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 27, 2015

Stranger Things Have Happened


Jay Arner - "Surf Don't Sink"
Sylvan Esso - "Uncatena"

It's coming. I know it's cold now but it's coming, I swear. I've never been wrong before and I'm not about to start now. Soon, so soon, picture you: warm, free, on the island or out in the desert, in the passenger seat of a rusted-out something, cigarettes, phone-glow, your hair like the tape from an unwound cassette, your hair whole-city perfect in the porthole of a beached Airstream. So soon for the sun sinking into the tangle of trees and mountain, for the orange light melting into the lake, with the tire swing and tambourines and the slip of moon in the sinking blue dusk. All those shitty orange streetlights blinking at you like come on, come on. Right now it may feel like you're swallowing glass every time you breathe in, but soon you'll be wearing jean jackets every single day and laughing like a movie, with your head back, like you've never met a winter in your life. Someone will take a photo of you in shorts, holding a tall can of shitty beer in the city's dumbest park, and it will be so beautiful that somewhere deep uptown an office tower will collapse just from holding its breath about you. The green of things will be air to you, white noise, everywhere, nothing, and you will move through your days with an ease we don't yet have adverbs or units of measure for. How long is a month, a few months? An hour? A half-measure? It's nothing. Less-than. You've eaten breakfasts longer than it's going to take to get there. We're so close. Almost. Almost. I promise.

[buy Jay Arner / Sylvan Esso]

(image: the "slurpee waves of Nantucket")

Posted by Emma at 6:15 PM | Comments (3)

February 26, 2015


Many tables in the wood

Mount Eerie - "Books". There is nothing in the library. There are rivers, rapids, peregrine falcons. There is no one in the library. There are pilgrims, wrestlers, weavers. There is no when in the library. There are epochs, coronations, widowings. There is nowhere in the library. There is moon, Byzantium, Miami Beach, Florida. [buy]

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2015


Miharu Koshi - "Scandal Night" [buy]
SAADA BONAIRE - "The Facts" [buy]

One Saturday, he was just strolling around St-Michel flee market(those of you who don't live in Montreal, it's an indoor flee market that has many vendors who sells anything from mid century modern furniture to complete obsolete junks like laser discs and fax machines). He was just looking for a VCR for his installation art piece. He finds a VCR and takes it to his studio which he shares with 13 other people in 900 sq ft space in this industrial "loft" with one working toilet for 46 people in the building. No one brings toilet papers ever. He often wonders about his studio-mates how they wipe their bums. But it's none of his business.

After he buys VCR from St-Michel flee market and gets back to his studio. He realizes there is a video tape already inside. He starts to watch it as he eats his bunner(breakfast/lunch/dinner combined) consists of 3 for $2.50 Samosas from his corner store and $1.25 chocolate muffin which is basically oil and butter, and fresh Arizona iced tea that has graphic design stuck in 1994 Space Jam-era.

The video tape seems like a blank one. He fast forwards for 10 minutes. Nothing. then all of sudden, someone vaguely appears. Soon he realizes it's David Suzuki. and he is naked and seems like he is working out alone in a room with nothing in it. Just him and his beautiful toned muscles. Then, the tape cuts out. He yelled in his mind, "David Suzuki Sex Tape!!!!!" even though he is not having sex in the video. He just called it Sex tape in his mind.

Next day, he goes back to where he bought his VCR and look through all the 231 VCR to see if there are any other ones with tapes in them. He finds another one. He bikes home like Lance Armstrong and press play on VCR like Jose Canseco. This time, it's in nudist beach with a lot of mid life crisis people. He recognize one person in it. It's Bob Ross. Again, naked and giving massages to fellow nudists. He was really shocked. "OMG! Bob Ross Sex Tape!!!!" even though he is not having sex.

Now he obtains two scandalous sex tapes.

I've been thinking about this story for late 5 years or so. I don't know why. Please help me.

Posted by Mitz at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2015


Describe the image

Vivian Girls - "When I'm Gone"

In the summertime in Nova Scotia it's rare for us to leave the house without some kind of container to hold whatever berries we might come across. Writing now, in the middle of winter, it's difficult to remember the schedule of their arrival. But I know that after the solstice the berries start coming one at a time, a new variety appearing as the previous one starts to run out.

I only started picking berries a few years ago, so I'm still pretty slow. It took me a while to train my eyes to see them in the bogs and woods. But once I got a taste I became much more attentive to the wild and sweet things growing all around. Small flashes of colour mixed into the green and brown landscape.

Raspberries ripening on the side of the road, blackberry canes covered in spines, wild blueberries in a woodlot dense with mosquitos, cranberries near the beach. Gooseberries, foxberries, huckleberries, wild strawberries, even bakeapple in the bog, a rare treat that tastes like sweet apricot.

Picking is a nice way to pass the time, gathering berries from one patch and then moving along to the next. Some berries have already been pecked by birds while others have yet to ripen, and stay on the vine for whatever animal comes by at the right time. Hours pass quietly, looking down at the ground for brightly-coloured fruit, satisfying the ancient human urge to pay attention and collect. Time passes like this until buckets are filled, or the weather changes for the worse, or the bug bites become intolerable.

The berries grow for a short time and then they're gone, whether you pick them or not.


(photo of foxberry picking by Spike)

Posted by Jeff at 5:30 AM | Comments (2)

February 23, 2015



José González - "Open Book". Ke'mar's grandfather used to tell him stories about the days before Bollo was a desert. Once, long ago, before even they had been born, Bollo was an island in the midst of a wide sea. Kwii's southern face was like the rest of the summer planet: sapphire water dotted with tiny islets, with darting finbacks and spiderweeds. Back then, Bollo wasn't a desert capital - it was known for its pearl-divers, for its sailboat engineers. And yet, over time, sand accumulates. There is a Bollonese proverb: Sand comes. It appears in the corners of rooms, at the bottoms of cliffs - bit by bit the islet of Bollo became an island, the island became a larger island, and the island became a small, complete continent. A landmass with its own dunes and oases, insects and mammals, scavenging birds. No one living remembered when Bollo was an island but they had all heard stories of it, passed down folktales of flying fish and shipwrecks.

Bollo's sand gave it a special status on Kwii. Most of the planet was suffused with balmy saltwater, tropical groves; desolation was rare, and it attracted a special class of tourist. For two generations, Ke'mar's family had managed a guesthouse for these wilderness-seekers. They provided clean beds, fresh breakfasts, sonic showers to wash the sand from clothes and skin. They played quiet music during the evening meal, as all the visitors sat on carpets and ate. They provided long bouts of silence - their guests almost always preferred silence - as the house filled and emptied with wanderers, dreamers, lonely-hearts. Some mornings, when Ke'mar was toasting the cakebreads, he would stare out into the atrium and wonder if any of these travellers had ever met his sister.

All of this is because of me. This was one of the songs Ke'mar sang with his family, at dinner, as they sat in a circle before the visitors. It was an old song, maybe a prayer, but whenever Ke'mar sang these words he thought of Ki'ax. He imagined her singing this line, back when he was barely old enough to read. Did she hear it as reproach? As regret? Was she singing this line, one day, when she decided to leave Bollo?

She was out there somewhere, in the rainforests of Lama or Su, or off-planet, a trader on the autumn world. She was out there somewhere, miles or light-years from the desert, and she still hid this hot song in her heart. [buy Vestiges & Claws / it's just wonderful]


In case you didn't hear: I have begun writing a weekly music column for the Globe & Mail. Read the first one here (and see if you can find my mortifying typo :( ).

(Image is Robert Frank's Untitled (Children with Sparklers in Provincetown), from 1958. Thank you Alex.)

Posted by Sean at 11:06 AM | Comments (3)

February 20, 2015

Hand in unloveable hand

The Mountain Goats - "No Children"
Johnny Cash & June Carter - "Jackson"
Rupert Holmes* - "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"

Sometimes love is like this. Other times it's like a drunk fistfight with your best friend in a parking lot: locked together, aching and winded and so so so mad about anything. If you don't stop you'll die, but if you stop, you'll die. Some songs are about the eternal flame of your love burning its outline into the night sky; others are like that but it's a tire fire. This is next-level, black belt, white-knuckle being-with-others business, no doe-eyed beginners allowed.

It's hard to write a concise, catchy jam about how someone who once sucked the clouds out of the sky with just their look now seems to you like stripped wire, a loose jumble of stray flaws described by a narrative you can no longer see for its proximity or its distance or its both. It's tough to tell a story in three and a half minutes when that story is that you've worn through this one with your pacing - that you couldn't stop even if you wanted to, if you even knew what you wanted. These three are all kinda shambling, boozy, hilarious, a little anthemic - but with something way harder coiled tight under the surface. Sharp and sure and frantic and sweet and way lost, years past plain loving or angry or sad. The night air's like glass in your lungs, your wallet's long gone, some dude on the corner's squinting at you guys with his cellphone like should I call somebody or? Eventually you'll catch your breath, tomorrow you'll spend picking the gravel out of your elbows with shame and a pair of tweezers, but right now, what else are you going to do? Quitting's for suckers.

[buy Tallahassee / Duets / Partners in Crime]

*Look, I know you think I'm fucking with you, but when is the last time you really listened to it? Do this now, for me, just this once. Please? Look past the shag carpet, the hot tub, the swingy guitars, because all that stuff is masking a vocabulary and a narrative structure that reach near-Albee levels of intricate chaos and tension and self-contained, cracked logic. The world of this thing just drops into your lap, fully formed: Health food? Yoga? At a bar called O'Malley's? If you have half a brain? IN THE DUNES OF THE CAPE? Are you kidding me? This song is insane. The woman is so fed up with her bullshit life, with this flinchy man and their dumpy two-bit town, and meanwhile our narrator may be a perfect lens but he personally possesses zero chill. Like, oh, you know me so well I'm a "worn-out recording" but also you had no idea I enjoy the taste of champagne? Cool. Very cool. If you can't hear a chorus of pathos, of dropped shoulders and bitter cheap cigarette drags in the way Holmes and his beard intone that last "oh, it's you" then I don't know what to tell you, I truly don't.

Posted by Emma at 7:27 AM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2015


Astronaut and dogs

The Libertines - "The Good Old Days". The hotel bartender handed Lionel his drink and Lionel took a sip and he thought to himself, What is this sour concoction? He had asked for a "fernet lemon" - it was listed on the blackboard cocktail menu - and now he received this tall glass full of minty white fluid. It tasted sour. It tasted like a concoction. Lionel didn't really want to finish it but he kept drinking all the same, because the prime minister was at the other end of the room and he didn't want to do anything conspicuously odd, didn't want to give the bloody PM another reason to shuffle his cabinet rolodex and exile Lionel to the ministry of fisheries, the department of sport. So Lionel finished the concoction and as he took these sour, bitter, thin swallows, an idea came into his head. The idea was: "I should resign." Not just that: "I should resign, quit politics, move to the country." The idea had come straight from the fernet lemon, he was certain of it, but now that it had lifted from his tongue to his upper palate to the vulnerable under-surface of his brain it was lodged there like a squatter. Every changing expression on Lionel's face, every chuckle and glance - the beat beneath was one of resign, resign, resign. The pub was wooden and golden, the company was eminent, power flowed from the men in suits to the chandeliers and through the mirrors on the walls, but Lionel had the ticking sense that his time was up, or ought to be up, and at the other end of a train journey was a refuge and a home. [thanks marco / buy]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 11:37 AM | Comments (3)

February 18, 2015

I want to believe

(photo source)

Jim Sullivan - "UFO"

I went through a lot of phases as a kid. The first was a dinosaur-phase in which I thought every single rock I found at the park was a fossil and brought lots of "fossils" home. After a while my mom made me bring all my precious scientific discoveries back to the park. I was a little upset because I knew that other kids would discover them and then they would be the ones in the newspaper with headlines like "Local boy discovers oldest fossils in the park by the swing. A lot of them!" but I listened to my mom.

After that it was my turtle-phase. I got a little turtle and shortly after my mom read a headline that said something like "Local boy got sick! Really, really sick from the germs of his pet turtle." So she said we should let him go back to his natural habitat. "He would be much happier with his turtle friends and fish friends," she said. I said "I think he seems happier alone. I think he likes being alone. He is an outsider artist turtle or maybe he is a goth turtle." I didn't actually say that but I wish I did. So the time came to let him go. I was sad but it was for the best. We went to the pond near by, which had a lot of turtles already. There were some other kids there fishing with their dads. I didn't want them to catch my turtle so I took a couple of steps back and threw my turtle as hard as I could like an AAA pitcher's last chance to get into the Major League, with his scouts watching, bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth inning, but I was a little kid who had bad pitching form even though I played lots of baseball like all Japanese boys. I threw him and he hit the water like a skipping stone. He skipped three times and disappeared. I hope he is ok.

Last was the UFO-phase, I think I was 11 or so. I was obsessed by UFOs and aliens. I wanted to believe. I slept by my window looking at the stars at night. My home was in a northern outskirt of Osaka, by the mountains, so some days I could see the stars pretty clearly. Once, I saw a shooting star and was convinced that I would be abducted by aliens and they would do surgery on my head to put in implants to monitor me from far away. I was scared so I tucked in my covers like a sleeping bag and held on to my headboard. But then I realized they could just abduct my bed too so I gave up on that. I also knew, from watching UFO documentaries, that they could erase the memory of the abduction itself. I figured maybe I was already abducted. I thought, I need to tell my parents, my brothers, and teacher, but wait, if I tell them, the implant in my brain might trigger an alarm on the UFO that is based behind the moon and they would strike earth with a really thick laser that would kill mankind immediately, all because of me. So, I didn't say anything, to save mankind. It was a mission, and I kept it secret until now. Now I think it is probably ok. It's been over 22 years so the implant's battery is most likely dead. The end.


Posted by Mitz at 3:36 PM | Comments (6)

February 17, 2015


Describe the image

Propagandhi - ". . . And We Thought That Nation States Were a Bad Idea" [buy]

1. (1996)
In 1996 I was at the height of my anti-moshing phase, later abandoned, and so at most shows I usually stood unmoving, wearing a backpack with my arms crossed. Propagandhi were still a pop-punk band on Fat Wreck Chords then. I loved Less Rock, More Talk and listened to it constantly that year. But they had enthusiastic fans who didn't know that the cool way to express their appreciation was by standing totally still. Instead they moshed it up in the pit in the basement of St. Joseph's Church in Sandy Hill when the band came to Ottawa. So when the paramedics showed up I assumed it was due to a pit casualty. Instead, it turned out that someone at the back was standing on a table, trying to get a better view, when they became lightheaded and fell over. Later I heard that they were okay.

Brutal Knights - "Grow Up, Throw Up" [buy]

2. (2010)
A summer punk show in a tight Bar St. Laurent 2. Feet in the air, broken ceiling tiles, lots of beer, and a huge grin on everyone's face. Then halfway through a song Brutal Knights stopped abruptly. Nick, the singer, was motionless on the floor after some crowd surfing and shenanigans up on the speaker platform. Then: "Everyone get out NOW!" Because the stage was by the front door we all had to file out past Nick and could see that his arm was going in a direction that it shouldn't. He was lying on a red lighting gel that many of us mistook for a puddle of blood. The show was over, but everyone milled around on the sidewalk until the ambulance came. Then I biked down to Casa to see White Lung play. Nick healed up fine.

High on Fire - "Brother In The Wind" [buy]

3. (2012)
The strobe lights used by the opening band Goatwhore were getting to me, but I watched their whole set mainly because the singer was such an indefatigably posi ambassador for heavy metal. "Thank you for coming out to support metal on a Tuesday night Montreal!" My vision went black and I collapsed into Mike just as High on Fire started playing. I only remember a few glimpses of him carrying me out of the crowded room at La Tulipe. I was lucky to have a friend in nursing school who was also into metal. I came to on the sidewalk outside a few minutes before the ambulance arrived. Mike came to the hospital with me. It was still dark when I was discharged. I'm fine.

(photo by Spike)

Posted by Jeff at 5:02 AM | Comments (1)

February 16, 2015


digitalanalogue - "NO. 99 ('I Love To Go A-Wandering')". To a certain degree, humans are programmable machines. Particular inputs result in particular outputs. Give me bubbles, I will hiccup. Give me bright light, I will blink. Give me joke, I will laugh. The Scottish group digitalanalogue has assembled this song from slow chords and sampled voices. There are echoes of Stars of the Lid, Jon Hopkins and the Happiness Project. There are lanterns raised and lowered. There are no jokes, bubbles or bright light. It makes me feel something - makes me, like it's throwing switches in my chest. I might resist or struggle, I might resent the manipulation, but there is no denying it: this music, deftly crafted, accomplishes an end. It is more end than means, I think; a treatment, or maybe an innoculation. [buy from Song, By Toad Records]

Stromae - "Formidable". As I enter my second year with this song, our relationship has changed. Lately I am even more struck by how stricken it is. I am inured to its beats and dance - yet Stromae's shaky voice, his bitter laugh, it is as they are changing with each repeat. The Belgian singer's heart is sinking. It is not the sadness that becomes more profound - it is the anger. More and more that's acrid in the song; more and more smoke that fills the derelict house. When some relationships end, they gradually fade away, blank to white. Others: what's left, the husk, it rots. Its shadow spreads across the floor. [buy this splendid song / view its splendid video]

Posted by Sean at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2015

Don't Talk

Dorothea Paas - Don't talk put yr head on my shoulder

Like, okay, so duh, objectively, the Beach Boys' one is perfect. Maybe the most perfect song? About a certain kind of thing, at least. It's the national anthem of that one kind of lonely full-in-love lush pause, it's swaying alone and it's infinite, bright hush, a whole season filling a song. You settle, it lifts you, that whole effortless swell like sky in it. You don't need me to tell you about it.

But here's the thing: does a national anthem ever actually sound like the country it's sung for? Just because you kiss someone in the elevator doesn't mean the whole building catches fire. Just because you woke up with your fingertips ringing like a struck tuning fork doesn't mean there's a chorus of bells every time you press them down on the keyboard. If we all went around giving off light all the time we'd be schools of fish, not cities, and no one would get anything done for the glow of us. Stuff scatters on across the boring icy whatever - streetcar, caffeine, toothpaste, papercuts - and you still have to walk around in your dumb body, slipping a little where someone forgot to salt the sidewalk. You can be the place where the whole world converges, but nobody gets to know it just from looking at you; you still have to pick up frozen peas on the way home. One bright edge of the memory can glance while you're in line - belt buckle, collarbone - but then it's time for you to pay, so you do. Dissolve a little, but no coming apart. You just take your receipt and you leave, ringing home against the minor dusk. A walking echo, maybe, but still walking.

[Doro Paas is perfect; find her here.]

Posted by Emma at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2015

Federal Erection

(photo by Mike Ward)

Mag & the Suspects - "Erection" [buy]
Jef Barbara - "Erection" [buy]

During the summer of 1997, this retired teacher, Gordon, gave me English lessons at the local community centre before I started my time at Canadian high school. He was very caring and kind, and even though he was 50 years older than me, he seemed like a friend. His teaching style was very 'free jazz'. He lead the conversation like he was Ornette Coleman on saxophone, and I joined him with my rusty saxophone on which I didn't know how to play any notes, and anything that did come out sounded like farts. He was very patient and waited for me to figure out what to say and how to construct rough sentences. I often tried to make jokes, but my vocabulary was so small that the only thing I could do was say back to him what he would say to me, but change it a little. For example, once he asked me with a smile, "Are you working hard? or hardly working?". So I remembered it and when we went for a walk after lunch, I asked him, "Are you walking hard? or hardly walking?". I know it's stupid, but he was nice and smiled at my first attempt at playing with words. On the weekend, he and his wife invited me for lunch and he was making salad. I asked him, "Are you cooking hard? or hardly cooking?" He smiled again, but slightly annoyed, maybe. When we ate, I asked him, "are you eating hard? or hardly...." he stood up and went to get more water. Yes, I was really annoying. That was only thing I could say. It was my fault. Once or twice is ok, but the third time, I would be annoyed too. I was/am very childish like that. But I learned lots from Gordon, and am very thankful.

After a summer of free jazz jamming with Gordon, I started my Grade 10 at high school, I was nervous, but excited. Actually, I'm not sure how I felt. It was a long time ago. 18 years ago. Do you remember where you were on a specific day 18 years ago? Mail chimp, Male champ? Kale Chips. I eat Kale chips, Do you?
Anyway, I started school, and in social studies class, they were talking about the federal election that happened that summer. I was working hard to keep up with the debate going on in class. The teacher knew I was new to Canada and asked me if I was keeping up with the discussion. Everyone looked at me and patiently waited for my reply. I was feeling good about my progress in English with Gordon and proudly stated "Yes, there was a big erection!"...for ESL students from Asia, the pronunciation of "L" and "R" can be challenging. The whole class just stopped. Nothing was moving. No one was breathing. Everything froze. It was only time that time stopped in human history. Carl Sagan can't even explain it.

Jef Barbara - "Soft to the touch" [buy]

Watch his excellent video here

Posted by Mitz at 9:33 AM | Comments (6)

February 10, 2015


Describe the image

Nothing - "Bent Nail"

Looking out at the towering snow dunes through her full-spectrum goggles, Ki'ax thought she saw something move in the midst of the blizzard, but quickly convinced herself that it was only a snow-mirage.

She returned to her broken cloudbike and replaced the alteriator as quickly as she could. It needed a lot of finesse and she had to stop every few minutes to warm her hands in the front pocket of her parka.

She hadn't always lived on Demdrex, the winter planet, but she knew that it was futile to think of the tropical archipelagos of her home planet, Kwii. She tamped down the thoughts of sandy beaches and the feeling of warm ocean water on her skin. She sighed at the thought that it would be years before she saw it again. "You won't ever see it again if you can't get your cloudbike operational before nightfall," she said to herself. There was no one around for miles.

She checked her goggles again, but this time there was no hint of life. Good. Ever since she was dropped onto Demdrex to run the tuck shop by the gates of R'kah, the capital city, she had heard tales of the stalker. Whether it was man or beast none could say - no one who'd seen it had survived. By the corpses discovered frozen on the dunes it seemed that the stalker began by eating its victim's eyes, before draining their blood.

"It's just a myth," Ki'ax told herself, "something those jokers down Rockside use to freak out newbies. I'm not scared." The sky had gone from slate grey to something even duller and darker.

As she inserted the power-awl back into place, Ki'ax finally put her frozen hands back into her heated gloves. "That's what I get for trying to do some sightseeing on the great dunes," she laughed, now that the crisis was over.

Ki'ax got back on her bike, but it rose slower than usual. Looking down she gasped when she saw why. The stalker, pale fur, long arms, red eye, white teeth, was hanging from the landing skids.

"Okay." Ki'ax remained calm as she pulled up higher and higher. Its grip didn't loosen. She had been a pilot during the Arcadian insurgency; she didn't scare easy. She looked into its red eye for a moment before initiating the avoidance manoeuvers she learned at the institute. She could tell it was hungry.

Its grip finally loosened after a triple three-sixty roll that made her airsick on the instrument panel. She saw its incandescent red eye falling into the dark winter night, before setting her course back to R'kah, its bright lights glowing against the horizon.


(photo of fox prints by Spike)

Posted by Jeff at 9:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2015


Jazmine Sullivan - "Forever Don't Last". It was the same heartbreak as all the others but it was more acute. He found himself doing all the same things - staring out windows, listening to sad songs, banging his head on the door of his car's trunk - yet each act seemed more serious, more important, than it had before. He wept at commercials; wept more, harder, at the happy family and their dumb little dog. Sometimes the volume of his emotions felt almost too high to bear. Just sitting in traffic, a song on the radio, an acoustic guitar twanging - his vision darkened and his throat tightened, he thought he was going to die. The traffic lifted, the song ended, the darkness lifted... still part of him wondered if he had died back there, stopped during the sad song, suffering from the most acute heartbreak of his life. And he never enjoyed it, this feeling; usually, after the end of a relationship, he found a perverse enjoyment in the melancholy, cherished it almost. Here, now, there was no satisfaction in his sorrow - that it proved the seriousness of his feelings, that it entitled him to mope. His heart had broken and he just felt ruined, torn down the middle, grasping at what was left of himself, absolutely unable to sing. [buy]

Posted by Sean at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)

February 6, 2015

Alternating Current

Big Sean feat. Drake and Kanye West - "Blessings"

The loneliest mansion in the world. You finally make it up the hill and there's Big Sean way up on the roof like a ghost against a ship's prow, stacking words against each other like he does. You aren't sure if you're supposed to nod or what so you just touch your hat a little like either way, but the door's already unlocked, so. There's no furniture in the hall, just marble and an echo, but there are salt-stained boots all over like it rained them. You keep yours on. Inside Drake's hunching a little on the thick leather couch, exhaling light in that submarine glow the projector throws off. Angling your head to the east wing you can hear the faint strains of what might be a Trooper song and you want to be like hey, is that Trooper or what? but it seems like the wrong time to ask.

It's so still in this room you can hear the paint on the walls. All the Xboxes no one's ever thought to turn off, humming like ghosts in the corner. Do you want this blunt? No. You're okay. Drake's eyes have that old glassy overlay and you just know that it's going to be one of those things where he could say the dumbest shit you've ever heard and the words will not matter at all. One time you tried explaining it to Laura; you said It's more about the feeling, it's like I don't know an ancient river or something, you can just sense it moving under everything, but she just snorted into her tea and that's exactly why you don't talk about it with anyone, pretty much. Drake clears his throat and in spite of yourself you picture the walk home tomorrow - angling your body downhill in the cold. Four-dollar coffee, your useless apartment. How you still like your own mattress better. When he shifts his weight on the leather it makes a sound like a fart and for a second you think If it costs that much shouldn't it not do that anymore? even though you know that's not how any of this works. There's another sound coming up through the vents, a hollow ceramic refrain threading into itself. It's Kanye, keening into the home pool again. Drake's like Are you sure you don't want anything? and it suddenly occurs to you for the first time literally ever that even if someone asked you would not know at all how to begin gathering up the disparate pieces of your own sprawling loneliness and joining them together into anything like a story, like a thing you could say was your own. You can hear Big Sean knocking the snow off his boots at the door. The Trooper song starts up again, it's definitely Trooper, and Kanye could probably use some help but you and Drake are still busy waiting for Drake to decide what he's going to say. The night just sits there. You wonder if this is your fate's sum total - to be held like this forever in the loneliness of men, clean as it is, in its balance of wanting and having. If you'll spend your life holding your own sadness up against theirs and still finding yourself at a loss.


Posted by Emma at 7:42 AM | Comments (2)

February 5, 2015


Fuzzy photo

RECEIVERS - "Ships & Lanterns".

Listening to this, I think of nighttime at sea cliffs or city harbour: the cut glass of the waves' peaks, the black of the expanse. But then also the shock of a spotlight, that clear bright line, revealing the water to be blue.

"Ships & Lanterns"' sound is an accretion. Pieces placed together, a still-life on the table. Hear a heart's bass guitar, a singer's rayed voice, a cannonade of bass and tom. Hear electric charge, frilled harmonies, something like a melodica. These sounds exist in relation to each other. Taken together, they make a conversation, summon a spirit. They raise a weather system - flashing, trembling, pouring. Some songs you can sing; others you need to duck under, with held breath.

[bandcamp / Montreal's Receivers launch this album on 20 February]

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)

February 4, 2015

One awkward moment

(photo by Angie Harms)

Lee Hazlewood - "For One Moment" [buy]

I was waiting to cross the street at the corner of St. Denis and Sherbrooke. Along with some business people. Well, I call everyone in suits business people. There was also a middle-aged man in spandex jogging in place waiting for the light. He looked really intense like Kevin Bacon, but his bum looked so cute in his spandex.

Across the street, there was this Asian guy who looked like a really nice guy. A really nice guy who would even help strangers parallel park. He was waving. I wasn't sure if he was waving at me or someone behind me, so I looked back and checked, but there is no one except three pigeons nodding their heads like they were listening to obscure Acid House. I've noticed that pigeons never fear humans anymore. Now I know how God must feel. I want to feel superior like pigeons... Anyway, I didn't recognize this Asian guy who waved at me at all, but just in case and to be polite, I waved back. At that moment, he had an, "oh shit! I thought you were someone else" look on his face. At the same moment, I must have had an "oh shit! I must have met him, but I don't remember" look on my face and we both walked away with guilty "oh shit! I'm Asian but i made the all-Asians-look-the-same mistake" looks on our faces. We both didn't mean any harm. We were both being polite. It was awesomely awkward and I felt alive.

Posted by Mitz at 10:43 AM | Comments (2)

February 3, 2015


Describe the image

Masshysteri - Dom kan inte höra musiken [buy]

Downtown Boys - Callate [buy]

The Deadly Snakes -Shake by the riverside

Is there a fifth instrument of rock music? Guitar, bass, and drums are the indivisible common denominator--the prime number, after which everything is a luxury. The human voice and keyboards are the usual suspects for a fourth. But the fifth? That's where it gets tricky. Arguments have been made: Sneaky Pete made a case for the pedal steel; PJ Harvey has advocated for the autoharp; Blue Öyster Cult might suggest the cow bell.

In punk rock an emphasis on aesthetic simplicity often means that instrumentation is even more pared down. But recently the punks have been waking up to a missing element. An added layer of skronk - the saxophone!

Consider its dulcet high-pitched yelp. Can any single instrument more efficiently express the alienation of modern life that is punk's key theme? The soulful wailing of this ridiculous woodwind outdoes even the most earnest hardcore yowler. Our forebears knew. Proto- and first wave punkers The Stooges and the X-Ray Spex each had fulltime sax people for at least one record. (Holy cow Lora Logic was fifteen when she recorded "Oh Bondage Up Yours!") The Deadly Snakes carried the torch in the early 00s. And today's punks are tapping the part-time honkers at the fringes of the scene, high school band dropouts, patiently waiting for their time to shine. Swedish melodic punks Masshysteri and St. Louis's scummiest Lumpy and the Dumpers have brought in journeymen saxers to liven up some of their best numbers. Providence's Downtown Boys have gone all the way, incorporating two fulltime sax players!!

Listen, if you will, to these punk sax songs and feel all the feelings--the wild freedom of air rushing through a horn. Punk rock + saxophone = true love. May the two be henceforth indivisible.

Posted by Jeff at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

February 2, 2015


Image by Odilon Redon

Tindersticks - "Come Inside". It's snowing, come inside. Here is a saxophone, to coax you. Here is a hot toddy. Here is a clearer picture of each of your heart's cloudy ambitions. There are friends here and also one secret enemy: we will not tell you who is who. There is a vampire. There is a nun. A nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife. Ignore your inhibitions, ignore that faint fear that licks at your spirit throughout every hour of every day. You are safe here. It's snowing, come inside. Let us brush the snowflakes from your shoulders. Let us kiss the snowflakes from your lips. Cross the threshold, duck under the mistletoe, slow your heart to meet this gleaming 4/4 time. The universe does not care either way; the universe is abiding here too. [buy]

(image by Odilon Redon)

Posted by Sean at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)