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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Four feisty singles from Toronto’s The Ketamines – Stay Awake 7″ out Feb 18th

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Toronto’s The Ketamines might be some of the hardest working humans on the planet. Between scheduling a 2014 tour spanning across Canada and releasing four singles plus an LP in the last year, I’m surprised nobody’s died yet.

Tomorrow, the band releases their fourth 7″ entitled Stay Awake via Mint Records. Each record in the series is limited press and features collage work by Montreal artist Felix Morel. All four 7″s fit together to make a 14″ x 14″ art collage. The records have been released out of order, so read on for details on how to purchase them together.

Part 4: Stay Awake might just be the best of the series. Stay Awake is goofy, fun, & well-executed art rock. Since I’m an insomniac with a fondness for catchy guitar riffs, I will probably listen to this 7″ on repeat for the next year. Sorry, friends and family. Can’t talk to you right now, I’m getting down.

Part 2: Eleven Eleven, a six-track EP about numerology, was just made available on Saskatoon label Leaning Tree Records on February 15th. From my first listen, standouts include You Can’t Stop Time and We Are One.

When asked about the EP series by Saskatoon music & culture blog Ominocity back in May 2013, Ketamines bassist Paul Lawton had this to say:

“I had this idea for a while ago. We were working with this artist in Montreal who does this really great collage work for our tour poster. And we had this idea about doing this package where you could collect all the 7” singles and put them together to make the bigger piece of artwork. So we are working with four different labels to put out a new 45 every two months for the rest of 2013. The first one is about to come out on Pleasence Records, and they had put out the last Slim Twig record. They do a lot of really interesting avant-garde Toronto bands.”

Part 1: All The Colours Of Your Heart was released on June 6th 2013 via Pleasence Records.

Part 2: 11:11 was released on Feb 15th 2014 via Leaning Trees Records.

Part 3: So Hot! was released on Oct 8th 2013 via Hosehead Records.

Part 4: Stay Awake will be released on Feb 18th 2014 via Mint Records.

All four can be purchased from Hosehead Records in a $22 bundle (am I reading that right? Seems like a total steal). Purchase it here. Tad, if you’re reading this, I would totally go halves with you here.

On top of all this, The Ketamines also released an LP in September called You Can’t Serve Two Masters via Southpaw & Paul Lawton’s own label, Mammoth Cave. That’s a hell of a lot of songwriting and releasing to do within one calendar year. However, I am grateful. You Can’t Serve Two Masters is slinky, bouncy, and fuzzed to the extreme.

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