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.

February 26, 2013

Ring My Bell

Pere Ubu - "Thanks"

It was so quiet you could hear the plants growing. Stretching their stalks, shuffling their leaves, and sipping their dirt. I would walk past that room, and he'd be watching the tv on mute. That high-pitched electric zeeee the only thing competing with the plants. I would walk past that room, the tv on mute, and I would try not to look in but I could never help it. Like a magnet I couldn't help it. And he was always looking at me. Always. That look that was part animal, part lecture. Part thunder, part hot metal. Part callous, part hard kiss. And it would stay with me all day, unfolding itself like a time-lapse blossom, strange dark colours and always surprising. I could hear his look, like the growing plants in my head.


Posted by Dan at 4:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2013


IKEA monkey

Woodpigeon - "Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard". An unglad song, but I don't know that it's sad, or angry. It's like a room filled up with smoke. It's an emergency. All this furious acrid noise, hit the floor, fumble; until finally an opening appears. And this opening is an escape: the kindness of an electric guitar, an organ. The joy of joined voices. Climbing chords. The smoke never clears, but Mark Hamilton stands up in it - he rises, fortified, his heart like a turret.

[buy the gentle noisy feeling furor of Thumbtacks and Glue / or stream it]

Posted by Sean at 7:56 PM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2013


Jumbling Towers - "At The Cashier's Station"

Thor ground a pill into the counter, and his watch alarm went off. One-fifteet-teet-teet. He quickly inhaled the pill and took a needle from the drawer. He squeezed a section of his stomach like a sausage and shot it in, cold. He had been chatting with an eighteen-year-old, twelve years his junior, in a sexually explicit way for days. His neck ached and his vision seemed to have a gradient to it, like faded sunglasses, the tops of everything seemed purple. Today seemed to be a comedown day for the two unlikely lovers, no more talk of fluids or empty pillows or swollen anything. She was talking about the pain in her feet from working co-op at the hospital for five hours on a Saturday. She had an adolescent flare for poetry, and typed: "pain is like a story." He thought about his heart, a strained ka-tha-bump, and his left leg like a meteor or a thousand summer sparklers, and typed: "pain is like a story the way a song is like a hallway." A pause, the sounds of children too young to know who Bruce Springsteen was, or is. She replied: "...identical?"



Posted by Dan at 10:19 PM | Comments (3)

February 21, 2013


Photo found by Brendan Birkett

Leif Vollebekk - "Photographer Friend".

Leif Vollebekk - "Southern United States".

Today I want to suggest that you buy Leif Vollebekk's second album, North Americana, released this week.

There are a lot of young men who love Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams, who write lyrics in notebooks, who sit in creaking apartments, making songs. Leif is one of these young men, and he is one of the best. He lives in Montreal and lives a life like mine, has lived a life like mine, and he has turned this life into magnificent, uncovering music. I say "uncovering" - I mean that he examines his memories, his heart, and finds the lines that begin to say what he has found. He is interested in that "...begin to say" part: not the ends of lines, lasting pronouncements, pat wisdom, bad poetry. He sings what he uncovers, before it has settled. Before it's in amber. Even a song like "Photographer Friend", over slow piano chords - there is a perfect incompleteness: uncovering, searching. A feeling not yet named. The chair makes shifty sounds. The upright bass is an unsentimental companion. Something true has been found, and they're recording it before it's too late.

"Southern United States", North Americana's opening track, is more adorned. Phil Melanson's drums, Joe Grass' pedal steel, Sarah Neufeld's violin. And later, Leif's blazing harmonica - an orange sun that explodes over the windshield. Leif's rhymes remind me a little of the Streets' Mike Skinner: these lines that he lets be, imperfect or too-perfect, no more than what they are. Words are names for things; string them together, scatter a chorus, show.

[buy/iTunes/concerts in Chicago, SXSW, Toronto, Quebec, Mtl]

[photo from Google Maps, found by Brendan Birkett]

Posted by Sean at 2:56 PM | Comments (4)

February 19, 2013

Blues Trip


Blackout Beach - "Deserter's Song (BT)"

When the ocean celebrates, it rains upward, in what looks to us like slow-motion. But to the ocean, it's an ovation, it's practically leaping into the sky, drops rocket from the surface like popcorn. A single wave surges straight upward and leaves its home, never to return again, itself a steam.

[Buy] (I bought mine 5 minutes after reading a tweet that it was released)

Posted by Dan at 2:24 AM | Comments (3)

February 18, 2013


Guinea pig potato

Cody ChesnuTT - "What Kind of Cool (Will We Think Of Next)". ChesnuTT poses an interesting question. I don't think he attempts to answer it. What kind of cool (will we think of next)? There are many possibilities. Some of them resemble the sounds of mating insects. Others recall Thai nightclubs ca 1981. There is the untapped cool of retro kitchenware; the cool of Chelyabinsk Fridays; the cool of swimming in sunglasses. ChesnuTT poses the cool-question but doesn't try to answer it. He doesn't try to invent some fresh sound, writhing newly under the lights. Instead he is precise and nostalgic. He points backward. He is saying, By "cool" I mean like - this. Brass, strings, electric guitar, an ending on a dime. Lush and deliberate, orchestrated. Easy. They will think of new cools, those sweaty throngs. ChesnuTT, regal in his cape, shan't get worked up. [buy]

Posted by Sean at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2013


No one noticed as the sky climbed across the tops of the trees. People slept and made love as the sun melted, the trees shrugging under the weight. Tea still steeped as new mountains were made. It's easy to forget that the earth is deaf and blind, illiterate and without a sense of beauty or poetry. The only thing it can sense, if anything, is time, and it's getting very very bored.

At age 42, Vladimir Vysotsky, drug-addicted, persecuted, and torn between wife and mistress, died under mysterious circumstances in the middle of his run playing Hamlet in 1980, during the Moscow Olympics

(via Sofia)

Posted by Dan at 7:53 PM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2013


Image by Sea Hyun Lee

John Prine with Iris Dement - "In Spite of Ourselves". A dirty valentine. Earnest, rosy, stained as an old pillow. If you like country songs, sweethearts, lewd embroidery, The Muppet Show, and voices like peat or bourbon - well, you'll like this. Put it on repeat and grab your pal, hop up on the end of a rainbow. Start counting anniversaries. Smoke. [buy]

Richard and Linda Thompson - "Withered and Died". And as an antidote to all of today's cozy and darling, one of the saddest songs i know. "Withered and Died" is just heartbreak after heartbreak, doom after doom, floods and widowings, all of them sung in Linda Thompson's lovely voice. Shambling drums, lazy bass, an acoustic guitar - if you send this floating out on the breeze, keep watch - wait for the lovers to begin to sway. Watch them sway, those stupid romantics, to the saddest song you've got. Richard's guitar solo is pure perseverance - going on, going on, still making rhymes after so much catastrophe. [buy]

(image by Sea Hyun Lee)

Posted by Sean at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

February 12, 2013

Don't Pick At It


Matt Banham - "Guitar Song"

Margaret spoke with her chin, walked with her hands, and packed a suitcase like a magic hat. She brought sundresses, and sweaters and weird shoes, as if trying to conjure her ticket by suggestion. She took a break to down a glass of wine, to let her heart catch up with her breath, mind like a whack-a-mole. She tried to flush a picture frame, but it just sat there, edges seeping, obstinate. She smashed it with her heel but it just gathered in the middle like ice. Tight-lipped, Margaret looked back and forth between her coat and her curtains, as if trying to decide which would offer more warmth. Finally, she left to hail a cab, and met the delivery man in the hallway, "Oh, I forgot about that, forget it. I'm not hungry." He froze a moment then continued to her door, and knocked on her empty apartment. She left him like that. She took a cab in the dark and thought of how a city is like a body, and a body can get sick and this one was throwing her up. She got to the airport and paid in too much cash. She ran inside, the coat was not enough to keep her warm, she should have brought the curtains. "Where should I go?" Margaret asked the unshaven, gawk-eyed man behind the counter. "Are you serious?"


Posted by Dan at 7:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2013


From the NYC municipal archives

Campfires - "Fortune Teller". Use this racket like it's a tennis racket; use it to send tennis balls over fences. Use it to spike your rivals. When the winter feels long and the summer feels far away, use this racket like a tennis racket, use this noise like a barbecue, use Campfires' broken guitar solo like your creaking old bike, gunning down the streets. [buy/bandcamp]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 6:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2013

Breath Rock Scape


Elephant - "Skyscraper"

I'm doing research into the Lamprey Holocaust. My major is in Drying Studies, my thesis the Five Great Deserts: Stone and Memory. I've got a kickstarter for my Air Fish project. I pay respect every day to the Ancient Earth Veins, geolocated on my smartphone. I give money to the High Water Marxists, and administer petitions on behalf of Know Longer. I'm dating a member of The Continuists, the militia group, our relationship is mostly podcasts. My life these days isn't best described in words, rather some kind of many-sided translucent shape. All one colour, like rough-hewn gelatin.


(image of an erupting undersea volcano)

Posted by Dan at 1:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 7, 2013


Photo by Emre Kasap

Big Brave - "Threes". Train your heartbeat, make it sufficiently slow, and you can go anywhere. Guards will cease to see you. Walls will let you pass. Former lovers will not recognize you, even face to face, close as hands. Train your heartbeat, slow it down, and nothing is impossible any more. You can turn into salt.

[Big Brave are from Montreal. They are like precious stones. They play again here on Feb 16.]

(photo by Emre Kasap; thanks Mike & Zeynep)

Posted by Sean at 11:45 AM | Comments (2)

February 4, 2013


Thomas Barbey image

Herman Düne - "The Wrong Button". Minus André, Herman Düne are a shade of their former selves - over-saccharine, too impulsive and eager to be liked. But "The Wrong Button", from their soundtrack to Mariage à Mendoza, hits the notes that made Herman Düne, for a time, my favourite band in the world. Clumsy and sweet, but more than anything else that loud, overdriven guitar solo, a solo too electric for the rest of the track, throwing everything off-balance, unsteady, like a leaning turntable or a crooked road, a lovesick swoon, a punch to the chin. [buy]

Luke Abbott - "Modern Driveway". Something so addicting in this weave of beats and clicks, these swells of notes, like ten million tiny lakes. When I have not been listening to jazz, or to new albums by Suuns and Young Galaxy (which I will share with you when I can), I have been listening, these past weeks, to Luke Abbott's song "Modern Driveway". These are not new sounds that he is using, or new ways of laying them next to each other, but something in the wistful heart of this track is just the right measure of lovely and confused, hopeful and frightened, trusting and lost, and I listen to it over and over again. [buy]

(photo by Thomas Barbèy)

Posted by Sean at 2:54 PM | Comments (1)

February 2, 2013

The End Period

Yo La Tengo - "I'll Be Around"

My knees. My knees simply will not heal. Firstly, they were broken. Rapped wickedly on their caps when a debt got out of my hands. The mechanism was shattered, and my calves swung loose like earrings for months. I stared at them nightly, the crater where my knees would be, the sinewy gore a fascination, a constant nightmare, an embarrassing malformation. Now shatter-proof plastic caps sit in their place, and a doctor recommended I travel only on my knees, as a way of training them, fast as possible, to be stronger, less prone to breakage. I've been walking this way for months, hobbling, slow and giving the appearance of penance, of pathetic pleading. It hasn't helped in the way I expected, at least not yet. But what's worse, I continue to borrow, and continue to find myself in debt. But now smaller debts, spread out among many people, so as to confuse, surprise, cloud the minds of my creditors. And my poor poor knees have been the victims in all this. They've been hyper-extended, ground with salt, the bones exposed on all sides. I even tried walking with my calves folded out in front for a month; November, the month of laughter I did not understand. I suppose I looked like a vaudevillian joke, or perhaps everyone was laughing at something unrelated to me. So if you see me, do not pity me, do not throw me change, do not take any notice, it's only required so that my knees will be good and strong one day, and a debt will not feel like a deal with the devil.


Posted by Dan at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)