Said the Gramophone - image by Matthew Feyld
by Emma

Arthur Russell - "The Deer In The Forest, Pt. 1"

Wifi. Warm wind in winter air. Wise dogs, night houses. Empty streetcars lit from the inside (like, silver hush, "SHORT TURN"). Civil twilight. The memory of someone else's hands in your hair. This one spam email I keep getting every 72 hours, like clockwork, from something called the "universal semiconductor association" that just says "CHANGE PASSWORD," in all caps like that, nothing else. Semantic satiation. Wrong numbers. More bikes than you'd think. Most other people's text messages*. About half of the young professionals in peacoats you see on the subway. About a quarter of the used records in every pile of used records you pass by but don't flip through. Not as many cabs as you'd expect, but definitely synthesizers. Each unread email. Your awful, unfinished novel - all its corners and edges. A couple stray winter boyfriends lingering in the alleys, picking at their cigarettes and awaiting directions that won't come. Some beards, most haircuts, most plumbing, refrigerators. All the terrible, tangled old wire in the walls of your perfect apartment. About half of the girls on bikes that swerve to miss you. Every single raccoon.

*You know when you have thoughts that disappear before you get the chance to finish thinking them? That's what those are; just someone else's hey what are you doing tonight, someone else's hey can I come over swifting their way across town, moving through you like an impulse. Sometimes you're a universal semiconductor and sometimes you're a shortcut, but either way it's never up to you, not really.

[buy Calling Out of Context]

by Sean

Garbage men on swings

Astral Swans - "Park Street". There is a herd of lean animals. Lean and clever, given to acts of virtuousness and virtuosity, to sudden darting runs. Their owner has given up on trying to keep them in their pen. The fences are for show, the gate is unlocked. The lean herd will exit whenever they wish to. Later, the herd moves to Park Street. They've found a small house, a cottage, with two rickety floors and a tall porch. There are two birches in the front yard, a mulberry bush, a feral cat. The herd remains lean, clever, virtuous and virtuosic. They remain untamed, relentless, free. But they do begin to fight. Someone sleeps with someone, then an argument, light switches flicked on in the middle of the night. Two messy conversations on the porch. The herd has freedom and limitless power. The herd is lean and clever. But eventually the gang will splinter, half of them trotting away between the birch and the mulberry bush, half of them not even saying goodbye. [buy]

(image source)

by Mitz

Karen Dalton - "Something on your mind"

Dance like no one is watching.
Sing like no one is listening.
Blog like no one is reading.


(photo source)

by Jeff

Make Up live in London

Make-Up - "Pow! to the People" [buy]

Make-Up - "How Pretty Can U Get?" [buy]

It's utterly preposterous - listen to it - a faked live record in the invented genre of "Gospel Yeah Yeah," complete with rapturous applause, cryptic banter ("This song's called 'Don't Mind the Mind' - it's made by destroying all four dimensions or maybe five"), and a short interlude between songs to introduce the players ("The soldiers of sound"). On the sleeve, in a group shot taken by photographer Glen E. Friedman, the band are shown from the waist up wearing matching silk shirts, wide belt buckles, tight pants, and giant greasy hairdos.

I bought Destination: Love - LIVE at Cold Rice!, the first LP by DC's the Make-Up with my allowance at Birdman Sound in Ottawa. I had never heard them. It was 1996, pre mp3 blogs. All I knew was it was the new Nation of Ulysses band and that the record was released by Dischord and produced by Guy Picciotto. An obvious purchase for a young Fugazi fan.

I brought it home and put it on my turntable. The music was nothing I could have expected. Under the smokescreen of mystery the band was weirdo soul garage, jangly guitars, groovy basslines, and a drummer kicking out James Brown's The One with all the passion of the Minor Threat polka beat. Then there were the shrieking vocals and wacked out lyrics of Ian Svenonius. It was a stirring message from an alternate dimension where hardcore bands mutated into pre-Summer of Love soul combos; a parallel reality where funk bands played basement shows.

For a sixteen year old it was like Woah, is this real? Do they believe this stuff? How does this exist? I tried to decrypt the liner notes but mostly I just played it again and again and again. As I hardened into a humourless hardcore kid I had to pretend for a while that I didn't, but god I loved this record.

Plastic, invented, counterfeit, these songs and performances are 3-D, more real than reality, like how reading a novelization of heartbreak feels far truer than reading about it in someone's diary. In these songs the singer goes to jail, runs away heartbroken, comes back pleading, references the Russian Revolution in a slow jam, and goes to hell to high five Orpheus. The emotions laid out in these grooves are wild, funky, and true

Listening to Cold Rice and the Make-Up's other records now, twenty years later, I still love them and I can't stop cracking up at their absurdity. It's not unlike the experience of watching Kids in the Hall sketches on Youtube in recent years and realizing 1) this is waaay weirder than I realized it was at the time, and 2) this actually changed my life.

(image source unknown)

by Sean

La Baracande - "Tout en me promenant". Twice this week I have found myself using the word obliterate, and before then I don't know that I had ever used it. Where did obliterate come from? Why has it stumbled into my random-access memory? I have tried to work out if I heard it in a movie, read it in a book. But honestly I don't know. Sometimes a word is like a forgotten bird that appears in the sky after a long winter. There you are, yes of course, I didn't realize you were away. Obliterate like a Canada goose sitting black and white on my lawn.

Since I have been obliterating things lately I have been thinking about the idea of it: obliteration, wipeout, blinding annihilation. Sometimes obliteration is a razing from the earth, sometimes a mere forgetting. But obliteration is also a soldiering on. There is an obliteration of doubt, of hesitation: the straight line that does not deviate, the faith that never wavers. I obliterated a day, the other day, plunging into the city amid the city's March blizzard - marching, head down, into everything. I obliterated dessert. I obliterated my taxes.

The act of obliteration is a source of infinite power. For a moment you are feeble, doubting; then you decide you will not doubt, you will not hone or temper - you will simply do, charging forward. Roaring, victorious obliteration. If your spirit is a song then your spirit is no longer a woman's asking voice, a searching acoustic guitar, a fragile violin. It is the thunder of electric guitar. No, better still: the obliterating din of bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, fiddle and bumblebee box. "Tout en me promenant" obliterates utterly. It is a siege weapon, a steam-train, a man snapping your heart in half. It is a new age, undoing and remaking the old. You cannot win, you cannot stand in its way, you lose, you lose, you lose. You are undone.

Or else you are a part of it.

Those are the two choices: obliterated or obliterator. Victim or destroyer. When the drone is in the air you must make your choice, quickly, before the roles get set. If you hear La Baracande beginning, rouse yourself, decide, form or put away your fists.

[from a free compilation of music from France's La Nòvia collective]

(photo via The Art Counsel)

by Emma


Cousins - "What's Your Name?"

pinball : surface :: you : city
new daylight : sidewalk :: your body : all bodies
go : go :: go : go


[buy The Halls of Wickwire // image from this perfect video]

by Sean
By Okamoto Kiichi

Wishbone - "Over and Over". Would that we had spells. Would that we did. One of the great sorrows of my life, maybe the sorrow that ushered me out of childhood, was the comprehension that we do not. There are no spells, there never have been. Just deliberate syllables, thrown bones, without effect. Just empty hocus pocus. Would that we had spells. On a morning like this I could slide up to someone and ask for a spell; ask for magic just as I'd ask for the time, for a tissue, spare some change. Every person's spell would be different. Some spells rough as ripped concrete, others slick and rainbow as oilspots. Some float, some sink. Plunge your heartsick life into a perfect spell, dip your calloused hands. Bare your heart, unclenched. Take a deep breath, or five breaths; maybe five breaths make a spell. Would that we had spells. Then, any action might be a ritual. Every move could be a rite. The bar could be an altar, each of your friends high priests. Your home could be a cauldron.

This song - this one here - hear it as a hex. A kind hex with effect.


(image by Okamoto Kiichi, via A London Salmagundi and 50 Watts.)