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 31, 2014


Image by Micah Lidberg

Guru - "Pooley". A training regimen. A parade of many different floats. A decade of variegated boyfriends. A very tall smoothie. A bag of weird 78s. A rave on the steppe. "Pooley", by Ghana's Guru, is all these things to me. It's a broken virtuoso, a lopsided shuffle. No one dances like this song dances. Guru has revealed he is replacing the word 'Shashi' with "Pooley" and wants everyone to be aware of the change in name.1 Sorry Shashi, hello Pooley. Fall down/get up. Read this post aloud and maybe you'll get what I mean; maybe the images will fire in your brain, like pistol-shots, like bursting seed-pods. I had a dream where all my papers fell out of my pockets, scattering, lost. And I was OK with it. Let's hear the song again. I like that since they were invented, dance-clubs have never stopped: every year, every place, there is a discothèque. Last night I listened to the poet Eileen Myles read about responsibility, dogs, mail-men, never-ending life; I felt her lines like pistol-shots, like bursting seed-pods; I thought: When she was born, when she was grown-up, when she was writing this, there were always discotheques. [Guru's twitter]

Doug Paisley - "It's Not Too Late (To Say Goodbye)". I would love this song even if only for the reason that it has Mary Margaret O'Hara. Mary Margaret O'Hara singing, singing back-up, with black in her hair and youth in her voice, the country belle she never was. But more than Mary it's a song of good chord and perfect verse - the kind of tune you want to get broken in the jukebox, be doomed to repeat. Paisley sings without self-consciousness or ambition - sings just plainly, truly, with a heart of gold. Take this song into the wilderness, build a brave city with a melancholy name. [buy]


Happy birthday, dad.

(image by Micah Lidberg)

Posted by Sean at 11:04 AM | Comments (4)

March 26, 2014

Dig the Basement

Each Other - "About the Crowd"





Dig the basement and wall the basement. Build the desk and sand the desk. Seal the desk and build the chair. Make the candle and light the candle. Sit at the desk in the chair and write the letter. Write the letter with everything you have, everything left after digging the basement and building the desk and making the chair and sanding the chair and making the candle and lighting it. Put the letter in the envelope and seal the envelope with the wax from the candle. Make the lock for the drawer of the desk, and cut the key. Put the letter in the drawer and lock the drawer and put the key in your pocket. Take a walk and buy some chocolate; eat the chocolate. Walk to the bridge and throw away the key. Walk home and knock down the wall in the basement.


[Buy from Fat Possum]

Posted by Dan at 7:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2014


Balloon hair

Astral Swans - "You Carry A Sickness". A song of original sin or plain human frailty; the clunk and bloom of everyday activity, of strain and flop, with an organ the same blue-flame shade as on the Doors' "Break On Through". For the purposes of this song, Astral Swans might be God, might be Buddha or Vishnu. Might be a liar with a poet's notebook, or a preacher with a xanax, or just a church worker who's been up for six days, his four-month-old shrieking. This is a good song with a dozen uses, a hundred origin-stories. Use it like plaster of paris: build a cast, a sidewalk slab, a little doorway cherub. [out tomorrow / on tour]

Big Nuz - "Incwadi Yothando". Last night we saw the Northern Lights in Montreal, we think we did, this shifting grass-green smear across the bottom of the sky. Nothing was special about that night. Nothing was begun or fulfilled. But when we saw that blurring light it was hard not to feel that something special had taken place. There is a power to a glow, to an aura - in a way it is more powerful than a bright light. A bright light, a shine - it has a clear source, it is a source. The aurora's source is hidden. Maybe it can't ever be known. And so let me tell you of "Incwadi Yothando", from South Africa, a song that's handsome and gracious, with an organ not unlike "You Carry A Sickness"'. But what is splendid here is the glow of the rotating house beat, synth and bass-drum, marimba and whistle; when I listen in headphones it is a blur that shifts across the room, across my heart, full of unclear promises. [website / I recently wrote about this song and its video for Beatclash; see more of my reviews at that site.]


As I've said before and will keep saying, I wrote a novel. It's called Us Conductors and it concerns the story of Lev Sergeyvich Termen, inventor of the theremin. It will be published in Canada on April 8, in the United States in June. You can find out more about it, or pre-order the book, at my writlerly website. That site also has two streaming playlists of music inspiring the book, from Clara Rockmore to Tom Hecker, from Low to Artie Shaw.

Anyway I am mentioning all this again now because some of my reading dates are beginning to be announced. So far - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo. Many more to come. (And you can find all on my website.)

I wanted to mention two events in particular:

  • In Toronto, besides appearances at the Spur Festival, I'm part of a dual book launch on Tuesday April 8 - celebrating with my friend Carl Wilson, who is publishing an expanded edition of his extraordinary 33 1/3 book about Céline Dion. Joining us for the launch will be thereminist Jeff Bird, the band Snowblink, Said the Gramophone's very own rap-battling Dan Beirne, and more surprises. This will take place at the Monarch Tavern, with help from Type Books and Broken Pencil - more details on Facebook.
  • My hometown Montreal launch takes place at the Cardinal Tea House on April 24. I couldn't be more thrilled for the damn thing - apart from a reading and signing there are going to be short musical performances by thereminists Aleks Schurmer and John Tielli, joined by members of Silverkeys, Suuns, Miracle Fortress, Gambletron and more. Presented with Pop Montreal and Librairie Drawn & Quarterly - again, details at Facebook.
  • Hopefully see you there, or in America this summer.

    (photo source)

    Posted by Sean at 1:11 PM | Comments (2)

    March 19, 2014

    Collard Greens

    Schoolboy Q - "Collard Greens (feat. Kendrick Lamar)"

    Pinball Sex. Moves like a Stretch Painting. Speaks stacked in Vertical Sentence. The kind of place where the mats scratch their backs on your boots and the beds resurrect beneath you, passed out. Reverse consumption. Cars that only slow down. Hydraulic Walk. I can only see electricity, I can only see your thoughts. Equal parts Slippery Sweat and friction point bisssshhhh.


    (thanks to Miguel)

    Posted by Dan at 11:54 PM | Comments (1)

    March 17, 2014


    <Marilyn, rain

    Born Ruffians - "With Her Shadow". Is it a sign from god? we ask, gesturing at birthdays, deaths, belching volcanos. But what if these are signs to god: hand-signals from the Earth, from Life and Time, a thousand clumsy thumbs-up/thumbs-down broadcast by a collective unconscious. I come in this spirit to "With Her Shadow" - a song of cymbal-crash and deliberate jubilation, serenade and cheer. Feels like a tune for barn-raisings, or bigtop-raisings; for bumper crops and hauling fish-nets from the sea. Of course it's also a song about a girl: one with a little sultry darkness, full lips and long hair. But this can be a sign, too: richness and danger, fortune and risk, held up as offerings, or as proof, to a mute heaven. [buy Birthmarks]

    (photo source)

    Posted by Sean at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

    March 14, 2014

    It's Bedtime

    Li'l Andy - "The Powers of Our Day"

    Three place settings. Three simple promises. Three long horizons. Dinner was either dipped in sunset or cold night crickets, and people were allowed to say things they didn't mean. They could do that, and nothing happened to them, they just went on. There was no God under the table or in the closet or in the furnace or in the floor. There was no God anywhere and people just said and did whatever they wanted. Three empty fields. Three ragged fenceposts. Three lousy words.


    Posted by Dan at 5:20 AM | Comments (0)

    March 13, 2014


    Image by Sophie Lécuyer

    Jon McKiel - "Quils". Something came over Suhrid as he was watching his fourth straight episode of Sportcenter. His body was resting half-embedded in the purple couch; a dirty plate was sitting guileless on the coffee-table's glass; the street's sodium night-light had blurred across the vertical blinds. But Suhrid felt an eruption of impulse, of action, from somewhere deep within him; an arrowhead of will, somewhere under his heart, beside his stomach, lifting through his blood. He didn't budge, at first, just clenched his hands. Bulky men's voices filled the room, like tooting birds. Suhrid sat with his clenched hands. At a commercial break he got up and stood, kinda thrumming, in the middle of the carpet. He didn't know what to do to himself. He did two pull-ups with the pull-up bar in the kitchen doorway. He rubbed his face. He checked his phone. He wanted to write to his former lover, Stef, but he knew that he shouldn't. He started to do another pull-up. He stopped and he went upstairs, into his study, really what he still thought of as his father's study, with his father's books and his father's exotic office chair and his father's old strong sturdy beautiful wooden desk, more beautiful than any other desk Suhrid had ever seen, all polished mahogany and faded brass, where Dad used to sit for hour upon hour, writing long stories in wide notebooks, tiny handwriting between sea-blue lines, with a fine-nibbed pen and india ink. Suhrid came into the room and sat down behind the desk. He covered his eyes with his hands. He still felt this impulse within him, this spirit, this jump. "No, Suhrid," he said out loud, to himself. Then he ransacked the desk-drawers looking for a blank pad of lined paper, one of his father's old pens, some ink. And when he found these things he arranged them on the surface of the desk, unscrewed the cap of the ink-bottle, the cap of the pen, dipped and began to write. Dear Stef, he wrote, I'm writing you from a feeling of devotion that is probably just fondness but which feels, tonight, like a fortune-teller's-- But Suhrid stopped and looked at what he had written, and particularly the colour of the ink, which was faded and brown, like a coffee-stain, like the text in a forgotten Victorian ledger. The sentence was not yet finished and already it looked bygone.

    So he searched the drawers for other ink, for jet-black ink which he unstoppered and wrote with, but this too was faded, leaving letters that looked like insect-tracks. Another bottle and another, all oxidized or dried-up; his note was becoming a rainbow of tired shades, old ambers, and Suhrid sucked back a deep breath through his nose, to keep from crying. He leaned back in his dad's chair. Stef had a level voice, an unwavering look. Stef had thick eyelashes. Everything about their relationship had taken place in a present. Not a future or a past but a true, cruel present. Suhrid didn't want to write any more. He didn't want to be in this empty house. He wanted to be by the ocean, or in the forest, where the consolations were not as obvious, or comforting, or false.


    (image by Sophie Lécuyer(

    Posted by Sean at 12:48 PM | Comments (1)

    March 10, 2014


    The Pandamonium - "Waiting for the Summer". These English chaps don't even know the degree to which this song is correct. Yesterday, T said to me, "I've hit a wall with this weather". The road was lined with sheaves of hard gray snow. Salt-stains all over the sidewalk. Bare trees, with wood wet and sickly. "Yeah," I said, kicking some gravel. March in Montreal is like that. It feels like purgatory. We see the blue skies and feel Sunday sunshine and can think only, soon, soon, soon! We eat hotdogs and drink beers and pretend like it was barbecue. In the 1960s, what did the Pandamonium do? Did they shiver under willows and eat July-style pasties? Waiting for the summer is different in Quebec and in Kent, but the soundtrack seems the same: pattering drums, balmy guitars, a coaxing, hopeful voice. We don't want to play too loud; we don't want to scare the season away. [buy / via]

    Posted by Sean at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

    March 7, 2014


    Girl Tears - "You're Nothing"

    Focus on the out-breath. Feel the out-breath and let it go. Accept yourself as an animal. Accept that you will bellow and howl and stamp your feet and lose control. Honour your impulses and be gentle with your wild urges. Let go of self-punishment like it were the out-breath. Do not dwell on having behaved like a depraved teenager with a gun. Do not begrudge yourself the thoughts that keep you in the shower. Know yourself. Know the sticky, ragged caverns of your own dripping soul, it is the wealth and beauty of your place in the world. See the thick, buttery layers of baseless aggrandizement and the scuffed and swollen membrane of the stubborn switch that's stuck on 'run'. Know it. Measure it, with your fingers. And then take your fingers away and look at that space. That space is the distance between complete self-actualization and total annihilation. Out-breath in that space. [$5 USD]


    Hot 8 Brass Band - "Sexual Healing"

    Today would have been my friend Joel's 35th birthday. He was responsible for recommending this gem that has been one of my most "I loved that one" posts ever (NB: Joel AND the Hot 8 show up in the comments!), so I think of him every time. He was an incredible soul and he is dearly missed. [Buy]

    Posted by Dan at 5:52 PM | Comments (1)

    March 5, 2014

    Drink Music

    Edmund was tired. 2% battery life and last night's clothes. Blood thick with sugar like raspberry jam. How meaningless a poker win seemed in the face of this grey morning. The morning seemed to have nothing to offer, it seemed to just stand there, stoic, ignoring him. The last year of his life could be titled I Wasn't Dressed For This. His winnings bought a breakfast sandwich and it seemed a cosmic injustice that terrible food tasted good. Edmund wondered where the line was between "knowing you're dying" and knowing you're dying. If you could feel it, with your hands.

    Posted by Dan at 2:25 PM | Comments (0)

    March 3, 2014


    Waves, by Casey Dienel

    Wild Beasts - "A Simple Beautiful Truth". The mathematician who saw sums as colours, numbers as different states of matter. An equation that is a skating rink, a proof that is a wood. In life, all day, the intersections can be translated into math. Every go and deceleration, every cause and effect, all are quantifiable; and every quantifiable figure becomes a metaphor for another thing. The mathematician glimpsed arcs of rainbow, crests of leaps, firing neural wants, and he imagined their arithmetic. He imagined their arithmetic and in turn this arithmetic became stained glass, golden lakes, trembling aspen trees. Everything reflects. [buy]

    (photo by casey dienel)

    Posted by Sean at 2:17 PM | Comments (0)