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.

June 30, 2011


Woman on hill

Burning Hearts - "Into the Wilderness". Whipsmart, fine, you got me dumbstruck. You talk of foxes, forests, wilderness, but I'm still right here, present, sure-footed in the just so. I'm too smitten to think faraway, to think spruce-quills and woods. Today the summer seems all light and heat, blitzed blue skies, glints on a billion mirrored surfaces. I hear fingersnaps, running water, bare feet on concrete. The frilled shhhf of an accidental touch. Our hands are covered in fine creases. No winter.

[Burning Hearts are from Finland / buy / music video]

Beirut - "Goshen". To promote his upcoming album, The Rip Tide, Beirut released a song called "East Harlem", which is not very good. But the B side is "Goshen", and this is gorgeous. I am not sure if Beirut or his label will ask us to take it down. Promoting an album, these days, means that you lay out a game plan and you stick to it. It was different in 2006, when we were more or less the first people to write about Gulag Orkestar. Zach wrote a guestpost for us, and "Postcards from Italy" went on to become my favourite song of the year. Since that first time, I have only written about one other Beirut track, an exquisite tune called "Elephant Gun". We said nothing about The Flying Club Cup, because we didn't have anything to say. Which is a roundabout way of getting to "Goshen", of asking you to trust me, of saying, I'm careful. "Goshen" is just a handful of chords, a plain piano ballad, yearning. I could almost imagine it sung by Elton John. And it's beautiful, this musical straight line, this little piece of gold. How simple, to want something for someone else. How simple and so fraught. (There is a sadness to questions which will never be answered.)

[do buy on 7"/The Rip Tide is out August 2]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 6:56 PM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2011

The Band Quit the Band

Miles Davis - "All Blues/Theme" (Live in Stockholm, 1960)

You can learn a lot about a band from a song in which its members trade solos. You can isolate the soul of a group, as in the Jeff Parker-dominated Tortoise song "Speakeasy", or conclude, as from Rick Danko's verse in "The Weight", that the soul is more evenly distributed than you might have thought. Sometimes you can hear in such a song that a particular player is ready to move on, that he no longer belongs in the band. When the members of Roxy Music each take a turn in "Re-make/Re-model", Brian Eno produces a sublime solo of staccato static that might have led the band to quit the band had Eno not beaten them to it. In this live version of Miles's modal classic, John Coltrane plays a tenor saxophone solo from 5:05 to 10:45 that hints at his innovations to come - sheets of sound and melodic skronk, post-bop and beyond. It's a baroque, original thing that stands in stark contrast to the residue of cool on the rest of the band, but the incongruity is for the best - here is a great group at the height of its power giving birth to a fledgling genius hell-bent on distorting this new music into something yet newer, yet bolder. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 10:57 PM | Comments (3)

June 28, 2011

The Ground A Breathing Wound


The Wandering Lake - "People"

Go to sleep. Please go to sleep now, I am tired and you are tired. Please go to sleep.

I don't want to go to sleep. I'm not tired. I'm happy because of your new job and because we live by the forest now. I know I'm not supposed to go in, but even just to live beside it, it makes me dream.

I named you Dark Rescue, you know how dangerous it is. Just check your geiger if you don't believe me. Now go to sleep. Please.

Tell me about the forest. Then I will go to sleep. I promise.

Fine. I will tell you about the forest, and then you will go to sleep.

--the light turned off, a candle lit for mood--

Do you know there are beasts that roam the Uninhabitable Zone? The beasts and the bugs and the plants have taken back the earth now, it is theirs again. They are sick and dying, but they are kings and queens nonetheless. A dying noble is still a noble, and they live their lives according to their station, short though they may be. On one of my trips, I've told you many times, I saw a fox wearing a hide, he wore it like a cape, and he was a king. I've told you many times about his wife, the fair tanuki, with her silver eyes and dripping amulet, but I have not told you yet about their daughter, the beautiful and fiery Iriomote cat. The king and queen adopted her after the waves settled her there, picked up all the way from the island of Iriomote to the northern forest. She was rebellious and wily and incorrigible, but they loved her. She loved to hunt, as all Iriomote cats do, and she was very good at it. She could catch a snake with one paw, her claws like perfect fingers that brought it to her mouth. But the adopted princess, her name was Ichi as she was the first child of the king and queen, became arrogant with her skill, always proclaiming she could hunt larger and larger animals. "I can kill a crane," she said one day, while batting around an old egg shell on their floor of their dirt home. Her mother, the fair tanuki, smiled and looked back at her work, sorting sticks into piles. "You don't believe me, I can kill a crane," said Ichi, more determined. "I believe you can do anything you set your mind to," said her mother, in the way that mothers set those words down like flowers on the graves of future plans. "You don't believe me," and Ichi set out into the snow, and made her way down into the buildings, where the cranes often took shelter. "Be careful," said her mother, looking back towards the sticks.

Ichi prowled and scampered through the snow, often deep in drifts, and made her way through buildings. She saw a group of cranes near an old fountain, just standing and dipping their heads. She watched one walk away, as if wandering, and she snapped herself into action; time to close in. Ichi went back around the old walls of a supermarket, the automatic doors held powerless open by snow, and followed the crane, a big black crane with partly white feathers, into the street.

The old crane was very wise, this was no easy target for Ichi, especially since it was ten times her size. The old wise crane saw her coming, saw her climb onto the edge of the old subway entrance to the underground, in the reflection of the glass on the automatic doors. She was trying to find a high vantage, in order to leap onto the crane's back and sink her teeth into its neck, so she stood perched on the walls of the old subway entrance, and it was slippery, covered in ice. As she began to lose her balance, the crane made a quick decision. If Ichi were to fall, she would land in the underground, which may kill her instantly from falling, but would kill her within hours from the radiation pocket. The crane swooped up into the air and plucked Ichi from the walls of the old subway and carried her high into the trees. As he dropped her, he said, "Hang on to those treetops, your parents need you to survive." And that was all he said, and Ichi did hang on, and she went back to her mother, who had no idea how close she'd come to losing her. "Did you catch a crane?" she asked Ichi, the sticks now sorted. "Yes," she said, happy to be back home, "but I let it go. Cranes are too beautiful to hunt. So I let it go."

Will you be working all day tomorrow?

Yes. All day and all weekend.



Posted by Dan at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2011

Lake Superiority Complex


The Lovely Bad Things - "Big Sur"

I'm not saying this would ever happen, a lot of things would have to be just right in order for this to happen, but if a cat stole a megaphone and went to the roof of city hall to make demands, I think people would listen. The cat would say stuff like "down with currency, down with property" and outline its ideas about The Great Roam, a new paradigm of human interaction, based on nomadic traditions and something called "telenesting" a brand new way to incorporate the internet and family. I think people would really listen. Cause its got cool ideas, and cause it's a cat. Y'know, like, why would this cat, assuming it has always, along with possibly many other cats, had the ability to speak, choose to speak now? Why? Cause it's got something really important to say. [Buy from UVR]

Gentleman Reg - "Coastline"

A passport, slipped in a thin pouch, stretched across a suitcase. All this traveling is like a life lived through the window of an envelope, small and reduced, simple information always front and center. "I'm just here for a brief time, yes it's beautiful, okay I will try that." So many beds, come-ins to hotel room what-to-dos and showering off a flight. An innumerable whats-tv-like-heres and might-as-well-get-a-beers it's like an ocean of shrugs and strolls and pointed-out unique-ties. Air is truly fresh the first time you breathe it, so never go back somewhere twice. [Site]


2 weeks left for the funding drive. Things are going extremely well so far, so if you read the site regularly, and you like it, please consider donating.

Posted by Dan at 1:43 AM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2011

A Reasonable Ransom


Eleanor Friedberger - "Early Earthquake"

Please let your guard down for this song. Let it stand in your room, in a beamed-up sun dress with unwashed hands. Let it look at all the stuff on your walls, in your drawers, under your bed and out the door. Let it eat crudités, take texts and smile, let it take showers and wrap gifts and make cards. Let it stay, breathless and grinning, a while. [Pre-Order]

Handsome Furs - "Serve the People"

Inside my body there is art waiting to escape. It shows up on the surface of my skin, in ink lines. The marks made on me by people who love me or fuck me over show up like magnet lines, like filings falling into place. As if the very beating of my heart drew patterns of travel and maps for the way back. [Pre-Order and get a free poster]

(images by Marco Suarez)

Posted by Dan at 11:50 AM | Comments (3)

June 21, 2011


Orval Carlos Sibelius - "I Don't Want A Baby". There are ten thousand reasons to do any one thing; and then ten thousand reasons not to. In this song, Orval Carlos Sibelius, who lives in France, offers his partner about 100 reasons not to have a baby. These reasons include his dwindling cool, his capacity of exaggeration, his intermittent self-loathing, his possible cancer, the magnificence of the status quo, and his sudden brainwave that they could instead enjoy an orgy. These arguments are, in their way, effective. But "I Don't Want A Baby" itself becomes a compelling rationale for taking this man and shanghai'ing him, as quickly as possible, into fatherhood. Because there's so much beauty in the song's delirious clanging sprint - there's wisdom and wit, peace and racket, an ear for blurring noise and wiry harmony. Orval offers whistling, la-la-la, ratatat, Spanish and North African guitar; imagine the wonders his daughters & sons might make. These diverse tastes need to be borne into the next generation. We need more Orvals, more Caloses, more Sibelii. Let's get him laid. [buy]

R.S.A.G. - "The Roamer".
R.S.A.G. - "Hotwire the Heart".

R.S.A.G. is Jeremy Hickey, from Kilkenny. On Be It Right Or Wrong he evokes the Talking Heads, Franz Ferdinand, Constantines and the Tragically Hip. But the main difference is that Hickey is one man. There is no band here, in symbiotic jam. Hickey is the one with eyes closed, defining terrain on the bass. He is the one on drums, six hands moving at once. He is the one at the microphone, yelping and crooning, trying to catch the eye of the woman in the sixth row. It is strange for solo music to feel so shared, so communal, like a conversation between friends. "Roamer", the gentlest song on the record, manifests Hickey at his most intimate; "Hotwire the Heart" shows off a taut glass bassline, dynamic switchbacks. In both songs, the music shows the glinting stuff of collaboration - accident, coincidence, personality. Only it's not collaboration. It's solitary. A man who can hear ten sounds in his head, say something with each. A man who speaks not in one voice, or in echo, but in splendid racket chorus. [MySpace - can't find a proper buy link / thanks so much, davin!!]

Posted by Sean at 3:22 PM | Comments (4)

June 20, 2011


Curtain, by Celia Perrin_Sidarous

Oscar & Martin - "Chaine Maile". A song like a cache of tiny gems, rubies and silvers, each one slightly different. Australia's Oscar & Martin make pop-songs in a thousand overlapping watercolours; they draw from collage, r&b, twee pop, UK blubstep. There's something powerful in the way they tie these genres together, knotting them at the seams. On their best songs, like this one, Oscar & Martin rival the recent work of James Blake or Dirty Projectors. They make something spacious, surprising, sugared. It's a sound that's deeply now: breath, drum-pulse, chopped and blurring vocals, synthed steel drums. But without any of the Projectors' formal OCD, without blubstep's tether to hauntology. These are living voices, not ghosts'; this is tenderness, not lust; the duo offers solace, not loneliness. And yet it doesn't collapse in a pile of floppy soppy overdelicacy: you can hear the metal in their declarations, the chainmail's clink, and even the faint sense that if Oscar & Martin did lose their lover, they know they would get by, they would move on, they could even fall for someone else. The more I listen, the more it seems a song of not-quite-finding-the-One, of persisting, than of true & ever after.

"Chaine Maile" is one of the best things I've heard this year.

[buy Oscar & Martin's excellent debut album - thankyou andrew]

(photo by celia perrin-sidarous, who has a new book for sale.)

Posted by Sean at 7:47 AM | Comments (4)

June 17, 2011

Canadian Empty


Sparks - "(Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country"

Teddy was 13 and under the impression that he was much more good-looking than he actually was. He wore his wing-tipped jeans like they didn't fit like a rotten pear. He walked proudly with his chest sticking out in front, blissfully oblivious to his sinking hunched shoulders and his plunking, swishing gait. He spoke slowly, as if he poshly needed to taste all his syllables, taking no notice of his own condescending whine, nor the splay-toothed spittle that formed at the sides of his mouth. Despite having a voice like a seeping balloon, he enrolled himself in a local youth choir at the Briarcrest Community Center on Thursday nights.

He came into rehearsal for New Voices Youth Choir, always one of the first to arrive. He dropped his droopy satchel bag in the corner near the coat hooks and made his way to a group of three girls, chatting before things got started. "Hello lay-dees," his voice creeped out of his throat like it were an insect, like it had its own eyes. The girls always dreaded a talk with Teddy, but always seemed to forget that it would happen, the way you only take notice of a leaky shower faucet when you're actually in the shower; a problem that quickly gets itself forgotten, only to come back every time, with the pall and residue of an untended annoyance. "What-ever are you discussing amongst yourselves? Perhaps the weather?" The girls looked at him like a plate of left-out cheese, a sweaty, sagging, unduly proud pile, edges hardening by the second. "We're talking about how to get beer this weekend. So..." Two of the girls closed their shoulders together, a gate denying entry, but Teddy stood motionless, his hands perched high up on his waist, pulling his shirt up with his hands placed icky on his bare skin. "Oh. Beer. Myself, I'm more partial to cock-tails." One of the girls, the oldest, said with eyes firmly rolled, "Oh yeah?" The door opened and the instructor came in, sighed, and Teddy zeroed in on her; he had plenty of suggestions for new songs and special requests for solos. As he left the girls, he spoke without looking at them, "Yes. They certainly do take the edge off the day." One girl, the tallest, looked lazily at his satchel, sad and dolloped in the corner, and wondered what-ever could be inside.

[Order from In the Red]

Posted by Dan at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2011



Micachu and the Shapes and the London Sinfonietta - "Everything". Spending rapped knuckles like currency. Three punishments and you can buy a bowl of fruit. Makes you smug. Pear in your pocket, taunting teacher, asking for it. 3 o'clock; go home; dream of tearing the sidewalk with each rotation of a bicycle tire. Sometimes it gets so late that you can't remember if the minute-hand is long or short. It is so late and you don't know the time. Your mother and father don't care; they're snoring. You're on your own, eyeing dessert-knives in their drawer, imagining your heart like a gob of strawberry jam, and you want to throw yourself on someone, a man or woman who's peanut butter. [buy]

Lower Dens - "I Get Nervous". I traded language for silver. I can no longer speak, only indicate. When I sing, I show. But I am silver. I go running, under violent streetlamps, warm wind in leaves. I pass through cars like starlight passes through glass. I skim the fields like wish. I show this, I show this, I show this. I am silver. Nobody will forget me. I will not say one word and everyone will remember the way I shone. [buy - thanks jessie]

(image source unknown)

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

June 14, 2011



Floating Action - "Well Hidden"

Crook-seated and knee-crossed, cords and smudgy lenses, Matthew Marshall, Matt, writes on the cover of an unbroken journal. "A Summery Summary", he looks Junely out the sunny window and smiles with his hands, in the way he holds his pen. To be the main character of one's own story is a privilege earned and not a right handed down. Perhaps with a masters, or a fellowship, or a crisis, if this car were to crash fiery, he would jump forward in line, but for now the trees cut light and the air is warm and underneath these clothes are the mechanics of a person, whirring quietly and without claim. [Buy Desert Etiquette]

Human Eye - "Alien Creeps"

77. 77 is the perfect number because you're not going psycho speed and you're not taking any shit from idiots. On this road, where psychos are going 85 and 90, Yevgeny keeps it steady at 77 and it's the ultimate combination of sensibility and time-management. With clear traffic, without too many psychos or idiots, the trip is 5h 44min. But still with every trooper car he passes, those shiny stoic perchers, like chess pieces, like carved bishops, his heart sinks. His head goes into theirs for the next 3 miles. He sits in their car, burrito wrapper on the passenger seat, shotgun heaving at the dash, and pretends to be their easy conscience, their fickle whim. "Why not? I got nothing better to do," and peel out, that daring swooping squeal from highness into chase. [Pre-Order They Came From the Sky]

Gravediggaz - "Mommy What's a Gravedigga? (RZA mix)"

|| Hey, can you text me Robin's address? I need it for the border || attending || not attending || not attending || maybe attending || not attending || remove from events || Like || ME TOO! MISS YOU! || i saw this yesterday. old news, malcolm! || 6331 Esplanade, buzz 3 || Like || Dear everyone, what should I do in Montreal? Thanks! || thanks, can you send me the postal code too? I don't know, I might need it || Make sure you get to your rideshare early, guys, the front seat is key #fuckyounerdydude #chivalryisdead || Also, it smells like peas in here #itwascheap || RT @disneywords - I just needed to get out on my own, live my own life. And I did, and it's great. -Simba (The Lion King) || RT @PimpBillClinton Sarah Palin should stick to what she's good at: mangling American history and blowing guys on snowmobiles || H2T 2T3 [Buy Double Suicide Pack]

1,2,3 - "Work"

I'm not gonna make it. I'm seriously not gonna fuckin make it. I can't breathe. What's this girl typing a fuckin novel? This is fucked, my heart feels like it's gonna fall out of my chest. Nothing is calming me down, I feel like I'm gonna strangle this fuckin idiot. I'm just gonna reach over his headrest and pull my belt tight and we'll go swerving off the road and hit the corner of a bridge and a grassy ridge and be done with it. Well, maybe not done with it. We'll have to go through the windshield and get stuck in the twisted metal and then our hearts will really fall out of our chests. This Wolf Parade isn't calming me down, wait this isn't even Wolf Parade. I think I'm gonna puke, just raise your hand, just raise your fuckin hand like a normal person, and don't use it to strangle anybody. "Excuse me? Can we stop soon? I need to go to the bathroom." He grimaced, he grimaced, he knows, I'm sweating. [Pre-order New Heaven]

(map collage by Matthew Cusick)


in just one day we've seen so much support from you. It means a huge amount to us, we're extremely grateful, humbled, awed. see the fundraising post below.

Posted by Dan at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2011


Said the Gramophone's 2011 Funding Drive

This is Said the Gramophone's 2011 Funding Drive, from June 13 to July 12.

It's where we invite the people who have enjoyed the site over the past year to help keep this loose gang ganging, swinging at windmills.

Once a year, Said the Gramophone asks its readers to please give. (And we offer rewards!)

UPDATE 13/07/2011: Our Funding Drive is now closed

It's like this: Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. This is not an accident or a mistake. We just feel the site is better without it. Most music-blogs have ads; so do magazines, festivals, even NPR podcasts. But books don't have ads. Vinyl records don't have ads. Conversations with friends don't include commercials. And although there are costs to running an mp3blog like this - server costs, website costs, most of all the investment of time - we have made do, for several years, by becoming shills just once a year. By requesting your support. By asking, as humbly as we can, for your dollars and pounds, baht and bitcoins. Here we are, heads bowed, with our hat, organ-grinder and chimp.

We accept donations for just one month a year. (It's right now.)

Most of Said the Gramophone is written by two people: Dan is an actor, Sean is a freelance writer. This doesn't mean you should feel bad for us: we don't feel bad for us, we're doing things we love. Besides, you're probably broke too. But what we mean is this: we could use your help.

Since 2003, with Jordan Himelfarb, we have written 1,865 entries about almost 5,000 songs. This past year, another four or five hundred tunes, harpooned with scraps of prose. Some of the songs were new, some were very old. Each week, instead of trying to find another ten great bands, we do something much humbler: ten magnificent songs. Little marvels, three-, four- or five-minutes at a time.

We're proud of what we do at Said the Gramophone, but we know we will never be the biggest mp3blog in the world. We do not post videos, tour-dates, album art. We do not chase pageviews, post press releases, share the indie stars' new soundcloud leaks - unless they are killer songs, deserving to be here. If we post about something, it's because it's wonderful.

We try to do that one thing - writing with spirit about the songs we love, - and to do it well. As we've said before, our audience is you. That's it. There's no one else. You small, strange gang.

If you enjoy our work, please support us.

The Funding Drive is also your chance to get t-shirts, mixtape subscriptions, StG's first-ever chapbook, or even an exceptionally limited lathe-cut 7". Details of these pledge gifts are below.

These are some of the things we did in the past year: introduced or (more likely) reintroduced you to artists such as Ancient Kids, Austra, Avec pas d'casque, Bertrand Belin, Blue Hawaii, BOAT, Braids, the Burning Hell, Charlotte Dada, Colin Stetson, Connan Mockasin, Cousin Dud, Curren$y, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Dead Heart Bloom, Digital Leather, Digits, Efrim Manuel Menuck, Eternal Summers, Glass Ghost, Glasser, the Good Ones, Grimes, Group Doueh, Hello Shark, Hidden Words, Jai Paul, James Blake, James Irwin, James Leroy, Jamie Woon, Janelle Monae, Joe Goddard, Josephine Foster & The Victor Herrero Band, Katy B, Khaira Arby, Kris Ellestad, Kurt Vile, Land of Talk, Les Cox (Sportifs), Little Scream, Long Long Long, Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics, Makeup Monsters, Mavo, Mean Wind, Mozart's Sister, Norwegian Arms, Ô Paon, Otouto, Pacific!, Parasites of the Western World, Parlovr, Pat Jordache, Peter Nalitch, PS I Love You, Ryan Driver, S.E. Rogie, Sea Oleena, Shotgun Jimmie, Sleeping Bag, Sunglasses, Ted Hawkins, Tennis, This Is The Kit, Timothy Bloom, Tonetta, Troupe Majidi, Ty Segall, the Vaccines, Valley Maker, Venuses, Vijay Iyer, Vokal Ansembl Gordela, Warpaint, Wombs, Young Man and Zola Jesus; prepared guides to Pop Montreal and Suoni Per Il Popolo; wrote of swallow-jockeys, godfathers, 1996,heat and magnets, drum lessons, Arcade Fire's comeback, the city of Ület, Disney Park Memories, karaoke with co-workers, a Halloween after-party, the drowning city, Mickey's amulet, making love to the Earth Mother Achilles, Tiny's magic courtship, Catfish, The Weather War, #BRAGGADONTCHAKNOW, demos, grandpa's .zip file, flowers from the oven, James Blake's dad, Kirk Baxter, co-editor The Social Network, The Story of Emma, if the Beatles never broke up, "Ça Plane Pour Moi", Sappyfest and the Dawson City Music Festival, covers of Big Star's "Thirteen", unreleased Disney tunes, singing for a child, shaving your beard, Derek the "Judo master", pot from Muscles, the lovers' lying song, a fly in butter, Tune-Yards' succumbersome mid, beating blizzards and blizzards beat up; plus guestposts by Chandler Levack, Emma Healey and Little Scream. We also wrote about our 100 favourite songs of 2010.

Thank-you gifts

We have some presents for donors.

Give > $20

  1. A one-year subscription to our new mixtape of the month club.
    • each month, a seamless full-length mix by Dan and Sean;
    • delivered by email, with download link.
  2. Get entered into a draw for t-shirts by Nice Snacks-Cold Drinks.

Give > $50

  • The first ever Said the Gramophone book.
    • a hand-numbered, limited edition chapbook;
    • four new stories, by Sean and Dan, with original illustrations by Meags Fitzgerald and others;
    • plus a handful of Said the Gramophone classics;
    • small and perfect-bound, with colour cover and b&w interior.

Give > $100

  • Said the Gramophone's first hand-cut 7" vinyl record.
    • extremely limited custom-made lathe-cut single;
    • we mean it: rarer than a Stradivarius;
    • with music by ??? and ??? (too secret to mention);
    • hand-numbered, in handmade packaging.

We don't have photographs of our book and 7", because we haven't made them yet. But if you have any doubts about the substance of our thank-yous, we thought we would share some details from last year's funding drive:

To thank Said the Gramophone's 2010 donors, we made two exclusive mixtapes for download. Here's one of them: Songs for Dancing [90mb].

We hid their initials around Montreal:

Said the Gramophone reader initials

We documented games of giant chess:

Said the Gramophone giant chess

We even made a short film, about betting on long odds. This is a tiny clip:

That was last year. This year's gifts are even better.


We are terribly, marvelously indebted to you. Every year we say it, and every year it feels even more true: your beauty and smarts, your kindness and curiosity, your wit and wolf-whistles, your comments and clicks - these are the things that make this thing a thing. These are the treasures which sustain this sea bed. You give us your time, and we feel privileged to give you ours. Thank you for leaving comments, writing emails, offering help and hospitality and faraway friendship. Thanks for the spooky JPGs and the animated GIFs and the MP3 attachments, the pokes and retweets. You play our favourite songs to your lovers, send us your lovers' favourite songs. You put up with this stumbling, fumbling project - stories about midnight gardens and weather wars, eros and hate. We understand that not everyone can afford to donate to a silly website. Regardless of dollars or cents, rubles or yen, thank-you thank-you thank-you all yet again for continuing to make this one of the most rewarding things in our lives, truly.

Said the Gramophone's 2011 funding drive runs until July 12, when donations will close for the year.

Posted by Sean at 10:06 AM | Comments (5)

June 10, 2011


danny-zuko.pngGrown-Ups - "Actually Bankrupt"
Feel Alright - "Blood Cathedral"

Archives. I scurry through moldy, capillary hallways, head-height vaulted cabinets hung with files like gutted birds. I breathe shallow, I touch sparing and brief, to minimize the contact with this unburied graveyard of informal thought. Like if twitter could somehow be harpooned, its sprawling heaving corpse would smell like this. Hundreds of millions of death sighs, warm and steamy on the beach. I'm looking for a single phrase, I need to find a single phrase amidst this garbage. I need to find an instance, a printed instance, of the words "a nightmare involving Danny Zuko". Don't ask why I need to find it, I don't pry into your business, I just need to find it. So here I am, neck-deep in confessional columns and police reports and community theatre reviews on microfiche. I'm sitting hunched in the bowels, stacks of reproductions in the "checked" pile, and I can't believe the world ever saves anything at all. Recorded history is a relatively new idea, and history hoarding is even newer, the world entire is now a scribe, a scholar, and a preservationist. "Where are my emails? Where are all my blog entries? I wanna read the one I wrote about a nightmare involving Danny Zuko." Not a printed instance, it doesn't count, but it's getting closer.

[Buy Stopped Caring from Modern Documents (released June 21 as MD001)]
[Buy hahahahahahaha from Planet of the Tapes]


Feel Alright is Craig Fahner's band, and he's also an artist, with art that I simply had to share with you. This is a piece by Fahner, called Organ, that is one of a few physiological instrumentation pieces he's done. Organ is controlled by an EEG headset, and it's programmed to play notes as the musician becomes less cognitively aware. Yes, that is less cognitively aware. If you can figure out how to even do that, you can play this organ. I want to try it so badly.

(I heard about Fahner, and Feel Alright, through the great Emma Healey)


BREAKING: Sean has won a National Magazine Award for his piece on UX & the Paris catacombs that was originally published in Brick and is now up at Gizmodo. This is great news.

Posted by Dan at 12:48 AM | Comments (1)

June 9, 2011

Single Halve, Double Take

This song is a prayer to the senses for forgiveness. A confession to the body gods that not all thinking has been critical. Not all conclusions based on logic. The spirituality of the scientific method, the clinical rituals and calculated risks, controlled studies and epistemic evidence, is often too daunting, too fanatical to maintain. The extremist calm, the reasoned zealots speak with certainty that nothing promising is a promise, that nothing solved is true. Forgive me, logic, for ever thinking everything was possible, for ever thinking anything was done. Life is work and work is long but both will soon be done in time. [TEEN on myspace]


Junip is having a video contest. Make a video for their song "Without You" and submit it to their youtube page.

Posted by Dan at 12:49 AM | Comments (8)

June 7, 2011


Unborn penguin

Alina Simone - "Glitterati". It went on until she gave him his eyes. The insults, the slaps, plates full of ash. Then one day she knocked gently on his study door, pushed it open, and as he looked up over reading glasses she extended her open palm. Two eyes, like white and grey marbles. He assumed at first that they were her own. But he gazed at her face, remembered the brown of those irises. He looked again at the eyes in her palms. This time he recognized them. His own pupils, certain and fixed. There was admonishment in them, wrath, hatred. He understood that they would never blink. [Make Your Own Danger, as well as Alina Simone's first book, You Must Go And Win, are both out today. She will be reading tomorrow at Brooklyn's Word bookstore, as part of Largehearted Lit]

Car Seat Headrest - "Happy News for Sadness". This song is like the arrival of reinforcements. A legion of legionnaires, cresting the hill, flying your banner. They will stand with you, advise you, lean into their shields and take the arrow-fire. When the smoke comes, they will not buckle; they will not shift. They will flick their lighters and crank the electric lanterns, they will kick on their fizz-boxes and listen to that hopeful zzzzzz. Your reinforcements are safe bets. They are close to friends. [download at a price of your choosing]

(photo is of an embryonic penguin - source)

Posted by Sean at 1:56 PM | Comments (3)

June 5, 2011

SUONI PER IL POPOLO 2011 - program highlights

The 11th-ever Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, one of Montreal's best selections of loose, brave, wild, weird, wrecked and jubilant musical acts, began yesterday. It goes until June 25. It's wonderful and too many song-loving locals don't take advantage enough. For me, there is not a better chance in Montreal's four seasons to get your mind blown by something completely unknown. Free jazz, free folk, noise, contemporary classical, musique actuelle, weird punk and electronics - stuff that can be pushed to the fringes, brought out & up & together by Suoni's marvellous curators. Last year, I interviewed the festival founders. This year I just want to point out some highlights.

All tickets cost less in advance. Almost all shows at either Sala Rossa or Casa del Popolo, which are across the street from one-another. Browse the full Suoni schedule.

Top three:

My highlight of the festival. When Souleyman played here last year, it was one of the concerts of the year: everyone, across all lines, dancing like dumb animals to Souleyman's insane dance music, synth-lines twisting like fucked astral snakes, him cool as cuke and striding. That was a free, giant outdoor gig downtown. This is a concert in the small room of Sala Rossa. It is going to be ludicrous. Opening are AroarA, the new project by Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman and his partner Ariel Engle, v hotly tipped. 13 June, and buy tickets in advance. [8:30/$20]

Quartet led by Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii. Contemporary jazz from Tokyo that lifts from avant-rock, traditional Japanese folk and contemporary classical. (Or so the program tells me.) Sounds so great. 19 June. [8pm/$22]

Saxophonist Colin Stetson may have recorded the best album of this year. Live, he is a technical wonder - but fuck that, listen close, and he'll leave you in devastation. Hangedup are an amazing post-rock duo that died and have been reborn. I saw them again this winter and was thrilled by the experience. Melodies that feel old, raucously rawked, by just viola and drumkit. 17 June. [8:30/$12]

Other wonderments:

A master of folk guitar, in the tradition of John Fahey and Jack Rose, performing at Sala on June 6 [8:30/$12] and doing a free workshop at 1pm that afternoon (not June 7, as in program).

Music from the Hitchcock film, performed by "the Lost Orchestra", ft members of Godspeed, the Luyas, Silver Mt Zion, Land of Kush, Besnard Lakes, &c &c, on strings, woodwinds, brass, wurlitzer, guitar and drumset. Tomorrow, Tues June 7 [8:00/$15].

New work from Radwan Moumneh with Malena Szlam. Radwan is a showman & provocateur; it's never clear what he will do with his roiling Arabic psych. (He promises 16mm film projections.) June 15, free.

Featured on StG in December, a ghostly folk-singer launching her debut album tonight, June 6 [8pm/$12].

Tenor sax by a free jazz pioneer. Sensitive & damn prickly. The Wire says piercing cries, gut-centred bellows, and melody-shredding phraseology. On Wed 8 June [8:30/$12].

Grimes' chillwave skirts Elizabeth Fraser and Vangelis, with a touch of Twin Peaks; Tonstartsbandht make some of the best loud music in this hemisphere. 9 June [8:30/$8]

When I lived in Scotland, Heino played Glasgow's Instal festival more than once. People talked about it with saucer-sized eyes. It was, they said, the loudest thing that they had ever heard. Haino plays guitar. This is on 10 June. [8:30/$20]

Canadian legends, weird and determined, reduced and clever. Seriously just listen to "Ice Flows Aweigh", sour and true, which Jordan wrote about six years ago. Afternoon gig on 11 June. [2pm / $8]

Three of Montreal's best emerging indie kids; all have been hailed on StG. Parlovr play spiky rock music, on guitars. Mavo are a bit touger, but slouching and goofed. Mozart's Sister is a one-woman heatwave, with smoke in her eyes. This will be fun on 16 June. [8:30/$8]

Drone and loop, like a doomed forest. Listen. Soft Circle is the solo project of a guy who used to be in the beautiful noise band Black Dice. June 19. [8:30/$12]

I love Eric Chenaux, a Ratdrifter who is kindred with Sandro Perri and Ryan Driver, whose music we have often written about. Uncanny, soft-voiced folk, part free-jazz and part easy listening. Just extraordinary & beautiful. Opening is Genevieve Castrée, aka O Paon, a Quebecoise singer and artist who has recorded with Phil Elverum, makes gnarled heartbroken music. 20 June. [8:30/$12]

Wyrd Fest is the amazing all-night June 20 festival organised by Weird Canada, the country's best blog for home-grown loud-and-out music. I trust them. This will be amazing. But, apart from Dirty Beaches [cool!] and D'Eon, I know these ten (!) bands only from Weird Canada's own site. Explore. [7pm/$12, a crazy bargain]

Peter Brotzmann with a grindcore band? I think this will be a little like getting shot in the head. 22 June [7pm/$20]

Noisy rock music from two good bands. 22 June [8:30/$17]

Chad Vangaalen has been rightly celebrated for his gorgeous acid-dropped pop-folk nonsenses. Nat Baldwin, a Gramophone fave, Dirty Projector, makes unhinged post-pop with his double-bass. And Adam & the Amethysts are the city's best psychedelic folk band, making heartfelt, out-spinning songs. Amazing line-up. 23 June [8:30/$15].

Posted by Sean at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

June 3, 2011

Norwegian Arms


Norwegian Arms - "Run! Ran! Run! Rah!"

Apace yr steed, let it sip thin broth and be off. Gather. Apace. The night is thinning, the dawn is nimble, wet thistle thither in the timber. Apace, and foresee. Chase. A young girl, thinner, tender, hidden. Her smile trouble, her touch a beckon. A dip of the brim and a pull on the bridle, a moment to reckon, to furl. But run, boy, run god, run young thing and animal claws. Give silver, give writings, give flowers and run. Through grasses, stained glasses, fine lasses, all spent. The future is coming, but now near gone went.


when I first listened to this song, it was immediately the most writable thing in ages. Norwegian Arms is fall-coloured, cotton-dressed, perfect.


Norwegian Arms - "Jitterbug"

"It's baby J!" There is little more tired than Jesus kitsch, but this was something special, this was more than dorm room window dressing, or fridge magnet Urban Outfitters nonsense, this was unique. It was a baby jesus, hand-carved out of wood, hand-painted with tempra. It seemed to take the idea of carpentry being the Christ family trade, Jesus was in overalls, with a crucifix on the breast pocket, which had the odd quality of a misplaced premonition. He had long flowing blond hair, like a baby girl. He was lying on his side, in a cherubic relaxation, and was looking at his fingers. Whether by accident or not, his fingers were stained with brown colouration, which contrasted with his peachy blushing face. And his ear was chipped away, leaving a large wood-coloured scar deep into his cheek. The curl of his smile seemed to come from this flaw, finally deaf to the world, happy, to just study his fingers and think about mud.

[Trimmings of Hides is an AWESOME three-song EP, and it's a suggested 4$]
[Jttrbg is free on the bandcamp]

(image is Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas and his brother Francis Douglas, via A Poor Sort of Memory)

Posted by Dan at 2:13 AM | Comments (2)

June 2, 2011

Said the Guests: LITTLE SCREAM

Little Scream photo by Susan Moss

Little Scream is Laurel Sprengelmeyer. She lives in Montreal. She played her first gigs in the summer of 2008; within two years, Dan was calling her the city's best live act. Last fall, we posted her gorgeous song "Heron and the Fox". It was one of my favourite songs of 2010. Describing her performances, I wrote: She would sing a thin, silver phrase, and the light in the room seemed to change. When she raged, with ring & thunder, you could smell the petrichor of somewhere else ... Sometimes instead of sounding pretty, Laurel sounds patient.

Little Scream's debut album, The Golden Record, has now finally been released by Secretly Canadian; but it's still a secret-seeming record, one of those LPs, like Cat Power's Moon Pix, Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, Bon Iver's For Emma, that seems too small and private, too intimate, to be out in the whole wild world, distributed to a thousand record-shops. There are quiet songs, like "Heron and the Fox", and noisy songs, like "Cannons": all are luminous in different ways, with slow phosphorescence or dancing sparks. These days, my favourite is "People Is Place": gorgeous, with a sharpened edge, so slow that I can scarcely catch it move. It's music for ghosts that we will not allow to be ghosts; for phantoms which still breathe.

I asked Laurel to do as we do, to write about some songs she loves. This is what she sent us. Please leave a word or two in the comments, if you can. (And thank you, Laurel.)

The Velvet Underground - "Pale Blue Eyes".
Mary Margaret O'Hara - "To Cry About".
Mary Margaret O'Hara - "Dear Darling".

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a religious context severe enough to support the development of a world of teenage fantasy characterized by intensely romantic sexual repression. By most accounts, my experiences seemed more akin to the 1950s, if not Elizabethan England. You could not date until you were of marital age. And even then, it would have to be with a chaperone. I knew of one couple in that context who didn't have their first kiss until their wedding day. The best you could hope for in terms of contact with the opposite sex was the chance to slow dance at one of the closely monitored religious social engagements.

We young people desperately looked forward to these events, strategically countering our modest, ill fitting outfits with the over application of make-up in order to look attractive to our future marital prospects. Music at these events was also monitored, with all mix tapes needing to be pre-screened by an elder for approval. The Neville Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Bette Midler were all likely to be on heavy rotation. But somehow, perhaps literally by the grace of God, "Pale Blue Eyes" by the Velvet Underground made its way into approved party listening. I was nearly 15 years old. Apparently the slow lilt and the innocent chorus of the song had allowed the screener to not pay closer attention to the words... "It was good what we did yesterday, and I'd do it once again. The fact that you are married, only proves you're my best friend... but it's truly, truly a sin...". It was dancing to this song that I had the misfortune of falling in love for the first time.

He was a bit older, 17 at the time. Not clean cut like the other boys. He too had come from a broken home, and I felt I could relate to him. He had been the one who made the mix tape with the Velvet Underground on it. And I felt delirious when he asked me to dance when that song came on. As we held each other at a respectable distance, under the watchful eye of the elders, I melted into the sweet chorus "...linger on, your pale blue eyes...". And how prophetic the next words would one day prove to be "...I thought of you as my mountaintop, I thought of you as my peak. I thought of you as everything, I've had but couldn't keep... I've had but couldn't keep".

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Around that time, my father (who was not part of the religion) was dating a punk harp player who lived in Aurora, IL -- the "city of lights" and capital of Wayne's World. She made me a mix tape that would become the soundtrack to my teenage years. It had all the greats of youth cultures past; Roxy Music, David Bowie, the Sugarcubes... and 2 songs by a woman named Mary Margaret O'Hara: "To Cry About" and "Dear Darling". It was before the internet was the way people found music. And I spent the next few years in record stores on a fruitless search for more of her songs, to no avail. She became to me a mythical and unattainable voice from a distant land. It would only be years later that I would get to hear more of that voice, when after telling two Basque friends of my fruitless search for the woman behind the 2 haunting songs I played for them on a particularly wine filled evening, they sought out and successfully procured for me the reissue of Miss America in cd form. I have been grateful to them ever since.

Why would you go...and leave me to cry? A thing of such beauty, must never die...

[buy Little Scream's exquisite album, The Golden Record / watch Rachel Granofsky's stop-motion music video for "Red Hunting Jacket". / Little Scream is on a US tour with the Antlers through June.]

(Previous guest-blogs: Frog Eyes, White Hinterland, Bear in Heaven, artist Michael Krueger, artist Amber Albrecht, The Whiskers, Silver Jews, artist Ariel Kitch, artist Aaron Sewards, artist Corinne Chaufour, "Jean Baudrillard", artist Danny Zabbal, artist Irina Troitskaya, artist Eleanor Meredith, artist Keith Greiman, artist Matthew Feyld, The Weakerthans, Parenthetical Girls, artist Daria Tessler, Clem Snide, Marcello Carlin, artist Johnnie Cluney, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Arcade Fire, Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Drew Heffron, Carl Wilson, artist Tim Moore, Page France, Devin Davis, Okkervil River, Grizzly Bear, Hello Saferide, Damon & Naomi, Brian Michael Roff, producer Howard Bilerman. There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at 12:40 AM | Comments (6)