Death Cab’s been one of my favorite bands since my freshman year of high school. I could write a book about Ben Gibbard’s lyrics, Chris Walla’s intricate guitar work, that video of Jason McGerr playing a different beat with each of his limbs, or Nick Harmer’s beard, but I’ll spare you in the interest of keeping things short. Death Cab for Cutie can really do no wrong in my book. I stood by them with the OC came out, I watched all of the (hit or miss) “Directions” shorts, and most recently I defended the first four-and-a-half minutes of “I Will Possess Your Heart” in a fairly heated argument.
And yeah, I was skeptical when I first heard that the first single off Narrow Stairs was going to be eight minutes long. The title track off Transatlanticism was 7:55 and both We Have the Facts… and Plans have six minute songs, but none of them were released as proper singles. Fortunately, when we got the single in at WQAQ, I was relieved to hear that it fucking ruled. I always tell myself I’ll skip it on subsequent listenings, but as soon as that bass kicks in with a line more badass than anything Nick Harmer’s ever done, I get suckered into the whole thing, every time.
Narrow Stairs isn’t Death Cab’s best work by a long shot, but it’s solid. There’s some risks taken here the band hasn’t done in the past, and while not all of them work flawlessly, it’s good to see they’re not resting on their laurels and still trying new things.
2008 also marked my first (and second) Death Cab shows. I saw them on the last day of my freshman year of college at Meehan Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island, and it was glorious. Amanda Palmer opened, and while she was incredible when I saw her on a headlining tour earlier this year, her set was pretty boring save for Regina Spektor and Radiohead covers, the latter of which was playd on a ukelele.
The second Death Cab show I went to was in October 2008 at the Oakdale in Wallingford, CT. St. Vincent opened and fucking ruled. There’s no occasion for this, but I like her album so much I’m going to post it here.
So, in summation: 2008, a good year for Death Cab for Cutie. Not my favorite album of the year, but, as Heather would say, it’s definitely top 10.