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]
11:14 PM on Apr 15, 2014
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]
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]
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.
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.
Elsewhere: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)
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.
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)
11:04 AM on Mar 31, 2014
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
to play a song in your browser, click the
. to download a song, right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'
all songs are removed within a week or two of posting.
said the gramophone
launched in march 2003, and added songs in november of that year. it was one of the world's very first mp3blogs.
if you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
montreal, canada: sean
toronto, canada: jordan
toronto, canada: dan
please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets.
if you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us
if you would like the song taken down early. please do not direct link
to any of these tracks. please love and wonder.
"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
lives in Montreal. His debut novel, Us Conductors
, will be published in spring 2014. His work also occasionally appears at McSweeney's
. Follow him on Twitter
or reach him here
is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Email him here
lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star
. Jordan's posts appear at Said the Gramophone only on the last Wednesday of every month. Email him here
Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet
. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Matthew Feyld
our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Gorilla vs Bear
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In FocusAMASS BLOG
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, café italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
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+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News