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Death Cab for Cutie

Origin: Bellingham, Washington

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Genres: Alternative Pop-Rock, indie rock, Singer-songwriter

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Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. Consisting of Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Nick Harmer (bass), Dave Depper (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Zac Rae (keyboards, guitar), and Jason McGerr (drums) they are noted for their use of unconventional instrumentation, as well as Gibbard’s distinctive voice and unique lyrical style.

Originally a solo project by Ben Gibbard when he was a guitarist for the band Pinwheel that expanded into a full group upon securing a record deal. The band’s name derives from the song “Death Cab for Cutie” written by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall, and performed by their group Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The song was performed by the Bonzos in the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour.

Death Cab for Cutie released its debut album Something About Airplanes in 1998, kicking off a still flourishing career of consistency marked by eight Grammy nominations and nearly 600 million U.S. streams. Death Cab is currently tied with Florence and The Machine for most No. 1 songs (nine) on the Adult Contemporary chart.

It was the band’s fourth album, 2003’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful Transatlanticism that brought them mainstream success with the album’s two singles “The Sound of Settling” and “Title and Registration,” appearing in the soundtracks of numerous TV series and films. The band’s ninth studio album Thank You for Today was released in August 2018 quickly rising to No. 1 on the charts.

Death Cab for Cutie’s music has been labeled as indie rock and alternative pop. With Gibbard’s plaintive boy-next-door voice and the band’s lush arrangements long on hothouse organs and pianos, brimming with borderline-maudlin poetics and a sense of emotional danger.

Death Cab for Cutie’s major label debut Plans, garnered immediate critical and commercial success. Two of the album singles, “Soul Meets Body” and “Crooked Teeth” were top ten chart hits, while “I Will Follow You into the Dark” became the band’s best selling single to date. Plans eventually achieved platinum certification and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album of 2005.

Death Cab for Cutie’s latest album, Thank You for Today, is a perfect union of equal parts indie-rock nostalgia and blessedly self-aware experimentation. The band retains its gift for pairing Gibbard’s soft ruminations with propulsive arrangements that sparkle and sway. But even more importantly, Gibbard himself still sings with a sense of purpose, keenly articulating a distinct swirl of nostalgia, loss and hope for new beginnings.

With its infectiously chugging single “Gold Rush,” Gibbard sings a chorus that is sentimental about his changing home town and approaching middle age. That sentiment becomes even more stark in the album’s closer “60 & Punk” during which Gibbard warily surveys the life of a musician whose world has curdled with age.

Discussing Thank You for Today, Gibbard says, “this was the most enjoyable record for me personally since Transatlanticism.”

Check out the Death Cab for Cutie track, “Gold Rush,” on Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3. All part of 50 years of rock, blues and more, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN!

Discography

Something About Airplanes (1998)
We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes (2000)
The Photo Album (2001)
Transatlanticism (2003)
Plans (2005)
Narrow Stairs (2008)
Codes and Keys (2011)
Kintsugi (2015)
Thank You for Today (2018)

Videos