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The Planes

The Planes find Eternity on the Edge

“These songs are better than Weezer!” — Unidentified fan at The Planes’s album release live show

The Planes is a good name for a band and an even better one for this one in particular. It's a simple and direct name, plus a name about being simple and direct (and yeah "plain" vs. "plane" but hey work with me here) while at the same time it’s a name that suggests taking flight from the mundane and slipping the surly bonds of Earth on nothing more than a pair of wings and a dream. 

The Zen koan state of being both earthbound and heavens-bound is a good way of describing Eternity on its Edge (question for another time: does eternity have edges?) because the album is firmly grounded in the everyday beauty and pain of the mundane but it still manages to have its head in the clouds too. Take for instance the record’s relatable lyrics about love and loss of control—songs about quarantine wishes ("Little Dream") and drinking binges ("Decoder Ring") and about how not to get your melon busted by cops at a protest ("Stand Back") and songs about taking the leap and tying the knot in the middle of a pandemic ("Summer Rain," "Unglued") all laid out in the Planes' characteristically unpretentious fashion.

But on the other end of the spectrum singer/songwriter/guitarist Stephen Perry isn’t afraid to go Big Concept when called for like on “The Constant” which is essentially a song about the Second Law of Thermodynamics (spoiler: the one constant is decay) and how we mange to cope with this constant (“the hero can’t save the day / but you stay planted in that theater anyway"). And then there’s “Best to Break” which contains one of the more sobering fortune cookie messages I've heard lately (“it’s hard to find a center / when all the spokes are removed”) warning that “they’re counting on their best to break you" when the center finally gives way. And if this all sounds a bit heavy then just listen because it's all delivered with a light touch.

Eternity on its Edge was recorded by producer/engineer/instrumentalist Jeff Berner (Psychic TV, Heliotropes, Dead Stars, Quiet Loudly) at the celebrated Studio G in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And while "the sound is bigger and more sonically diverse" than the Planes' previous records, it's "still a work of minimalism...requiring just three instruments and a voice to pull off." So you see it's all about balance: major-key melodies and unfussy arrangements running up against dirty-toned guitar shedding and tight, propulsive rhythm-section work by drummer Carlo Minchillo and bassist Matt Skiar. And then there’s Stephen’s singing voice—an instrument than occasionally falters when pushed past its limits but in a Neil Young-ish kind of way that communicates vulnerability and authenticity better than your average operatically trained voice.

These extremes came across all the more pungently a couple nights ago when The Planes played the new songs live for the first time in the intimate environs of Brooklyn's very own Our Wicked Lady where the guitar jangle sounding all the more jangly and the heavy parts all the more heavy. It was enough to provoke attendee to exclaim loudly between songs that “these songs are better Weezer!” And while I don't think the two bands sound that much alike--plus there's the question of whether you view this statement as a compliment or not (editor's note: Pinkerton still rules) or where you come down on the post-Green Album debate--in retrospect I can see that dood's point in that both bands marry confessional songwriting (talking Blue Album and Pinkerton especially here natch) with strong pop hooks and grunged out power chords. (Jason Lee)


DELI TV: "Decoder Ring" by The Planes

The Planes are a power-indie-pop power trio who've mastered their own distinctive brand of pop-rock-craft as illustrated by their new album-teasing single called “Decoder Ring.” Check out the exclusive Deli-made video for the single below because you gotta pass the time somehow until Eternity on its Edge comes out on June 11.

If you’ve ever seen the holiday perennial A Christmas Story (directed by the same guy who directed the seminal slasher movie Black Christmas) then you’ve heard of secret decoder rings. Made famous in the 1940s and ‘50s by Ovaltine as prizes given away in packages of the sweetened and vitamin-enriched milk powder product, decoder rings could be used to unscramble coded messages broadcast on the Ovaltine-sponsored Captain Midnight program in which the show’s titular aviator war hero battled villains like ruthless criminal mastermind Ivan Shark, his sadistic partner-in-crime and daughter Fury Shark, and the Nazi ne’er-do-well Baron von Karp.

But I digress. "Decoder Ring" is a fitting title for a Planes song given how good the band are at writing and arranging sugary pop hooks but enriched with indie rock nutrients like guitar jangle, grungy distortion, and psychedelic flange--all joined to a narrative about being “down in the dungeon and out in the sea” (just like Captain Midnight!) with an appeal to “look at me / I can’t be seen / without a decoder ring” (just like the show's Ovaltine-hawking host!) which is enough to make you wonder if "The Planes" is really just a cover story for this trio of fighter-pilot Nazi-hunting super spies. Or maybe not. Maybe instead they're taken inspiration from Keith Moon and the Who in hawking sugary milk-based treats to kids.

Tune in next week to learn the thrilling answers to these and other questions!  (Jason Lee)

The Planes reveal "The Oracle of Marcy"

The good folk over at Bands Do BK premiered the The Oracle of Marcy EP exactly a week ago and far be it for me to try and steal their thunder not that I could anyway. But hey it’s Bandcamp Friday Day™ and I wanted to give this fine EP by the Planes a little extra shine and encourage you to download it within the next six-and-a-half hours so that Stephen, Matt, and Carlo will have enough money to go and buy two slices of pizza between them and then try to figure out how the hell to split two slices of pizza between three bandmates. (note: most bands have been in this situation before at some point)

So if you wanna get the full skinny on The Planes' latest check out the aforementioned BDBK post with Sam Sumpter interviewing frontman Stephen Perry who breaks down the EP’s four songs one-by-one and tells how the band wrote and recorded the album in a single week flat. One thing I’ll add is that while the band definitely have their own thing and their own sound--witness for instance Perry’s uniquely and endearingly unguarded sotto voce vocal style and his willingness to color outside the lines with it--when it comes to the music itself The Planes are all about the music itself, proudly making good meat ‘n’ potatoes indie rock for the indie rock meat lover. And at Tad’s Steaks prices.

Or as they state it on their very own Bandcamp page™ The Planes “stand up for the things that are, refreshingly, always cool and relevant and fun. Three-minute pop songs. Analog recording equipment. The unmistakable sound, and the visceral pleasures, of banging on a Fender guitar hooked up to a tube amp.” And sure enough none of the songs on Oracle stray far from the three-minute mark but that’s not to say you don’t get some pleasing musical variety between or even within individual tracks like on the opener “The Oracle” which veers between Chronic Town-ish chiming guitar work and reticent vocals and other parts that feature delicious Daydream Nation dissonance with alternate guitar tuning in full effect. 

The Oracle of Marcy (as well as The Planes' past work) is very likely to land solidly for fans of oh let’s say Sebadoh or for those who enjoy the gentler stylings of Dinosaur Jr. and J Mascis but not only. And finally, one other thing for when this becomes a thing again, I’ve seen The Planes perform live a few times now and they really bring it so you'd be smart to check them out too. Stephen’s stage wear often includes a Bruce Springsteen style bandana wrapped around his forehead and while I’ve yet to see the band play ten encores in a row, they do bring a Bruce-level energy level so keep an eye out for Courteney Cox dancing in the crowd next to you. (Jason Lee)

The Planes celebrate release of "Catch You/Milk Maid" single tomorrow (11/21) at Cake Shop

In the genre box of their Facebook profile Brooklyn garage rockers The Planes describe themselves as "anti-commercial, indie, DIY" - we should totally add "anti-commercial" to our list of genres here! However, it's a tough call to be anti-commercial guys, because a small amount of anti-establishment acts who hated the idea of being commercial ended up selling quite a lot of records and touring a lot, and both things belong squarely to the field of... commerce! So, the only way to stay true to that statement would be for The Planes to not charge for records and only play free shows, two things they are actually scheduled to do as soon as tomorrow, when they will be releasing their new EP "Catch You/Milk Maid" at Cake Shop (cover $7). But anyway, this stuff doesn't matter, what matter is the music, and The Planes have some cool songs that resonate with the slacker hiding in each one of us. We should have a song from the new record for streaming tomorrow, for now you can enjoy this track from last year's debut album "Echo Forever/Forever Echo."


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