Backup Plans

by The Usual Things

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about

“Be careful what you get good at doin’ ’cause you'll be doin’ it for the rest of your life.” An all-too-common sentiment shared by maturing musicians trading their passions for what pays the bills. The Usual Things (Minneapolis, MN-based alternative rock) find the balance with their third record “Backup Plans.”

Bolstered by Andy Thompson’s (Taylor Swift, Dan Wilson, Jeremy Messersmith) skilled production, “Backup Plans” exhibits a maturing band exploring their craft in between the nine-to-fives. While still unmistakably The Usual Things, “Backup Plans” breaks new ground with lush keyboard backdrops, string arrangements, and horn sections—hell, there’s even French horn solo hiding in there somewhere.

The band’s influences range from the forward-leaning production of Beck, to the guitar-based melodies of early Radiohead, to the straight-forward rock fervor of the Foo Fighters. The Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray” rarely leaves their van’s CD player.

Finding the balance between their musical ambitions and the day-to-day means capturing inspirations where they appear. For singer / songwriter Aaron Shekey, this means embracing his backup plan—a startup building apps for musicians. “This entire record was written using Hum, an app I’ve created for collecting songwriting ideas. Every iteration of every song. Cover-to-cover.” He continues, “Hum has changed the band’s songwriting process... allowing us to explore new ideas, both sonically and lyrically.”

Bringing fully-formed ideas to the studio allowed the five-piece to record live, warts and all, in a new process for the band. Drummer Layne Knutson explains, “We found an energy on these songs we weren’t always able to capture in our other records, the five us in the same room feeding off each other.” Guitarist Dan Braak adds, “We’ve finally matched our live show.”

And it shows. Adding Andriana Lehr on keys and Sam Hall on bass, The Usual Things are poised to be the road-warriors they’d always planned to be as they graduate beyond the Minneapolis club scene.

credits

released June 30, 2017

Aaron Shekey - vocals, guitar, accordion
Dan Braak - guitar
Samuel Hall - bass, vocals
Layne Knutson - drums, vocals
Andriana Lehr - keys, vocals

Andy Thompson - guitars, percussion, keys, glockenspiel, vocals
Dan Lawonn - cello
Josh Misner - violin, viola
Benjamin Davidson - french horn
Natalie Reece - trumpet, trombone
Kerry Alexander - vocals
Allen Maier - percussion

Produced, mixed & engineered by Andy Thompson
Additional mixing by Bryan Mengy
Assistant engineering by Brady Moen & Atticus Pomerantz
Mastered by Ed Brooks

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Track Name: The Inbetweens
Thumbin’ through your profile,
Your picture’s just staring back.
The things that I would do to live like that.

There’s beauty in between all those perfect things you post.
You’re so much more than some Instagrams.

The only thing I’ll ever need,
Are the things you call the in betweens.
I don’t mind picking up the scraps.
I don’t want your greatest hits,
I don’t need your favorites.
I’m happy with the in betweens.

You’ve had the greatest weekend.
You’ve got so many friends.
There’s a drink in every tattoo’d hand.

Let’s see those things you don’t dare post,
The little moments that mean the most,
Before your life went and got so grand.

The only thing I’ll ever need,
Are the things you call the in betweens.
I don’t mind picking up the scraps.
I don’t want your greatest hits,
I don’t need your favorites.
I’m happy with the in betweens.

I wanna see your Tuesday night,
Watching Netflix alone,
Staring at your phone.

You and I bathed in blue light.
Eating delivery.
By the glow of the TV.

It’s just you and me.
Nothing in between.

I don’t want the highlight reel,
I just wanna feel something that’s real.
I wanna know you beyond some screen.

I don’t want the curated you,
I just wanna feel something that’s true,
I’m happy with the in betweens.
Track Name: Beginner’s Luck
With the shitty job and fifty bucks
You try to stretch while you get stuck
It's all you've got to last you the week.
Your whole life is a losing streak.

Trade school may have worked for our dads.
But they can’t possibly understand
That minimum wage can't keep a house.
Empty hearts and bank accounts.

You wanna wake up in her arms again.
You'd give anything to be sixteen again.
Driving in your sister's car.
Blown curfews and seedy bars.

Around 22 the well ran dry.
Your confidence it waved goodbye,
And you couldn't make a life on beginner's luck.

So every day's the same.
Put your head down, don't complain.
Get home to put your daughter down.
Ride your bike back across the town.

You're lucky to be late when you start again,
You don't seem to remember when.
You felt the love in your daughter's touch.
The love that meant so much.

You wanna wake up in her arms again.
You'd give anything to be sixteen again.
Driving in your sister's car.
Blown curfews and seedy bars.

Around 22 the well ran dry.
The confidence it waved goodbye,
And you couldn't make a life on beginner's luck.

And all your friends are making plans.
You're just trying to be a man.
The only way that we'd survive,
Is stumblin' while half alive.

You wanna wake up in her arms again.
You'd give anything to be sixteen again.
Driving in your sister's car.
Blown curfews and seedy bars.

Around 22 the well ran dry.
The confidence it waved goodbye,
And you couldn't make a life on beginner's luck.

Beginner’s luck.
Track Name: Sweet, Sweet Crazy Love
You held me in the empty hall,
And I loved you in spite of it all.
We whisper 'cause we know it's wrong,
But I wanna be with you.
I'll never be with you.

Through all the years I had it wrong.
I found myself a brand new song.
I'll play it through the years with you.
And you'll be my favorite part.
You'll always be my favorite part.

It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
Sweet, sweet crazy love.
I'll never be with you.
I’ll never be with you.

We made our way on down the stairs.
10 flights of falling hard in love.
Yet I pressed against the lobby door and,
I'm all alone again.

You kissed just like I thought you would.
A fire filled with burning lust.
Yet I pressed against that lobby door,
And I'm all alone again.
I'm all alone again
You're in my head.

It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
Sweet, sweet crazy love.
I'll never be with you.
I’ll never be with you.

It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
Sweet, sweet crazy love.
Sweet, sweet crazy love.

It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
It's such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
It’s such a sweet, sweet crazy love.
Sweet, sweet crazy love.

I’m all alone again.
I’m all alone again.
I’m all alone again.
I’m all alone again.
Track Name: Tumblin’
He watched the door as she came in,
He felt his heart go tumblin’
He winced as she passed him for me.
He felt the loss so suddenly.

All he wants to do is take her home,
And think of her and her alone.
He could have sworn that she’s the one.
He soon felt his cool come undone.

If only she could hear him sing,
He’d write a song and everything.
I bet if she could see him dance,
She might even give him a chance.

She noticed him noticing her.
She felt the room begin to blur.
She thought of all those guys she loved before,
She promised she wouldn’t love anymore.

If only he could hear her sing,
She’d write a song and everything.
I bet if he could see her dance,
He might even give her a chance.

If only she could hear him sing,
He’d write a song and everything.
I bet if she could see him dance.
She might even give him a chance.

He watched the door as she came in,
She felt her heart go tumblin’.

If only he could hear her sing,
She’d write a song and everything.
I bet if he could see her dance,
He might even give her a chance.

If only she could hear him sing,
He’d write a song and everything.
I bet if she could see him dance,
She might even give him a chance.
Track Name: Plans
You've taken his last name.
I never took you for the marryin' kind.
As if I needed any more proof
To know that you're no longer mine.

I’m just trying to keep on movin’
Put you in my rearview mirror.
But every time that I look up.
All I see is you getting nearer and nearer.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.

I keep you so close,
Though you’re nothing but a memory
You still got me up some nights.
When you don’t even think of me.

We’re the itch that was never scratched.
Sowing seeds that just never grow.
I so badly want you back,
I’m just trying, and trying to let you go.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Get you off my mind.

I've got plans for you,
To get you off my mind.
Track Name: How Their Life Goes
Fist bumping with the CFO.
Making plans for the IPO.
You’re strapped to the rocket ship.
Your assistant plans your family trips.

They look to you for their strategy,
And you don’t mind taking salary,
But this isn’t what you really do.
You’ll get out when your stock accrues.
And live your dreams.

You’ve lived a life,
With your hands in your pockets,
Staring at your shoes
In between commutes.
And the years you wasted,
Waiting on the weekends,
Saving for a day,
You let slip away.

Yeah, this was the backup plan.
And salary didn’t make the man.
45. Half alive.
Downing pharmaceuticals,
While drowning in your cubicle.
Wondering where the time went,
Wondering what you traded just to pay the rent.

You’ve lived a life,
With your hands in your pockets,
Staring at your shoes
In between commutes.
And the years you wasted,
Waiting on the weekends,
Saving for a day,
You let slip away.

You’ve lived a life,
With your hands in your pockets,
Staring at your shoes
In between commutes.
And the years you wasted,
Waiting on the weekends,
Everybody knows,
This is how their life goes.

Everybody knows,
This is how their life goes.

Everybody knows,
This is how their life goes.
Track Name: Lilacs
If you’re the lilac
I want to be your spring
If you’re the thunder
I want to be your lightning
Count to ten
Sit and wonder
How long it’s been
We’ll watch as the clouds roll in.

If you’re the water,
I wanna be the waves.
If you’re the ivy,
I wanna be the brick wall,
That you crawl.
As you hold onto me,
And while you sprawl,
I’ll be there to carry it all.

And some days I feel so lucky I can barely breathe.
You’re a story that’s so good,
I find it hard to believe.
Since I met you,
I’ve been bouncing like a kite upon the breeze.
I’ll float around,
Will you come fly with me?

If you’re the daisy,
I wanna be the sun,
If you’re the maple,
I wanna be the autumn
As you turn to fire,
And we admire
All that you’ve inspired
Dropping to the ground.

And some days I feel so lucky I can barely breathe.
You’re a story that’s so good,
I find it hard to believe.
Since I met you,
I’ve been bouncing like a kite upon the breeze.
I’ll float around,
Will you come fly with me?

And some days I feel so lucky I can barely breathe.
You’re a story that’s so good,
I find it hard to believe.
Since I met you,
I’ve been bouncing like a kite upon the breeze.
I’ll float around,
Will you come fly with me?

If you’re the lilac,
I wanna be the spring.
If you’re the thunder,
I’ll be your lightning.
Track Name: The Ground
The fall hits the air,
The leaves like you and I,
Keep falling down.

And you’ll waste every single word.
On beating me
Back to the ground.

There were dishes in the sink.
You needed a drink,
You smashed a glass upon the floor.

I looked at you,
You stared right back
Wondering what I made you do that for.

The ground.

Do you remember last September,
‘Fore you left me staring out the door
There are dishes in the sink,
I need a drink,
I’m only wanting more.

Do you remember last December
Before the world had left and gone and changed its mind
Before I left you staring back,
Thinking that you were mine.

The ground.
Track Name: Wherever She Pleases
She walks through life,
and goes wherever she pleases.
Tells you lies
And floats wherever the breeze is.

She’s the girl,
That you don’t dare erase.
Hers are the curls
That put you in your place.

But you were the one,
Whose life was in disarray
Young and dumb,
You let her slip away.

Oh.

Look what your love can do.
If you want it, there’s hope for the two of you.
Swallow your pride
And at least you can say you tried.
Lose the armor
Set your fears aside.

Or just set her free.

She’s starting a fight
And asking you to leave it.
She’ll make your night.
And never let you believe it.

You were the one
a relationship behind.
Young and dumb,
And thinking you had time.

Pride’ll keep you apart
And settling for
A life filled with boredom
And nothing more.

But, oh.

Look what your love can do.
If you want it, there’s hope for the two of you.
Swallow your pride
And at least you can say you tried.
Lose the armor
Set your fears aside.

But, oh.

Look what your love can do.
If you want it, there’s hope for the two of you.
Swallow your pride
And at least you can say you tried.
Lose the armor
Give yourself to her.

Or just set her free.
Set her free.
Track Name: Coffee & Cold Showers
She doesn’t wanna talk,
She’s dead asleep.
She’s had about three or four hours on me.

But I stumble through the dark doorway
The silence pours over everything.

Until she says my name.
I can tell she’s pissed again.
And I’m always to blame.

I’ll quit drinking when you call off your dogs
And you’ll quit asking how I spend my nights.
So pour out the black coffee
While you clear your head

And I’ll run the cold shower
While you wait in bed.

She waited up
Practiced her speech.
She takes one look at you and forgets every word.

She stumbles through
And some things she’d say
Shatter like a glass upon the floor.

Like how she says my name.
I can tell she’s pissed again.
And I’m always to blame.

I’ll quit drinking when you call off your dogs
And you’ll quit asking how I spent my night.
So pour out the black coffee
While you clear your head.

And I’ll run the cold shower,
While you wait in bed.

Yeah we can work it out.
Yeah we can work it out.
We can work it out.

I’ll quit drinking when you call off your dogs
And you’ll quit asking how I spent my night.
So pour out the black coffee
While you clear your head.

And I’ll run the cold shower,
While you wait.

We can work it out.
We can work it out.