#12 on the 2011 Musical Bacon Calendar
Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie
Beastie Boys, R.E.M., Wilco, Radiohead, and now Death Cab for Cutie. I’m now taking a poll, please vote: a) I’m well into middle age and my tastes are becoming less eclectic and more mainstream, b) the bigger names are all managing to produce better-than-average mainstream records, or c) there is a dearth of interesting, catchy indie bands that released music this year, and therefore the mainstream albums just filled the holes.
I think it’s somewhere between b and c, but don’t let me sway your voting. It has been an interesting year for music. While I’ve purchased and enjoyed a number of new albums, this hasn’t been a breakout year for any one new and exciting band in my experience. There are some great new acts on this list, but unlike The National last year and Passion Pit the year before, I don’t have an album or band this year that overshadows all the rest. In fact, here we are at #12 in the Calendar, and I’m still undecided on who should be #1. I think whoever I pick, I’ll still not be happy. That‘s the nature of lists, I suppose.
But I have an album to write about for #12. It’s been a while since I’ve liked a Death Cab album. In fact, I haven’t really been happy with an album of their’s since they signed with a major label and released Plans in 2005. Up to that point, this band could really do no wrong. And while I don’t feel this album rises to the level of The Photo Album, for instance, this is a decent all-around album with a handful of amazing tunes.
“Home is a Fire” (above), “You are a Tourist,” “Portable Television,” and especially “St. Peter’s Cathedral” and “Some Boys” — these are all great songs. Most bands can’t get more than two on an album, and Death Cab has managed five, in what I would have termed their “winter of songwriting” before Codes and Keys came out. It appears they’re moving into Spring. And if heartbreak begets great music, then Summer has got to be around the corner, considering lead singer Ben Gibbard and every man’s dreamgirl Zooey Deschanel (of many movies such as “Elf” and “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the quite funny sitcom “The New Girl,” and alt-country band She & Him) called it quits after two years of marriage earlier this year. All I can ask is that they make an album equally as good as Codes and Keys, and I’ll be happy.
13. Valley of the Headless Men by Ravenna Woods
14. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys
15. James Blake by James Blake
16. Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
17. An Argument with Myself by Jens Lekman
18. The Whole Love by Wilco
19. My Goodness by My Goodness
20. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
21. Gloss Drop by Battles
22. Showroom of Compassion by CAKE
23. A New Kind of House EP by Typhoon
24. EP by Grouplove
25. Fan Chosen Covers (Best of) by Eef Barzelay
26. TKOL RMX 1234567 by Radiohead
27. Organ Music Not Virbraphone Like I’d Hoped by Moonface
28. Heavy Boots & Underwoods by Ben Fisher
29. The Rip Tide by Beirut
30. Collapse Into Now by R.E.M.
31. I Am Very Far by Okkervil River