Said the Gramophone - image by Kit Malo
by Jeff

three people and a dog playing in the surf at Clam Harbour Beach, Nova Scotia

Palace - "Gulf Shores"

Will Oldham illuminates a languid summer feeling on this gauzy 1994 Palace b-side. Using a loose melody, echoing drums, and ghostly barroom piano, "Gulf Shores" paints a landscape of the sandy meeting point of land and sea. This song shuffles along the beach, getting sand in its shoes.

On display are the long tan limbs, cold drinks, and ocean fauna of summer. This is the sun-drunk world where you endure the heat for as long as possible before returning to sea, and then repeat. Time melts like a popsicle, skin crinkles around the eyes and mouth, and hair gets lightened by several shades

Like every landscape artist worth his salt, Oldham creates drama by painting a few ominous clouds on the horizon. The narrator gives us vague hints of family drama, their companion's self-destructive urges, and a haunting desire for oblivion. But most concerns melt away when set against the blue sea on a hot day. Listening to the song, it feels like those off-shore clouds rimmed with darkness will never make landfall, and that life can remain forever suspended in the haze of seaside existence.

[buy]

(photo by Spike)

by Sean
Cat, carpet


Mary Afi Usuah & the South Eastern State Cultural Band - "From Me To You". An experiment for you, a Monday afternoon challenge: don't hear this song as a plea, a calling "from me to you"; hear it as a ratification of feelings already foretold. Neither question nor answer but the thing that follows the answer, the rubber-stamp, the lock clicking shut. Hear the strength of it, the certainty, not any of the asking. Listen deep down past Usuah's voice and those pokes of brass, under the middle-certainty of the band singing "la-la, la-la, la": listen to the drums, djembe, snare and high-hat, the groove that's locked, that was living there even before we could hear it. [buy]

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Elsewhere:

My friend the producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Silver Mt Zion, Wolf Parade) reminisces upon the death of studio legend Bob Johnston.


(image source)

by Emma

California

Miguel - "Waves"
Miguel - "Leaves"

Two songs that press, casual-hard, on two separate parts of your brain that belong to each other. Like photonegatives, like a fever. Like if you crossed Prince with ten days of spilled glitter and sky, with kaleidoscope light breaking over itself, with a long list of slow drifting sparks rising into the night, with your body, with everyone's bodies. With bruised air, with thunderheads, August's low pile. With dusk settling into the sway and weave of everything. Even the light in the morning.

[buy Wildheart] // [image]

by Mitz
(photo source)

Brian Protheroe - "Fly Now" [Buy]

So this has totally nothing to do with the song but my friend told me a long long time ago in the 90's, when Smashing Pumpkins played in Osaka, the audience kept chanting "co-gan! co-gan!" to Billy Corgan who probably felt almighty and like all he was doing was great. he even thought he could fly.. Little did he know "co-gan" means "testicles" in Japanese...

by Jeff
blurry image of Frau playing live

Frau - "Punk Is My Boyfriend"
Frau - "Orca"

Frau do not banter between songs. There's only a short pause, as in Morse code, to signify the beginning of the next barrage of dots and dashes.

Then they blast through another discordant, irregular punk song. The guitar player thrashes as she repeats the jagged chords, the rhythm section lock in and propel the song forward at speed. The singer stares into the audience, or squints her eyes, or stomps her feet, all with intimidating power. Her voice alternates between speaking, yelling, screaming, and squeaking in a high register. This summer is ruled by the women vocalists of Downtown Boys, Sheer Mag, and Vexx, and Ash from Frau is up there with the best of them. Every squeak and squeal is menacing, searing.

With two singles and a demo tape to their name, Frau somehow embody several contradictory strains of punk rock, from the Anarcho rat-a-tat of Crass to the rantings of The Fall, from the sunny primitiveness of Beat Happening to the black-as-night nihilism of Poison Idea. Their music lies on the borderlands between the cool affect of minimal punk and the psychological darklands of hardcore. On stage, the tension between these two poles exerts an enormous pressure. Each Frau song is a perfect black diamond, sharp and hard.

During their set in Montreal I threw my fist up, danced wobbly, and yelled my appreciation. They came all the way from London just to play a twenty-five minute set. There was no time for banter.

[buy]

(image source)

by Sean
St Basil's


Jon McKiel - "Still Remain". Oh life's a slow work; oh it's such a slow work. Toby came over to hang a sign in our yard. We all stood around with zip-ties and twine, a big pair of scissors. Grape-vines sprawled over everything. Sunlight dazed over leaves. A wind arrived and went away. Oh, life's a slow work; oh it's such a slow work. Look at all we know how to do: standing around with zip-ties and twine, knowing friends, volunteering for elections and doing civic duty. Grown-ups being grown-ups, capable and committed - oh, but I don't know a thing. I'm a dummy with an RRSP. I'm a tumbledown and paste-up. Never mind the herbs in my windowbox, the Brahms on the turntable, my proper quality bath-towels. I'm just the sum of it all, the flimsy sum, not much more than my reflection. And I'm OK with that; really I'm OK. I know that you're all right / I know you are all right. Life's a slow work and I'm working at it, slowly. [This song's such a great song, more from Jon at bandcamp]

by Emma

Partner - "Hot Knives (Sappy Mix)"

I was at Sappyfest last week too, my second one ever. It feels silly to write about it at all when there's Sean's perfect record of the festival just a few posts behind me, but whatever. I was away for a week, and by the end my nerves felt like stripped wire; any kind of defence against the world I had had been dissolved, systematically, by all-friends and day drinking, by swimming and not sleeping, by 3am generator-powered shows at the place where the train tracks run into the marsh.

It feels good, in a different way, to be back in the real world again after a week of living in a sweet blur of magic and shotgunning. Putting the walls back up. You know how this works: pile routine on routine, make the phone calls, fold the ragged trailing edges of your life back up until the whole thing starts to look coherent again. Grocery store, post office, email, dishes. Real alarms. Set yourself in lines against the day.

But all morning I've been listening to this Partner song on my headphones. Their set, in the Thunder and Lightning bowling alley, was one of my favourite shows I've ever seen - loud and funny and serious and so much excellent, breathtaking shredding - and finding this song feels like one of those moments in a movie where the character wakes up and thinks, oh god, maybe it was all just a dream. And later, they dig in their pocket for their keys but instead they find something else. There's that look we all know, crossing over their face. And then they uncurl their fist, zoom in, and we see it: some token carried over from the other world, the better one. The gold coin, the note. Proof, shining. Incredibly, impossibly real.

This song is that, except it's about doing knife tokes. Keep it in your pocket. The summer's still happening. There's still time to yell, loud as you can.