Time to write my daily post, and…I got nothin’! In honor of my lack of creativity I’ve decided to write about a couple of bands/acts I really like that inspire me to push through the writer’s block: Fountains of Wayne and Toy Matinee.
Fountains of Wayne’s CD “Welcome Interstate Managers” seems to speak to me on days when my job just isn’t cutting it. “Mexican Wine” and “Bright Future in Sales” are the ultimate slacker rock anthems for people that need to take a break, whether it’s for three minutes and 30 seconds or a six month sabbatical. Follow those two cuts with “Stacy’s Mom”, “Little Red Light”, and then “Hey Julie” and I have just enough music to make the drive home. The writing is inspired, and suddenly being a slacker doesn’t sound so bad. Round out the recording with “All Kinds of Time”, “Fire Island”, and “Bought for a Song” and that drive home leads me to a side trip so I can listen for a few more minutes!
Toy Matinee’s creativity is just off the chart. This CD really captures the early ’90’s sound of clean guitars and synthesizers with a digital edge. I bought this CD after reading a review in my local newspaper of a re-release a few years ago and just fell in love with it. Patrick Leonard and Kevin Gilbert were the core of Toy Matinee, and created a different sound that is harder to categorize than you expect. The CD opens with “Last Plane Out”, a progressive rock piece that marries those clean guitars with monster synths, telling the story of a man who realizes his life has gone too far towards Sodom and Gomorrah. I believe it tracked into the Top Ten at some point, but it’s not the best track. “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” tells about a girl who is looking to marry for money and security, breaking the heart of the lover left behind. Kevin Gilbert was once asked if he wrote this about Sheryl Crow…who knows? They were both part of the “Tuesday Night Music Club” group that started Sheryl’s career, and while Gilbert contributed some towards her CD of that title it was rumored that most of his work got left on the cutting floor. After hearing these tracks I think that was Ms. Crow’s loss.
The best cut for me, however, is “Blank Page”. It is essentially just the thoughts of the author looking at a blank page of paper, trying to find the words to write, and by the time the song is over it is obvious he not only found the right words, he owned that page! This cut may not be on the original Toy Matinee CD, but is one of the most beautiful and clever pieces of writing I have ever heard, lyrically and musically. Listen to this song when you are banging your head against the wall, creatively speaking, to help find the will to force yourself through, and tell yourself that this could be what is waiting for you on the other side… it is that good.
Toy Matinee never reformed after the untimely death of Kevin Gilbert, but I won’t write of that here. However, when I am really reaching down deep for a shred of creativity, these two CD’s both inspire me to keep digging. Somewhere inside, there may be a spark; these recordings help me find it. And when I am not looking for my own muse, these CD’s are just really, really good.