My emo phase was more murder ballads than sk8er bois, but I’m right there with my generation in that I spent my young adulthood being earnest to Death Cab for Cutie. Death Cab was always great company, being melodic pleasant music that talked about feelsy … Continue reading Some Boys
The other day I was talking about not being emo enough for Death Cab anymore. Y’all know I was joking, right? For one thing, I’m too old to have been a proper ’emo kid’ anyway. I was already an adult when Death Cab for Cutie … Continue reading No Sunlight
I hate to sound like a hipster, but here goes: I haven’t really listened to Death Cab for Cutie in a long long time, I guess they kind of remind me of my mid-twenties and I’m just not as emo as I used to be. … Continue reading No Room In Frame
Part Two. The Songs.
A little extra space for those whose albums didn’t quite make the top cut, or those who didn’t actually release an album. The songs I listened to. A lot. This year.
1. ★ – David Bowie
Nothing casts a longer shadow Blackstar. Released in November, it inspired the kind of fanfare only new stirrings by David Bowie could attract. Of course we didn’t know that it was meant as the artist’s swan song, a parting gift, a characteristically cryptic goodbye. We just thought it was mighty epic. In a season of electrosynth, it’s almost painful and wrong to receive something of this caliber, as a goodbye no less. We’re not worthy.
2. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
The naughtiest, sexiest pop confection. So inescapable and so catchy, you almost didn’t notice how subversive it was. Elle King is one of a new breed of smart young pop stars, armed with the message that empowerment is fun.
3. On the Regular – Shamir
This Las Vegas-based new talent combines a soulful countertenor, a love for candy colored disco beats and a playful humor to create what critics have called ‘bubblegum hip hop’. If anyone is going to write this generation’s I Will Survive, it’s gonna be this kid. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s zooming along nicely.
4. New Americana – Halsey
Yeah, it’s a self-conscious, Balenciaga-referencing, portrait-of-my-generation anthem that wouldn’t exist without Royals. But Halsey has greater ambitions than riding Lorde’s coattails for a minute on the pop charts. Her debut was a concept album about an apocalyptic near future of her own invention. She has things to say.
5. Tongues – Joywave
This has actually been stuck in my head since the fall of 2014, and I was waiting to see if Joywave’s debut album lived up to the delirium. It does. This is the best of today’s electric indie pop wave.
6. The Party Line – Belle & Sebastian
Didn’t Belle and Sebastian used to be known for making sleepy folk music? They’ve been at it long enough to have been a punchline in High Fidelity. But this… This you can dance to. I guess this is a band evolving with the times. Tired of being called twee, they take to electropop.
7. Black Sun – Death Cab For Cutie
Welcome to Ben Gibbard’s big divorce album. It would make a bigger impact if every Death Cab record didn’t sound like a breakup album. The romantic mope is what these guys do best.
8. Lifted Up (1985) – Passion Pit
Passion Pit continues the trend for catchy, New Wave influenced indie pop. There’s been a lot of it lately, mostly of the one hit and out variety, and Passion Pit, with a total of three albums, is looking more and more like a keeper.
9. Leave a Trace – Chvrches
This could be a long lost Cyndi Lauper song, it’s that 80’s. And that’s great. Will Lauren Mayberry grow up to be a similarly iconic figure? Too early to tell, but I’ve been watching Chvrches since their debut a few years ago, and it would be nice if I could continue.
10. 10,000 Emerald Pools – BØRNS
Ok, so maybe Garrett Borns, with his pretentious stage name and sensitive-guy hair, is pure hipster bait. Maybe I’m a sucker for that stuff. Maybe this is a pretty great song.
11. Paranoia – Max Frost
Max Frost is now famous enough to merit his own Wikipedia page, but it’s only a paragraph long. So he’s still got a ways to go before he reaches real fame, but it’s when not if, and when he does, you heard it here first.
12. Painted – MS MR
Just when it seemed like Ms Mr wasn’t going to live up to the promise of Hurricane… This isn’t quite as great, but it’s nice to have them back, and it would be nice to have more fanfare about it.
13. American Oxygen – Rihanna
Rihanna is hardly the first person to use a video montage of iconic images superimposed on an American flag to illustrate a basic political point. We get it, MLK would be aghast at the violence and injustice still being dished out upon a mostly black underclass, and the American Dream is big bust for most of us, etc. (And some viewers might find it objectionable that the singer’s nipples are clearly visible throughout.) But I want to take this as a sign that Rih is beginning to mature into a more serious-minded artist. She has the talent and charisma to become the kind of artist people pay attention to when she has something important to say.
14. Blank Space – Father John Misty
Oh, hey, here’s a novelty song. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll curse the heavens for taking Lou Reed, and you’ll thank Glob that at least we have Father John Misty. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, possibly, Taylor Swift is not entirely a vortex on inanity in human form.
The new year is, indeed, almost upon us, and indeed, I don’t feel much different. By Death Cab for Cutie’s cues – as seen in a video that most closely resembles one of those beer commercials designed to make Miller Lite look upscale – this is … Continue reading The New Year
First of all, whatever this song is about, isn’t math. But I don’t know what it’s about and you can think about it on your own if you want. The other thing; the Death Cab For Cutie tag on Tumblr should be stayed away from. Because I didn’t see any actual Death Cab photos or related info – it’s like an emo time capsule from, like, the early 2000’s. Is emo still considered a thing? How can this be? I feel old. Or it was more like post-emo soft-grunge, or whatever label teenagers who like feeling sorry for themselves now consider au courant. I feel sorry for myself very much, but I don’t write loopy cursive quotes of pop songs and paste them on top of stock photo landscapes and label it #inspiration. That’s because I’m an adult and I deal with my angst the adult way. Getting ass-flat wasted in the afternoon. Sorry, emo kids, I know this joke is ten years behind its sell-by date.
Aahh, the thin line between romantic sentiment and stalkeriffic creepiness. No one walks that line better than Death Cab For Cutie. It’s their natural habitat, if you will. Always there to take advantage of the way things that would earn you a restraining order in real life sound heartrending when set to music. When he says he won’t let her get away so easily, that’s kind of entering the territory of ‘girl go buy you a handgun, cause things are about to get rapey’. Now, if a big scary rapper were putting down those lines, it’d be up on all kinds of blogs and news stories about misogynistic music lyrics. But it’s nerdy little Ben Gibbard, look at him, he’s just a harmless little hipster teddy bear who wouldn’t hurt a fly, aw it’s not so bad now is it, look, he wants to show you his basement love dungeon and he’s gonna love you and cherish you and handcuff you to the radiator and buy you chocolates and stuff. It’s the harmless-looking dweeby ones you gotta watch out for, they’re always the ones with an unhealthy interest in every breath you take. But seriously, I’m sure Ben Gibbard is a great guy who never kidnapped or stalked or roofied anybody, and I’m sure he meant this song in a purely romantic affectionate way. And it is, after all, probably Death Cab’s greatest song. You can’t not appreciate that.