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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Top 5 Albums Under the Influence of Death Cab for Cutie Members

Confusing title, no? Let me explain.

You see, one of my favorite things about the indie music scene is that everybody seems to know and interact with everybody else. The guys from Death Cab for Cutie are no exception, appearing on other albums and collaborations that have absolutely nothing to do with their duties for their "main" band. Ben Gibbard is almost everywhere nowadays, and the only person who's threatening to take his "I'm Everywhere!" throne is bandmate, Chris Walla. Knowing this, I've decided to list the top 5 albums that these guys had something to do with.

#5: The Decemberists: Picarasque (Chris Walla: Producer, Mixer, Electric Guitar) - Picaresque is probably the worst album that The Decemberists have ever made. It's not that it was bad, but it pales in comparison to their other efforts. Chris Walla's influence is really felt when listening to the album. The songs have a lot of polish, more energy, and more focus than their previous two records. "16 Military Wives" is the song that immediately pops out at me as something that probably could've only happened under Walla's wing. Not in the songwriting, of course, but in the quality of the song, the depth of the instrumentation, and the overall zing, Chris Walla left his mark.

#4: Tegan and Sara: The Con (Chris Walla: Producer, Guitars, Keyboards, Organ, Shakers, Cymbals, Tiny Guitars, Bass - Jason McGerr: Drums) - For what it's worth, I've pretty much liked Tegan and Sara since the first time I heard them at a Virgin Megastore in Dallas (R.I.P.). So Jealous was an amazing album that featured enough great songs to get it regular plays for years. But as strong as that album was, it was swept aside as soon as Chris Walla took over the production reigns on The Con. The immediate result is obvious; it's a more solid album without a single dud. But as is usually the case with a Walla-produced record, it has this inhuman quality about it - like everything about it is perfect and without fault. That puts it far ahead of its sometimes-flawed predecessor, and most of the other music that released in 2007.

#3: Dntel: Life Is Full of Possibilities (Ben Gibbard: Vocals on "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan") - Jimmy Tamborello's first notable solo-release as Dntel still is one of my favorite electronic albums of all time. Perfecting glitch, downtemp electro, the record was the first time that I ever heard electronic music that was able to affect my mood without an abundance of vocals. Undoubtedly, the most notable track on this album would be Tamborello's collaboration with Death Cab for Cutie vocalist, Ben Gibbard. Their work on "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan" was the catalyst that led to the creation of one of my favorite albums of all time: The Postal Service's Give Up.

#2: The Decemberists: The Crane Wife (Chris Walla: Keyboards, Background Vocals, Producer, Mixer) - What Chris Walla started on Picaresque, he undoubtedly perfected by the time he re-joined with the band to create what is easily their best record to date. The Crane Wife was the band's major-label debut, and Walla was able to smooth out some of the band's less-accessible quirks without sacrificing their signature sound or style. Track for track, The Crane Wife is an amazing album, and Chris Walla should definitely share some of the credit for that.

#1: The Postal Service: Give Up (Ben Gibbard: Vocals - Chris Walla: Co-Producer) - I suppose that if you've been reading this blog for any significant amount of time that this decision is no big surprise. Plus, I totally gave it away on #3! The simple truth is that Give Up is one of the finest albums I will probably ever hear in my life, and probably the single, most influential album in my lifetime so far. Why is that? Well, it single-handedly introduced me to this thing called "indie music. Until I heard The Postal Service, I literally thought that the only music that was out there was the stuff I saw on MTV and heard on the radio. Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello's epic collaboration really opened my eyes (or ears, I suppose) to a whole other world of music. For that, I can't help but place this album as number one. Can you really blame me?

1 comment:

Ian said...

Give Up is the most influential album you've ever heard? Chomp on some Beatles, bro.