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.

May 29, 2014


Bastard Mountain - "Old Habits". Jill O'Sullivan is complaining about old habits, here - hers and yours. But the complaint is as much an inquiry as it is a complaint: a singer prying open something she doesn't understand, insolently asking. She reminds me of Scout Niblett on Magnolia Electric Company's "Peoria Lunch Box Blues": someone too brave to be timid, even when there are monsters about. And while Bastard Mountain are more fog-soaked than Jason Molina's latter-day crew ever were, they show the same patience, the same sensitivity of space and harmony. This is an acoustic folk song with many moving parts - voice, drone, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, violin, bass. They never crowd each other. They never jostle. They are able to say their piece, every bit of it, every hardship and solace.

[Bastard Mountain are Jill O'Sullivan (Sparrow & the Workshop), Rob St John (Eagleowl and Meursault), Peter Harvey (Meursault), Neil Pennycook (Meursault), Rory Sutherland (Broken Records) and Reuben Taylor. / They live in Scotland. / buy

Posted by Sean at 4:13 PM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2014


Débruit & Alsarah - "Jibal Alnuba". Strange that this music is a conversation that happened between Paris and Brooklyn. Merely Paris, merely Brooklyn. I feel a disappointment when I learn that although Alsarah is singing in the language she learned growing up, in Sudan, she now lives in New York. I feel a disappointment when I read that Débruit deejays in France, not Tunisia. This isn't a craving for "authenticity": that this music would only be "real" if it came from outside the west. It's the excitement of imagination. Hearing this music for the first time, considering its sound and feeling, you imagine where it came from - and the spinning, glittering possibilities are themselves a thrill. Is this the soundtrack of Khartoum's underground electronic scene? Of a bedroom in Qatar? Of a club in Algiers? If Aljawal is from somewhere where all the influences are unfamiliar, where the sights and sounds are different, then it signals a new world to be discovered.

But instead of signalling an outside world, a place we can go to, where "Jibal Alnuba" is in the air and the water, this is the sound of an interior landscape. The work of Xavier Thomas and Alsarah speaks to complicated, nimble hearts; to light appetites and relentless courage; to subtlety and love. It's dance music that seems absent of all nostalgia; synthetic folk-song that gestures out, out, out, away from old cycles. It's neat and chopped; it's well-crafted and rare; it's like a dragonfly, it knows exactly where it's going, and why, and how.

[buy / on tour]


Americans of the east, come see me on tour! I'm hitting the road to promote my first novel, Us Conductors. At almsot every stop, in addition to a reading and signing, I'll be joined by a guest theremin-player from the area. Say hi, hear some wordy words, learn about the strangest music instrument under the sun. I hope you'll come (and please tell yr friends):

Us Conductors recently received a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted by Sean at 10:58 AM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2014



Wrong Hole - "Got a Cold"

Panting, in pain, pining, and a painting. This is a garbage Saturday night fresco. Take leave of your senses. Leave them alone so they can recuperate from the abuse. Bruised vision, scarred hearing, battered touch and swollen smell. This, this, and this, are no way to live.

[painting by Jane Duncan]

Posted by Dan at 4:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2014



Cousins - "Other Ocean". Just a regular drowning: marching into the tide, swallowing salt. Cousins like their little thunders, nervy balls of storm. Catastrophe on a leash, calamity at the end of a string. Jump and crush and crush and exit. A stuttering film loop - a man looks, looks away, runs. Travel. Fear. Float. [buy]

(photo source unknown)

Posted by Sean at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)

May 20, 2014

The Very Heart


Rod & The MSR Singers - "Beat of the Traps"

I am magnetic, my bed is magnetic. I am in the shower, spoiler. I am eating, with my eyes, face first. I am biking, breathing wind, surrounded by engines. I am passing, I am stealing, I am all arms. There is a map beneath my feet. It shows me, and I repeat, what I am already doing, and what is immediately done. Generations on repeat, all finding the same hills, at slightly different elevations.

[Buy The American Song-Poem Anthology]

[image from consumeconsume]

Posted by Dan at 12:57 AM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2014


Luzmila Carpio - "Yanapariway takiryta". The rightest whistle gets your attention. It isn't a weak toot or a whimsical singsong - it's a high, shrill alarm, like a spray of lightning bolts. The rightest whistle makes you stand up. It makes you stand at alert. It makes you scan the horizon for enemies, or go running into the woods.

And if you hear the rightest whistle in the wind, or in birdsong, then take this as a lesson. Your life is making a message of things; it is shouting to you in breeze and bird, asking you to stand up, to scan, to go running. Protest is not always a low murmur, a kettle slowly heating. Sometimes the kettle is already a-boil, shrilling, summoning you into the street.

Bolivia's Luzmila Carpio is an icon in her home country. She is tenacious and undeterred. Her music's the rightest whistle.

[remastered, reissued beautifully on Almost Musique / buy]

Posted by Sean at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

May 15, 2014


David Hockney, a bigger splash

Hugh Le Caine - "Dripsody (Boundary remix)". 59 years ago, the pioneering Canadian composer Hugh Le Caine released "Dripsody", 88 seconds of arrayed water-drops, sampled, cut up and stretched. Its splashing, cascading blips still feel refreshing, like an upward flight through bubbles.

Six decades later, here is a remix (and two more at the link below) commissioned by the Music Gallery. Boundary is an alias for the vigorous club genius Ghislain Poirier, but his remix is not particularly vigorous, not particularly suited to the club. It's cubist, differently splendid, a new rhythm for "Dripsody" with the same lift as the original. He has taken a groundbreaking electronic piece and broken it on the ground, rubbed it with the dry dust, watched the fly of sparks and gold flecks. He has made a noise piece noisier, given it atmosphere or ionosphere, made it levitate. Boundary's "Dripsody" is more diffuse than Le Caine's; if he is lucky, maybe it will last almost as long.

[more on soundcloud / on May 30, attend the Hugh Le Caine 100th Anniversary Concert at Toronto's Music Gallery]

(image by david hockney">

May 12, 2014


Architect party

Modern Baseball - "Two Good Things". The water park's a strange thing: land of fizz and spray, whoop and play, powered by metric tonnes of heavy sloshing water. The park's engineers don't spend their time thinking about slip and yay - they're concerned with pressure, velocity, the limb-cracking capacities of massive steel tanks. With concrete slabs, not spritzing fountains. And Modern Baseball are the same way, I suspect: despite the cheering chords, the singers' low emo doo-wop, this ain't careless rock. This is cared-for, deliberate, each of its victories calculated to the quarter-inch. [bandcamp]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 1:30 PM | Comments (1)

May 6, 2014



TEEN - "More Than I Ask For"

"I don't love you when it's raining," were the only words Edmund could find to say on the phone, the way you'd find a spider bite on your neck or a dead mouse beside the stairs, "And it always seems to be raining." He'd left May twenty-nine days ago, and now that her namesake month had arrived, it was hard not to think of her. Running at dawn, he imagined, undoubtedly; medicate the sadness just like the goodness. Her single breast held only by that sports bra, and not perfectly by his left hand in bed. How easy it was to be poetic about devastation, he thought while biting his nail, it did most of the work for you. He thought of their life like tsunami footage, cars and street lamps and things that once looked so permanent, so heavy, swept up and swirled like the dregs of a cereal bowl. She cried and told him he didn't know what he wanted. Which was like scolding a starving animal for eating whatever's in front of it.

[Buy The Way and Color]

[image by Marion Fayolle]

Posted by Dan at 9:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 5, 2014


Photo by Guy Sargent

Aunts - "Sunsets". Grumble through, thornbush. Rut it sweetly - down grounded. Flick, fuck, fall or horseradish truly. 'Truly' I sez! You'll never get a fez if you wrap it wrong. Un-do. Quick, quick, un-do. Til it might suddenly snap. [bandcamp]

Lydia Ainsworth - "White Shadows". Treat this song as a metaphor for this idea: that before the plains were plains they were a forest; and then they cut all the trees down. Treat the story of plains and forest as a metaphor for this idea: something about the body, the spirit, tragedy. Treat my vagueness about body and calamity as a metaphor for this idea: a song called "White Shadows", told in tumbling synths and braided coo, high low & cut-up. Treat every breath as a prologue or as an epilogue - your choice. Choose prologue. No, choose epilogue. I have no advice for you, just an mp3.

[Right From Real Part I EP will be released on 10 June by Arbutus Records]

(photo by guy sargent)

Posted by Sean at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2014


Young Paris - "WATAH". Plummeting clouds. They land in the street like cinderblocks. They thud onto roofs, clang onto driveways, hit fences at an angle and spin out into dust. People are hit - right in the head, bloodened and blinded by heavy falling clouds. Sirens ring. Children cower in windows. What is going on, that clouds plummet, heavy? What is going on here exactly? Pundits will say that there's an issue with evaporation, precipitates, additives in the water. Nobody considers that this might simply be a choice: stony heaviness, undeliberate, the universe in an unwittingly good mood. [bandcamp]


Other business:

Please don't miss Dan's ridiculous, brilliant webseries announcement from earlier this week.

A handful of Us Conductors events in Canada this week:

Hope to see you there!

Posted by Sean at 6:40 PM | Comments (0)