Spend Friday learning (or remembering) why Death Cab for Cutie rules

Friday, May 27th, 2011, 8:22 am by Ben Salmon

Here’s the thing: Lots of people like to turn up their nose at Death Cab for Cutie, and I get that. They make lovey dovey sappy emo-pop music that appears in “Twilight” films and on VH1. Teen girls love this band, not you. And that name … ugh. It’s not cool to like Death Cab for Cutie. Saying that you’re more pumped to see Bright Eyes at Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight earns you more cred.

I get all that.

The problem with that stance is that Death Cab is by far the best band on tonight’s bill, and one of the best bands of the past 15 years. I will acknowledge that they have not always been the best live band (I saw pretty mediocre DCfC shows in 2001, 2003 and 2004). And of course, their past three albums aren’t quite up to the bar set by their first four. But those first four set a very high bar. Heck, the first two are two of the best indie-rock records ever made.

What I’m saying is Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie have churned out an abundance of great songs since 1997, and their hits far outweigh their misses. So if you wanna go into tonight’s show ready to hate these dudes, have at it. That’s your right. But if you wanna go into tonight’s show with an open mind and an ear that appreciates an unforgettable melody, I’m here to help.

Below, I’ve compiled 20 of the band’s best tunes in chronological(ish) order, ranging from their pre-”Something About Airplanes” 7″ records to the new single from their new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday. There are rocking songs and pretty songs, fast songs and slow songs, angry songs and somber songs, pop songs and shoegazers. It’s a pretty good cross-section of Death Cab’s career so far.

So, it’s Friday and you’re probably sitting at your desk jonesing for the weekend. Maybe you’re going to the show tonight. Maybe you’re on the fence. No matter your situation, click below and let the YouTubes stream. If you can resist this playlist, you must hate great music.

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2 Responses to “Spend Friday learning (or remembering) why Death Cab for Cutie rules”

  1. Ben Salmon says:

    After reading it again, perhaps it sounds like I’m implying that people who say they’re more excited to see Bright Eyes than Death Cab aren’t being truthful. That was definitely not my intention. I’m excited to see them, too. They’re a great band with a ton of great songs. (I once painted most of the inside of a house with “Lifted” on repeat, over and over again. If I’d had time, I’d have done one of these for them as well.)

    So no offense to the Bright Eyes fans out there. Just saying it’s definitely “cooler” to be into Conor and Co. than DCfC, that’s all.

  2. Charlie says:

    The first few albums are kind of too lo-fi for my taste. I like a sample of songs from there, but not most of the population. Champagne from a Paper Cup is probably my favorite. Transatlanticism, to me, is when they started being one of my favorite bands. I had Plans in my CD player for probably a year after it came out. Last CD and E.P. were good as well. I don’t think you are giving enough credit to their newer, slicker sound. To me, Bright Eyes pretty much took the same path while leaning more and more to the country side, but still getting slicker each time with Cassadega being their “Plans”.

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