Ben Gibbard is a busy man and a talented man. His main band, the finely named Death Cab For Cutie, have three US Top 10 LPs. A side project, The Postal Service, were responsible for the wonderful “From Such Great Heights” one of the best pop singles of the last decade. In 2009 his LP with Jay Farrer, “One Fast Move and I’m Gone” absolutely enchanted me and is still my summer record of choice. I hear it as the best collection of literate country rock songs for about 30 years with an authenticity lacking in other pretenders, plagiarists & less talented.
A Kilgore Trout short story was set in a world where the exceptionally gifted or beautiful were handicapped by weights or masks. Ben’s millstone has been to be married to the tiresome Zooey Deschanel between 2008 & 2011 Now irreconcilably different to her he is touring the world with Death Cab and is releasing the first LP under his own name. On first listen it is pretty good. The songs are more simple and stripped down than those of D.C.F.C. but Gibbard’s fine line in lovely melancholy is consistent. The collaboration with Aimee Mann, “Bigger Than Love” stands out but I will be listening to this more because I like this stuff.
The first single “Teardrop Windows”, about the Smith Tower in Seattle, sounds like Teenage Fanclub. T.F.C. have been the flavour of the weekend round our house so this is no bad thing. Out tomorrow, the record company has posted the whole LP on Y-Tube already. I don’t understand that but go listen anyway.
OK, I’m struggling to find songs of sufficient quality to include here. Taylor Swift has a new record. Her shape shift from a sweet little young woman singing sweet little country songs into an identikit pop muppet is a disappointment. A more imaginative management would have sent her to Jack White’s house, lit the fuse and stepped away. Donald Fagan has a solo LP but no matter how hard the old guy tries it will not be as perfect as 1982’s “The Nightfly” because little is.
So it’s Neil Young then. I have not written much about Neil even though I consider he and Crazy Horse to be the best rock and roll band in the world. This year’s “Americana” record was of little interest to me. Now “Psychedelic Pill” with it’s echoes of the monumental “Ragged Glory” seems to be just the ticket. “Ramada Inn” is 17 minutes long. I know that you are all busy people leading busy and interesting lives. You may not have time in your cluttered schedules to listen to such an extended song. Me ? I have listened, I am playing it to my friends. Neil is in the pocket with this sound. The mighty Horse, under strict orders from the boss, never stray far from the foundation they have always provided for his solos. I will still be listening to this in 20 years. Epic !