Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Emma

Sister Ernestine Washington - "I'm His Child"
1. There was one totally impossible day this past winter where it was somehow 15 degrees and devastatingly sunny, right in the middle of February, like someone had spliced the season out of order and didn't notice their mistake. A gift. This was in the beginning, when C. and I did not yet live in the same place but something was happening. He'd made me a mixtape and sent in the mail; pre-/post-war gospel+blues, the label said. A tape! The mail! Imagine! I had to go into the sunroom and dig out my cassette player to listen. The machine at this point is held together mostly by electrical tape and nostalgia and when I plugged it in and hit play - sun streaming in through my half-open window, trees listing in the small breeze, the whole world outside a dream about the world - these were the first notes I heard. Between the tape-warble and dust-static it sounded like I was tuning into a radio station from another planet. That piano! Those voices! A feeling so enormous and generous and sure of itself it seemed impossible that it could have come from people at all, let alone to me. All of history, recording, churches, choirs, a tangle of wires encased in plastic and me in my bedroom, in the glow of all this dumb luck. A world in which this much joy could make its way through time and space and media, through all these faulty, collapsing channels, and not just remain intact but somehow throw its light on me. In the letter that came with it he said who makes someone they like a tape like this?? but he knew and so did I. The answer right there in the room with me, singing.

Kanye West - "Ultralight Beam"*
2. When it came out, I listened to The Life Of Pablo straight through about 5 or 6 times. Now I can't listen to it ever again, I don't think. Something about the darkness running under even its brightest moments, something intuitive and intangible and too bright and too dark that maybe matches up too well with the contours of my own sadness, too out-of-control to listen to with anything but fear and disdain. It is an album for people who are mentally healthy enough to not notice or care about that feeling, or for those who are just far more comfortable with the skips in their own structure than I am. That said, when I am feeling low I turn, over and over again, to "Ultralight Beam." Specifically, I skip about halfway through the song and listen to Chance's perfect verse; those tiny scratches in his voice as he spits the first few sentences, the sweet urgency, sincerity, the joy of it, the speed and build held perfect in his steady pace. When he finishes I pull my phone out of my pocket, pull that little bar back, listen again and again, letting the feeling move through me as clear as a bell, struck and giddy and glowing.

Chance the Rapper - "Blessings"*
3. "Colouring Book" is the happiest album I've heard in a long long long time, and I'm so grateful for it I could cry. Not happy as in saccharine or corporate or aspirational or ignoring the truth of the world as it is, but as in pure joy conducted by a person who exists just to arrange it, the rarest kind of real. Every song on this album is just fucking brimming with love and happiness and pure excitement and you cannot help but be swept up. Chance somehow always sounds the most in control of his shit that a human could be and also like he just sprinted ten blocks to get here and give you the good news. Gospel, church. Whether you go in for the God-side of these things could not possibly matter less; if you believe in the possibility of being caught up in a feeling so otherworldly it can only possibly have come of the physical materials of everyday life, these songs will lift you all the way up. (One of my favourite lines of Chance's is in "Sunday Candy," a love song for his grandmother where he praises her hugs: "You smell like light, gas, water, electricity, rent.") There is an impossible kind of pleasure in watching someone so involved in their element, in the pure pull of the magic they're making, that they can't help but lift off the ground. A dream, a gift. Real joy.

[buy buy buy buy]

*(Linking to videos isn't the usual move around here, but I wanted to show you guys these songs without getting in copyright-related trouble.)

by Mitz
(photo source)

Wishkaah - "Too Early to Say" [Buy]
Spiritualized - "I Think I'm in Love" [Buy]

My mom is here. She came to visit.

Her English is quite well except sometimes, there is misunderstanding. You know, even fluent in the language, there is a misunderstanding. Like the time, when I thought my friend was talking about Nick Drake but he was actually talking about Drake. Things happen.

Last week, my friend gave me a credenza so my girlfriend told my mom, "we are going to pick up a piece of furniture." But my mom replied with enthusiasm, "I love pizza!" and she kept going on how much she loves pizza. What kind of pizza she likes and how expensive pizza is in Japan for about 10 minutes. I think she heard "piece" as in "pizza."

My girlfriend didn't want to correct her to embarrass her. So she replied to her, "Yep! pizza is going to be great tonight!" and we got pizza that night.

I love them both.

by Jeff

print works by Mathieu Trudel including drawings of mom and pop storefronts in Ottawa and two issues of Hulltramar zine

Union of Uranus - "Circumstance"

I'm a slow writer. It takes me ages of mulling things over before I can express how I feel. Nights like tonight I wish I was quicker and could just write some magical words that would adequately honour or even do justice to the amazing Mathieu Trudel, my friend for twenty years.

I'm sure the first time we met was out on the sidewalk in front of an all ages hardcore show when we were both teenagers in Ottawa. Mat and I were never involved in each other's day to day lives, but we had an amazing twenty year conversation. We loved punk, and art, and zines. As we got older we hung out at garage shows at the Dominion Tavern when the room was thick with blue cigarette smoke. He was always a fucking joy to talk to, so full of excitement.

I loved his illustrations and his amazing Hulltramar zine about place and community, and ... I don't know. This isn't an obituary, or even a eulogy, just some thoughts after a long day under a dark cloud.

For a few years I worked as a night watchman overnight in Strathcona Park and Mat worked the same shift at the parking garage in the Byward Market. Sitting in my security trailer writing all night I loved knowing that fifteen blocks away Mat was in the booth of the parking garage, working on his drawings. We were in different parts of the city, but somehow together.

Much love to everyone who knew and loved Mat.

(image: works by Mathieu Trudel)

by Sean

New Dog - "Here All Days".

I have a son now. I don't have the time here, now, to tell you all about it. He's sleeping; he'll be up soon. His eyelids are shiny, like someone's daubed them with wax. His eyes, under those lids, are blue.

Having a kid changes a great many things. I'm only just uncovering all the things it changes. It changes my sense of myself, my vision of other people. It changes my itinerary. When my partner puts on Serge Gainsbourg or Bach or Super Ape, and our little boy is listening, it changes the way I hear that music.

But having a child also changes the music he isn't listening to. He's sleeping now, he hasn't heard "Here All Days", not yet. Yet this is a song I listened to many times before he was born. Lonely and contemplative, silver with dusky light. What I heard before was its melancholy, its rearward reflection, Anar Badalov's poetry like the unspooling footage of a previous evening. All the people that I love / I can count you on one hand / the other one I keep in my pocket. It was a story of letdowns, foreshadowings.

Now I hear it differently. My dad / he taught me never to run, Badalov sings. I hear that word, "dad", and it lands differently. Some trust the moon they've known since birth / Some hang onto their mothers' words. My home, these days, is filled with mothers' words. I remember when my mother-in-law printed out this little boy's horoscope, for fun. We read it. We imagined him.

"Here All Days" is the same song it was. A song of rearward reflection, lonely and contemplative. But now I find that it is also pointing toward tomorrow. It is a person's possible future - not an ugly future, just a dusky one, a little sad, a little true. I can't hear it without thinking of M listening to it, on some long-distant night, wherever he is. My dad / he taught me / never to run. Is that what I will teach him? When will I decide?

[buy the beautiful Teeth Marks]

by Mitz

(photo source)

Ride - "Sight of You(pale Saints cover)" [Buy]

I got a new hobby.

Window Dining.

That is when you go to your corner store and buy a bag of chips and on your way home, you stop by the window of the restaurant and stare at people eating dinner while you snack on your chips. It's like window shopping but dining. You can even join the conversation if it's patio season.

It's gloriously awkward and fun. I recommend it instead of cross fit or hot yoga.

by Jeff

a band playing in a half-empty hall

Uranium Club - "The Collector"

Minneapolis's Uranium Club have ants in their pants. I imagine them writing this song in a tight basement room on the hottest day of the year, playing it over and over until they're collapsing. Their roughshod debut record Human Exploration must be fueled by caffeine, cheap beer, insomnia, and thrift store shirts. Boil those things down to their essence you get some fast, fucked-up garage rock that sounds nothing like Destroy-Oh-Boy!! or Blood Visions or Primary Colours, but carries the same live wire of pure undiluted electricity as those pocket masterpieces.


(image: Jeff Wall, "Band & crowd")

by Emma

Drake - "Feel No Ways"
Drake - "Controlla"
Drake - "One Dance (feat. Wizkid & Kyla)"
(03/05/2016: Removed at RIAA demand.)

Fuck, you guys, I just love Drake so much. I can't help it! I don't want to help it, and also I can't. Even when he does things I don't necessarily like I still love them, and when he does things I love they take me apart cell by cell. That's family, I guess, or the place you came from and can't escape, or pop music when it's done right, or the kind of crush that's not really a crush but something that lives deeper inside your marrow and has nothing to do with the crush-object at all, really, when you get right down to it.

My favourite thing about this music is the way the pieces never quite fit together, not on first listen and not in theory: everything's coming from opposite poles, surface-skipping beats and deep high-drama heartbreak, damp cold and blinding sunshine, goofy and straight-faced and how he means all of it the same way, with exactly the same amount of power, every time. With Drake no matter what he's saying there is no apology for meaning it as much as he means. You just let yourself be pulled in different directions by all of it - the smooth beats and the sharp edges and the simmering slow burn of just how much he wants - until you can't help feeling a way about it that's exactly as sincere as he is. That's the magic. Other people have better bravado, flows that are loopier and lovelier to trace, other people do better at playing vulnerable for views. But Drake is the best in the game at letting it all rush in.

I have no hot takes about this new album; I do not begrudge the boy his hubris or his lyrically lopsided approach to romance. I am just grateful for the silvery rush and low kick of "Feel No Ways" (that BEAT!) the warm waver of "Controlla" ("Jodeci Cry For You"!) and literally every single thing about "One Dance" (the perfect little handclap trip-up in the first two seconds! The simple magic of his voice against those chords!). All of these songs sound like springtime in Toronto, and they will sound like summer too, wherever it is that you live - the stark skittering cold melting into something brighter, newer, fuller, lush. Dissolve of one season into another, neon blooming into nighttime, something lifting while something else settles, a new charge in your bloodstream, a new way to see the city. Yes yes yes.