Death Cab For Cutie - Asphalt Meadows
It's no secret that Death Cab for Cutie's 2010's output wasn't exactly on par with their classic streak in the 2000's. As much as I personally believe Kintsugi to be pretty underrated, I can't deny that this past era of their discography led to some of their least interesting material so far, which is a shame coming from the band who helped propel indie music into the public eye with their earlier work. It's a good thing then that Asphalt Meadows is easily their best album in 15 years.

The ... read more

Death Cab For Cutie - The Blue
Thank You for Today's sister EP, The Blue EP, is a bit of an outlier in the Death Cab for Cutie EP library, as it shares very little with the album it's partnered with. For one thing, the EP mostly eschews the indie pop sound the band have been travelling down the past decade in favour of returning to their indie rock roots, with a focus on atmospherics and occasional influence from dream pop. Opening track To the Ground is easily the heaviest song Death Cab have released so far, with Jason ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today
Death Cab for Cutie had, once again, found themselves in a difficult position after Kintsugi. I'd say that most bands would have a somewhat difficult time when one of their founding members and arguably the member who had the most influence over their sound leaves. But Death Cab are nothing if not resilient, so they would continue forward. Along the way they would bring in guitarist/keyboardists Dave Depper and Zac Rae, making Thank You for Today their first album as a five-piece.

As their ... read more

Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
Codes and Keys saw Death Cab for Cutie wanting to mark a new era in their career, cutting out the pessimism and unhealthy habits of albums like Narrow Stairs and bringing on an optimistic outlook. By all accounts a well-meaning step forward, sadly kneecapped by Ben getting divorced by his now ex-wife Zooey Deschanel* and, more importantly, the album itself consisting of some of their weakest material to date. But Death Cab would keep on Death Cabbin', and the quartet would march back into the ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys
Narrow Stairs was an uncharacteristic emotional low point for Death Cab for Cutie, even for the standards of the band that made Transatlanticism and We Have the Facts. It was clear that this level of darkness in their sound wasn't sustainable, so it makes a lot of sense that they would want to go for a lighter tone for their next album.

The leadup to Codes and Keys promised fans a new direction in sound from the Death Cab we know, emphasizing keyboards and electronics over guitars. On paper ... read more

Death Cab For Cutie - The Open Door EP
In practice, Narrow Stairs' companion EP The Open Door comes across more as an extended single backing up the opening track Little Bribes, which like many songs from the album it accompanies feels dramatically different from most other Death Cab for Cutie songs. It has a bouncy, somewhat bluesy groove to it that takes a second to click, but once it does the song becomes a ton of fun and an interesting deep cut.

After the first song, the EP is made up of songs leftover from the Narrow Stairs ... read more

Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
I can only imagine the wave of relief that each member of Death Cab for Cutie felt at the positive reception of Plans. They had a lot to prove with that album; not only would they now need to meet the commercial demands of a major record label, but they would also need to please their already existing indie fanbase in order to dodge accusations of selling out. Against all the odds, they managed to please everyone with an album that progressed their established sound in ways that could only be ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
Transatlanticism saw Death Cab for Cutie finally achieve their indie rock stardom, which obviously meant that major labels would start swooping in to capitalise on their momentum and make even more millions of dollars. The band ended up choosing to sign with Atlantic Records, leaving the indie environment of Barsuk and diving head-first into mainstream polish. They holed themselves up in a cabin in the middle of nowhere to put their new batch of songs to tape, to be released later the same year ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
After taking 2002 off following the stressful conditions of The Photo Album, Death Cab for Cutie reconvened in the leadup to 2003 reinvigorated and ready to create a new album. This couldn't be any other Death Cab album, however; now that the band had gained a substantial following thanks to the popularity of songs like A Movie Script Ending, as well as Chris' notoriety as a producer and Ben's slowly building fame from The Postal Service, this new album would have a good chance at being their ... read more
The Postal Service - Give Up
Death Cab for Cutie exited production of The Photo Album exhausted and in great need of a break, which is exactly what they did for 2002. In that time, Chris would briefly join fellow Seattle indie band The Long Winters, and - far more notably - Ben would get involved in a new project with a new collaborator, Jimmy Tamborello. After providing vocals for Jimmy's album under his pseudonym Dntel, the two hit it off and started planning on making a fully fledged album of their own, combining Ben's ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - The Stability EP
The Photo Album's companion EP, Stability, largely harkens back to the slowcore sound seen on Death Cab for Cutie's first two albums, but now with the new album's sound clarity. Of the three tracks, two are completely new material, the first being 20th Century Towers which carries the same minimalist and crushingly depressing feel of songs like Little Fury Bugs, just not with as much of a sense of progression. The second track is a cover of Bjork's All Is Full of Love, which picks up the ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - The Photo Album
While We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes didn't exactly put Death Cab for Cutie on the map, it was the album that saw the band start to generate an actual fanbase outside of Washington. The pressure was on now. If their next album sucked, their career would be dead in the water. After hiring Michael Schorr as their drummer, Death Cab went back into the studio to create their third album as quickly as they could so they could get back on the road. With tensions between Ben and Chris rising ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - The Forbidden Love EP
Death Cab for Cutie occupies a strange space in contemporary rock music, in that they're one of the only bands I can think of that still semi-frequently releases EPs. Every two or three albums they would release a small handful of songs a few months later as a companion piece of sorts, starting with 2000's Forbidden Love.

The EP places its best foot forward by opening with fan-favourite Photobooth, driven by a cute drum machine beat which goes on to complement new drummer Michael Schorr's ... read more

Death Cab For Cutie - We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes
After their debut album Something About Airplanes definitely proved to be an album with songs on it, Death Cab for Cutie found themselves in uncertain times. Fresh out of college and thousands of dollars in debt, the band moved out of Bellingham and into Seattle, leaving their drummer behind. Unsure of their own futures, let alone the band's, they would spend the months of 1999 living in their parents' houses slowly working towards a new album, with Ben taking over drumming duties and Chris now ... read more
Death Cab For Cutie - Something About Airplanes
Death Cab For Cutie have become my new indie rock obsession as of late, and so with a new album on the horizon I figured now is as good a time as any to express my newfound love for this band by covering their entire discography. None of that half-baked first reaction bullshit. This is gonna take a while.

Our story begins in 1997 in Bellingham, Washington, right at the tail end of what I like to call the 'E-standard Midwest' scene, where the indie rock bands were doing their damnedest to ... read more

Mitski - Bury Me at Makeout Creek
June Challenge, day 30

Ending June off with a bang, here we have... yet another album I enjoyed but don't have much to say about. Go figure. This album is punchy, very short and to the point. It's very raw both in production and emotion, and it makes for a very cathartic and enjoyable experience. There's a very folky attitude running through these songs but they still know how to take the energy up a notch when it's needed in the form of fuzzed out guitars and blasted drums, creating some very ... read more

Bo Burnham - Inside (The Songs)
June Challenge, day 29

I finally watched Inside today after a few weeks of putting it off for whatever reason. I'm deciding to review it for this challenge firstly because it means I don't have to actually listen to album today (laziness) and because I feel like reviewing just the songs is going against the point of this being a very visual experience. The production quality in this film is superb, far better than I expected it to be frankly. You can tell that Bo poured his blood, sweat and ... read more

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
June Challenge, day 28

Throughout the month I've been doing my best to cover some musical blindspots of mine, and classical music is probably the biggest of all of them. I had no idea what to expect going into Promises, and I was pretty impressed with what I heard. It's not often that I find a piece of music like this where rhythm is barely present consistently engaging. It's very repetitive, largely focusing on one repeating melody and allowing the surrounding sounds to develop alongside it, ... read more

June Challenge, day 27

A friend of mine recommended to me Spirit of the Beehive's previous album Hypnic Jerks late last year. It was an album that didn't really stick with me all that much but it did make it so that I recognized the name once their most recent album, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, came out, and I figured I might as well listen to it. Right off the bat this album is much more memorable, mostly for its absolutely batshit crazy sound. Really it's less of one cohesive sound and more like a ... read more

Sweet Trip - Halica: Bliss Out v.11
June Challenge, day 26

Rounding out the Sweet Trip discography, Halica is still unmistakably Sweet Trip, just in a different context. The same lush and dreamy atmospheres from Velocity:Design:Comfort onwards are here, just in less of an indie pop context and more of an ambient techno context. It reminds me of Orbital in a few ways, namely the way the songs develop over long runtimes and the repetition of core melodies, albeit this is a tad more shoegazey and guitar-driven at points. The bones ... read more

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February Playlist