Said the Gramophone - image by Neale McDavitt-van Fleet
by Sean
Overgrown traffic jam


Modern Studies - "Ten White Horses". A song that seems written as a soundtrack to the various conjugations of to begin. Begin, began, will begin, beginning. The piano spells out a future and then the handclaps make it present; we follow, dawning, along Emily Scott's pronouncements. Lines about horses and their tumbling riders, death and love, or falling suitors. The "sun's a pale bystander" and it's a "one-league-wide meander", the rhymes like handmade coins or tokens, pieces to leave upon the train-rails. Once begun, there's crescendo too - horns and drums, winsome harmonium, the tools of an early Noughties sound steered by bands like P:ano and Architecture In Helsinki. I saw Architecture in Helsinki once, in Edinburgh, in a dripping Cowgate bar. It was 2005. Maybe members of Modern Studies were standing beside me, swaying softly. Begin, began, beginning.

[Modern Studies are based in Glasgow; they are Scott, (StG fave) Rob St John, Pete Harvey and Joe Smillie. / Out on Songs, By Toad Records / more on Bandcamp]

(image source)

by Emma

Carly Rae Jepsen - "Higher"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Fever"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Store"

Twice in my life now - and only twice - I have met people who did not like E•MO•TION. Carly Rae Jepsen's last album came out last summer, at a time when everyone I knew was nursing an all-consuming, life-on-fire crush on someone else they did not know that well. This whole city, it felt like, was falling desperately and hopelessly in love with a near-stranger; everywhere you went everyone was just shot forward and wanting, uneasy and thrilling and charged. Even the stillest parts of the city, if you looked close, vibrated like a VHS on pause. You'd see two strangers brush against each other on the street and just from the contact one of them would turn into a bolt of pure neon, while the other burst into a cloud of silver and pink glitter. Just from all the floating, frantic energy. All summer, this went on. The whole city. It was madness. And E•MO•TION - sugar-high, bright as the internet and twice as speedy - was its hymnal.

One of the times I encountered any real, serious opposition to the album, I was in a car full of a bunch of dudes, and all it took to convince them that every single song on this album was a ray of pure beautiful sunshine was to get them to actually listen to it. But the second time was worse; I got into a protracted argument with a friend of a friend at some party. "She doesn't have a personality," he said to me, gesturing like a man with an opinion. "Her songs are all just so empty."

Here's the thing: insofar as Carly Rae has not built her entire catalogue of synth-deep pop hits around coy lyrics that lace a glossy love life with lite feminism and meme-worthy one-liners - insofar as her songs are just really good pop songs about really liking someone - then I suppose her music does not have a persona. But personality can mean a lot of things, and art that is well-constructed enough to give its audience a lot of beautiful space in which to project their own feelings (crushes, heartbreaks, likings) is a special subtle kind of generous. This is what really good pop music does, and that's what E•MO•TION is.

E•MO•TION: Side B has some perfect songs on it, and it also has some really really good songs that are also kind of funny and wonderful in a different way. B-sides are B-sides, and this whole album does not gleam in quite the same marquee-flawless way E•MO•TION does. THAT SAID: every song on this album is limned with the same kind of shimmer that rushed all the way through E•MO•TION-classic, and aside from Colouring Book, I cannot think of an album this year that has made me feel as completely swept off my feet by sheer summer delight as this one.

Plus, there's something else in these songs that makes me feel good in a different way, because it takes me back to that argument with that guy at that party and just proves me righter: these songs are proof positive that "personality" isn't always in the details a text or a song or a person chooses to reveal. Sometimes it's the structure, the mechanics, the nature of the gesture itself. When Carly does try to bedazzle her songs with specifics, they're always funny and a little off-base - like the details about the bike in "Fever" or the kind of totally insane premise of "Store"'s endless hook. A chipmunk-adjacent chorus that breaks up with you by saying it's just going out for some milk and a pack of smokes and don't wait up should be laughable, not dance-freakout-inducing. A song whose soaring, point-towards-the-horizon verses describe the borrowing and subsequent returning of a bike lock and helmet should be silly, but instead there's that rise and drop into the pulsing chorus. It's perfect even when it shouldn't be. That's personality for you: Carly Rae can't even touch a story without turning it into gold, into glitter, pure feeling.

[buy E•MO•TION: Side B]

by Mitz
(photo source)

Man meets Bear - "The Humber" [Buy]

I had a dream that Air Bud was at a dog park and telling other dogs that they can be like him and never give up.

And end of the speech, everyone(every dog) stood up and gave a standing ovation.

Then, I woke up and I was really motivated that I dreamt that.

Have a great week!

by Mitz
(photo source) Jay Arner - "Earth to Jay" [Buy]

I went to a cabin last weekend. It was raining all day. But didn't care we went out to the lake like a rom-com and water was warm. Of course, I peed in the lake and it felt great to be with nature and contribute to this miracle called, cycle of nature by peeing in the lake.

Oh speaking of peeing, it reminded me that if you fart in the shower, because of steam of higher temprature, fart smelled worse! I fucking love science!

anyways, speaking fart. That reminded me something. Last week, I was vaping and drinking Arizona ice tea like a modern teenager on the steps of my studio building. I noticed there was an elderly lady going towards the door. So I stood up to help her. As I stood up, I farted uncontrollably. One of those "pooo boo booooo boooooo pooooooooo" continuous singular wavelength.
I opened the door for her and she just shook her head and went into the building.

It was really nice to help someone.

The end

by Jeff

the East Jeddore headlands, green bay bushes and slate grey ocean

Two songs from 1998.

Dirty Three - "Authentic Celestial Music"

The musical transcription of a storm forming at sea. The fiddle is dark water in motion, the guitar strums are grey clouds building in the sky. And the drums are wind, we feel it gaining in power from the first clattering pattern. In time they whip up into a gale, pushing the water to violent heights. First whitecaps, then waves breaking high. Rain falls on the roiling water. Then after ten minutes it breaks. Silence.

Cat Power - "Say"

The storm is in the distance here, a thunder clap heard from the safety of a momentary hideout. Two crooks on the run are getting their stories straight before their inevitable capture. They feel that saying the same thing will bind them and protect them, a knot tying their lives together. One asks, Is the storm getting closer or further away?

[buy Ocean Songs / buy Moon Pix]

(photo by Spike)

by Sean


Les Amis au Pakistan - "M'a m'f". You do not need to put up with this shit. You've got a hammer for the window, a clutch full of doorknobs, spinach by the can. Volkswagens, squirt-bottles, rocket-launchers, indignation sky-written in the cloud. I•N•D•I•G•N•A•T•I•O•N. You've considered letting that stand alone; perhaps the letters are message enough. But: no. Not when you can make their phones go off like pepper bombs, not when you can yank away the cartoonery of their cover. You do not need to put up with this shit, nor shall you. The Ming vase will crash upon the floor and the lightning-bolt will come away in your hands, an elemental thing claimed by its rightful heir.

[Les Amis au Pakistan bandcamp / discovered on La Souterraine's O Canada compilation]

by Jeff

Four young bitchin' witches, ready to destroy the patriarchy

Tenement - "Witches in a Ritual"

Simon pulled at the door, but it wouldn't open. He looked up at the flimsy sign, the words Occulter's Magick Shoppe printed in red on corrugated plastic.

This was where he'd been initiated into in the magick arts. He joined the after-school coven. They met in the aquelarre, which was also the stock room, behind black velvet curtains. It was a new world to him, of spells and lore. He was the only wizard in a circle of witches with skunk-stripe centre-parts in their dyed black hair. They wore black lipstick, had ankhs painted on their cheeks, and talked about boys in ways that delighted Simon.

Sheila called them to order when they gossiped too much. Exhaling a cloud of clove cigarette smoke she would exclaim "Silencio!" and gesture with the dog-eared book of spells in her hand. It was the knowledge she'd imbibed from these pages that gave her the authority over their coven, but she was only a teenager, like the rest of them.

Simon stood back and tried to look in through the tinted glass to the store, but all he saw was his own reflection. Like every other Tuesday he'd stopped at the park and donned his polyester cloak - purchased at the fan convention back when he was but a lowly Dungeonmaster - and applied the eyeliner he'd stolen from Shopper's using his locker mirror.

"Greetings, dark lord."

"M'lady witch," Simon spun around and bowed gallantly to Sheila. But as he righted himself he was surprised by what she was wearing. It was the first time he'd seen her out of her cape. She was wearing raver pants, a belly shirt, and a baby backpack.

"The coven is over."

"Indeed," Simon nodded gravely. His magic education was at an end.

"Have you ever tried bubble tea?"

"No," Simon dropped his affectation, speaking with his regular voice.

"Come on," she said, gesturing him over. "Let's go get some. I think you'll like it."

--

So the best new punk is basically boogie-rock now, and that's fine with with me. Tenement's "Witches in a Ritual" is in the running for song of the summer.

[bandcamp / buy the LP]