Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs

Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Album: Narrow Stairs
Label: Atlantic
Purchase: Atlantic Records store
Release Date: May 13, 2008

Overall: 9.0
Music: 9.5
Lyrics: 9.0
Production: 10.0

Excuse me while I write a quick, informal letter to the great city of Seattle.

Dear Seattle,

You reside in Washington, yes, but I feel as if you’re right next door”¦Seattle, Alabama perhaps? If living in Seattle feels anything at all like listening to a Death Cab for Cutie album (plus rain, a severely underrated form of precipitation and my personal favorite), then I’ll visit often and willingly cry strong, nostalgic tears of pain on the plane rides home.

Love,
-Trace

With principal songwriter Ben Gibbard, you’re always assured an atmosphere all its own ““ be it a supposed Seattle, the winter season in general, or, in the case of Narrow Stairs, the lyrical world of Ben Gibbard’s mind.

The atmosphere begins immediately with “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” featuring Gibbard’s voice, almost alone, crawling from silence and steadily inviting guitars, drums, and bass along for the build. Guitarist Chris Walla’s production here is in top form, a feat no doubt helped by his accomplished work producing past Death Cab albums and others (notably, Tegan and Sara’s The Con). Walla gives each song a little room to breathe, but also plenty of space to scream. Death Cab for Cutie even manages to eclipse the seeming inevitability of pompousness with the nearly nine minute length of first single “I Will Possess Your Heart” by simply pulling it off without question, a confidence few bands allow for themselves.

There are really no missteps here at all, but something hidden underneath the songwriting keeps Narrow Stairs from being an inarguably great album. Ben Gibbard is a confident lyricist in a band confidently embracing the future of their sound, but he seems to get a bit lost in the “Death Cab-ness” of his songs, never fully graduating from “very, very good” to great. Perhaps Seattle’s response to my theoretical love letter will come in the form of Death Cab for Cutie’s first truly great album. Naturally, I hope it’s raining that day.

Track Listing
1. Bixby Canyon Bridge
2. I Will Possess Your Heart
3. No Sunlight
4. Cath …
5. Talking Bird
6. You Can Do Better Than Me
7. Grapevine Fires
8. Your New Twin Sized Bed
9. Long Division
10. Pity And Fear
11. The Ice Is Getting Thinner

Shout It Loud Tour Featuring Less Than Jake & Goldfinger

Less Than Jake and Goldfinger are heading out on the Shout It Loud tour this summer.The tour starts June 16th in Flordia and continues through July 30th in Arizona. Check out the dates for the tour below.

6/17 ““ JANNUS LANDING ““ ST. PETERSBURG, FL
6/18 ““ REVOLUTION ““ FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
6/19 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““ ORLANDO, FL
6/20 ““ THE MASQUERADE ““ ATLANTA, GA
6/21 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““ MYRTLE BEACH, SC
6/22 ““ THE NORVA ““ NORFOLK, VA
6/23 ““ RAMS HEAD LIVE! ““ BALTIMORE, MD
6/25 ““ THE PALLADIUM ““ WORCESTER, MA
6/26 ““ ROSELAND BALLROOM ““ NEW YORK, NY
6/27 ““ LUPO’S HEARTBREAK HOTEL ““ PROVIDENCE, RI
6/28 ““ STONE PONY PARKING LOT ““ ASBURY PARK, NJ
6/29 ““ PENNS LANDING ““ PHILADELPHIA, PA
7/01 ““ ROYAL OAK MUSIC THEATRE ““ ROYAL OAK, MI
7/02 ““ CONGRESS THEATRE ““ CHICAGO, IL
7/03 ““ FIRST AVENUE ““ MINNEAPOLIS, MN
7/04 ““ SUMMERFEST ““ MILWAUKEE, WI
7/05 ““ SOKOL AUDITORIUM ““ OMAHA, NE
7/07 ““ THE PAGEANT ““ ST. LOUIS, MO
7/08 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““ CLEVELAND, OH
7/10 ““ THE TOWN BALLROOM ““ BUFFALO, NY
7/11 -  HAMPTON BEACH CASINO BALLROOM ““ HAMPTON BEACH, NH
7/12 ““ THE CHANCE ““ POUGHKEEPSIE, NY
7/13 ““ WATER STREET MUSIC HALL ““ ROCHESTER, NY
7/14 ““ TOAD’S PLACE ““ RICHMOND, VA
7/16 ““ HOUSE OF BLUSE ““ NEW ORLEANS, LA
7/17 ““ MERIDIAN ““ HOUSTON, TX
7/18 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““ DALLAS, TX
7/20 ““ GOTHIC THEATRE ““ ENGLEWOOD, CO
7/21 ““ THE GREAT SALT AIR ““ MAGNA, UT
7/23 ““ MARQUEE THEATRE ““ TEMPE, AZ
7/24 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““ LAS VEGAS, NV
7/25 ““ REGENCY CENTRE @ THE GRAND ““ SAN FRANCISCO, CA
7/26 ““ WILTERN THEATRE ““  LOS ANGELES, CA
7/27 ““ THE GROVE OF ANAHEIM ““ ANAHEIM, CA
7/29 ““ HOUSE OF BLUES ““  SAN DIEGO, CA
7/30 ““ RIALTO THEATRE ““ TUCSON, AZ

The Hush Sound – Goodbye Blues

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Goodbye Blues

Artist: The Hush Sound
Album: Goodbye Blues
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Purchase: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: March 18, 2008

Overall: 8.5
Music: 9.0
Lyrics: 8.5
Production: 8.0

Don’t bother rechecking the artist of the Goodbye Blues album, this new sound is indeed The Hush Sound. Lovers of Like Vines (2006) and So Sudden (2005) may be shocked by what they hear–or who they do not hear. Greta Salpeter noticeably carries the album, singing lead in 9 out of the 13 tracks with Bob Morris, Darren Wilson, and Chris Faller sinking into a rhythmic chant in the background. Aside from the plethora of estrogen, The Hush Sound have also adopted a darker and sassier tone, thanks to the primarily minor tonality, and are noticeably more emotionally connected and confident with their songs than ever before.

While fans will be surprised to find that they have altered their style, they will also appreciate the immense maturity and depth heard in the instrumentation. Salpeter’s voice has lost its airily sweet tone from Like Vines, and now resembles that of Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple. Although two very large names to measure up to, she exceeds expectations with her sultry, bluesy flavored vocals and soulful piano ballads. She sets the haunting tone for the rest of the album with “Intro”, but no other songs seep with such sincerity and heart-wrenching passion as “Hurricane.” Although her range has undeniably expanded, she does occasionally push her voice to resemble a genre that it simply is not. Bob Morris thankfully leads as well, yet all three songs have the same theme and tone. Starting with “As You Cry”, a blunt break-up song, Morris croons two more teenage angst numbers with the same lyrics of insensitivity towards the same lyrical ex-girlfriend. However moody these are, they provide a refreshing change from heavy Salpeter songs and highlight his musical maturity.

Although the album mainly consists of brooding vocals, it does have its share of upbeat songs. “Medicine Man” stands out from the album as the most mainstreamed and has been featured in commercials for the hit TV show “House”, yet the first ragtime feel appears in “Love You Much Better”, where vocals spring energetically over the show tune piano and cadenced clapping. “Molasses” is another relief from the others, yet there’s no milk and sugar to be found in this song with Salpeter sassing her way through the melody of swanky backings and lyrics. “The Boys are Too Refined” has Salpeter competing against “the boys” and their electric guitar slides, and portrays obvious promiscuity with her sultry vocals of “And if the timing is right / to sneak off into the night / I’ll let myself to be taken just for the thrill.” This is just one of the songs in which Salpeter displays her subtly increased sexuality, adding a new deflowered flavor missing from the previously chaste albums.

Have an open mind while listening to Goodbye Blues, as it may take a few tries before the rich songs do not leave you with a melancholy feeling. This underrated band may have taken a different path than expected, but hopefully it is one that will result in the recognition it deserves. So Sudden and Like Vines were the cautious young albums of wistful and poppy lyrics, seemingly searching for something. Whatever they were looking for, they definitely found it in Goodbye Blues.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. Honey
3. Medicine Man
4. The Boys Are Too Refined
5. Hurricane
6. As You Cry
7. Six (Interlude)
8. Molasses
9. That’s Okay
10. Not Your Concern
11. Love You Much Better
12. Hospital Bed Crawl
13. Break The Sky

Lit Drummer Hospitalized

Lit drummer, Allen Shellenberger, has been hospitalized for a just discovered brain tumor. You can read a message from the band below.

We are sad to have to be writing you all this letter. Our brother, Allen Shellenberger, is currently in the hospital undergoing testing and treatment for a brain tumor that was just discovered. We are still not sure what his prognosis is and we are all standing by and waiting for test results to come in. Please say a prayer and keep him in your thoughts.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to make the shows this week in the UK and Europe. We were all so excited to come. At this point we have to just stay put and be by Allen while he goes through this difficult time. We will make it up to you as soon as we can. We know some fans who made travel plans from other countries to see us and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Our West Coast dates right now are on hold until we know what is going on.

We will post another update soon. Allen sends his thanks for the well wishes and he’s sorry we had to cancel these shows.
We’ll be showing Allen the Lit myspace page with your comments of support.

Thanks for your understanding.

Lit