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.

April 29, 2014

Space Riders: Division Earth


Jay McCarroll & Mark Little - "Space Riders"

Sean wrote a novel. It's incredible and I love it and you should all read it. It makes sense to promote a novel on here, because this is a site for fiction and truth and writing in words. What I do in the rest of my life doesn't translate as well to Said the Gramophone, which makes it weird when I promote it on here. Like, pass the shoehorn, I need to fit this post in. What I do in the rest of my life isn't written fiction, it doesn't have paragraphs and if it has pages you never see them. I make, apparently, and for now, something like television. But it takes up a huge portion of my mental and physical energy, so it only makes sense (for me, though perhaps not for you) that I would talk about it on here.

Yesterday, on in Canada and Hulu in the US, I launched my newest show, Space Riders: Division Earth. It's a Power Rangers-esque comedy that I made with Mark Little and features, among talents like Gerry Mendocino and Mark McKinney, the genius of Kayla Lorette. It's directed by one of my closest friends Jordan Canning, who was also my co-editor. I'm very proud of it, it's made with lots of love, and I hope you like it too. And if you do like it, don't be shy about sharing it around.

Twitter: @spaceriderstv
Facebook: SpaceRiders
and Bandcamp

Trailer below but FULL 13-episode SHOW at

Posted by Dan at 11:02 PM | Comments (8)


Photo by Goran Tomasevic

Pillar Point - "Curious of You". Scott Reitherman, of the splendid and underrated Throw Me The Statue, returns as Pillar Point. Pillar Point's a record all surging and rattling, skateboard and skyscraper, a river meeting the sea. "Curious of You" gestures to Cyndi Lauper and Phil Collins; it sizzles; it slides. It's about sleep and curiosity, wanting and having. It's a song of pairs, thises and thats, sounds in mirror repeat. Sometimes an echo's just fading reverb, sometimes it's a twin. Sometimes you're the same man, in dream, that you are when you're awake. [buy]

Eternal Summers - "Not For This One". Eternal Summers' Nicole Yun cedes the mic to drummer Daniel Cundiff. But she's still on guitar, still singing with her guitar, laying down a solo that's as wistful and wintry as his vocals, that's every bit as perfect, both of them hastened by the pace of the drums. Those drums: something in their neat pulse, in the shape of the snares' decay, recalls the hiss of cassette tape. It's the right match for the guitars' C86 jangle, like the sound of a garage pop band slipping just out of phase. [buy]

(photo by Goran Tomasevic)

Posted by Sean at 12:44 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2014


Shane Carruth - "I Love to Be Alone"

Edmund is alone. Like, alone-alone. No contact with his exes, no contact with his children, the only people he's talked to all week have been handing him food over a counter, usually wrapped in foil. And he walks around at night, all night almost, because it feels more like he's in charge at that hour and maybe someone will beat him up and get his pulse going. Empty pockets, except for winter grit and pieces of pieces of pieces of receipts. Unshaven, he wonders how mustaches are supposed to raise money. The second-hand these days is undecided, like a metronome. Grudges like canker sores. Forgiveness like an ATM withdrawal, each one leaving him weaker than the last. Amazed at people actually able to go to work. Amazed they don't arrest you if you don't. He tried to write a letter at least a dozen times and every time "don't make it like a gravestone, you're making it sound like a gravestone." He itched his scalp like it was alive. Secret brain-fed cockroaches that live between the skull and that Bobby Fischer coif. At the bar, seemingly digging into his phone with one finger, as if uncovering the world's greatest goddamned mystery. There is only one opening, and that opening has closed.


Posted by Dan at 10:25 PM | Comments (4)

April 21, 2014


Plants by Aurelia Deschamps

Alexis Zoumbas - "Tzamara Arvanitiko". The man became rich with his crying violin. He took the instrument from hall to hall, from town to town, showing its weeping to the people. He cradled it in his hands, bowed and plucked, and everybody wept great silver tears. They piled money into his arms, gave him luxurious gifts and held huge dinners. They recited speeches in honour of the man with the crying violin. They called him a hero. He lived in a huge apartment in the city, with oils on the walls and cabinets full of jewelled samovars. He was happy.

And then one year there was another man, a stranger, who came to these lands with a different violin. His violin could also cry. Perhaps not as well as the first man's crying violin, No, the people said, perhaps not as well. But in addition to crying, the second violin could sing like a songbird. When its owner raised it to his chin, dipped the bow across its strings, it would cry and then it would sing out, like a jay or a cardinal, or like a nightingale. And the people held their breath; they marvelled. They wept great golden tears. They piled money into the stranger's arms, they made him rich. And the first man, all he had was a crying violin.



Montreal: This Thursday, April 24, I will be launching my novel Us Conductors at the Cardinal Tea House. Join me from 7pm for a reading and signing, plus performances by theremin-players Aleks Schürmer (Syngja) and John Tielli (Hydrothermal Vents), accompanied by members of Gambletron, Miracle Fortress, Silverkeys and Suuns. It's free.

(image by aurelia deschamps)

Posted by Sean at 1:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2014


Thee Oh Sees - "Penetrating Eye"

And this is stranger sex. Edmund walks into an apartment where the ceiling looks like a tent sagging in the rain, and the only decorations are nail holes and a thin flag. If "alone and awake at 4am drunk" had an apartment, this would be it. Something that smells like wet toast. Something that feels like a begging ritual. Something that sounds like tenderizing meat. And then waking up without having slept. "What are you doing here?" "I could ask you the same question." This was life without May. This was life with a May-shaped hole, gaping and yawning and black and endless. Outside, he wondered when the soonest appropriate time would be to get a beer.



Tomorrow is Record Store Day. There will be many amazing releases, from Sam Cooke to Devo and from Chvrches to Haim. But among my favourite will be a vinyl release of
Scharpling & Wurster's Rock, Rot, and Rule
, the very first Best Show bit. Support your local record stores, and enjoy the treasures.

Posted by Dan at 12:19 AM | Comments (3)

April 17, 2014


Photo by Guy Sargent

White Hinterland - "Baby". Anyone who has watched the sea for long enough knows that it is unsentimental. Forget the lapping surf and the perfect sunsets - this is an expanse of churn and thrash, ungoverned violence. It could drown you or carry you, lift or fall away; it could rise like a wall or seem to vanish, mirrored, in the afternoon light. Don't fuck with it, this grey, blue, green, silver, indigo force; nor, "Baby" suggests, with Casey Dienel's grey, blue, green, gold, pink, clear heart. On Baby, White Hinterland's music is crashing and unkind R&B; I've long loved Dienel's vocal trills, her undersung hooks, but here she pants like a tide and groans like a pipe-organ. She's noisy cacophony, retching love. She's club-drunk and bedroom-hungry, choirgirl and part-harpy. This album is a hardship, in a way; it's heavy as hell, unabating. It demands to be reckoned with. But you listen to the hoarse closing seconds of this title track, Dienel's bare broken breath, and you are reminded of what's at stake with these gestures - this monstrousness is music, this hardship's a singing, these currents of voice and beats, eros and fury, are an artist's bare work. Forget the question of whether the sea is beautiful or ugly; remember only that it is coming for what it wants, and always will be. [buy / White Hinterland plays Montreal on Friday, April 18]

(photo by Guy Sargent)

Posted by Sean at 5:43 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2014


Screamin' Jay Hawkins - "I Hear Voices"

Edmund in a basement apartment. Unable to return to his place with May, he took the first thing he could find, just so he wouldn't have to go anywhere else. A house with six other people. "We share expenses here, we live communally." He wondered how long he would last in the face of mandatory dinners and the shared smells of bodies and a decaying house. He was in his mid-forties, and this was supposed to be some kind of badge of honour, the feather in his cap that was actually nailed to his head. He imagined Frank, his 11-year-old, coming here. He could see the boy's normally scared face downright petrified of the sheer height of these people, their confidence, their beaded everything. He lay on his mattress on the floor of the basement, the power out, and headlights cutting along the ceiling in jagged scrapes. He seemed to sink like a chemical burn into the ground.

[28 days left on the auction]

Posted by Dan at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2014


Frozen lighthouses

Will Stratton - "Gray Lodge Wisdom (ft the Weather Station)". A long gleam interrupted by shorter gleams; a morse code of gleams; a smouldering coal and twenty lightning-bolts. At brunch on Saturday we looked at the plate of cream-filled éclairs and remembered that éclair also means lightning bolt. "Gray Lodge Wisdom" is a languorous song fettered by quick fiddles and some kinda dulcimer, and by Tamara Worden's slow coal voice, and by a thousand éclairs - comforts and lightning-bolts - come to the door as parcels, wrapped in brown paper. It gestures toward wisdom like a skater skating toward a distant point, knowing he could fall. Stratton owns a pair of mittens but here his hands are bare.

[buy / Gray Lodge Wisdom will be celebrated at a New York record release show, April 16 at Brooklyn's Union Hall]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 9:48 AM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2014

Sugar and Women


Angel Olsen - "Lights Out"
K's Choice - "Not an Addict"

Edmund walked out on May. He walked out on May and into the slanted streets at two in the morning. The late March ice was collecting in slanted flat puddles, like the whole world was tilted on its side and frozen that way. It seemed like there was nothing in his chest, no heart, no lungs, no ribs. Nothing but an electrical buzz. A buzz that seemed to be propelling him forward into the night and away from his fourth marriage. Carolyn, Alison, Jen, and now May. And the women in between, of course. And the women during. He grimaced into a donut and let it surge through him like his blood was sewage. There is no such thing as a normal mental state. There is no word that exists that isn't constantly being contorted into letters. There is no such thing as nature. There is only the buzz. The clicking, insatiable buzz.

[Buy Burn Your Fire for No Witness]
[Buy Paradise in Me]


Posted by Dan at 6:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2014


Us Conductors, Canadian cover

Today my first novel, Us Conductors, is published all across Canada. I won't be bothering you like this again until it is published in the United States in June. But I wanted to make sure you heard, you out there, old friends and kindred spirits and trespassers who strayed onto this blog looking for "girl legs" or "shi poem". Us Conductors is published by Random House of Canada, and you can order it via its website, or buy it in shops, or on iBooks or in kindletown, or you can come into my front garden and when spring comes I will sit out there with you and try to persuade you to buy it.

Us Conductors is a kind of love story about Lev Sergeyvich Termen, inventor of the theremin, and Clara Rockmore, its greatest player. It's a novel about invention, memory, debt, airships, orchestras, Soviet spies, American ballerinas, Siberian taiga, electric singing, killer kung-fu, blue speakeasies, and responsibility. It's full of lie-seeming truths and true-feeling lies.

I started writing this book in 2009. Its working title was IN WHICH I WIN THE LOVE OF CLARA ROCKMORE, MY ONE TRUE LOVE, FINEST THEREMIN PLAYER THE WORLD WILL EVER KNOW. The book begins with an epigraph by Tennessee Wiliams: "In memory, everything seems to happen to music." There are chapters about the 1929 Crash and the the day Lenin played the theremin. The chapter titles are taken from songs by artists like Kate Bush, Jesus & Mary Chain, and Mark Hollis. There are a few gramophones, but they don't say anything.

Besides tracks by Tim Hecker and the Cocteau Twins, the piece of music that most impacted this book was Clara Rockmore's 1977 performance of Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" (accompanied by her sister, Nadia). It was recorded when Rockmore was in her sixties, well after the events fictionalized in Us Conductors.

Listen to it here: Clara Rockmore - "The Swan (Saint-Saëns)".

I am so tired after a busy few days and so for now all that I will say is: I hope you will buy this book, and maybe come to see me if I visit the place where you live. To learn of book tour dates, subscribe to my newsletter or up-up my Facebook whozit or Twitter whatsit, or just keep reading this site.

Over the next month I will be visiting the Ottawa Writers Fest, talking with Socalled as part of Blue Metropolis, and also hosting a very special Montreal book launch on April 24. But now and foremost, if you dwell in Toronto: please come tonight, Tuesday, April 8, as I launch Us Conductors at your Monarch Tavern. I have the honour of sharing this celebration with Carl Wilson, who launches an expanded version of Let's Talk About Love, one of my favourite books. And we will be joined by wonderful, generous friends: Said the Gramophone's own Daniel Beirne, rapp-battlezin' versus Roger Bainbridge; the thereminist Jeff Bird, playing solo and accompanying the band Snowblink; the writer Liisa Ladouceur; and our splendid DJ, the one and only Sandro Perri. I hope you can join us.

Posted by Sean at 1:12 AM | Comments (14)

April 3, 2014


Man on a street corner

Nap Eyes - "No Fear of Hellfire".
Nap Eyes - "The Night of the First Show".

Nap Eyes' Whine of the Mystic is a ragged splendour, one of the best things in ages. A band from Halifax with a sound like young caterpillar and old silk, like the Velvet Underground and Electrelane and Destroyer and Guided by Voices. Like liking a drink you know isn't good for you; that's good for you, that's good for you, that you know isn't good for you.

Or a man that's (not) good for you, or a place. Music as simple as Nap Eyes' seems adaptable to many metaphors. Like a towel, like a gun, like a US treasury bond - you could use this in lots of different ways. They are a rock band just so faintly tripping. They are priests of Shaolin and the Holy See, with electric guitars in their hands, with an un-fancy drum-kit. When I finally saw them live they didn't look like they much; but I noticed the white and silver highlights on their instruments, the white and silver highlights of their lightly shearing songs.

"No Fear of Hellfire" is a meditation, "The Night of the First Show" is a shaggy recollection. Two flavours of spring ice. (Ice as in British ices: popsicles, creamsicles; not April's cold streaks.) The first song canters, the second rollicks. One tells a story, one tells much less of a story. One is lemon-sour and one is cherry-sweet; I'll let you choose which is which. Nap Eyes' songs are mazey and riddled, but ambivalent about their mazes, ambivalent about their riddles; in this way they remind me of good smoke, holy incense smoke, always true to its incantation.



  • A reminder that I'm all over Toronto this coming week, promoting Us Conductors. On Saturday, join me at Spur Festival's Literary Cabaret, where I'll talk about Siberia as part of an evening featuring dark & hilarious MCs Miguel and Freddie Rivas, writers Cecil Foster and Hillary Rexe, thereminist Clara Venice, etc; on Sunday, a more in-depth Books & Brunch event, where I'll read from and discuss my novel; finally on Tuesday night, Carl Wilson and I are staging a dual book launch at the Monarch Tavern. We've just added DJ Sandro Perri to the bill, but more on that next week.

  • I wrote about Us Conductors' beginnings - discovering the theremin, researching the novel - for Quill & Quire.

  • And for the 49th Shelf I wrote an essay about some of New York's extraordinary (real-life) nightclubs of the 1920s and 1930s - barbecue, pirates and snowball-fights.

  • Us Conductors was chosen by Apple iBooks as one of April's 10 best fiction books. It's available in Canada as of April 8.
  • (photo source unknown)

    Posted by Sean at 4:08 PM | Comments (6)

    April 2, 2014


    Timber Timbre - "The New Tomorrow"

    That face. Push that face into place. Today is the day when I spend it all. When I eat it all. I used to feel my life like a bright fuzzy line that stretched into time, and who knew what details would come into focus, but the general shape was there. There was length, it stretched far. But now the future feels exploding. After here, there is just *pow* space. It glimmers and sparkles but it goes everywhere, you can't look at it. That's the real problem with i//THAT FACE//t is that you can't look at it. You can't point in every direction, because then it's no longer a direction. It is simply everything and nothing. So I'll spend it all. Anything for that face.


    Posted by Dan at 2:37 PM | Comments (0)