Thursday, September 15, 2005

New stuff, II

Deadguy- Fixation On A Coworker

I got a copy of ‘Fixation’ years ago, deemed it way too heavy for human consumption, and gave it to Joe, who listened to it like ten times a day. Nonetheless, I was down enough, at least in theory, to accompany him down to Worcester to see Deadguy play the second incarnation of The Space. They cancelled, and Doc Hopper headlined instead. Chris Pierce, when he got up on stage, said “I’ve seen Deadguy play every day for two weeks- they rule” and everyone wanted to cut him in the face. What an asshole.

(Doc Hopper was pretty good, as they usually were. The most notable thing about the show was the opening band, the Huguenots, who tore my fuckin’ head off- the first screamo band I ever saw live.)

So ten years ago the shit was too heavy and I couldn’t handle it. Here in 2005, I have like ten records that are way heavier than this, and pretty much all of ‘em steal directly from Deadguy, who sound like they’re the source of all these chugga chugga-isms that have become clichés.

Death Cab For Cutie- Plans

This opening is pretty gratuitous, so get ready/bear with me:

Me and Amanda were settling into our seats at the Jandek show, right, when she spotted one of her friends sitting in the row ahead of us. We chatted back and forth as we checked out the crowd, ready to ironically roll our eyes if any sort of defense mechanism was needed. Let’s be honest here: pretty much everyone that was in the Scottish Rite that night was a huge dork, probably always packin’ some sort of self-depreciating line of bullshit or a pre-arranged witty defense retort. Plenty of practice, if you listen to music that is as obtuse and potentially alienating as Jandek.

So we were sitting there, waiting for the lights to dim, waiting for our man to grace the stage, when Amanda and her friend started to talk about the new Death Cab record, due to arrive in stores on Tuesday, two days after the show. (Advance copies, you know.) Amanda’s friend described ‘Plans’ as “sounding like Bruce Hornsby And The Range.”

I thought about the statement every day until I finally bought the record, close to a week after it came out. For one, I kinda like Hornsby- I thought the radio singles he put out in the eighties were pretty good, deviating from the formula in such a lame way (piano? Come on!) that the songs became so unhip that they transcended and became hip again, in that weird post-whatever kind of way that I probably beat to death months ago. Sorry.

Anyway, two: Probably a throwaway line that was meant as a dis on Death Cab’s ascension to the throne of Current Indie Band At The Top Of The Heap. Jesus, if you’ve been paying any sort of attention recently you’ve noticed the amount of ink the band has gotten- the release of their first major label album, songs being prominently on ‘Six Feet Under’ (which, for the record, was one of the most consistently dazzling, well-written shows ever- the finale had me sobbing alone in my room for twenty minutes, I shit you not), The Postal Service, etc.

After a dozen listens, I’m finally impressed by the strength of the analogy. I don’t think the new Death Cab album sounds like Bruce Hornsby, but that band isn’t a bad place to start at all- because of all the recent press, that thing has probably happened. You know what I’m talking about- bands getting a bunch of press, which alienates old fans whose attachment to the act hinged on the sort of elitism that only indie music breeds (see: Jawbreaker). The old fans who have dropped Death Cab from their favorites lists are total idiots. ‘Plans’ isn’t what I had expected at all- I figured the band would bust out the sort of sugar-coated pop nuggets that have been sprinkled throughout their discography, the songs that have shining hooks that sink claws into your dumb romantic gut. Instead, though, ‘Plans’ flashes the understated romantic ache that made ‘Transatlanticism’ the kind of record that you (okay, I) love listening to after midnight with the curtains drawn and candles lit, steaming cup of tea in hand.

You can totally be dismissive and blow the record off as unhip, or you can suck it up and admit that you’re into the band and their albums. When you’re driving alone and “Every Little Kiss” comes on, you don’t change the station- no one does.

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