by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Burning Hell - "Sentimentalists".

I can't remember this ever happening to me before. A song that makes me remember something I have completely forgotten. Not a song that evokes a distant memory, that makes vivid something faded; a piece of music that brings back something that was lost. A mosquito in amber, resurrecting a brontosaurus.

The memory's nothing remarkable: a wooden paddle-wheel, in the restaurant of a department store. A paddle-wheel at The Paddle Wheel. With modesty and grace, the Burning Hell tell you everything you need to know. The wheel lives (lived?) on the top floor of the Hudson Bay Company, in Toronto. The wheel slowly turns. Guests can lean over the rail, throw a penny in, make a wish.

I lived in Toronto for almost a year, when I was five years old. My parents and grandparents brought me to The Paddle Wheel. I loved The Paddle Wheel. It was one of those sites we have, as children - imbued, potent, utterly distinct from everywhere else we know. A dark room, a slowly spinning relic; like in the cell under Stirling's Thistle Centre, the Bat Cave at the Royal Ontario Museum, visiting the paddle-wheel was like slipping through a wardrobe into somewhere Else. Just like the Burning Hell's Mathias Kom, I would sometimes take a penny and cast it out, over the railing, onto the heaving timber. If I was lucky it would land on one of the wheel's paddles and be lifted up, around, clicking down on the other side. This was magic. This was magic. Magic at a time when magic was fully real.

Yet I had forgotten it, forgotten it all. I don't think I've thought about The Paddle Wheel's paddle-wheel in more than 20 years. The first time I heard this song, as I listened, I thought, He's singing about the Hudson's Bay? A restaurant at the Hudson's Bay? Really? I had never heard of The Paddle Wheel. But then, like a shipwreck being sucked upward through the mud, like a great elm uprooted by a bulldozer: there it was, my memory. Faded and unsure. Eroded. Barely legible. I don't remember the entrance to The Paddle Wheel, I don't remember the food, I scarcely remember that it was a restaurant. I remember only the colours in the room, black and brown and silver; the enchantment; and me, full of longing, holding a coin.

"Sentimentalists" is a humble song. It is a slide-show, a vignette, the slightest recollection. It is burnished and handsome, in guitars and drums and clarinet and horn. It is two minutes and thirteen seconds and it is one of the greatest gifts I have received this year.


Posted by Sean at June 20, 2013 12:25 PM

This is a fantastic occurence.

Posted by Anis at June 21, 2013 11:16 PM

Cool! Met the guys in Germany a couple of years ago, we shared the bill. Great band and good to hear that they're hanging in there :)

Posted by Kim Nyberg at July 5, 2013 3:25 PM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

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Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
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drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny