Said the Gramophone - image by Kit Malo
by Jeff

back cover of The Desperate Bicycles' second single

The Desperate Bicycles - "The Medium was Tedium"

"The Medium was Tedium" by The Desperate Bicycles begins with a two note bass line, followed by a wheezing organ vamp, and percussion provided by what I think is a kick drum and tambourine. This is bare-bones instrumentation, but they prove that these basic ingredients, along with spoke-sung vocals full of conviction, are all you need to make a killer song.

This is primordial UK DIY from a self-released seven inch. No glitz and glamour, just a belief that every song that played on mainstream radio in 1977 sucked so bad that literally anyone could do better. The Desperate Bicycles say go make your own band, because for them "it was easy - it was cheap." Go to your grandmother's house and borrow her organ and figure out how to make some noise with it, hell, recruit her to jam if you can.

(First heard on a mixtape from Warren Hill circa 2001. Thanks again, buddy)

by Sean
Dog in clothes

Coeur de Pirate - "Carry On". I have never walked a tightrope so I cannot tell you. Perhaps it is better to overprepare for your first foray, to study and practice, and study and practice, running endless rehearsals. Or perhaps it is better to go running out a little before you're ready. I do not know; I have never walked a tightrope. All I have done is other things.

by Emma

Hop Along - "Powerful Man"

"The music industry, in all aspects, is a pretty small community, no matter which side of the figurative coin you're on. [...] We owe it to ourselves, to our work, and to the listeners and readers who are interested in what we do, to fix the missing stairs instead of leaping over them, to truly address these issues when they are raised, to listen to these allegations with fair and open minds and take them seriously. And it is on those who have social protection against direct recrimination who have the greatest responsibility to listen."
-Heathcliff Berru and Other Missing Stairs (Jes Skolnik, Impose Magazine)


by Mitz

Plasmalab - "Stalker"
Plasmalab - "Nighttime USA" [Buy]

OK, really short post this week. I hurt my back really bad. It hurts even when I type. The hardest was taking a poo. I have to keep a good posture when Im sitting. Sitting down part was ok, but just lifting my ass off tiny bit to wipe my ass was quite hard. So after I wiped my ass, I just sat there with the best posture in Eastern Canada possibly and stared at bathroom tiles like I was trapped there in matrix or Matthew McConaughey in the movie, Interstellar.

The end.

by Jeff

water coming in over the rocks at shore

New Order - "Blue Monday"

1. Most bedrooms I've lived in as an adult have been painted baby blue. It's a soothing shade to go to sleep and wake in.

2. I learned about royal blue when I was six years old. My mother ordered me a T-shirt that colour from Owl Magazine. The cartoon owl on it was printed in yellow; a striking combination.

3. My current favourite blue is the greenish blue when the sea is washing over rocks. The colour of water coming to land after years at sea.

(photo by Spike)

by Sean

Johan Heltne - "Krieg ist Krieg und Schnaps ist Schnaps".

This song evokes a particular, gorgeous melancholy for me, only I don't speak German so this particular, gorgeous melancholy is somehow completely disconnected from the particular, gorgeous melancholy expressed by native listeners to "Krieg ist Krieg und Schnaps ist Schnaps" and in fact, I suspect, from the particular, gorgeous melancholy intended by Johan Heltne himself. Who cares, right? Or really: Who cares... Wait - do I care? I feel feelings, listening to this song. Are these feelings a deception - me deceiving myself? Me deceiving myself with someone else's song? Is this a conspiracy or am I all alone on it? Did Johan do this or am I doing it entirely to myself? Is this whole song in German, like its title, or is it in Swedish, like its singer?

All this is enough to make you order a snaps and drop your head to the table. If you are doing so, hopefully "Krieg ist Krieg und Schnaps ist Schnaps" is on the turntable. Hopefully "Krieg ist Krieg und Schnaps ist Schnaps" is in your iTunes. Hopefully your battered, tattered heart can be nursed to health by a glow of synths and a scatter of drums. Which is not to neglect the saxophone. Most saxophones deserve to be neglected - they strain too hard for the attention. But this saxophone is OK. This saxophone cares about you. It is a nourishing, sensitive friend. It has noticed that the stars are out, outside. It has noticed the state of your face and shoulders and silhouette. "Krieg ist Krieg und Schnaps ist Schnaps" is playing. The saxophone knows you do not speak German, or Swedish, whatever it is, and it understands the whole thing. It doesn't mind. It will wait. It will take you home, but only when you're ready.

[buy / listen to the discography / Thank you, Arnulf.]


Elsewhere: I did write about David Bowie, twice, for the Globe & Mail: one, two.

by Emma

David Bowie - "Always Crashing in the Same Car"
David Bowie - "Be My Wife"

It feels strange and vaguely disingenuous to try to write about David Bowie; something keeps stopping me from starting. His music mattered a lot to me, the same way it did to everyone else, but I've been reading all kinds of lovely words about him and nodding a lot and for the most that feels like enough. The strange comfort that comes of letting other people's memories press against your own.

But this week has been weird. When you're writing about music in public it's not exactly in your best interest to talk about the ways in which it sometimes fails you, or the ways in which you fail to meet it on honest, open terms. You (or I, I guess, just me) want to seem always on, engaged, engaging, useful; that's how you get read and agreed with. Sometimes this is so easy to do I can't believe I get to get away with it; sometimes I feel like every single note I hear - on my computer, in line at the grocery store, faint metallic buzzing whisper from someone else's ear buds on the subway - is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. Sometimes I can lie on the floor and listen to one song over and over and over, letting a single pressed string or hard breath catch against me and it is the sweetest brightest feeling, one I would dissolve myself into forever if I could.

But some days it doesn't work. There's this Frank O'Hara poem about the way your days empty out when you are truly alone, when you ache from missing someone who won't come back, where he says:

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
I beg you do not go

All the music I heard this week sounded worn-out to me; no shimmer, no shudder, no catch. I kept doing this thing without even thinking where I'd get ten seconds into a song and then fast-forward impatiently to the middle, like I was looking for the point of it, like that's possible. Sometimes you just get tired of the music you know; sometimes you need a little silence. But I think there was something in me that was turning away, again and again, from the experience of being overwhelmed; something that was driven by the feeling that it's maybe too dangerous to let some fucking song rush into your life and sweep you up completely if it means you also have to be open to whole new pitches and timbres of sadness, if it means the death of someone you've never even met can hang over you like a cloud for a week.

Everyone knows the right answer to this problem. Between books and friends and general living around most of us can recite it in our sleep: if you let death or sadness or heartbreak move you away from the world, then death and sadness and heartbreak win. They get to turn you lonely. You don't need me to tell you this. But also, I think there is maybe something to dwelling in that avoidance a little bit, the same way it's important to let yourself surrender to the things that move you most. Maybe there's a way to let heartbreak be a part of the way you fall in love; to let it be dissolved into the joy of finding, say, a song that takes you apart, or an album, an artist. A life. I'm still working on it; I'll let you know if I figure it out.