VelveteenA couple years ago, a blogger pulled an April Fools joke by releasing a copy of the much-anticipated Death Cab for Cutie album 'Narrow Stairs' before it was officially released. I got my hands on a copy (not knowing the backstory) and listened to it like crazy that Spring, even long after the band officially released their album.
One night I was trying to figure out some lyrics, so I decided to look them up online. Song by song, the lyrics were just not matching up. The weird part was that the lyrics online sounded like they fit the song titles better than the actual lyrics on the album I was listening to.
I started piecing together the puzzle and came to find out that what I had been listening to was not Death Cab for Cutie. It was a German indie band called Velveteen.
This was quite a surprise, but it explained some details in the music that didn't seem to fit what I had come to expect with Death Cab. I promptly downloaded the real version of 'Narrow Stairs' and gave it a good spin for the next week or so.
While there were a couple songs that I really enjoyed (Grapevine Fires mostly), I found myself wanting to go back to the "fake" version, which was Velveteen's album 'Home Waters.'
Why am I bringing this up two years later? Since 2008, 'Home Waters' has been a staple in my playlist. I cycle between favorite songs, but I frequently listen to the whole album start to finish with no interruption. I've tapped my way through the songs so many times that I have the muscle memory to hit every punch on the bass drum and every snare hit. It's really quite frightening.
Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of living with me for a period of time knows that I can kill an album in no time. I used to try and "get over" my obsession with certain albums (Achtung Baby, Siamese Dream, Dark Side of the Moon, etc), but I've come to terms that it's just what I do. I ruin perfectly good music for everyone around me.
If you've ever wondered why iTunes has a repeat track / album feature, it's because of people like me. Sorry about that.
It was hard to get my hands on a copy of 'Home Waters' back when this whole joke went down. They weren't on iTunes, and you couldn't find a physical CD anywhere. I stuck with what I was listening to from the April Fools day thing, but eventually they hooked up with iTunes, where I was happy to pay for the album.
I'm questionably slow at discovering new music by artists I love, and I found out recently that Velveteen came out with a new album earlier this year. I bought it last week and have been listening to it ever since (along with a laughably large collection of Peter Gabriel songs -- I swear I'm gonna get into his music one of these days).
One of my other peculiar habits with music is quickly disregarding really good albums as being forgettable. I hated 'Achtung Baby' for months. Pearl Jam's 'Ten' took years to grow on me.
So when I approach an album now that I WANT to be good, I have a really hard time stepping back and trying to figure out if it's good, if it's bad or if it's REALLY good but disguised as bad.
The best I can tell so far is that the new Velveteen Album '27' isn't going to have the lasting appeal of its predecessor. It lacks a lot of power and emotion from the other album, and many of the songs simply feel disconnected. This is the exact same feeling I had about 'Narrow Stairs' when I actually listened to the real thing.
I dunno. I could be wrong. But today I put back in 'Home Waters,' and it's never sounded so good. My favorite song from the album is Three Kids Home, which has a very interesting video that I found tonight while researching this blog:
If you're a fan of Death Cab and like some mellow indie rock to get you through your day, throw Velveteen a bone on iTunes and see what you think.