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Heavy Rotation #23

While my music listening continues to be more scattered than focused, I have digitally or physically spun two albums on a regular basis over the last few weeks. Read (and maybe listen too?) on...

Death Cab For Cutie/Transatlanticism - This album came out 10 years ago and was recently reissued. Naturally, there was coverage about the reissue and that led to me picking it up once again. It was the first Death Cab album I bought and it remains my favorite (though I like all their albums...also,  Narrow Stairs is a strong second). Lines like "I wish the world was flat like the old days/Then I could travel just by folding the map/No more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways/There'd be no distance that could hold us back" and "There's a tear in the fabric of your favorite dress/And I'm sneaking glances" are catnip to me and those are from the first two songs. I love the juxtaposition of the music and lyrics in "The Sound of Settling," where the steady beat and chiming guitars and melodic "ba-ba"s belie a narrator who's giving up, who "can't wait to go gray." That's all in a 2 minute and 13 second package. The title track does the slow build to a soaring crescendo and has a refrain of "I need you so much closer" and it is tremendously affecting even after hearing  its almost 8 minutes countless times. Here's some fact, not fiction - this is a great album.

Pearl Jam/Binaural - Pearl Jam just put out a new album (Lightning Bolt) and in the run-up to its release I decided to go on a back catalog binge. I haven't given the band's 2000s output much of a listen after initial spins (at least from what I can remember), so a lot of the latter albums were a bit of a revelation. I fell for Binaural in a big way. I love the nod to the Who that opens the album and the short, spiky trio of songs that follows. After that come some of my favorites - the mid-tempo, minor key crunch of "Light Years"; the ominous "Nothing As It Seems" with its short, siren-like guitar solos;  and the acoustic stomp of "Thin Air." The second half of the album is rock solid as well and closes out with the solo Eddie Vedder ukulele moral fable, "Soon Forget," and the Eastern-influenced "Parting Ways," which also makes a nice noise. Is this album underrated by PJ fans? I don't know really know but I do know that I've underrated it. Always good to revisit an album and see how it sits with you at a different point in life, you know?

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