I thought I hated Death Cab For Cutie. I thought they had a stupid name, and I had automatically lumped them in with “mall-punk” bands (or are they emo?) like My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, Fallout Boy, and New Found Glory – essentially, the black dress shirt/red tie/eyeliner-wearing bands that popped up like toadstools from the muck after Green Day softened their punk image and Blink 182 became teen heartthrobs. Basically, punk without teeth, teen angst and rebellion as sold by Hot Topic in a mall near you.
But Death Cab is really good, at least this one song I heard them do on Saturday Night Live this past week (the episode that my flawless Scarlett Johanssen hosted). I THINK it’s called “Soul Meets Body,” and it’s beautiful, with this haunting counter-melody section by a second singer (“I can’t believe it’s true…”). It reminds me a lot of Document/Green-era REM, with a touch of the Cure or the Smiths, if that makes any sense. It’s so perfectly catchy that I cannot excise it from my head, and for a change, I don’t want to. I haven’t been so taken with a “pop” song in a few years, at least not since I was introduced to the Strokes through “Last Nite” or the White Stripes through “Fell In Love With a Girl.”
They have a lot of great songs. If you have iTunes, check out some of the standout tracks from Plans: it’s a really good album. The song “Transatlanticism” from the album of the same name is also a great tune. They have some darn fine good lyrics, much like the “Greyhound station” bit from soul.
Other good songs:
“Marching Bands of Manhattan” (more great lyrics)
“Different Names for the Same Thing”
“I Will Follow You into the Dark” (a sort of non-theist love song)
note that, I believe, the main dude Gibbard has also done a side-project called “The Postal Service” which had the hit “Such Great Heights” as featured in the movie Garden state (though the more well known, quieter version was done by Iron and Silk). “The District Sleeps Along Tonight” and “Clark Gable” are some other standout tracks from that collaboration. There’s some great stuff there.
This is funny, because I’ve had the Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Along Tonight” album for a couple years now, thanks to a very cutting-edge hipster friend. I liked it a lot (thanks in large part to the inclusion of the totally-awesome Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley), but I never really sought out Death Cab as a result. And I LOVE both versions of “Such Great Heights,” the Postal Service one and the Iron and Wine one, which was on the Garden State soundtrack.
I’m in the same boat. From the first time I had heard of Death Cab or the Postal Service, I immediately wrote them off for some reason that I’ve long since forgotten. For some reason I got a copy of the Postal Service CD, probably after hearing Such Great Heights, and it took me a couple of listens but I really started to like it.
I know I shouldn’t. I find it painful to even look at Ben Gibbard while he’s singing because he seems too friggin’ old to be singing songs like this. I still love Transatlanticism though.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of my “judging the book by it’s cover” mistakes with music. i.e. The confusing of My Chemical Romance with My Morning Jacket. :smack:
Odd, my response was the other way around. I think Gibbard’s voice is just too annoying without the added omph that the backing band gives him… when paired with the electronics, it just feels thin to me. I don’t like his solo acoustic stuff for the same reason.
Big Bad Voodoo Lou, you had the exact same reaction I did, only I heard “Soul Meets Body” on the radio and asked people here about who it was. It really is a fantastic song. The rest of the album is very listenable, although not maybe that memorable. I so wanted to hate them too. Oh well
Personally, I think their best album is either The Photo Album or We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, both of which are nowhere near anything like “mall-punk.”
But their best song, bar none, is off an EP (the name of which I’ve forgotten) and it’s called “Photobooth.” It’s also got an early REM vibe, but it’s perhaps a bit more wistful and forlorn. I’d recommend seeking it out.
Forbidden Love. I love every single one of Death Cab’s LPs, but Forbidden Love is their greatest release. Five impeccable tracks - “Photobooth” is the best, but “Song For Kelly Huckaby” and the alternate version of “Company Calls Epilogue” are both almost as good. But “Photobooth” is definitely the greatest song Death Cab has ever written.
Magical Mystery Tour movie, specifically from a track by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
I’m a big fan of their stuff, mostly thanks to having heard the Postal Service first. “Transatlanticism” is by far my favorite album as I like pretty much every song on it - the best ones on there are “A lack of color” and “Passenger Seat” in my opinion.
I heard “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” on the radio for the first time yesterday, and it sent chills down my spine. This is the first CD I’ve considered buying (I’m still a sans-iPod troglodyte) in probably about two years. Every song I’ve heard from it so far is simply amazing.
Wow! The OP conveys my thoughts on this so precisely it is eerie. I have ZERO interest in any music past 1981, but while watching SNL I was totally blown away by “Soul Meets Body” and think it is one of the best songs I’ve heard in years. The performance was captivating, especially the movements of the lead singer, and how he holds his guitar when playing.