Moon - "I Come From Downtown" [buy]
The moon is always changing. Sometimes we see it as a thin crescent, a celestial toe-nail clipping. Other times it's a little wider, a big white grin staring down at us. In the fall it hangs full and orange, only a few feet above the farm fields. And a couple nights out of every month it's brilliant and bone white, lighting your walk home from the show.
Halifax's Moon have taken direction from their lunar namesake and embraced this perpetual change. I've seen them play live as a five-piece psych gang and also as a down-to-business power trio. But while their personnel is variable, groove is in the heart of all their songs, a funky tide-pulling force propelling them forward.
Drawing on the mid-90s Thrill Jockey catalogue, but subtracting its jazz affect, "I Come From Downtown" on Moon's new Paradise String EP is their funkiest cut yet. The tight rhythm section is filled out with chorus-laden guitar, synths, and tape effects. The un-rock, almost conversational, vocals invite the listener downtown for a visit. Come check out the different way things are done over here, the song summons us. This is the spiritual downtown, of course, the traditional home of artists and others. A spikey solo late in the song is a further enticement. And while you're downtown you might look up, notice the moon, and see it differently.
(photo by Spike)
The Beach Boys - "Surfer Girl (Take 6)"
Migos - "Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)
Sometimes the future works perfect. Like, last week, an app I was using saw through my playlists and directly into my mood and, via some chain of algorithms I could never possibly even pretend to begin to understand, delivered unto me this fucking wonderful Beach Boys demo I'd never heard before. The Beach Boys in February! What a gift! They all sound like they're standing in an empty California swimming pool, harmonizing at the moon under an impossible blanket of blinking stars. Plus that melancholy licking all faint and sweet just along the edges? Come on.
Beach Boys outtakes in particular are fascinating because they capture these songs in moments before their sadness and their pure glittering wonder have been totally balanced, so things always list a little to one side or the other. Some songs sound a little corny, kinda naked; others feel too echoey, like you're walking around your bachelor apartment trailed by a pack of velvet-tuxedoed ghosts who won't stop crooning lonely anthems in the background while you heat up a frozen pizza or whatever. Good harmony, the kind that rings you like a tuning fork, might make you feel bigger than anything else in the world, but it's a tenuous thing - the incomprehensible, un-fake-able product of luck and intent and technical skill and emotional charge. That's why charmless pop songs (or any songs, really) can leave you feeling like you ate a bag of steak-dinner-flavoured chips when you thought you were gonna have an actual meal; that's your very soul rejecting bad harmony, the disingenuous kind. The flatness of it.
Anyway. The point of all this is that sometimes algorithms don't work at all, because I listened to nothing but Beach Boys demos for like a week solid, and ever since, the robot brain has been trying to sell me on all these monotonously sun-dappled beige-y floating-guitar bands, the kind whose "jangly hooks" play in the background of the TV version of your life while you're out for a pleasant bike ride. I do not have anything against this type of song per se - I like a nice bike ride as much as anyone, and every single night of my life I dream about summer - but its recommendation as a Beach Boys chaser feels a little narrow-minded. As if the thing that gives me goosebumps about that music is primarily its sunniness. What I want is is for real harmony to run through me like a charge; I want to get the wind knocked out of me by convergence, by a song that feels joyful and haunting and sharp and familiar and brand new all depending on which way the light hits it, because it contains all those things at once, and more. The kind of balance that feels fragile and temporary and present; entirely, perfectly itself.
[buy Culture / Becoming The Beach Boys]
10:26 PM on Feb 19, 2017
British Sea Power - "The Lonely" [Buy]
When I was a kid and went to visit my grandma, my brothers and I slept upstairs of her house. It's an classic style old Japanese house with the stairs probably about 50 degrees.
It was so steep and dangerous. My grandma used to put a bucket on the top of the stairs so that us, kids can pee in the middle of the night. Life hack!
I just remembered this bucket. that is all.
Tinariwen (+IO:I) - "Ténéré Tàqqàl" [buy / beautiful music video]
A warm welcome to travelers. Fresh water and food. Coffee from the stove. Directions given when asked. Soap and shower. Listening without giving unasked-for advice. Tea, if desired. Sugar in the cupboard. Sitting at the table together. The pull-out couch, clean blankets. The warmth of conversation. Sharing what little. Preserving. Making-do and mending. Helping with the load. Love.
Attention to the small: the lit-up sunset, pollinating bee, occasional rainbow, ravens on the rooftops. Finding the pace, it may be slow, of getting through and moving on. Supporting what makes life shine. Laughter, song. Walking at night. Walking at day. The first warming sun in winter. The moon, emptying and filling like a well. The distant stars. The ragged cloth. These technologies will not steer you wrong as you travel through your years.
Mulatu Astatke - "Tezeta (Nostalgia)"
I have nothing clever to say about this song, no thoughtful way to write around it - just the plain fact that I have not yet found a single activity or mood that is not made a little better, a little brighter, by putting it on in the background. Packed into a streetcar, late for the late shift, walking through drifting snow or perplexing mid-February spring air, brushing the cat when he likes being brushed or when he doesn't, baking muffins instead of writing, reading, late nights when you're so far past should have been asleep that you're the most awake you've ever been, conducting stray memories with your bones the way some houses' wiring pulls radio signals out of the air. The small static at its edges, how free and thoughtful that piano is, the sweetness inside every pause. This song fits perfectly into everything, or maybe your life just fits perfectly along its track.
[buy Ethiopiques - Vol. 4]
Djivan Gasparyan - "I Will Not Be Sad In This World" [buy]
(Read part one of the story here)
Barnabas the tiger stalked the narrow mountain path in a frenzy. Moments before his master Lin had fallen into the steep canyon below. He looked for any traces of her but even with his sensitive vision he couldn't see anything in the chasm.
Barnabas didn't notice the vulture as it corkscrewed down from the heights and landed on an outcropping of rock nearby.
"Friend," the vulture began, but seeing the bird Barnabas reared up to leap. "Chill, son," the vulture said. "If you try to take me out you'll end up following your master to the rocky bottom."
"You mock me," Barnabas growled.
"Listen, listen. Easy. I was coming over here to warn you. Ever heard of old Wizard Landlock? He holds a power over the path, and most people who attempt it end up falling over the side. It's some kind of vertigo charm. Animals are immune to it."
"But why?" Barnabas asked. "We've never run afoul of wizards."
The vulture shrugged. "The dude's confused, he thinks the mountains are his. As if. And he likes his privacy so he littered the place with traps.
Barnabas's anger was subsiding and he let out a long howl of sadness.
"Wait, buddy. There's good news. At the bottom of this chasm there lives an old fisherman named Alonso. He set up his nets down there, out of the wizard's long sight. He catches almost everyone that takes a header, so I bet the lady's fine. I'll show you the way down if you like."
Barnabas considered his options. Quite likely the carrion bird would lead him off a precipice and make a meal of him. He thought of Mica, and their mission to save him. Perhaps if he pressed on--but he couldn't do it on his own. He needed Lin.
"Trust me," the vulture told him and took to the wing. "I'm Giselle, by the way."
Barnabas grunted his name in reply and followed Giselle to the secret path down the stony cliff.
ミツメ (Mitsume) - "あこがれ".
Suzy is a cactus, sunlit and loping, comfy in a J.J.
He's a friend of Pepe's, the old Pepe, before Pepe changed. They used to go down to the arcade together, watch older kids playing Street Fighter II. Then they'd stand by the dirty river, shouting slogans at swans. Pepe brought cheese sandwiches for lunch; Suzy had tuna salad.
Sometimes people ask Suzy where Suzy's from. He's not like most other cacti - he's friendlier, with a moist handshake. My family's from the Azores, he tells them. They own a garden hotel. "Suzy" is short for Suzanismo - which "is a boy's name, on the Azores. It's Portuguese."
Suzy keeps his apartment tidy. His kitchen counters are clean, his fridge is nicely stocked, his TV's properly mounted. He keeps a single magazine on the square, teak coffee table. The magazine is Thrasher magazine. In the fridge there are salad fixings, yoghurt drinks, bags and bags of oranges. Sometimes Suzy wears oranges on his face - he just sticks them on the spikes, goes out like that. Nice oranges, Pepe says. Suzy smiles, shrugs. Suzy's happy and weird. Suzy's comfy and no problem.
Suzy's bedroom's in the back. Suzy practices karate in the privacy of his room, with the red curtains drawn. His goal, if he thinks about it, is to save somebody someday. An innocent party, in an alley behind a bar - he'll karate-chop the adversaries, kick em to the kerb. In the meantime his karate practice is private, solitary, the most serious thing he does.
Suzy's favourite artist is Matt Furie.
When he gets on his skateboard it's like he's telling your favourite joke.
On a Sunday, Suzy makes fruit salad. Grabs the fruit from the icebox with the spines of his limbs, chucks it banana by apple by orange onto a beautiful burled cutting-board. He slices the banana thin, leaves the oranges in thick wedges. The morning's shouting sunshine through the window. Something from Tokyo's on the turntable. All the fruit's loose in a bowl; he adds grapes, raspberries, a few scoops of passionfruit. The secret ingredient's triple sec: one glug from the bottle. He isn't sure yet who the fruit salad's for. Maybe he's eating it himself. Maybe everyone's coming over.
[Mitsume aren't from the Azores / they're not cacti / they're from Japan / buy]
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs
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Said the Gramophone
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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
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.
writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This
is her website and email her here
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
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 Ella Plevin
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
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
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
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
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News