I’m trying desperately hard to figure out when I first heard these guys.  I’m not 100%, but I think it stems from my Limewire days, back when 128 kbps for music was considered top notch.  Probably in the same way I was with Muse, I downloaded a track by accident.  Anywho that track wound up being “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode).”  And like with so many other bands, I was hooked immediately.

They hail from Wales…Cardiff, to be exact (although their hometown is Porthcawl).  And no, I couldn’t locate either city on the map without googling it first.  They’ve been around for some 12 years, although not under the same band name.  Their first incarnation came as “Robots in the Sky,” started in 1998.  The band line-up then was Gareth Jones (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Pete Roberts (lead guitar, backing vocals), Kris Blight (bass), and John Maloney (drums, percussion).  Upon releasing an EP, which caught EMI’s attention, they renamed themselves Tetra Splendour, the English translation of a Spanish jazz quartet, “Quatro Esplendido.”  They did alright after relocating to the US upon being signed, releasing 3 singles and finally an album, with one of the singles granting them a dedicated headlining tour.  They even did well enough to have played the Reading Festival in 2002.  After the tour, they would later go on to record new material.  However, this material would be interrupted due to the management change which swept through EMI.  As a result, many previous record deals with the label would be voided; Tetra Splendour would be a victim of such change.

As they were then unsigned, they moved back to Wales, picked up a keyboardist by the name of Ian Russell, and changed their name once again, this time to the current one of “People in Planes.”  It’s things like this that make me appreciate just how significant events can be.  Say EMI never had their management sweep; Tetra Splendour would never have moved back to Wales and picked up Russell the keyboardist, who I think makes up a good part of Plane’s distinguishing sound.  However, they don’t really seem to be that well known on this side of the Atlantic, but who am I to speculate on potential changes in timelines?  Anyways, they would release a self titled album in 2005, containing previously unreleased Tetra Splendour material (marked by the lack of keys present in those songs), and newly recorded material with all 5 members playing.  Fun fact: they band contributed to the OST of John Tucker Must Die, released in 2006, and actually had a cameo in the film.  I never saw the movie myself, but I’m thinking it might be worth watching just to see People in Planes in it.

In 2008, they released a second album, Beyond the Horizon.  They of moved in a different direction with their sound, which I enjoy because it is not only really easy to make similar sounding stuff to what you’ve done before (and ride off the success of it…here’s looking at you Top 40), but it keeps things interesting as well.  It’s a diverse sounding album as well; I was interested to learn that they actually worked with four different producers while recording different tracks.  Fun fact for this album: Raine Maida, front man for Our Lady Peace (a favourite band of mine), was one of those producers.  It also turns out that of the 4 producers, Raine was their favourite to work with, even going as far as giving him a special thanks in the album booklet.  I was pretty stoked to see that they were playing one single from the album, Last Man Standing, on the radio earlier this year.  Good to know things seem to be going well for them.

Word is they are currently making a third album…one I anticipate most eagerly.  I’m a big fan of the first album in general, while I am slightly more selective about the second album (by which I mean maybe 1 or 2 tracks), so I am interested to see what they do with the third one..  Anyways, below are some notable tracks.

The first single off of the album.  Video was actually directed by Joaquin Phoenix.  In the album version of the song, they added a solo at 2:14 in the video before going to the bridge.  For the single, I guess they didn’t originally include it?   But that wouldn’t be the first time album versions of singles are recorded, not at all.  Anyways, if I had to guess, I’m pretty sure this is one of the previously unreleased Tetra Splendour tracks.  Currently trying to track down that album.  But man, I love this song.  It’s what got me into the band.

I’m a huge fan of this balladish sounding piece.  It has such a smooth and natural build from the start to the release, and the slightly haunting piano is just so intoxicating.

Another piece with a piano opening.  Albeit quite different from Fire.  The song is not one of my top favourites, but it is still a good listen at the very least.  I’m a fan of the resolution from a minor to major key at the end of the song.  It just brings everything together so perfectly.

Apparently when I try to host this on WordPress it just shows up as a white square, so unfortunately it remains a link until I can sort things out.  But please don’t skip this song, it is actually the shit right here.  In fact, I’m going to go out and say that if you listen to any of the songs posted in this article, listen to this one. The riff at the start of the song certainly makes it a memorable one.  In that sense, I guess it’s also a hook.  But once again, they use that minimalistic approach for the opening of songs.  Clean guitar piercing the silence.  This would have to be my favourite song off the album.

A bonus of sorts.  A song from their Tetra Splendour days.  I will be honest I just actually stumbled upon this today, but I do enjoy it.  Some people made a comparison to Radiohead with the album, and thus tend to label them “uncreative”. They said the same thing about Muse’s first album as well, and let’s see where they are right now?  Anyways, from “the good old days.”  Of 2002.  Ha.