It’s Hip To Be Square…

You’ve  got to love a band that takes its name from a song from the 1967 Beatles film ‘Magical Mystery Tour”. I certainly do.  Death Cab For Cutie are a quirky (read, nerdy) four-piece indie-rock band from Seattle. Who else could get away with writing a song that compares relationships to mathematics

Death Cab For Cutie’s songs are full of pretty melodies and true-to-life lyrics, with a healthy dose of wry humour. Here’s some words I think we can all relate to (unless, of course, you’ve sailed through life unscathed with heart and mind fully intact):

‘You look so defeated lying there in your new twin size bed.

With a single pillow underneath your single head.

I guess you decided that that old queen was more space than you would need.

Now it’s in the alley behind your apartment with a sign that says it’s free.

And I hope you have more luck with this than me.

You used to think that someone would come along.And lay beside you in the space that they belong.

But the other side of the mattress and box springs stayed like new.   What’s the point of holding onto what never gets used?

Other than a sick desire for self abuse.’

Death Cab have produced seven full length albums, each one markedly different from the others. Although critics fell over themselves when  ‘Transatlantacism’ was released in 2002, probably  ‘Plans’ (released in 2005) is a good place to test your Death Cab friendship. ‘Plans’ is the album that propelled Death Cab into the big-time, earning them a grammy nomination and an immovable place in the American billboard chart for over a year. Here’s a couple of  singles from that album:

‘Where Soul Meets Body’ – this has to be the coolest little recording studio ever…

‘Crooked Teeth’ – close your eyes in the blender scene…

We Wellingtonians were treated to seeing Death Cab For Cutie when they performed at our Arts Festival last year. Some of us had waited 15 years to see them in all their patterned-jerseyed glory. It’s fair to say they were more than outstanding.  They played a mix of old and new, with  a number of songs from their latest album ‘Codes and Keys‘. ‘Codes and Keys’ is a more piano-based affair than Death Cab’s previous albums which tend to be guitar-driven. Here’s opening track ‘Home is a Fire’:

If you like your music less preppy and shiny, the album ‘Narrow Stairs’ may be more your thing. Rolling Stone aptly describes it as ‘a dark, strangely compelling record that trades the group’s bright melancholy for something nearer to despair.’

The song ‘Grapevine Fires’ (and poignant video) reflects this well:

One final word of caution – if you have a teenage daughter she may be shocked/embarrassed/horrified to realise that you are indeed listening to Death Cab For Cutie. This is because one of Death Cab’s songs was included on the soundtrack to ‘New Moon’, the second movie in the  ‘Twilight’ saga…..

2 thoughts on “It’s Hip To Be Square…

  1. Anonymous August 14, 2012 / 9:53 am

    more musical enlightenment to unblock my blocked musical world. great post musicblockblog!


  2. Anonymous August 15, 2012 / 11:25 pm

    Nice one! More great stuff to add to the (thankfully) growing listening collection….


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