This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

March 30, 2012

I'll Be Your Man


Anna Calvi - "I'll Be Your Man"

May has a single mastectomy. She lies naked on her bed, as she often does, reading the news on her laptop. The single breast hangs casually over the rest of her chest, like a single band, instead of two loose roustabouts. She reads a story about a transgendered beauty queen who was ejected from a pageant, her own country's pageant, for being born a male. And she's beautiful. May lies on her back and fogs the ceiling with her body's breath. We all operate from some kind of deficit. May does not know how to keep loving someone indefinitely, and so she wonders about the day things will vapourize with Edmund. Some people are born with illnesses or financial troubles or born addicted to drugs. We all operate from a deficit of some sort, it's just that some have a bigger deficit than others. May's deficit is so small it looks like an advantage, as she scoops her breast off the rest of her chest, supporting it. She thinks about smoking but says aloud that she will not. [Buy]


Posted by Dan at 6:19 PM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2012

The Sun Poured Down Like Honey

Nina Simone - "Suzanne"

The six of us played a game as the sun set on the lake. We were an adult, a child, and four somewhere in between, but we all behaved like kids, even Chloe's dad, Terry, who was past fifty. Hyperactive little Danny threw perfect blueberries across the porch of the house into my mouth. Everyone laughed, even Terry as he strummed his mandolin. And then we figured out that Danny could pitch blueberries and Terry could hit them with his mandolin and I could catch them in my mouth. This was very exciting, maybe partly because we were all already a little drunk except for Danny.

On the drive from the city, the talk had mostly been about teeth and booze. On a whim, Josh and I had studied dental anatomy the previous night and wanted to impress with our knowledge of incisors, bicuspids and molars. "There are as many people in this car as there are incisors in the human mouth," Josh observed. "That's right," I said, "it's as if the front seat were the maxilla and the backseat the mandible." "Hmm, yes, and the windows canines!" "And the windows canines," Chloe mocked in a ridiculous voice. The women laughed at us and then Anna turned contemplative. "Do we really have to stop for vodka, just so you can have your gross Caesars?" she asked me. I told her with my face that we did.

When we ran out of blueberries, we descended to the rocky shore and undressed in the day's last light. There was, for each of us, flesh to see that had been seen and flesh to see as yet unseen. Heads down, we tiptoed cold and careful out into the water, watching as well as we could for clamshells that might cut our feet. One at a time we lowered our most sensitive parts into the cold and screamed and then, the worst of it over, we lowered the rest of ourselves into the bracing lake with a splash that let the others know where we were, for it was dark now.

In towels, Anna and I sat on stools at the kitchen island, our knees nearly touching, drinking rum cocktails under an umbrella of copper pots that hung from the ceiling. Outside, a chorus of tree frogs sang the opening bars of "You're So Vain". Terry had cooked pasta and he called us to serve ourselves, suggesting that we use "just a little hot sauce. We got it in Barbados and it will melt the skin off your face." This wasn't literally true, though I did ruin my meal by adding one or two drops too many. I left the island sweating and sneezing and nothing I drank to ease the burning helped, not even the table cream.

Outside, in the driveway, Josh and Chloe leaned against the car, holding hands. Anna and I stood opposite, watching Josh contemplate his nth green cocktail - a rum, soda, citrus and sugar drink of his own creation. "What shall we call this?" he asked. "The Sea Cow?" I said. "Portnoy's Complaint?" Anna said. "The Somnambulizer?" I said. "Urchin's Abode?" Anna said. For a while we listened to the crickets and the threatening buzz of mosquitoes. "I have it!" Josh said, interrupting our reverie with a raised glass. "Behold: The Cockandballs!"

The dining room - or what had been the dining room a few hours earlier - was littered with bodies. Terry lay sweat-drenched on a chaise longue with a ping-pong paddle over his face; Anna sat slumping and cross-legged on the blonde hardwood floor, Danny's head in her lap. They were casualties of my superior ping-pong skill, though it seemed my pride in victory was not matched by their shame in defeat. Josh hadn't even tried, unwilling as he was to remove his sport coat. Now he sat in an orange Louis XIV chair, head back, mouth open, a half-finished Cockandballs in his hand, snoring in a way that suggested a caricature of snoring. I had not wanted to beat Terry, the brave, wheezing pater familias, in front of his son and daughter, but Anna was to play the winner and I was not about to miss the opportunity. I toyed with her on the first point, hitting looping forehands to her backhand until, showboating, I smashed the ball across the table, past Anna, off a window and into a fruit bowl. "That's the first thing you've ever done to impress me," she said.

How Josh got to the living room I couldn't say, but there he lay, face-down on the floor with his arms outstretched above his head. A small pool of Cockandballs had formed at the mouth of an overturned glass near his feet. Terry had gone to bed and the rest of us sat under blankets watching an episode of Saturday Night Live from the late 80s or early 90s, though I wasn't watching what we were watching. I was thinking about Anna's bare shoulder pressed against mine. We sat just like that for a long time, until the snoring became choral.


Posted by Jordan at 12:56 PM | Comments (6)

March 27, 2012



Azealia Banks - "Fuck Up The Fun"

"This is why they invented super powers."

"Hoo ha the shoo fla, you doo da da!" Tate screams out the window of a streetcar. Jen no longer has the energy to stop him. And of course not, he has 85, probably 90 or more years of life packed into his 3-year-old soul, life is coming out the seams. For Jen, she's almost 40, she has to preserve as much as she can, she can't afford to just spend energy wherever she wants. Fuck politeness, fuck the social contract, for this moment letting Tate scream is just the way it's going to be.

"I saw her lift a tractor trailer, flick it like a cigarette."

"Watch this, bitches..." says Tate. This is too far. "Tate, don't say--" But he's floating, he's flipping, he's flying, he's in the air. He's holding spray cans, they're his accelerators, he's walking on the streetcar wires like city bridges. He's unstoppable. DING-- Tate loves to ring the bell and it brings Jen back from her revery. Burridge. Burridge is the main stop and most people get off. Jen turns to get her purse, turns back, Tate is gone. For gasping, blinking real, gone.

"She's got stilettos like streetlights."

Jen is squirming through the crowd. Out the narrow doors, she's halfway through like a factory doll, she comes out scared and half caught on someone's overcoat. She's worming through a group of jokey goth teens, past a mustached man so mustached it's probably his only love, and through other moms, fat moms, who have as little patience as her, and their tight ponytails (easy, no muss) and loose shirts (fussless) are starting to tie-dye her vision, she's going crazy not seeing the one thing she wants to: the little blue jacket and the mistaken military haircut, his shoes light up for Christ's fucking sake.

"She's fully beat sick like a green goatee. Keeps a mean click and spits like she's sipped old tea."

And then she hears a cry. Either pain or fear or a mixture, she stops cold, her eyes narrow. Watch this, bitches... Jen pushes against the crowd, hard. Laptop satchels jamming straight into backs, headphones being pulled clean off of heads, comfort zones razed, obliterated, balances lost everywhere. In her mind they fly gusting like blown seeds, and reveal in their absence, Tate. And they do. He turns around, caught, and laughs "Ha haaaa!" and farts his tongue at her, and the two of them go straight home. The rules of the social contract bent like stretching lines on a looseleaf, to fit in more words. They'll go back, probably.

[available for streaming only after 7K downloads, I guess]

Posted by Dan at 1:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2012


Photo by Laval's Jim Lego

Damian Weber - "Soul Night". Although I do not share Mr Weber's particular preferred music-to-dance-to, we seem to have a similar perspective on what our dancing is for. Which is to say that Mr Weber talks little of got it/flaunt it, show me baby/yeah - instead "Soul Night" has an attitude of well let's get out there. Emphasis on the let's. Emphasis on the contraction 's, which stands for us, which is plural and communal and means you & you & you.

Mr Weber does have some specific instructions for the dancers. Here is a selection:

do the whirlwind
do the windmill
now hop
now hop
now hop

I like that Mr Weber resists the temptation to make these instructions all-caps (eg: NOW HOP). You can tell they are in small-caps from the tone of his voice. Writing a song like this, about the dance floor, most people would make everything as loud as insistent as possible, shouting with fun. Not Mr Weber. Shouting is no way to convince a stranger to dance.

Mr Weber is shrugging with fun. He is loping with fun. He is polishing your shoes with fun, hand-cranking the disco ball. He is making dancing music with guitar, bassline, plinky piano, a ratty snare. In fact, this is hardly dance music. This song is a keepsake, a reminder, a polaroid photo - it's the reminder of what you will do, what you ought to do, the feeling that will come splintering out from your heart when you do, when you do do do do, do do-do dance (do).

[download what is truly Damian's best record yet, Soul Night]


For My Own Benefit

As Dan said, Said the Gramophone's own Jordan Himelfarb will be performing in Toronto tomorrow night. He is one half of a duo called the New Humourists. They make beautiful nonsense.

Tuesday will be their Ontario debut - a fundraiser called FOR MY OWN BENEFIT, raising money for pancreatic cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital. This cause is very close, too close, to our hearts right now.

If you live in Toronto, I hope you will be able to come join us at The Shop Under Parts & Labour at 8pm. I am driving down from Montreal just for this. Besides the New Humourists, there will be performances by Picnicface's Mark Little, Uncalled For's Anders Yates, Tony Ho and the acclaimed improv act Personals. More details on Facebook or at the For My Own Benefit website

If you cannot attend in person, but would still like to make a donation, please visit the website and you can donate online. Charitable tax receipts (it's a Canadian hospital) can be provided.

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2012


Danny Brown - "Grown Up"

     Edmund sits in Jen's backyard, watching the sun set warmly with Tate. With a sweating summery drink in his hand, he is craving marijuana. Strange how it's fine to drink in front of children, but lighting a smoke is suddenly a bad example. He looks up at the jet streams cutting lines across the sky and they look like thin pinner joints or coke. He takes another sip of the bitters. Tate is playing with an iPad, and his intuition with it is staggering. He can't read or write, his vocabulary is above average, but his skill with a touchscreen is off the charts. Or if there were charts for this, they would need to be re-imagined, or Tate could zoom to their apex or organize the line of best fit. Tate cooks a digital meal, puts puzzle pieces together, lifts fake people into a balloon and splashes fake water at a fake paper until the ink runs all streaks. Edmund half expects him to point it at one of the criss-crossing planes, hit some buttons, and watch it explode. It seems like he understands this technology far more than he understands an interaction with Edmund. Edmund is the iPad's friend, he is sponsored by the iPad, he is offered, censored and friendly, unsmoking and buzzed, as a temporary stream, accessible with a hideable ad for the clothes he's wearing, and the drink he's holding. A branded thing of father, brought to you by mother, car, front door, hallway, kitchen, and back door. The sky is busy, the grass is busy, his blood is busy, but Tate's father is still. His mouth open to speak, but huffs closed in a tight-lipped shrug. [free at Scion A/V]

Sleeping in the Aviary - "Things Look Good"

     Evelyn, Edmund's daughter, 17, is in a ride-along with Officer Getty. She's doing her community service hours for Students in Society (Ms. Clave) and getting her journalism assignment (Mr. Beaudreau) done at the same time.
      "Well, I moved here from Winnipeg three years ago, my wife and I and our son. But man, I'm regretting that move now..."
     "Why's that?" Evelyn is underdressed for the occasion, her usual tights and slipper shoes make her suddenly feel vulnerable, like she was never safe all this time.
      "The Jets are back." Getty drives at the limit, always, his on-board laptop at the ready. The radio crackles.
      "The jets?"
      "Yeah. The hockey team. I can't believe I'm missing those games."
      Evelyn scratches out the heading "jets" with two lines, "Oh, I see."
      "They sold out the whole season in like 2 hours. When I heard that, I mean, I'm a pretty tough guy, but I teared up a little bit."
      Evelyn looks at her list of questions, "What do you think of police brutality?"
      They pass night sprinklers and the flashing eyes of walked dogs.
      "I don't participate in it."
      "But do you think it's a problem?"
      "I think that police have a tougher time nowadays, yeah." silence. "With the internet."
      "So you don't think brutality is a problem? What do you think about Trayvon Martin?"
      His speed gets faster. Evelyn gets a little rush of excitement, these cars are powerful. "You're making yourself sound like an idiot."
      To hear an adult say idiot in this way, meant to hurt and nothing else, Evelyn felt all of life stretch and pull like a slingshot. This could be anybody sitting next to her. "Why do you say that?"
     "That wasn't a police officer! He was a neighbourhood w--hat the f--"
      Getty made an arrest that night. Edmund, drunk, was caught spraypainting a doobie hanging out of the mouth of Bob Tunn, a local real estate agent featured on a prominent billboard ("Sold Another Tunn!") on the turn into the Center Square mall. Edmund said nothing, and could only picture himself and his daughter, years later, possibly able to chuckle about this. Evelyn wrote in her report that it was "a man, early forties, not-too-tall, brown hair with few grey saltings. Unharmed during the arrest." [Buy]



Jordan Himelfarb, whose posts you read monthly, is one-half of a comedy duo called The New Humourists. They are performing live for the first time in Toronto as part of a fundraiser show called FOR MY OWN BENEFIT, raising money for pancreatic cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital. This is a show very dear to us at Said the Gramophone, and its first edition will be next TUES MAR 27th at PARTS & LABOUR, 1566 Queen West at Sorauren. There will be delightful guests from Mark Little (Dad Drives!) to Anders Yates (Uncalled For!) to Tony Ho. Please come, we would love to see you, meet you, laugh with you. [Facebook event]

If you cannot attend in person, but would still like to make a donation, please visit the website and you can donate online. Charitable tax receipts (it's a Canadian hospital) can be provided.

Posted by Dan at 2:41 AM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2012


Dog swagger

Wiz Khalifa - "The Grinder". I'm just going to do the things I ordinarily do, the things I automatically do, the habits I do not even think about, and yet because of these things I will be extraordinary. I will be utterly rad. This is the way of my humdrum: incredible. This is how I do: stupefying. I don't do shit and everyone's all jawdrop eye-rolling. Maybe it's the springtime, maybe it's my name, maybe it's my swagger or my girl. But there's nothing that wins more medals than just me wandering through my day, bewildered as any other. [grab Khalifa's Taylor Allderice mixtape]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2012

The Curse of Perspective

Maica Mia - "Funny Way of Laughing"

Sunrise. Edmund wasn't sleeping well, back pains, 41 with a bullet. He lay swung in the sofa, posture terrible, watching the sunrise eating a granola bar. He checked the nutritional information and thought that he truly just eats numbers now. Being married to Jen, his most recent marriage, was like checking the nutritional information every day. They tried so hard to make sure everything was right. Communication, affection, sharing, sex, fairness, laughter. Percentages like a scattered skyline instead of a totaled whole. Marriage to Alison, the one before Jen, was more like being trapped together in the trunk of a car. It was dark, often terrifying, but they had each other to hold on to, no idea of where they were headed. The sex was maddening, the fights were catastrophic, the forgiveness was heavenly. The hills and valleys made it seem like they journeyed far, but it was mostly up and down and rarely straight ahead. And to Carolyn, his first wife, marriage was like an open field. They could see in all directions; there was the sky, there was the ground and on it the grass. And it was lovely and bright and open and free, but it didn't seem to make any sense. Where were the buildings? What were their jobs? When other people would visit, Edmund would hear Carolyn ask, "What is my name? Is it Carla? Is it Edmund?"


Posted by Dan at 11:45 AM | Comments (3)

March 18, 2012


Hope me

Project Mayhem - "Dope Party".
Plan B - "Ill Manors".

Two very different right-now sounds. The first is all glittering laid-back party vibe, shrug and innuendo. Chicago's Project Mayhem are miles away from the fight club cinderblocks that gave them their name: they are singing about a purple-hazed get-together where everyone has an easy good time. Forget doom and challenges, forget the Great Recession and the sinking feeling in our chests. Light up, inhale. Enunciate each ss like you're flicking the flint on a flame. It's all good.

And then Plan B leaves us none of these indulgences. His new single is fisted and gnashing, the fury of a kid who has seen his country take too many wrong turns. The Guardian calls it "the greatest British protest song in years". They're absolutely right. Labour MP Jamie Reed compared "Ill Manors" to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", the Graun's Dorian Lynskey name-drops Public Enemy and the Clash. Me I hear Rage Against the Machine. As with de la Rocha & co, the politics here are a little muddled, a little clumsy - Ben Drew is hardly offering an electoral platform. But what "Ill Manors" lacks in policy talkingpoints it makes up in a precise, racing wrath, bottleshard-sharp. I think of the nettling slur that follows the Occupy protesters: What are your demands? Plan B has no demands, here. He has a list of complaints. He has a list of snarled complaints and he wants you to know that he is angry. OY, RICH BOY: there are more of us than there are of you. As 2012 ticks into spring, four months after the first eviction of Zuccotti Park, we need songs like this, need them to remind and provoke us. It's fine to go out to dope parties, grab some bbq or maybe a Blizzard at DQ. But shit's not fixed. Let's keep demanding more.

[Project Mayhem website / Ill Manors EP out next week / peep the video]


We'd be very grateful if you voted for Said the Gramophone as best local blog in the Mirror's annual Best of Montreal poll.

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 11:27 PM | Comments (5)

March 16, 2012

Serial Sugaring


Landlady - "Coupon Cutters"

Kevin at his life-drawing class. 10am on Saturdays, but every day is Saturday when you're retired. He stands in cargo shorts, his blue shirt tails hanging dearly onto the lip of the elastic band, stretched out from his wine belly. He looks down his nose through his reading glasses at his work. Charcoal swirls, mostly, in the vague shape of the model, a shapely woman, Goldie, who models as often as she can. Which is too often for Kevin. He looks around, sighs, and continues his swirls. He is more interested in Trevor, the 6'10" house painter who has his easel extended to maximum and still has to stoop. He's like a Jacques Tati drawing. Kevin wants to draw Ida, the little Jewish lady, probably the mother of many, working out stress, she goes through pages and pages, drawing furiously and fast. He'd rather have the teacher, Theresa, model for them. She has the edges of a woman who has abstained more than partaken. Probably typical for a life-drawing teacher, thought Kevin, expert at observing, incapable of experiencing. But this pent-up restraint probably makes her crazy in bed, he thought. That silver hair, let out of that hippie bun, she'd be a bony joy. Time for a smoke. His arousal was always relentless this time of the morning, has been since he was a teenager, sometimes you just need to walk away, look at the sun, breathe something else. While he watched a car inch forward and back out of the parking lot, he thought about drawing anything but life. Consistency, travel, gumption, draw that stuff. Draw a field of gravity, an unspoken thought, a natural bridge. [Buy Keeping To Yourself]


So, Dad Drives won the contest! Thank you all so much for your support, you were really invaluable in making it happen. As promised, we'll get to work on more episodes.

(collage by the incredible Beth Hoeckel, thanks to Bryce for finding out!)

Posted by Dan at 2:10 AM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2012


Sky Lattice, by Clayton Merrell

Mozart's Sister - "Chained Together". There is a game to obsession, to aftermath. Play it like you would play dead, play hopscotch, play a wheezy old keyboard. Put on a mask, take it off, cock your head and smile. Caila Thompson-Hannant coos a letter to her ex, like a deadened Cyndi Lauper, with bruised knuckles and pixel click. She teases and worries, wilts and refreshes, not certain if she is furling or un-.

[Montreal's Mozart's Sister plays SXSW tomorrow night / previously / Bandcamp]

Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa - "Perawan Berawan". The gateway between worlds is gold and red and the colour of your eyes. It leads from the world you are in to the world beside the world you are in. Those who pass through lose their hair, their rings, forget their name. They stumble, hearts pounding, onto flattened grass. The gateway between worlds has a distance. It has a landscape and a soundtrack. There is a rock'n'roll band in the gateway between worlds, with gamelan and electric guitars. With fangs and a barrel full of rings. They sing choruses about pouting lips, mankilling tigers, shredded hearts, moon landings. It is not clear whether they themselves are travellers from another world. It is not clear whether they know their names.

["Perawan Berawan" is taken from Sunshine Off the Tracks, an exceptional benefit compilation raising money for GEMS, a NYC org that helps young women "who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking". There are terrific new songs by a whole slew of Said the Gramophone favourites, including Nat Baldwin, Way Yes, Adrian Crowley, Travels and Gym, Deer, plus new-to-me standouts like the tracks by Aan, Doleful Lions, White Birds, In One Wind, The Building. (IE, a lot.) So support a great cause and hear some gorgeous tunes: buy]


Montreal's Under the Snow festival began last night, but my highlights start tonight. Elfin Saddle launch their new album at Sala, with Monday Night Choir, and tomorrow Julie Doiron will perform the entirety of 1997's Loneliest in the Morning.

(painting by Clayton Merrell)

Posted by Sean at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2012

Sneak Practice

A. David MacKinnon - "The Past is a Foreign Country"

Carolyn, Edmund's first wife, is a secret eater. M&Ms behind the Kashi, skittles between the couch pillows, chips in the desk. Garry, her border-guard boyfriend, has had a long day, lies watching Guy Fieri in the basement. Her father, Kevin the poet, is in the kitchen washing the salad bowl, listening to a podcast. Evelyn, the daughter she had with Edmund, is doing sit-ups in her room, in expensive workout clothes. "I'm taking Melon out!" Carolyn half-shouts up the stairs and to the house. Melon is the Bull-mix dog with eyes like a bad facelift. She ducks into the night, warm March and too-heavy coat. Melon pulls and stretches the leash and Carolyn thinks about the neighbours. Gay. Christmas guilt. Rich. That shouting match. Never see them. She jogs across the street and wonders how many cars it would take to make the road as thin as paper, if you pick up a bit of the road when you walk on it. Melon goes on a lawn. Carolyn bags, gags, and hurries on her way. She gets to the Coffee Time, order already made in her head. She pretends to look out at a car, trying falsely to remember. "Uhh..two sour creams and a honey custard, I think," she knows. The donutier, like ringing through condoms or pornography, simply does the job without hint of expression. On the walk home she can feel the sugar like crystals in her blood, now able to think again about her family and the day. I hope Garry doesn't frost his tips. [Buy]


Last chance to help Dad Drives, contest ends Thursday. I need about 2K more views to really clinch this thing, so share it as wide as you can. Thanks!

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

March 12, 2012


Girl with a digital camera

Black Atlass - "Ways". He tried folding up his desire. It was like a quilt - too broad, too thick, too corporeal. He pushed at the corners, strained, tried to fit it into its chest. Every time he got one side of his desire down, inside, the other side would slip up over the lip. In time he found the going was better with the lights on, or under a strobe, with all his picture-frames turned away, toward the wall. [website/download EP]

Rose Cousins - "For the Best". To perefect his longing, he took a jet to Switzerland. He took a jet to Switzerland then a train to the countryside, then a cable-car up the sheer garden slope of a low Alp. He dragged his suitcase along the delicate cobble stones, like thin porcelain plates. He stood at the edge of the valley, finally arrived, looking down onto the pale sapphire lake and all that wide open air. He cupped his hands around his mouth and tried. To yodel, to sing, to make his longing clear. It wasn't bad. It wasn't bad, for the first time it wasn't bad. Maybe he'd yet become skillful, like Dolly Parton or Jimmie Rodgers, and be able to sing out, full of sure heartbreak, and watch his audience shed single tears. [buy]


I hope you didn't miss DAD DRIVES, the first episode in a proposed webseries by our own Dan Beirne. Please watch it, happily squirming, and tell your friends, and spread the word, because it would be a very helpful thing for him (and thus for me, because I love the guy). Also: it's hilarious.

(source of Girl with a Digital Camera painting unknown, sorry!)

Posted by Sean at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2012


Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - "Candle Mambo"
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - "Owed T'Alex"

Edmund and May at the cabin in March. Cold crust, with thin cold must, the air is special, preserved inside that porous house all winter like finding an unopened Christmas gift. Air whose time has passed. They arrived at five and started cooking right away, hungrily sweatered and the gas stove warms the house. As Edmund seared the scallops, May went to put on some music. For as long as he'd known it, the cabin had only ever had four records: Tapestry, Loaded, ZoSo, and Trout Mask Replica. "Is this it?" she said in that way that reminded Edmund how little she still knew about him. It was easy to talk to May, she was soft with eyes that listened wide, and she made it easy to forget that she hadn't taken any of the million tiny steps towards easy knowledge of someone else. The way you reveal yourself to people in separate layered moments, yes these are my DVDs, most of my clothes are gifts, I'll lend you this book it reminds me of you, and clock the reaction each time, file it away amidst the rest. Carolyn liked the records, she had said "They fit any mood you could ever have," Alison laughed, "That's cute," possibly meaning his parents, who had acquired the records and never bothered to add to them, as it was originally their cabin. Jen didn't even notice, Edmund had to point it out. And now May, simply put on "Going to California" and they danced like silly hippies, their hands in the air, their bodies gravity-stricken, like happy droopy skeletons. The cabin had no electricity, so they danced in the light of oil lamps and from the fireplace, and the way the flames made the whole cabin flicker, it gave everything a fragile quality, like it could all go out any second.

They made love in the living room that night, and watched the sun rise over the lake, which cracked with frozen shards. The morning seemed like the very first letter in the sentence of spring.

Led Zeppelin - "Going to California"

[Buy Beefheart's lost Bat Chain Puller] [Buy Led Zeppelin IV]



I've made the first episode of a potential new web series. It's for a contest which, if won, would fund the production of more episodes. The contest tracks views, likes, favourites, comments, all that stuff. So if you like it, social-media the hell out of it. It features myself and Mark Little, of Picnicface, which is a show on Canada's Comedy Network.

Posted by Dan at 3:31 PM | Comments (1)

March 6, 2012


In September of 1988, Bobby McFerrin was no. 1 on the Billboard charts, André the Giant was at the very height of his career in the WWF, in a feud with the Hulkman himself, and Edmund was losing his virginity. Or rather, finally shaking it off. He was 16, and Thea Fielding had just turned 17, it happened on her birthday. She lay with her head uplifted like a doe, eyes like endless wells. Neither made hardly a sound.

In West Berlin, there were protests, violent, against the World Bank. Edmund's German lineage made the Wall a regular topic of dinner table discussion, over creamed potatoes and niblets. But he screwed for the first time unaware of the violence, the suffering, the sacrifice that people endure to express themselves. He had the closest thing in the world, another body attached to his, and he didn't say a word. If ever there were a chance to express oneself, surely this was it. But there was just breath, and looking, at and away, and irregular rhythm.

The summer olympics were happening in Korea. Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board and bled into the pool. He was HIV positive at the time. Thea didn't notice as she bled upon the sheet, covered blue in stars. It can't survive in open water, the other swimmers weren't in any danger. Edmund apologized involuntarily, after it was over, and lay looking at the ceiling, finally hearing the clock again, snick snick snick.

Posted by Dan at 2:14 AM | Comments (3)

March 5, 2012


Civil war photograph

The Just Barelys - "Ok Yeah Ok". Shortiola's teachers don't understand her. Her knowledge seems to jam up: weeks of hard work and A-grades, then suddenly it's flunk flunk flunk, these dumbbrained numbbrained answers, cataclysmic quizzes. And then abruptly she's free, she's back, neurons firing as they should, lessons learned. It's as if something gets blocked, Mr Hendricks tells her parents. Like there's a sudden freeze, suggests Ms Khan, and it takes a while for the river to get moving again. The teachers don't ask Shortiola's parents the question they most want to know the answer to, the question of Shortiola's name. She is tall and blonde, statuesque on her skateboard, skipping the curb. At lunch she sits on the steps, knees up to her nose, tossing jokes and laugh-snorting. Looking out into blue sky, dreaming of moving to a smaller town, a village where she's the only cheerleader at a tiny school, hangs out with the QB, falls in love while they stream Fellini on Youtube. Later she'll learn to play drums, a little guitar. [buy or download the Just Barelys very charming, pop-&-herkyjerk]

Vijay Iyer Trio - "The Star of a Story". The heart of this song, the part where I raise my eyebrows and make my mouth a line, comes in the second half. It is as if this light little party has become serious: the dinner-party filigree is still filigree, still spry and conversational, but the stakes are there. The stakes have come into the room. We must all try to do the things we love, to make the world a better place, to be kind to others. And we will all die. We will all die. The man in the bowtie does not get up from the piano. Raise your glass whenever you're ready. ["The Star of a Story" is originally by Heatwave / listen to all of Accelerando / buy]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 8:10 PM | Comments (1)

March 1, 2012


Elton John at Dodger Stadium, by Terry O'Neill

Damien Jurado - "Life Away From the Garden". I did not collect sports cards except in my early teens, when I lugged around a binder of Pro Set hockey cards. I didn't collect them because I was interested in hockey: I collected them because they were little treasures, cheap enough to collect. Glossy hologrammed treasures, that came in packets of eight.

I'm older now, but sometimes I think that buying records - those shiny CDs, beautiful black 12"s - is motivated by the same thing. Hoarded treasures, lined up on a shelf. Unlike hockey cards, records have an enormous inherent value. (They call this "music".) But there's no denying that for many of us, music fetishism answers the same impulse as the 13-year-old boy, swapping rookies.

If I did still collect hockey cards, I would want the players on my favourite cards to do well. I would want them to win games, championships, cups; to score hat tricks. I'd want my cards to be the cards of champs, but I'd also want my favourite cards to become the cards of champs, just because I liked them. The athlete with the kindly eyes, the dashing slapshot - let him be a winner. Let him hoist a trophy.

Damien Jurado has made so many wonderful songs. As I said earlier this month, writing about another track from Maraqopa, he is probably the artist by which I own the most records. Everything from Rehearsals for Departure and Waters Ave S to the exceptional Ghost of David (one of the great sad records of all time). Then many of those first records for Secretly Canadian, the terrific ones (Where Shall You Take Me?) and the OK (On My Way to Absence). There were folky records and rocky records and, often, in between.

But what I'm getting at here is that I love Damien Jurado. He seems big-spirited, hard-working, talented as shit. He has a beautiful voice. He sings so well. And I want him to win, to win, to win, to be a great grinning champ.

So - Maraqopa. This is a record that makes me so happy. Not just because it is excellent. Because Jurado has found a new way to be excellent. This is not a boring treasure - it is a cool treasure. It is beautifully written and beautifully sung but it also feels of the instant, of the right-now, a folk album that should only have been released in 2012, when we are nostalgic and also not, also a little antsy for the world to shed its bullshit and become something else.

Like on 2010's so-so Saint Bartlett, Jurado has worked with producer (and fellow songwriter) Richard Swift. They've built a sound that's at once warm and ghostly, full of echo, synth, psych, reverb. It's a perfect compliment for the songs, with all sorts of interesting valences - Satie, Spector, Moby Grape, Young Marble Giants.

But anyway, I asked for permission to post "Life Away From the Garden" because it is so seductive, so weird and seductive, with its melancholy children's choir. Like a regretful psalm sung with the Langley Schools Music Project; like a man with his own dreamlike call-and-answer. It is not a story-song or a convince-me song. It is the song of a feeling, a furtive feeling, written down and illuminated. Swing and gleam and kids with brown eyes, they know it too, already.

[buy Maraqopa / European spring tour / website]

(photo is of Elton John at Dodger Stadium, 1975, by Terry O'Neill)

Posted by Sean at 9:43 PM | Comments (3)