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Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels is photographed in Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, November 11, 2014. Michaels won the $100,000 award for his debut novel Us Conductors. (Photo by Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail) (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)
Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels is photographed in Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, November 11, 2014. Michaels won the $100,000 award for his debut novel Us Conductors. (Photo by Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail) (Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail)

Four songs you need to hear: Sean Michaels’s playlist of the week Add to ...

Young Fathers – Nest (2015)

Feel-good rock from a crew that is usually much more dour. Edinburgh’s Young Fathers won last year’s Mercury Prize with an album of dark, expressive hip hop; here, now, they’re proffering reassurances instead of threats, apologizing to everyone they’ve wronged. A little soppy but still I’ll take it – like a jollier TV on the Radio, with piano, cheers, the promise that a “pendulum has swung.”

Fadimoutou Wallet Inamoud – Wana Le Nouveau (2008)

Music of the desert’s after-dark, where an unwed woman sings over a group of men’s low chant. There is a certain courting to these songs, I understand; this is not primordial music, nor prayer, it is as modern as ringtones, sung by young people kicking up dust. Inamoud is married now, she no longer sings, but maybe some of these men are still chanting their sigadah, thinking of her voice, remembering how it sounded in the air.

Francis Bebey – Binta madiallo (1984)

At a dinner party in Quebec City, a woman from Avignon told me to listen to this track. Bebey was born in Cameroon and made music in France. Sometimes I wish I kept an atlas to paint the transits of all these songs. From Douala to Paris to Quebec to my sunlit office in Montreal, from Montreal to you in Calgary or Whitehorse or Roncesvalles. We can listen to Bebey’s lissome groove and imagine ourselves gliding from one country’s summer to another country’s spring, from dawn to midnight to noon. Bebey builds his sound with mbira, percussion and bass guitar. He builds it with tremendous patience, a figure and its repeat, singing through seven minutes without taking his eyes off his dream.

Avec pas d’casque – Si on change les équipes ce n’est plus une revanche (2008)

Truthfully I admit that I will be watching these playoffs and doing my (not so) solemn duty as a hockey fan, cheering when certain vulcanized rubber discs cross certain painted lines. In turn I will be booing when other discs cross other lines, or if the player who hit the disc is not wearing a costume in the bleu, blanc et rouge. After all, hockey is all about costumes: I root for whomever’s wearing the outfit of my team, no matter where they came from or how long they’ve been there. This is a slightly different principle than the one acknowledged in this song. If we change the teams, sings Stéphane Lafleur, it’s no longer a rematch. This too is true. Every time the terms change, we’re fighting a new battle. We retain nothing, it’s stupid, and sport tickets cost too much money. At least I’m not alone in being taken for a ride. And that’s either a solace or a travesty.

Sean Michaels received the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Us Conductors. He is the editor of the music blog Said the Gramophone.

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