Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Sean

Saad Lamjarred - "LM3ALLEM". Travelling in Morocco last week, I reflected on its pop music. A song like this, Lamjarred's juddering summer smash - what did it have to do with the terrasses of Taroudant or the alleys of Essaouira? What could it tell me about Tinghir's river valley? About the people sitting with me at tea? The answer, I think: it couldn't tell me much. In 2015, most commercial pop feels as if it is the product of a vast, musico-industrial machine. For the recording, mixing and mastering of "LM3ALLEM", I imagine a series of conveyor belts, turbines and control panels. I imagine plutonium rods. And a factory in Los Angeles or Nashville looks more or less like a factory in Shenzhen or Rabat. With a handful of major exceptions, what we mean when we say "radio pop" is "stuff that sounds like American radio pop". There's an erasure of the local (and, to some degree, a hybridization of what's American). "LM3ALLEM" is distinctly Moroccan in that it's sung in Arabic, with flourishes from traditional Middle Eastern music and dabke. But that's not actually very distinct: Arabic is an official language in 24 countries and among 200 million people.

I'm not sure that there's a point to my reflections here. I don't wish to fetishize some mythical past when Moroccan radio was full of "real", local Moroccan music. Nor do I wish to dismiss "LM3ALLEM" - as much as it's milled for mass consumption, it's still a rambunctious slab of 2010s dance-pop. But I suppose I'm reflecting on the way that non-commercial art has become a better site for the transmission of regional aesthetics. Gone are the days of Bob Marley or Amália Rodrigues, whose regional sounds became currency in the international mainstream. Now this exchange seems to happen only far away from radio or TV, via small labels, boutique festivals, and - if we're lucky - blogs.

by Emma

Rae Sremmurd - "No Flex Zone"

1. Not going to NXNE because something about the weird roaring corporate vacuum of it feels just, I don't know, kinda off? Like in a way you'd have a hard time justifying in a court of law but that still feels very real; maybe it's that the enterprise as a whole, when you think about it (or when you try to make a schedule on their truly terrible website) radiates that weird thing (which now that you think of it is very Toronto-ish, if nothing else) of aspiring to a particular brand of international soullessness but it's actually still at its core just a little bumbling, a little awkward on the follow-through, the seams showing, uncomfortably. Maybe the whole thing feels at once kinda cringe-y and kinda stressful and who needs that? Plus it's sunny and you don't need an expensive wristband to drink in your backyard.

2. But then also going to NXNE anyway because whatever, your friends are going to all these shows and they're gonna be texting you like "dude," etc., and anyway you like a lot of dumb bands and you want to be there for all the cool stuff. Like "be there for" as in both "be supportive" and "not miss everything," because missing out on fun things gives you the same light acidic stomach-roil that going out to go to fun things does. So whatever, it's a wash either way, right? And you like going out once you're out.

3. Plus, jesus christ, what are you going to do, be too cool for the music festival? Who are you, the fucking Fonz? Or just the most annoying person on earth? You're not too cool for the music festival. You're not too cool for anything. You're not cool. Be grateful for it.

4. That said, don't let anyone get away with calling it "North By." We all still need to maintain some shadow of something like dignity.

5. Maybe bike sometimes! Or don't, sometimes it's scary, they're your legs.

6. Be careful with that last call, please.

7. Friday:
- Inside Touch + Pat Jordache + James Irwin + How Sad at Handlebar (there are also some great people, including the inimitable Charlotte Cornfield, playing there earlier in the day)
- Moon + Moss Lime + Blonde Elvis + DAS RAD + Career Suicide at Soybomb
- Un Blonde + Chastity Belt + Old and Weird + Crosss + Foam + Homebody + Plasma Lab at Smiling Buddha

8. Saturday:
- Just go to Sonic Boom or DDL and hang out all day. (DDL is good on Sunday too.)
- Rae Sremmurd!

9. Sunday:
Get some tacos or whatever and go lie in the park. Think about the tattoos you and your best friend might get together someday. Or today! Maybe today is the day to do it; the world is long and you are young, things are good for you. Put your phone away for a few minutes. Take a nap if you need to. Call your mother when you wake up.

10. Toronto is full of a million cool babes and beautiful dogs in the summertime, and right now we are in the midst of peak season for making meaningful eye contact with, and then feeling far too shy to talk to, both. On your way to a show, try to really look at one or two very meaningful dogs. Once you get to the show, before you pull your phone out or whatever, take a minute or two to marvel at everyone's shirts. Don't make anyone feel weird about it, but pay attention. There are days when everyone in this stupid city looks like they walked straight out of the Cool Person catalogue and it's like, where are people getting all these shirts? So often, in this life, it is hard to do something as supposedly simple as locating and purchasing a shirt that doesn't make you look like a complete fucking chump, like a collapsing house, when you're in it. And then you go out and everyone is so beautiful and shining through their haircuts and it may seem like for all these other cool babes the shirt thing is effortless. But you know better than that. People put the work in, same as you. And now you're all here in this one place, together! It's a small thing but it's nice if you think about it - all of you gathered, watching a man with a beard tune his bass. Everyone really, really meaning it. Try not to take this stuff for granted.

[buy Sremmlife]

by Mitz
(photo source)

The Jellies - "Jive Baby On A Saturday Night (Original)" [Buy]

Once upon a time, I was biking and I had a really really close call. To be honest, I'm guilty of being lazy and not wearing helmet from my house to my work. I know it's really dumb. I always should wear helmet. I often just get up, put my clothes on, brush my teeth while pooping, grab my bike and leave my house in about 3 minutes. I've been too lazy to grab my bike helmet and put it stupid.

On that day, I wore a helmet and I knew I should everyday. Right by my studio, a bird poo landed on my bike frame between my legs. I was confused and another bird poo landed on my head. I didn't even want to imagine what would have happened if I wasn't wearing my helmet. It was a really really close call. I learned a lesson.

ps. joking aside, everyone, let's wear helmets!

by Jeff
Rideau and Dalhousie streets Ottawa 1860

The White Wires - "It's Been A While"

The summer I was sixteen a new All Ages club opened in Ottawa. It was right downtown - Dalhousie and Rideau, on the third floor over the Church of Scientology. When Unwound played, the floor bounced as the crowd bobbed back and forth.

I spent most nights of my summer vacation that year at Two Steps Above, either on the street leaning on the concrete plant boxes full of dirt, or inside watching bands. Noise, crust, hardcore, pop punk, metalcore, emo, straight edge, even ska (well no, not ska). If the people on stage were playing with guts I'd watch them. If I liked them I'd dance my dumb little dance and grin.

When I was a teenager I wanted to live at the show. I wanted to hear new bands, I wanted to see my downtown friends, I wanted to escape the boredom of the suburbs. I went to hundreds of five dollar All Ages bills.

I also went to see bands in basements, art galleries, curling clubs, backyard barbecues, social centres, parks, on the roof of the Rideau Centre, high school gyms, all around town. I loved seeing an address I didn't know on a flyer, looking it up on a map, and then going there, fixing the place in my mental geography of punk Ottawa. Seeing bands anywhere and everywhere led to my love of wandering the city. I haven't lived in Ottawa for over a decade, but I when I visit, all the old places still jump out at me, even the buildings that are gone and replaced with new ones.

This song by The White Wires about going to shows in Ottawa is a great prelude to this weekend's Ottawa Explosion Weekend music festival. There will be some amazing bands from all around North America and most of the shows will take place at Club SAW, a block away from the old Two Steps Above. I'm giving a reading at a punk zine event there on Saturday, June 20 at 3 pm. Come out if you're around!


(Rideau and Dalhousie in 1860)

by Sean

Pops Staples - "Somebody Is Watching". There are times when heat feels all abiding. Feels kind, welcoming, come in / come in / have some mint tea. Not summer: just heat. Just sun on earth, sand, bricks turning redder. A sky's blue polished like tile. You see a dog or a cat, meandering. You think to yourself, Me too I am meandering. Meandering like a guest in a big hotel. Meandering like a body in all-abiding heat. Sometimes it is so hot that every single movement gains purpose, meaning. Even seeing. Even meandering. The sun is watching you and if you are moving there must surely be a reason.


love from morocco

by Emma


Girlpool - "Before the World Was Big"
Girlpool - "Emily"

Girlpool are the punkest band I have ever heard. Not just punk like there's yelling, even though there is sometimes; not just punk like it's two girls doing what they want and not caring what you think of them, even though they are and they don't. Punk like listening to them makes me feel like I am absolutely myself, but I could be another thing too, in a minute, if I wanted. Punk as in it sees you, knows your feelings, then keeps moving without asking what you're going to do too. Punk as in honest without coddling its honesty too close. As in vulnerable without yielding. As in tough without unkindness, as in tough enough to be the truest thing you've ever heard. As in smart and rough and sweet and shambling, messy sleek and sharp and bending at the edges. As in loud. As in loud even when it whispers. Tonight I listened to these songs on my walk home and the air outside was thick and warm and the whole neighbourhood smelled like cut grass and ancient orange streetlights on the verge of burning out, and there was that filmy late-dusk pre-rain light everywhere and you know when you hear two instruments play the same note and the sound weaves in and out of itself? How the two things are themselves, separate and together, into and apart, pulling each other in and out of the air? That's the voices of the two people in Girlpool, and that's me against the sound of them. Vibrating on the same pitch. I mean punk as in possible. As in not alone. As in come with me.

[buy Before the World Was Big]

image via

by Mitz

Die Radierer - "Angriff Auf's Schlaraffenland" [Buy]

I was going to write something else but changed my mind because I woke up from a dream this morning and wanted to tell you about it. I was at the airport, getting ice cream for my girlfriend and I, but the lineup was really long, so by the time I got two soft serve cones I got a text from her saying that our flight was leaving and I had to run really fast, like in 'Home Alone'. If you have never experienced running with ice cream before, it is really hard. You have to have balance, composure, determination, and ambition. All the things you need to become an Olympian, except it is extra hard because you can't swing your arms since you are holding two cones of melting soft serves. Life is hard, not soft serve.

I was almost at the gate and that is when I woke up, looked down, and noticed my hands were holding imaginary ice cream cones and I was breathing heavy.

I thought back and realized why I had this dream and it was because I was at my studio working and thinking about getting a delicious soft serve ice cream cone from one of my top 5 favourite soft serve shops in the world which happens to be really close to my studio, Kem Coba. There is always a huge lineup, but it was raining all afternoon so i thought there would be a shorter line up. I would be waiting in line in the rain like a hardcore fan of a band, front row, screaming lyrics, dancing, covered in mud at a rainy music festival. Hardcore soft serve fan. I ended up just dreaming about it instead.