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A Cab built to spill emotion
by Matt Sala
Jul 08, 2009 | 632 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo
Emo rockers Death Cab for Cutie plays Sunday in Reno at the Grand Sierra Resort.
Courtesy Photo Emo rockers Death Cab for Cutie plays Sunday in Reno at the Grand Sierra Resort.
The rhythms, grooved out by drummer Jason McGerr and bassist Nick Harmer, set you sailing on your journey into the pop-infused emotional quotient of Death Cab for Cutie. The pulse never stops affecting your body, while the piano and guitar (played by producer Chris Walla) methodically intercourses over, around, under and through the rhythm. The combination creates an audio landscape perfect for the hang-gliding voice of Ben Gibbard, whose vocals tug at your emotions like a boat in the Hudson River.

Death Cab for Cutie began as Gibbard’s solo project in 1997. After connecting with Chris Walla in the studio, the two quickly formed a four-piece band, recruiting Gibbard’s roommate Harmer to play bass and Nathan Good for drums. They came together in Bellingham, Wash. and in 2003, and after four releases, Good was replaced with McGerr.

Death Cab for Cutie, as the group exists now, has produced the band’s most notable collection of expressions, which includes the albums “Transatlanticism,” “Plans,” “Narrow Stairs” and “The Open Door” EP. The group, which can be generally described as emo-alternative rock, achieved international recognition and major label support with “Transatlanticism” and then achieved platinum status with “Plans.” The newest releases, “Narrow Stairs” and “The Open Door,” coincide with each other and the band has been touring around the world since the “Narrow Stairs” release in May 2008.

Walla describes the most recent efforts by the band as “having teeth” and they are, all in all, darker albums. Fans of the previous material need not worry, as the teeth seem to be just sharp enough for a vegetarian diet. There isn’t any instrumental distortion that cuts deeper than Gibbard’s lyrics.

Nevertheless, this is a breath of fresh air in an industry that can’t seem to get enough “pop” sound, especially from a band that could have gone gold or platinum on a record simply by duplicating the previous album “Plans.”

Death Cab’s live show in Reno on Sunday is bound to be wrought with canyons of emotion that will take hold of the heart strings, with songs like “Bixby Canyon Bridge” and “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The experience will indubitably send listeners into fantasies of the future or reveling into some favorite memories, as if they are bringing the rainy day weather of their hometown in Washington to northern Nevada.

The newer efforts also have some lighter fare on them, such as the songs “No Sunlight” and “You Can Do Better Than Me,” which convey the attitude one might carry while strutting through a city while window shopping.

Death Cab for Cutie takes the stage at the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno on Sunday. They will be accompanied by Ra Ra Riot from New York. Tickets are $35 and are still available by calling 1-800-648-3568 or online at
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