Said the Gramophone - image by Danny Zabbal
by Jeff

a cat warming it's paws under a space heater

Sacred Paws - "Empty Body" [buy]
Sacred Paws - "Strike a Match" [buy]

Full of twisty highlife guitars, dancey tom-heavy drums, and occasional horns, the new Sacred Paws LP was a complete surprise to me. They're not from nowhere, of course. Rachel Aggs played guitar in the riotous razor-sharp London trios Trash Kit and Shopping, and drummer Eilidh Rodgers is ex of Glasgow's Golden Grrrls. But this record, full of interwoven vocal melodies, feels entirely fresh, like a gust of warm wind announcing the end of winter. The lyrics to the jumpy "Empty Body" describe the precarity of youth, knee deep in side-hustles and pining for a more humane way of life. Beefed up with bass, hand-claps, and horns "Strike a Match" is pure celebration. A tangle of lyrics and rhythms shot through with a pop sensibility, it sounds like Turn-era The Ex meets Bow Wow Wow.

(photo by Spike)

by Emma

Carla Sagan - "Permanent"

Wet nose of the world's nicest dog in your lap, tilting kitchen strung with christmas lights, distant drift of all your friends laughing together from three or four flights up. Walk home alone, a little freer. Sleep with this song under your pillow and you will dream in the light key of a blank cassette tape, wake up smelling like fresh rain on pavement, spend the next day carving your initials into everything you see.

[buy S.L.E. split tape / thanks Sacha]

by Sean

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]

by Mitz
(photo source)

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.

by Jeff

a rcoky beach by the edge of a forest

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)

by Emma

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]

by Jeff

London Oi! band Hard Skin looking moody and tough in front of an old brick building

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.