Tag Archives: Death Cab for Cutie

499. Death Cab for Cutie – “You Can Play These Songs with Chords”

Another CD I picked up in recent months.

album cover Death Cab for Cutie You Can Play These Songs With Chords Cd Review blogA trap for young album purchasers is accidently buying a ‘for the fans only’ album like this one.

This is a pastiche of the 8-track demo that got DCFC ‘noticed’, plus ten other early recordings from the infant act. As you’d expect, it is a bit of a hit and miss affair with no end of experimentation, loads of tentative steps and half-formed ideas, plus some misfires.

I don’t want to sound too negative, however, as the A&R folk were right to get excited about the promise here, and there are loads of hints of how competent this guys would get (and in a pretty short period of time too).

The upsides of the CD are the diversity of ideas, and the ease with which Ben Gibbard appears to produce well-penned tracks built around rhythms that start to mesmirise. I am glad he got over the dated tape-looping and the more bratty power-punk efforts.

I also love that he messed up the lyrics of a Smiths classic, thus pissing of a posse of pompus prats who take some sort of fundamentalist view of the sanctity of the:

 

 

471. Les Savy Fav – “Root for Ruin”

A few years ago we celebrated my missus’ 30th birthday with a trip to New York City.  We squeezed in a few well-planned gigs while there (The Black Keys and Crowes), plus a randomly selected show on the NYU campus which was headlined by this punk combo.

The show was a nice rush of energetic stagemanship. The frontman had us in the palm of his sweaty hands, while waves of guitars washed over us.

This album (a recent-ish gift from my bro – thanks) captures a lot of that experience, while also revealing a more nuanced musicality to what seemed a bit of a mess on stage.

This is clever, catchy US style postpunk (think Fugazi but without much fuzz).  This would sit very well alongside Modest Mouse, Death Cab…, or dare I invoke the borderline godly, Pixies?

There are some very strong tracks on here, and a welcome consistency in quality (as opposed to my last couple of reviewed CDs).  High and Unhinged has a well-balanced anthemic quality (for this genre):

(Sorry for the average banter of the first 2 mins of so there – Oh, I’m talking about the clip – this review is all sub-par!)

This album has got me excited enough to want to explore more in the back catalogue.  And to hope that show at NYU will happen again when we visit next month!

File under: I suspect they are using ‘root’ in the US fashion

216. Death Cab for Cutie – “Plans”

I’ve been a very good mood today.  My teaching commitments are done for the year and I have dived back into my research.  The sun has been shining and I’ve been contemplating a summer of much fun.

That makes reviewing this album a little difficult. 

This collection of tunes are on the melancholy side.  It’s not quite morose, slit your wrists stuff.  But, relative to the bands previous two albums, it is more measured and downbeat in temper.

There are more tracks built around piano rather than guitar.  Several of the tunes are quite dire in their content. What Sarah Said is a real departure for the band with Ben Folds-ish keys, and a heartbreaking insight into the experience of watching a friend pass out the wrong end of the intensive care unit.

There is still much to admire and embrace here, but just not on a summer day par excellence.

As an aside, this was a very astute Xmas present purchase from my now sis-in-law a few festive seasons ago.  Nice choice Steph!

File under: Synch with sinking feelings

215. Death Cab for Cutie – “Photo Album”

I’m really enjoying my DeathCabFest.

This underlistened-to album in my collection (perhaps I have some subconscious aversion to the ugly cover and lame title) has been washing over me for a few hours now, and I am discovering more and more that I like about it.

I made the comparison to Aussie outfit Gersey yesterday.  Now I realise that may be meaningless to many of you, but it’s exactly what I’m hearing. Delicate but dominant guitar lines with rousing rhythms permeate much of this work.  Indeed Ben Gibbard’s vocals are within a ballpark of Craig Jackson’s.

There is a little more poppiness here though, and the song writing is more distinct and engaging.

A couple of tracks on here keep grabbing my attention.  The critique of Los Angeles (Why You’d Want To Live Here) captures much of my thoughts on said burgh when visiting earlier this year.

Styrofoam Plates tells the tale of an awkward and affecting funeral in a manner (and at a pace) that belies the melancholy sentiment (but which does capture the anger).

These guys are very consistent and engaging.  More please…

File under: Snaps worth some claps

214. Death Cab for Cutie – “We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes”

How appropriate that on the day of a ballot in Australia, I should review an album with “voting” in the title. Unlike today’s outcome (a shift to the crazy Christian right), there is much to like about the CD in question.

I think I picked this album up on a whim, having heard good things about the band in question, but being unfamiliar with their sound. I liked it from the first listen, and still take a lot of joy from it.  I struggle to explain why however.

DCFC are one of this bands that bridge the cerebral and the emotive.  They build an effective wave of guitar that sweeps you through track after track, driven by a hypnotic rhythm (think the under-rated Aussie soundscapers Gersey).

Meanwhile, the songs are verbose, laden with very literate and imposing content and vocab.  The vocals are  similar to Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but without the overt showmanship.

I must admit, however, that this album has always tended to wash over me, rather than directly engage.  I can happily loop it for hours on end, but still  struggle to distinguish one track from the next. The Shins do a better job of nailing the pop version of this.

File under: Worth my preference vote