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Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Debate Exposes Doubt

There was a time not too long ago that if you asked me what my favourite bands were, Death Cab For Cutie would have been on the short list. Introduced to me by my friend Dave in Virginia sometime around the summer of 2000, I was fairly enthralled by We Have The Facts And Are Voting Yes and the follow-up The Photo Album. However, in retrospect, from that point on my interest in the band seemed to wane in inverse proportion to the rest of the world. Understand – this wasn’t any sort of knee-jerk backlash against their increased popularity, just a gradual growing apart. As they moved from the more lyrically obtuse, musically anxious sound of the first two or three records to the more heart-on-sleeve, earnest and widescreen pop of the last few albums, I guess it just spoke to me less as my own tastes had been drifting into less straight pop territory. I still play their records now and again but I fear that the enjoyment I get out of them is more nostalgic than genuine excitement. And while critical reaction to Plans (out todaY) seems to be mixed, I’m sure I’ll pick up a copy sooner or later. Oh, and anyone playing Gorilla Vs Bear’s Pitchfork/Plans review poolwho had 6.5?

What with this being the week of Death Cab, I decided it was as good a time as any to watch the copy of their tour documentary Drive Well, Sleep Carefully which had been sitting on my bookshelf for some time now. The feature-length doc follows the band around the US over the course of their Spring 2004 tour (the same tour that yielded their recent John Byrd EP live set), intersplicing band interviews with live performances and thoughtful shots of highways and countryside moving at high speed. The musical components are quite good – honestly, better than any of the three times I’ve seen them live (they’re pretty good live but not awe-inspiring). It’s pleasant enough watching and certainly reinforces the band’s reputation as being nice, grounded guys, but isn’t especially revelatory – not that many tour docs really are. Anyone hoping to see Ben Gibbard throw a TV out of a hotel window will be sorely disappointed.

Naturally, the Death Cab PR machine (now funded by major label dollars) is in full swing. The New York Times has a profile, as do The Houston Chronicle and Reuters. The Seattle Times talked to band friends and family about their impressions of the new album, which MTVu has streaming in its entirety. MTV found out about the making of the video for first single “Soul Meets Body” and Under The Radar has a load of extra interview material online that didn’t make the cover story on the band in their latest issue.

You know, I bet Ben Gibbard gets some seriously weird/creepy fan mail.

Also taking up major space in the latest UTR is their 10-year anniversary feature on Britpop. It’s actually quite a good piece with honest reflections and reminisences from a lot of the principals and bit players in the whole Britpop movement. They’ve got extras from the interviews online here, but if you find the material at all compelling you should pick up the magazine.

And though not Britpop, it’s the best segue I can find. Bradley’s Almanac has a complete Ride show from 1993 available to download right now. Some of the tracks appeared on the Live Light semi-official bootleg, while others are all new (at least to me). A cover of “The Kids Are Alright”? Fuck yes.

The Detroit Free Press talks to Rilo Kiley bassist Pierre de Reeder about making the jump from playing mid-size clubs to arenas opening for Coldplay.

Architecture In Helsinki’s October 1 Toronto show has a venue – Rancho Relaxo. Yeah, that’s right. Considering that the band’s personnel alone will probably exceed the club’s capacity (and the fact that they’ll have to set up single file to all fit on the long, narrow stage) this could be… interesting. And sold out very quickly, so if you’re going to go, get em fast when they go on sale later this week for $12.50. Dr Dog support.

Goths rejoice! Halloweek sees The Dresden Dolls at the Mod Club on October 25 with Devotchka and Faun Fables and cello-weilding Rasputina are there two days later.

This year’s Toronto International Film Fest schedule goes online this morning at 10AM. Hopefully their servers are better equipped to deal with the traffic this year than they were last year. I’ve only got two-and-a-half days in which to partake in the festival, so I hope something good is playing in that narrow window, or I’m going to have some TIFF tickets to sell.

np – Ride / Going Blank Again

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Maria says:

    Did you watch Prison Break? what do you think?

  2. Frank says:

    I had no idea it was on. haven’t picked up a TV Guide in months. Was it good?

  3. Maria says:

    It was all right. Interesting story, big mystery developing. But I think it was a bit violent for my liking. I think there’s going to be an encore on Thursday, if you want to catch it.

  4. Andy says:

    ‘s funny Frank but I have had exactly the same experience with DCFC although I’m willing to accept that it might have been a bit of "knee-jerk backlash against their increased popularity" – although I must admit that I was shocked at just *how* popular they had become…

    Was having a similar time with post Know By Heart Amanset although am looking forward to their new one…

  5. The Hon. Richard Skaggles says:

    ‘Prison Break’ was absolutely horrible. The most ridiculuously implausible plot ever. And hey, I’m a ’24’ fan, and I can accept how ridiculous they are. But not this new craptastic show. Blech.

  6. tyrone says:

    for anyone who did like transatlanticism should pick up ‘plans.’ yeah, its poppier, but the songs are all pretty solid.

  7. claire says:

    totally echos the evolution of my relationship with death cab. i think gibbard’s ongoing trend towards ez-cheeze lyrics was a large part of it for me. similarly, i actually was really into the postal service record for a while, but even in my honeymoon phase with it, there were a couple of songs i had skip over for just that reason. totally don’t begrudge them their success, though.

  8. Thierry says:

    Nothing to do with DCFC, Frank, but I’ve noticed that From Fiction has been added to the CYHSY show at the Horseshoe. After downloading a couple of songs from their website and checking out a video of them live, I couldn’t help but think "WTF?!?" I’m not sure how they fit on that bill (can’t be worse than Grand Buffet and Magnolia Electric Co.), but they seem loud and screamish enough to make not want to get there too early…

  9. Frank says:

    re: From Fiction

    I’ve seen them a couple of times live and while I don’t care for their music one bit, they are fascinating to watch onstage. I wouldn’t go out of my way to miss them, they’re still entertaining – I once refered to their live show as "like watching four guys being taser-ed". You want weird bills? They also opened for Wilco a few years ago at the Kool Haus.

    As for the how, it seems to me a lot of bills with local openers aren’t put together with the audience’s taste in mind, but more towards getting the bands exposure, paying off favours, etc.

  10. Thierry says:

    I probably won’t make a point of avoiding FF, but I’ll definitely bring earplugs…

    As for weird bills, how about Alanis Morissette opening for Neil Young? That’s what I got in Paris in 1996. Never saw an opener get booed so much (and pelted with the occasional bottle). I’m surprised she recovered from that experience…

  11. josh says:

    I had 6.5 on the <a href="http://…/ vs. Bear</a> contest – and so did <a href="http://…/ gentleman.</a>

    6.5 wasn’t really a guess as to what Pitchfork would give them, but more of my honest evaluation of the album (converted to the weird Pfork scale). I hold a similar opinion of DCFC, in that I like each album just a little less than its predecessor. I think I’m outgrowing them, not in a musical sense, but lyrically – they seem more of a youthful obsession. I hope that’s not <em>the OC</em> talking.

  12. Thierry says:

    Actually, I wish I could say Death Cab’s lyrics were still at least as good as the Seth Cohen’s lines in the OC…