conclude that a statement is right simply because a know-it-all uttered it. This is true as a rule in deductive reasoning, and true too in informal logic in part because of the ubiquitous inability of top experts to agree. In most fields, there are central questions that even the leading, equally authoritative, authorities bicker about. Are there parallel universes? The best theoretical physicists can't agree. Is the structure of natural language hard-wired into our brains? The question is a source of endless strife among linguists and cognitive scientists. For workers in song, unanimity is no more easily achieved. You would think, given the gargantuan effort invested over millennia of music history to capture and communicate what it's like to be in love, there would be more agreement on the issue. Take these two takes, for instance, composed within a mere half-century of each other, and espousing wildly different, seemingly irreconcilable views of that state of the heart.

    If we believe Yo La Tengo, love is a melancholic affair from the start: enchantment arises alongside the anticipation of its end; love begins in its autumn. If, however, Jay and the Techniques are right, love is a sweetening force that transforms us into giddy, silly, unworried creatures. Both authors are experts - take the above texts as evidence - but their conclusions are seemingly incommensurable. So which is it? Assuming there can be only one correct answer, my money's on parallel universes.

    [Buy Yo La Tengo, Jay and the Techniques]

    Posted by Jordan at 8:10 PM | Comments (2)

    May 4, 2011



    The Bugs - "Theme from 'Do Raha'"
    Richard Buckner - "Traitor"
    Brutal Knights - "Government is Asshole"

    Connie ran naked through the dark, wet woods at night. She ran panting, bloodied, and naked. Lit shiny by the moonlight. If this were the only possible world, then it must be the best, and also the worst. Branches nicked her naked flesh and drew more blood. The whites of her eyes gleamed like fireflies, her teeth like ripples catching light. If something is chasing me, it will eventually catch up to me, and running is pointless. Twigs snapped under her bare feet. If nothing is chasing me, then running is also pointless, as I am safe. As the branches got denser, the going got rougher. And still I am running. Running is the only thing that makes me feel like I have any control at all. A rusty can, discarded from some party or some hunter years before, sliced her foot open, and Connie began to limp, still running, still bleeding. So it is true that something is both chasing me and not chasing me, because I am ignoring both possibilities. The nicks and bruises, stopped up beating and clotted with fear, began to look like animal print. It seems clear to me now that my running has ceased the existence of any world whatever, since all possible states of affairs have no effect on my behaviour. Connie stopped and rested a moment, her hand upon a tree. But her heartbeat through her fingers made the tree feel alive, a predator, and she continued running. This is not the best possible world nor the worst possible world, it is no world at all, it is the absence of a world. It is the most boring Genesis, a revelation that in fact no work has yet been done at all; no compass, no conquest, no trade.

    [Pakistan: Folk and Pop Instrumentals 66-76 available from Sublime Frequencies]
    [Buckner's Our Blood due out in August]
    [Brutal Knights' Feast of Shame is 8.00]

    Posted by Dan at 2:20 AM | Comments (7)

    May 2, 2011

    Singing Our Birthday Song

    Van Morrison - "Fair Play"
    Van Morrison - "Linden Arden Stole the Highlights"

    Often I can't hear what Van Morrison is singing, can't make out his words, obscured as they are by the singer's heart on his sleeve, the frog in his throat. Sometimes, when Van is in his stream of consciousness mode, as with the above songs, I can't understand the words even when I can make them out. "Tell me of Poe, Oscar Wilde and Thoreau," he sings in "Fair Play." "Let your midnight and your daytime turn into love of life," he continues, and then: "It's a very fine line, but you've got the mind, child, to carry it on when it's just about to be carried on." Who knows.

    What we do know is this: in the world of "Fair Play," there's a perfectly blue Irish lake, surrounded by beautiful architecture; two humans stand ashore, contemplating their surroundings and philosophizing about life, until one says "Geronimo," and then, quid pro quo, so does the other. Sometimes beauty leads us into strangeness and of course sometimes strangeness is integral to beauty; there are lakes and songs, odd and unknowable, which nevertheless or thus lure us in.


    Elsewhere: today Canadians are casting ballots in a federal election, which, if the polls are roughly right, may yield a once-in-a-generation realignment of our political landscape. Tonight I will watch with interest, my usual dose of fear, and for the first time in my voting life, hope, however foolish, that the government that emerges will be one I can be proud of.

    Posted by Jordan at 8:38 PM | Comments (0)