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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Good people making good music

Hey guys, here are some great musicians that I think you should check out. Now it’s time for me to take off my weekend clothes (flannel, jeans, and cherry red Keds), layer myself in office-appropriate pastels & bows, and wait until next weekend to indulge in such luxuries as new music.

Have a great week!

WHO THEY ARE: Emma Grace
FROM WHERE: Toronto, Ontario
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: Your best friend’s garage band
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Dr. Dog, Miniature Tigers

WHO THEY ARE: Wacos Brothers & Paul Burch
FROM WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: The clink of toasting beers around a campfire

MP3: Great Chicago FireWacos Brothers & Paul Burch

WHO THEY ARE: The Planes
FROM WHERE: Brooklyn, NY
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: High school art rockers in a seedy bar

WHO THEY ARE: Heyward Howkins
FROM WHERE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: A hummingbird hovering over nectar

WHO THEY ARE: The Candy Strypers
FROM WHERE: Manchester, UK
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: The school bell on the last day before summer vacation

Brooklyn’s The Planes do homemade light grunge well

I look so cool with my matching yellow harness!

If you do a Google search, a lot of things turn up when you search “The Planes”.

There’s a band from Belgium called The Planes who seem to be high off their collective ass, if the one track on their Myspace Music account is anything to go by. They claim to be a “music lovers cover band”. You can listen to them here (but I don’t recommend it).

There’s a group from British Columbia with a vocalist reminiscent of Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. You can listen to them here.

And yeah, there are a ton of pictures of planes.

However, I’m most interested in a band that hails from Brooklyn that only formed just last summer. They’ve already recorded their first album, The Planes, a handmade effort on 1/4″ tape. Sure, it sounds rough and unpolished at parts, but the potential is there and you can hear it in tracks like Sleeping Contest and Secret Show.

The Planes definitely need to work on defining their unique hook that will grab listeners by the balls, but then again, they’re still a young band! I look forward to their future EPs with relish.

Sleeping ContestThe Planes (free download)

With twangy, abstract guitar chords, Sleeping Contest is a clash of sounds. It channels the roomy, loose-skinned drums of 60’s rock and pairs them with vocals teeming with compressed teen angst. One of the most lo-fi tracks on the record, it carries a direction that the band would do well to pursue.

Secret ShowThe Planes (free download)

The opening riffs sound like the band is actually warming up for their own secret show. The song sounds like a swiftly fleeting ode to classic punk circa 1974 with its petulant lyrics and grimacing vocals.

Both of the above tracks and the rest of The Planes are free to download on Bandcamp right now, so grab them while they’re available.