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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Indie-licious Tues Sept 10th 2013

1. Let Go (feat. Kele & MNDR) – RAC
2. Play It Right – Sylvan Esso
3. Peach – Emily Reo
4. Good Year – The Danger Bees
5. You Can’t Be My Girl – Darwin Deez
6. Helium Eggs – Incan Abraham
7. Tall Tall Shadow – Basia Bulat
8. Matchstick Murder – Tristen
9. Bayonet – Lost on Purpose
10. Money Maker – Fort York
11. We Are Together – Planet Of Sound
12. Being Loved – The Fadeout
13. Crazy Bird – Wild Child
14. Wolf Girl – Simian Ghost
15. Orchids – Monster Rally

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Indie-licious Tues Aug 20th 2013

1. See-Saw Girl – Totem
2. Needles – Invisible Days
3. Weight – Mikal Cronin
4. Corners – HAP
5. Harvest – HIGHS
6. Roll Around – The Khanz
7. Cereal – Hits of Ocean
8. Some Other Life – Lost on Purpose
9. You Gotta Move – The Backhomes
10. Angeline – Bombadil
11. Dear Abbey – The BB Guns
12. Rabbit Trails – Southern Boutique
13. Indian Summer – Lyon

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Ohio’s Lost on Purpose finds deep inspiration in Asia

The last time I mentioned Lost on Purpose, I had discovered them serendipitously via an errant eBay search. I’m glad to say that I’ve been an admirer ever since then. Their 2010 album A Knight At The Crossroads fits in nicely on the shelf between Bon Iver and Simon and Garfunkel, ready for deployment on rainy, contemplative days.

After months spent tripping through Cambodia last fall, frontman Will VanderWyden has come back sounding stronger, more confident, and more resonant. Adding keyboardist/vocalist/producer Jacquelyn Thropay to his lineup has brought a softer, more delicate sound to Lost on Purpose’s newest record Ashes.

Although frontman Will VanderWyden’s voice still carries a slight Conor Oberst tremble at times, he exhibits vocal chameleonry on Nowhere Hard Enough and takes on a rich baritone akin to The National’s Matt Berninger. Fans of VanderWyden’s Elliot Smith-inspired whisperings will take comfort in their presence on Ashes.

The album’s title track carries a sense of urgency that brings to mind flashing lights in your periphery while highway driving in the dead of night. VanderWyden explains that he intended the album to be “simple and honest” with raw, dark undertones. Inspired by the image of a young Cambodian genocide victim, Ashes explores sounds rippling with rich tonality and subtle imaginations.

I’m not going to tell you which songs I like the best, because I like them all.

Instead, melt your heart with Sails, take courage with Nowhere Hard Enough and rock yourself to sleep with Dubrovnik.

I’ve sold my soul.

I have become something that I once scoffed at.

Someone so lazy and bored that they can’t even muster up the strength to peel themselves from their couches or toilets to shop in a mall with the rest of humankind.

Someone who licks grilled cheese crumbs off their fingers while watching re-runs of Take This House on the W Network and punching in the expiry date of their credit card into PayPal.

I’m a GOD-DAMNED EBAY BIDDER.

I’ve been up since seven thirty this morning (WHY WHY WHY? It’s a SNOW DAY) placing bids like I just got a government tax-break cheque in the mail. Ha ha, jokes on me; I’m poor. Therefore, it makes even less sense to be online shopping. Here are some things that I’ve already bid on today:

– Ray Bans Wayfarers (x3)
– multiple Nintendo DS games
– an embarrassingly E-for-everyone Wii game
– a fox fur hat (?????????)

That last bid really must have inspired me, cos then I typed “Fleet Foxes” into the search engine, hoping to find rare band merch or something. Instead, I found this:

I have to admit, I was very intrigued. Any band that puts their album on eBay because they “want to let the music speak for itself” is either incredibly pretentious or extremely terrible. So I went to Lost on Purpose’s Bandcamp. And hey, they’re actually pretty good.

Listen to Track 5. No More first. Then Track 2. Love Is Not Enough.

Lost on Purpose doesn’t sound like any of the bands listed in the eBay product description, and this isn’t a bad thing. Rather, their songs are a lot darker, cleaner, and more purposeful. It brought to mind memories of Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes, two really excellent bands that have been going strong for years (despite one of them being quite dead). Lost on Purpose are a dirty glass of whisky on a chestnut brown nightstand beside a rumpled bed. They're a darkened room with a hangover, disturbed by fractures of cold afternoon light piercing past the towel-covered window.

I'm actually glad that I went on eBay all morning. And now I might have a new record to listen to while wearing my Ray Bans and fox fur hat.