Train Fou - "Peuple Pollock". We all already know the notion of Schrödinger's Cat: a tabby in a box, at once dead and alive, somehow someways both until an observer checks. OK so that's Schrödinger's Cat. Let's talk now about Train Fou's "Peuple Pollock", a spectral and subdivided pop song, with shades of yesterday (Yeasayer and Massive Attack) and tomorrow (???). It's loop music, sample music, but with a forward-leaning groove, heavier and more abrupt than we're used to - much of the skeleton's made of trombone blarps, like snippets from a post-Inception movie trailer. I like it for the way it makes hay, serious hay, from elements that might otherwise feel naff (it was the same on Train Fou's previous, saxophone-y single). There's a sense that Train Fou (literally "crazy train") are taking these ridiculous, tacky, playful elements and using them as building-blocks for non-silly music, music with mettle and conviction. Which brings me back to my frail Schrödinger's Cat allusion. Imagine not a crate with a(n) (un)dead feline: imagine a cassette Walkman with the buttons' functions rubbed off. Shove a button down: somehow someways it's FFWD and RWD at the same time. Until you listen, it's everything - shuttling, reversing, playing regular time. In-out music, moonwalked or faked. Remember - nobody knows what you're thinking until you tell them, unless you tell them, and you can always lie.
[discovered via La Souterraine's Sainte Pop compilation / more Train Fou]
Weyes Blood - "Do you Need My Love" [Buy]
I hosted a workshop at University here in Montreal. Their design program's Student group invited me to give a small workshop on Monday.
It was really fun. As I walked into the university, I realized I hadn't been to schools in a really really long time. I looked around like Marty McFly when you got to past/future and looking around amused.
I just turned 36 years old, last month. I dont know if you guys know about this but I have Asian blood which makes me looks like 23 years old up til 79 and as soon as I turn 80 years old, I will turn into Yoda.
So I blended in pretty well in late teens to early 20's.
One point at the workshop, I made a joke about sanding wood is so miserable and I call it, "Melancholy and infinite sanding"
and there was silence and first time in my life. I felt like I made a dad joke.
So I dabbed.
Unwound - "Arboretum" [buy]
(Read part one and two here and here)
Lin came to in a tangle of rope. She could hear the waves crashing on the shore and smelled salt in the air. For a moment she thought this was the afterlife, but the stories all said that it was an infinitely long mead hall, not a seaside chasm.
Somewhere below her a bell was ringing, slowly.
She was still reeling from the dizziness that had suddenly overtaken her on the mountain pass. A moment ago she was flailing, reaching out for Barnabas. Then blackness. Now this. Lin felt defeated. She thought of Mica and a lump formed in her throat. He would die without the potion.
"Are you alright up there?" a voice called.
"Yes," she answered. "Where am I?"
"This is Nameless Chasm. I'm Alonso."
From the corner of her eye, Lin saw the man climbing up a ladder on the steep cliff face.
"Now hold on tight to this rope," he said as he tossed her a long rough line. Lin grabbed it, and when she gave the sign the net supporting her give way. She hung in mid-air.
"When I'm on the ground, swing over to the ladder and climb down."
Lin followed his instructions and twenty feet below she found herself on a beach. The narrow chasm opened to the sea.
"You've had quite a fall." Alonso was short, wiry, and deeply tanned. His hands were strong and his fingers calloused.
He noticed her gaze. "I used to be a fisherman, but now I mostly catch people," he laughed. "You'd be surprised how many folks tumble off that pass every year."
He motioned to the small hut nearby. There was a table and chairs outside it. "Can I interest you in a cup of tea?"
Lin looked up the cliff but she couldn't see the path she'd fallen from. "I have to get back up there."
Alonso shook his head. 'I'm afraid the wizard's made it quite impassable. The only way to the Northwest is through the Caverns of Crane. But it's a treacherous journey--"
A scream came from nearby, a terrified shriek that immediately sent Lin and Alonso running in its direction.
(image by Spike)
Sylvan Esso - "Die Young"
A slow ocean wave plus a sweet pop song. A late night walk home across the bridge plus a fax machine giving off sparks. A thin whisper plus a shelf of heavy books collapsing spectacularly to the floor. A real sad secret plus some searing singing hot pink neon. A promise plus a threat, which is just sex. A cat staring out the window in springtime making little tiny sounds with the front part of its throat plus a whole forest on fire, from above. A day of hot desert sun plus a whole-night dream of melting Tetris. A stream of radio static off the edge of a song from your childhood plus a calculator you don't remember swallowing in your sleep. A secret plus a slogan. A dark thing plus a sweet thing. Night plus something else that looks and feels like night but isn't, not exactly.
[What Now comes out April 28]
Hard Skin - "Skinhead" [buy]
Hard Skin - "Council Estate" [buy]
Until I heard Hard Skin, the sum of my knowledge of Oi was limited to two Cock Sparrer songs, the few sets I caught by excellent Montreal skins Jeunesse Apatride, and a Sham 69 song I heard on a mixtape when I was a sixteen. Since then I've listened to some early Blitz and been obsessed with French Oi-revivalists Rixe, but on the whole I still know practically nothing about the genre.
But I friggin' love Hard Skin. Repping for their London neighbourhood of Gipsy Hill, they've written four albums and a bunch of singles of catchy skinhead anthems delivered in a furious cockney growl. Firmly mid-tempo, with giant guitar leads, Hard Skin's songs rescue the golden age of working-class rock n roll from the dustbin of history. Hard Skin play into the proudest traditions of the sub-genre: celebrating boozing at the pub, glory days and lost friends, and endlessly slag off the coppers in songs with ominous football hooligan gang vocals.
And if this all sounds tough as hell, there's also a self-mocking, tongue-in-cheek character at the heart of their songs. They're not necessarily joking, but they're not entirely serious either. And it's the black humour of their approach that makes these songs about the bleak conditions of life in working-class England (is a Brexit concept album forthcoming? we can only hope) get under your skin.
Hard Skin make two rare appearances in Canada this week. They play Ottawa on Thursday, March 16 and Montreal at the Oi! St. Patrick's Weekend, this Saturday, March 18 at Katacombes (1635 St. Laurent). More info here.
(Mural by Miami singer Ivy Jeanne in 949 Market Squat, 2001; photo by Miami guitarist Erick Lyle)
Miami - "The City That Never Sleeps" [buy the reissue of the crucial split with Shotwell!]
I've tried and tried to write about Miami, the band not the city, from California not Florida, a band that was hugely important to me at a weird time of excessive feelings and long Greyhound bus rides, but instead I just end up playing this new reissue of The City That Never Sleeps over and over again with a stupid smile on my face.
Here are the approaches I tried:
1) A nostalgic scene of first hearing the record as my pen-pal Cindy drove me to the white sands of Pensacola Beach.
2) Realization that I am old: Can you believe they're re-issuing this record? I remember when it first came out!
3) History lesson: Miami played generator shows on Mission Street in post-tech bubble San Francisco. Its members were (and still are; RIP Matty Luv) squatters, artists, zinesters, anti-gentrification activists involved in creating temporary autonomous zones and free spaces in a hostile, rapidly-changing city.
4) Feels: Listen to that howl. Has there ever been a sound that so perfectly captures the feeling of being young, alive, and flat broke in a soul-crushing city that you love and hate? (Well has there?) AwooooOOooooOOoo
These songs are fire. The City That Never Sleeps captures a tuneful, soulful, raggedy, powerful sound. Miami drew from X and The Minutemen and made something imperishably their own. This record was a beacon in the early 2000s, a bat-signal that said STAY PUNK and DON'T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE. Still good lessons today.
Cerro Verde - "I Lost a Game" [Buy]
(I hope I didn't write this story yet)
Me and my girlfriend, we used to play this game.
When we get home, before we go into our apartment, we both guess where our cat is. And we go in really really really quietly.
point system is set for difficulty of the guess. For example, my cat being at the door greeting us would be 1 point since it's most likely place. On the couch laying down, would be 2 points, on the bed, would be 2 points, by the window laying down, would be 2 points.
However, there are extreme place such as kitchen chair, 4 points. Under the credenza in the living room, 4 points.
Once, he was accidentally locked in the closet(I felt bad:( ) That would be 15 points.
If both of us didn't get it right, our cat gets a point.
I used to go for bigger points since I lost everytime, so I used to guess crazy one like in the oven smelling burned food, 29 points etc etc.
I lost this game.
I miss my cat, Moses RIP.
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
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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
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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
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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