Musicians I Love (and my own creative existential crisis)

Lately I’ve been struggling with creative inspiration.

I’ve been late to reply to emails, shoddy at fulfilling writing commitments, sluggish to decide on music submissions, and absent on my own podcast. I haven’t written a song in months, my journal pages have been blank since January, my mixed media project is 75% complete, and I have a stack of unread library books by the front door. The other day, I couldn’t decide on a movie so I just watched an hour and a half worth of trailers, most of which were from the 80′s and 90′s (I came this close to watching Working Girl).

Basically, I feel mentally bankrupt and the only thing that I can muster up the energy to do is put on my blank, anonymous artist’s glaze and sketch strangers on the subway. At least in crowded café and clustered streetcars, I feel like no one is expecting anything, no one is judging, no one is watching with a critical eye.  I am finally free in an outlet all my own.

As many of you know, Sasha and I celebrated our blog’s fourth birthday this month, and with that came the realization that with much potential comes missed opportunity. I was reviewing past posts and wondering, “Could you have tried harder here? Could you have written more, explored this discography in greater depth? Could you have done a custom illustration for this feature? Could you have agreed to that interview?” A more ambitious version of myself is kicking the sandwich out of my current’s self’s hands.

Sometimes I wonder how other bloggers & journos do it. How does one wrap 1000+ neat words into a pithy post complete with a pleasantly drôle yet incisive b&w sketch? I feel like I need to learn Adobe Illustrator and a billion other complex design programs (as well as five coding languages) just to stay relevant.

What can I offer at the party? A side-scrolling verbal wrap-up of current events? A dumb and erratic dance sequence? Crumbs on my tits?

At this point, I’m looking for something to inject me with a sense of purpose. But for now, since this is a music blog, I want to clean out the inbox. That’s mainly the point of these Grab Bag Posts – it’s my effort to stay on top of things (failing miserably). One day, I will find the right balance of posting exactly what I want and honouring our obligation to undiscovered musicians. I am searching for it every day.

Sometimes I consider yanking down our blog email address, but then I wouldn’t have met the absolutely LOVELY GEMS of First Rate People, Delta Will, Walrus, Sheepman, High Diner, The Planes, The Blank Tapes, Ketamines, Jay Arner, Faux Fur, Michael Rault, The Dirty Nil, Yoofs, Lost On Purpose, Adam Torres, plus people like Leaning Trees RecordsGraveyard Orbit, Mike of My Boy The Riot Girl, Jason of Astral Travelling, ect.

So this post goes out all of you who have connected with me as a human idiot, or with Music Between Friends. I think of all the genuinely cool people that I’ve had the chance to meet, and I am glad.

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Old News to Some, Brand Spanking New to Me.

I really liked James Blake’s version of Feist’s Limit to Your Love, but didn’t ever get into his album until this week. Just call me an endless late-bloomer.

Anyways, I’m obsessed with this song, I was playing it last night and my sister was asking if it was ‘real music’ and I tried to hold in my Liz Lemon eye roll since she’s actually seen James Blake perform live, but I get it if the repetitive lyrics and beat are an acquired taste. Personally, I think there is something really beautiful in the mix of the two vocals and the repetition. I’ve since been obsessing over his self-titled album, better late than never?

Heavenly Beat and Vacationer

Last Thursday, Sasha and I went to see Vacationer and Heavenly Beat at Lee’s Palace. I said hi to John Peña, the ex-bassist from Beach Fossils and total dreamboat behind Heavenly Beat. I was able to snag a pressing of Prominence (October 2013 on Captured Tracks). I’m very excited to play it on my new record player when it arrives in the mail (I’m having it delivered to work because I don’t trust the drug lords who live next door).

Hellogoodbye was originally slated as the second opener, but ended up swapping with Vacationer to finish the evening. I was actually kind of glad because it meant that I could leave early. I haven’t been into that SoCal pop-punk vibe since 2007 (RIP †). Sorry guys, but I already deleted all your singles off my iTunes.

The crowd was full of awkward white people dancing like fat, suburban moms who just scored a sick deal on a new high-efficiency vacuum at Costco, which was extremely entertaining to watch if you don’t have a moral compass (like me). In defense of suburban moms, the square footage of their houses is much larger and a good vacuum is hard to find.

Enjoy these tracks, I’m going to bed.

Heavenly Beat Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Soundcloud

 

Vacationer Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Soundcloud

Check out Vacationer’s brand new single The Wild LIfe from their upcoming LP Relief (out June 24th via Downtown Records).

This one’s old, but I don’t care. I love it to death.

 

TGIF Playlist: April 18, 2014

It’s a four day weekend:

30-Rock

  • I’m kicking off the list with another  song, because I’m still loving the new album, so much so that I’ll probably go see her when she performs in Toronto- tickets here
  • I just found out that Sylvan Esso is opening for Tune-Yards, and because I listen to their same three songs over and over again on Soundcloud, I’m almost tempted to get tickets for the opener instead of the headliner. Can’t wait for a full album from this band.
  • Figured it’d been a while since I put a throwback on one of these, here’s one from Soul Survivors
  • If you’re looking for explicit lyrics against a gospel chorus, then you’ve found it. I have my sister to thank for showing me this jam.
  • I’ll cap off the list with a little Washed Out, as always I hope all of you have a great weekend! See you next week with some more stuff I’ve been listening to.

 

 

TGIF Playlist: April 11, 2014 (Late, by a lot)

Katie did a great post for our 4th anniversary (check it out below) so I wanted to copy her with a similar post, but part way through I realized I’m a way more distracted blogger when I couldn’t get past my 2010 stuff because there was too much nostalgia and too many dead links. Unwatched episodes of Real Housewives may have also had a hand in my laziness…

So, I didn’t get that together in time, but I’d still like to take a second to thank all our readers for visiting the blog and sharing your music with us over these years. I can’t believe this much time has passed, the whole experience was an experiment, one that I’m really happy we rolled with and it’s just cool to see how we’ve grown. I mean, I used to play Hype Machine in the background as I studied during undergrad, didn’t think the blog would be listed there, ever. So consider this a virtual high five (because I’m not a big hugger) to you, our readers, appreciate the support :)

On that note, I hope you enjoy these tracks and they help you kick off your weekend (NOTE: I was also late publishing this post… so I hope everyone already had a great weekend and that this playlist makes the work week more enjoyable)

  • Merrill Garbus can shout it out, sing it slow and it all sounds cool to me. This is a great mellow single from Tune-Yards (check out the other single, Water Fountain here). I feel like a lot of cool ideas and sounds go into their music, but the band makes it all fit really well together, and as someone who plays no musical instruments, that really impresses me. The new album Nikki Nack comes out May 5 so I can’t wait to hear more.
  • Songs like this, The Derevolutions track make me antsy for summer. I’m just done with wearing coats and pants.
  • I got No Mythologies to Follow because I love the Spice Girl’s cover  did (listen to it here), and even though that song isn’t on the album, I think it’s a great debut, the lyrics in the chorus of this song are really sweet, personal favourite being: Someday the wave’s gonna show me the way to the sand. If someone knows where I can find a cute graphic with that text on Pinterest, feel free to leave it in the comments below so I can add it to my board of inspirational quotes. 
  • Infectious pop music.
  • I was obsessed with the Future Islands single Balance (listen here), way back when, so now whenever the band releases a song/album, I’m chasing the feeling I got when I first listened to that track, which is impossible, but this song comes close.