What I'm Listening to Tonight: Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs

Death Cab for Cutie is absolutely one of my favorite bands — and I say this after having been ridiculed for that fact just the other day. My friend S., upon checking out what I had put on the iPod in the car, gave me a brutal Nelson Munz impersonation: “HAH hah. YOU like Death Cab for CUTIE!” I was all, “OH YES I DO AND YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE IT ETCETERA!”

I honestly fail to see what is ridiculous about liking Death Cab for Cutie. Yes, they are one of those Sensitive Guy Bands, à la Iron and Wine or Ryan Adams, but hey, those are artists I also love. Death Cab for Cutie I love with a fucking passion. I had always liked them and listened to them frequently and with great pleasure, but Plans, their first major-label album, really sealed the deal for me. I get that hard-core fans who have all the early stuff on cassette tape may quibble with me on that one, but I wholeheartedly believe Plans is a brilliant fucking album. Furthermore, it was released at the absolutely perfect time for it to weave its way seamlessly into my consciousness — the songs on that album seemed like they had been written specifically for that year of my life, and I kept the album on repeat for a good 12-18 months. For real.

It would be a lie to tell you that I did not await the release of the new album, Narrow Stairs, with literally bated breath. I really, literally, held my breath while it was downloading; I was that excited. In fact, I couldn’t really wait for the real release date, so I managed to obtain it early and through questionable means (but means encouraged by the band, so).

The album is really fucking great. It’s a bit louder and grittier and darker, over all, than what they have done before, which I love. It’s complex and exhilarating and completely addictive. Go get it now (or wait until May 13th if you’re all law abidin’ and a total prude, whatever), and just try to turn it off, I dare you.

Here are a few tracks I am liking best so far, the last one being my favorite of the day.

Bixby Canyon Bridge

Your New Twin Sized Bed

Talking Bird

Long Division

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5 thoughts on “What I'm Listening to Tonight: Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs

  1. clarabella May 7, 2008 / 9:48 pm

    I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but am planning a long walk tomorrow with The Boy for just that album. I agree about liking Death Cab, and can I say, I was NOT such a big fan until Plans. Well, I guess the two before were big faves, but still . . . AND I will one-up and admit to REALLY liking Postal Service, for which I’ve been admonished by a few of my more hardcore Death Cab fan friends. I am with you on this band and soon-to-be with you on this album, I’m sure. I also love love love the cover.

  2. Alfina the Vague May 7, 2008 / 10:02 pm

    Oh, people ADMONISHED you for liking The Postal Service? I will come kick their asses. The Postal Service is only the most supreme amalgamation of the two most supreme contemporary bands, DCFC and Rilo Kiley. PUH-LEASE. They rule.

  3. Timothy May 16, 2008 / 2:26 pm

    I thought Plans was a solid, but severely over-produced album. Transatlanticism, I think, is really quite a lot better. I also really like Something About Airplanes.

  4. Alfina the Vague May 16, 2008 / 8:49 pm

    Plans is definitely my favorite of the three you mentioned, but this may be because the concept of something being “overproduced” is just not something that ever crosses my mind. I think I know what people mean by that, but I have never actually thought that about anything. If that makes sense.

  5. Timothy May 17, 2008 / 11:52 pm

    “Sounds like many hours of machine rendering went into correcting minor imperfections in the vocals and/or instrumentation.”

    The above is my working definition of “over produced”: It’s sort of like the difference in the vocal tracks on a Brittney Spears track and the vocals on a Rilo Kiley track. The latter sounds like it was sung by an actual human, the former like it’s an artists conception of what a human should sound like. The amount of pitch-correction and other studio air-brushing that goes into pop music is really the best example I can think of. And I felt that way about Plans just too much machine dickering for my liking.

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