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.

August 29, 2013

Psyche, Psyche


Earl Sweatshirt - "Chum"

She lives here somewhere, city might as well be named after her. Might as well have a big overhanging light-up sign with her name on it. Welcome. Welcome to The Bees In My Stomach. Welcome to All I Can Hear Is The Breath In My Head. Headphones as meaningless as hot rain. In a ten-block squiggle-map I double-back while keeping track. All the open signs are see-thru, and people's windows all closed glass. One of them has her in it, she could be sleeping or watching a flatscreen. My shoes are walking, not me, and a cop threatened to beat me up for falling asleep on a bench. Only person i talked to all day.

[Buy from iTunes]

(image by Julia Randall)

Posted by Dan at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)


Recursive John Glenn

Silverkeys - "The Lamb in the Garden". Our first new taste of sound from Adam Waito's young project, Silverkeys. The former Adam & the Amethysts leader now honey-dipping, hummingbird-skimming, this music like a lost link between Roy Orbison and the Go! Team. "The Lamb in the Garden" is all sparkle and flash, clipped vox loops, earthworming club bass; Waito's still singing about spirits and blue-jays, dreams and wilderness, the kind of hallucinated Canadiana that comes from one too many hours spent baking by a lake. Rarely does a dancing pop song feel so hand-drawn, so splendidly inked. [bandcamp / Silverkeys' live debut will take place at Pop Montreal]

Yuna - "Falling". A series of swoons, upward and downward ones, near and far ones, long and close. Rhye's Robin Hannibal chops up Yuna's scampering sighs, layers synths like they're a mbira, gives weight to the upbeats, lift to the downbeats. It's a song about falling and accordingly the song never quite crests, never quite gets airbound. Its toes keep grazing the gloss of the ground. [pre-order / thank you Eoin]


Contest, contest!

As part of late September's Pop Montreal, CBC Radio's premier arts showcase is hosting a live taping in Montreal. CBC Q - Live in Montreal will descend upon L'Olympia with a gaggle of guests, including comedian Sugar Sammy and two musical acts: Said the Gramophone favourites Braids (whose new record I still haven't heard), and Polaris Prize winner Patrick Watson, whom we've been writing about since 2006. Watson will be introducing a version of his new Cinema L'Amour orchestral project.

Tickets are still on sale for the September 26 event, but we also have a pair of tickets to give away.

To enter the contest: Email me or tweet with the hashtag #qpop. Your email or tweet should contain an anagram of: Patrick Watson and Braids united on Q with Jian. For example: "I'd twin-snowboard past antiquarian DJ kitchen." Yours will hopefully be better. We'll pick our favourite entry between now and next Tuesday night, September 3. Tip: here's a useful online anagram builder. Good luck! Contest is now closed! Thanks for the incredible entries. The winner, who came up with this incredible sensical opus, has been contacted: Join abundant words and win this: a Q ticket pair!

(photo source unknown)

Posted by Sean at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)

August 26, 2013


Devon Sproule and Mike O'Neill - "You Can Come Home". A kindly song that's still like a rising tide. Not the tide of most metaphors - immediate, cataclysmic, flooding-over. No; the tide rises slowly. Slowly, in dull blues, persistent and persistent, indomitable, full of salt crystals and cockles, seaglass and weeds. It sweeps around your ankles, swallows your shoes. It's got your heart. You're soaking wet. [pre-order]

Posted by Sean at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2013


Jay-Z ft Biggie Smalls - "Brooklyn's Finest". Sometimes a right rhyme is like stealing a wallet. Sometimes it's like shooting a target, or lighting a fire, or slamming a dunk. Sometimes it's like parallel-parking a car, or arranging flowers, or beating an egg, stiff peaks. Sometimes it's lots of these things at the same time: like shooting a target, like arranging flowers. It's one of those things that's both bravado and finesse, process and result. Christopher Wallace turns words into brothers, sisters, traveling companions. One of his brilliances was in showing affinities - bringing apples toward oranges, making unlike things friends. Another brilliance was in making rhymes sound so good, these unexpected pivots of vowel & consonant & meaning. I just like hearing him pronounce things, frilling the fs and saying "bracelets" as if he's closing a clasp. [buy]


I've been selected for the Grand Jury of this year's Polaris Prize - helping honour the best Canadian album released between June 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013. The ten finalists include some truly great records and some lousy ones. But some of my favourites didn't make it to the finals at all: Leif Vollebekk's North Americana, the Luyas' Animator, Suuns' Images du Futur, Carly Rae Jepsen's Kiss. The winner will be announced in September.

Posted by Sean at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2013

Good Girl

Neko Case - "This Tornado Loves You"

So the good news - are you sitting down? - is that the Bad Thing isn't happening to me anymore. I'm just sitting here on the ground in the parking lot, by myself, wearing shorts. There's nobody around for a while. It's quiet except for this truck with the radio on and the window half-down - there's the wash of that plus the perfect fifth of one light's dying hum against some other light close by. But not too close. The concrete's pressing into the backs of my thighs; when I get up it'll look like I have a weird rash, but there's nobody here to see it, so. I'm okay. Every once in a while the radio floats in a steady report from somewhere else entirely, but I don't have to strain to hear it. But okay, here's the thing, are you ready? The bad news is yours. All of it. The Bad Thing is coming to you and I'm sorry. It needs somewhere to go and I guess right now it's busy describing its radius all the fuck over wherever it is you call home. Are you at work? At your desk? Look out the window - or, actually, don't look out the window, I'm sorry, I'm sorry you had to see that, or not if things still look the same which they might but you still need to know that it's coming. For you. Right now. It has already swallowed the home where you grew up and it is chewing your current hardwood like an unchallenging dessert, crushing your friends into a fine grain and assuming them into its badness and soon all that's left of the things you love most will be glass, a few bones, some stray metal. There won't really be air, just the Bad Thing singing doppler in its sweetest voice over the ground to nobody, you won't even be there to learn what that actually sounds like - but if it makes you feel better neither will I, because I'm here. Safe, alone, untouched in the parking lot. A palindrome needs something to fold out around. Any echo needs still in its centre. I'm sorry you had to find out this way, but at least now you're ready. What matters in the end is that the Bad Thing is still happening, somewhere out there, but not to me. Not anymore.

Neko Case's new album is streaming over at NPR, and it is razor-sharp, cut-glass, light-your-nerves-on-fire hard and sharp and beautiful. You should go listen to it, if beautiful's your kind of thing.

[Buy Middle Cyclone]

Posted by Emma at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2013


Photo by Todd -

Kid Canaveral - "Good Morning". A song for fence-jumping, for completely clearing that thing, all the way over, past the border and down the hill, fields streaming, skies blueing, heart high in your chest. Glockenspiel is as much liability as asset these days, but a Scottish accent will never go out of fashion; nor charmed, short downstrokes of guitar, a refrain that's something we all ask ourselves, from time to time. Do you know something that I don't know? Clearly, you do.

[Scotland's Fence Records is splitting in two; Kid Canaveral will allegedly follow Pictish Trail to find whatever comes next / buy Shouting at Wildlife]

Colour Me Wednesday - "Shut". Throwback guitar-pop, galloping, sometimes chugging, like a lost single by the Lucksmiths or maybe Jale. Neat drums, ska-borrowed horns, but more important than anything is the sweetness of the chorus: fully-formed and bittersweet, the sort of five-second swoon you'd listen to any number of verses for the chance to hear again. Colour Me Wednesday say they make FEMINIST LEFT-WING ETC. DIY PUNK AND SKA AND POP FROM WEST LONDON. More important is that they make hooks, pull them up from the Thames like discoveries in silver fishes' mouths.

[buy/thanks Hamza]



If you have been enjoying the slowed down version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", may I suggest that you spend some time with the original version of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You"?

If you love SappyFest, as I do, please donate to their fundraising campaign.

Ned Zimmerman, who created Said the Gramophone's jquery audio widget, has released the software as a Wordpress plugin.

(photo by Todd)

Posted by Sean at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2013


Painting by Tyson Anthony Roberts

Bombadil - "Angeline". The first track from Bombadil's new indie-pop ziggurat - a tune that's spry, cheerful, sturdy as piano-ivory. There's the wink and echo of the Kinks, a mixture of baroque decorum and bluejean freedom that could only be American. A pastoral of overgrown alleys, concrete lakesides, beachballs from the WalMart. A Monty Python sketch in a suburban record store, a dog that's learned how to drive. I'm not sure I've ever heard Bombadil so stately, or so rosily, unselfconsciously fond. [stream Metrics of Affection/buy]

Donovan - "Get Thy Bearings". Choose your marbles wisely. Some situations call for glass ones, some for ceramic, some for ketchup or mustard or cat's-eye. Weigh the marble in your hand, evaluate its roll. Touch the ground: is it dusty? is it concrete? Click the marble against it. Sometimes you need a wandering marble, sometimes one that's obedient. Sometimes you need to know where everything is headed and other times you want the changes to be driven by reflex, context, instinctive new habits. [buy]

(painting by Tyson Anthony Roberts)

Posted by Sean at 1:03 PM | Comments (3)

August 14, 2013

Won't Be Beat


PS I Love You - "Don't Go"
Cher - "If I Could Turn Back Time"
(put the slider in the very middle)

I live in the Dufferin Mall No Frills now. Have you ever been into one of these places? It doesn't actually matter - think about the name for a second and you'll know. Each individual franchise bears the name of its owner, plus a bunch of bananas like a sigil on the sign. There are a few oppressive banners in the produce; No Frills does not really fuck around with fonts. Ever second shelf has a smaller sign bolted to it that dates you: If you find a better price, just tell us. We'll match it.

The one in the Dufferin Mall belongs to a man named Joe; I know because of the signs. You don't always have to see someone to know. Welcome to Joe's No Frills. Joe's stubble. Real boots. Hey. The sting of whiskey, lawn-stains on the joints of his clothing, Export As. You see your brother? Joe's office isn't even in the back, or above, but in a single rented room in a medium-sized building in an industrial park roughly 34 minutes away if you are travelling by salt-stained Plymouth Sundance. Do you see your brother asking where's the plain waffles? Of course you don't, shit-for-brains. We've been out for a week. It's not my name on the sign, nor is it yours. Do you see that? Whose name is it? Pick up the broom. When he comes to the office he does it through the loading dock, up the harder stairs. He's not wrong about everything. You probably shouldn't ask so many questions.

A No Frills is by nature industrial. The yellow stock-shelves are metal but don't make a sound if you hit them, the ventilation systems surprisingly roomy, the kind of fluorescent lighting you'd only otherwise find in one of the worst offices you ever temped at in your mid-twenties or maybe an abortion clinic, that runs a faint x-ray over any human skin it touches - your acne scars, everyone else's acne scars. The music sounds like normal grocery store music, but pitched up on some wave you don't have access to, just enough that no matter how loud you listen to whatever's on your ipod the PA still pitches in and out through every third syllable, makes you seasick until you take out your headphones. The produce piling upward and shakes, thinly, like eggs about to hatch.

Every other person in a No Frills at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday looks like they have just been through a small fight, which in a sense I guess they have. Technically since there aren't any windows you can't read a dusk or night in the air like you might at a Metro, but you can track the other shoppers like light, by their pace and grip and angle, if you've got a decent place to perch. It's probably misguided to feel a kinship with the other people shopping somewhere just because you're there yourself - but then again there is the question. Sometimes, now that I live here, for hours at a time I just drift between lines holding a package of discount linguine in one fist, watching women buy towers of discount Kleenex with coupons and quarters. It's like being a ghost but I'm not a ghost, just here now, forever. The question is what's written right there on the sign if you know where to look: Welcome. Joe's. You're exhausted, sure, yes it's from work, you are always at work, but is how you are tired your own? On the blank walls, the flyers, or is your whole self so much thinner, more shot/shaken through that all it took was the untreated air of this place to dissolve the last breath of your own in your lungs? The store's official slogan, on corporate letterhead, is Won't be beat. Is it just that the moment you crossed in what border remained just dissolved? In the vents? Turned your self in to No Frills like the No Frills turns you. In the second it takes for the light to hit. Maybe. Or not; it's only a question. Try not to worry about it so much.

[Buy Death Dreams from Paper Bag Records]
[Buy Cher's Greatest Hits]

(image from 9eyes)

Posted by Emma at 3:39 PM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2013


Fiver - "Rage of Plastics" (mp3 removed at Triple Crown Audio Recordings' request) A churnsome dirge, a grindish blues, distended swing from the woman who sings for One Hundred Dollars and the Highest Order. Simone Schmidt writes songs by manipulating smoke in the air, seeing where it falls and rises. But she sings in a plainer way, intoning the words, loosing them right and left, as though she's laying the groundwork for a more elaborate song. Canadian music that feels like American music - drier than Alberta, more haunted than Manitoba. Fiver is laying the foundation of a ghost town, and she doesn't even know if the damn spirits will move in. [buy - it's very great]

Elsewhere: is a video project by Derrick Belcham and Ruby Kato Attwood; they aim to unite original dance choreographies and (mostly) original music, by artists like Little Scream, White Hinterland, Colin Stetson and Julianna Barwick. Belcham is best known for his video work with La Blogothèque and A Story Told Well. Attwood is the lead singer for Canada's best noh-wave band, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan (who released a bonkers, brilliant new track this week). Together they're making this fine thing and raising money for it. Using Indiegogo, the friendly-to-Canadians version of Kickstarter, hope to collect $10,000 for new music, new choreographies, new films. Essentially, I think, to pay people for their art. This is worthier than most of the seedy crap we waste our cents on. So please, please give them something.

Two weeks ago, the New York Times debuted the first film in the series: "Forcelessness", with music by Sarah Neufeld, choreography by Emery LeCrone and dancers Kaitlyn Gilliland & Pierre Guilbault.

Here we debut another film from the series: "In The Dark", with choreographer/dancer Mary Cavett, and music performed by Fiver's Simone Schmidt. (It's a Mills Brothers cover.)

Whereas most of the first five films are abstract, emotional works, "In The Dark" is conceptual. Cavett waits alone and blindfolded in New York's Central Park, slow-dancing with anyone who will take her. "Will take her" or, really, give themselves over to her. There are men and women, children and business-types, dudes passing through. Sometimes Cavett dances alone, in her polkadot dress. Maybe it's a piece about loneliness, maybe it's about bravery, maybe hope or vulnerability or the extra-ordinary. But throughout it all, Belcham's camera tracks the scene; Schmidt sings her messy rosy waltz, and anything could happen. In a way, anything does. Maybe Cavett's still out there, twirling.

Donate to and help them keep making these things.

Posted by Sean at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2013


[Emma Healey, who has written for us in the past, is going to be our August guest. She's wonderful, so enjoy.]

Feel Alright - "Get Gone"


So okay. I've been here before. Two years ago I wrote two different posts for this site; one was about heartbreak, and the other was about Canadian federal politics. At the time I was living in Montreal and had just had my heart broken, but serious real - like, dry ice, kitchen floor, shatter-hard. This isn't strictly speaking an important or essential detail, but sometimes it's nice to have context. Between the two posts there were 3.5 songs. One of them came from a mix CD my friend Mike made for me.

Right now I live in Toronto, but I'm writing this from New York, in a friend's apartment. The last time I came to this city was two years ago - two weeks after I'd written those posts for this site, a month or so after the breakup. The trip was one we had planned together; I was going to take the train and he was, I think, driving. The plan was to meet. In Canada the national rail line is called Via, as in conjunction and nothing else. In America it's different. On an Amtrak train you can purchase and eat a whole DiGiorno Solo Cheese Pizza For One on your lap with a knife and fork and people do not look at you and think What a sad young woman or wonder if the pizza tastes at all like the sinkhole that's opened up and is widening steady for four weeks and counting between and against you, your ribs, at least not for that reason alone. It's just what they serve in the Café Car. On Via they have cold pasta salad and you don't even stand up to get it. People think Canada and America are pretty much the same place but the border between them is both clear and guarded for a reason.

One of the songs on the mix CD Mike gave me two years ago, two days before I got on the train, was one that he'd already sent to me a couple of weeks beforehand, post-breakup but pre-posts, when I'd been panicking about what to write. "You'll like this, I think. It'll work," he said, which it did. I listened to the song, I wrote the thing, everything turned out fine, in this life it's important to have friends who know better than you. The rest of the songs I'd never heard before. "It's music to be sad on a train to," is what he said when he handed it over. Via used to have these display/signage panels hung up behind the Information desks in a lot of their larger stations; the one in Montreal was positioned so that if you glanced to one side, while waiting in line, you'd end up staring for minutes on end. They were these huge maps of the whole country, cut out of wood or thick board, colour-gradient in from the outside like in a high school textbook. For each train station in the country there was a small hole drilled into the map, in the right place and scaled to size, and then the whole thing was backlit so that all the points glowed. There were lines drawn between the stations to show you the trains you could take to get between them. For months, two years ago, after that trip, I had this dream where I pulled each city off the map and swallowed every route like its own string of Christmas lights until I glowed from inside with all the ways a person could possibly choose to stop. They've since replaced all the maps with plasma-screen TVs, which display advertisements and are probably for the better. In most cases, there are two ways a person can do things: swallow cities or don't. Move into or away. Get the pizza or run. I listened to the same CD all the way through on my trip here again, the same as I did last time. You can travel from one city into the next to escape the same thing you had planned and bought tickets to meet there a month ago, you can sit on the train in the future and stare at the ghost of yourself in the same songs you didn't know then, you can live in this city or that one, whatever. There's a through line between things but it's not always clear if it's route or a fault or the point at which things get divided. This song isn't one of the ones that got me here, but it could be. It's important sometimes to refer to conjunction as just what it is. I am flying back home in the morning.

[this is a new song, but Buy hahahahahahaha from Bandcamp]

Posted by Emma at 9:17 AM | Comments (3)

August 8, 2013


J. FLA - "Story (Stupid Story)".

A pop song cannot heal the world. It cannot repair what's torn, disappear what's scarred. But this video from Seoul's J. Fla, this soaring polished pop song, makes the idea seem possible. South and North Koreas, reunited by drumroll, plaintive piano, a bursting chorus. Reconciliation through a bilingual refrain: "Please can you tell me / I love you my darling / 사랑한다고 듣고 싶어도 / 바보 같은 story." Finally - finally! - Kim John-un and Park Geun-hye, dancing side by side on a firework-studded square.

But like I said, a pop song can't hear the world. Nor can any other song, from to John Coltrane to Sam Cooke to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The machines of war and hatred are too sophisticated for an undoing by quarter-note, by rest. I think the trick of political music, however dilute or intense, is the courage it instills in its listeners. The courage and, hopefully, the action. A chorus can't remedy the real forces of inequality and strife, but maybe it can send a few people into the streets, dancing and resolute.

[J. FLA's debut mini-album, Foolish Story, is out now]

Posted by Sean at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

August 5, 2013


Sappy Times V

I'm bleary and uncontainable after spending the weekend at SappyFest 8. The treasure of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada and my favourite music festival in the world. My fifth Sappy was another cozy, splendid celebration. A temporary colony dedicated to art, friendship, transformation, and a million deliberate details.

For the fifth time, I penned Sappy's Sappy Times, a daily journal that is proudly printed on real paper, and distributed across the festival site. Every night, I looked back at the previous day's activities. The Times were penned between the hours of 1am and 7:45am. I am, yes, pretty pooped. Concert highlights included Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, Alvvays, Eucalyptus, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, Coach Longlegs, Underachievers, AroarA and Pictish Trail.

As in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, for archival purposes, and for the interest of Said the Gramophone readers, I offer the digitized Sappy Times right here:

Saturday // Sunday // Monday (pdfs)

If you've never been to Sappy, I'll say it again: it's so special and small and remarkable. If you enjoy the kind of music I do, and the songs we do, you owe it to yourself to book a trip to the Canadian maritime provinces. See some swans, some beautiful songs, then drive to the coast and swim in the sea.

And finally, a little awkwardly, if you run a festival or an event or a zeppelin race or anything like that, and you would like to bring me to where you are, to write something like the Sappy Times, I would always love to talk to you. Email me here.

Posted by Sean at 6:02 PM | Comments (1)

August 4, 2013

Not Not Nhat

Michael Nhat - "I Hear on Earth we Used to Live"

We live in the money-free zone. My grandma and me, we share a passport and only go out if we need to get multi-vitamins or pre-made clothes. My grandma has an old motorbike and the engine sounds like bad singing. Nenn! Nenn-nenn-nenn-NENN-NENNNN! It kinda hits the tops of my ears and sticks there. Every time I eat gula fish I think of my grandma. The smell of staples, fists, and hair. She's like a scaffold, my grandma, rickety enough to sway in the breeze but responsible for great things.

[pre-order the whole tape from the delightful Michael Nhat]

Posted by Dan at 1:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 1, 2013


Pigeon people on Google Maps

Nanimal - "Muffin". Is it breakfast? Is it a pet? It it bran or cockapoo, living or baked? Muffin. Why are we driving down the sun-slashed highway at 150mph, teeth clenched, fists balled, a trunk full of picnic supplies? Why are we so furiously cavorting? Why can't we let go? This "Muffin": will it teach us where we're coming from, or where we're headed?

[Montreal's Nanimal make a racket, make my head hurt, make belligerent & stern good times. / They incorporate half of Parlovr [RIP] / bandcamp]

X Priest X - "Samurai". Wearing privilege like a light cape. Ridged & gilded, a small wealth, a small fortune. I am not so rich, just rich enough. Rich enough for vineyards, for long boats, for buying every stripe upon the roads. Song like a silk slip, like an indulgence from the queen. You don't own your house, but you own Los Angeles.


(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)