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Something About Airplanes

52 customer reviews

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Something About Airplanes
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Audio CD, August 18, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first instrument you notice upon listening to Something About Airplanes is the cello on "Bend to Squares." It fades out, soon enough replaced by the familiar electric guitar, but it sets this album's offbeat mood. Experimentation and pop hooks strike a perfect balance on this debut from the Bellingham, Washington-based Death Cab for Cutie. The quartet follow in the fine tradition of area emo-pop bands like Modest Mouse, 764-HERO, and Built to Spill, but it's hard not to notice bits of Quasi and the Beatles popping up. Of course, the Death Cab formula is a bit different--"President of What?" is driven by Farfisa, not Fender; "Champagne from a Paper Cup" is a slow-burner--there's not much pop glee found in a song that begins "I think I'm Drunk Enough to Drive You Home Now"; and--every once in a while--the oddball vocal sample kicks in (presumably from a long-forgotten movie, a la vintage Jawbreaker). It all makes for a brilliant debut and a fine addition to the canon of Northwest emo-pop late-'90s style. --Jason Verlinde

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. bend to squares
  2. president of what?
  3. champagne from a paper cup
  4. your bruise
  5. pictures in an exhibition
  6. sleep spent
  7. the face that launched 1000 shits
  8. amputations
  9. fake frowns
  10. line of best fit.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 18, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: March 17, 1999
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B00000FY5E
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,362 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jason Panella on January 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Death Cab for Cutie's 1999 debut was simultaniously familiar and an expedition into brave new territory; in essence, a fuzzy lo-fi gem.
A few of the tracks here are gleaned from singer/guitarist/primary songwriter Ben Gibbard's demo tapes (You Can Play These Songs With Chords, rereleased by Barsuk in 2002), and the great tunesmithing found there is even better this time around. While that might form the core of the tracks, the newer songs are just as good.
"Bend to Squares" starts Something About Airplanes off on a good note, a swirling mix of distorted (as well as acoustic) guitars and cello. The next track, "President of What?", sounds like the Zombies on speed, complete with an extremely memorable organ line.
Yeah, a few of the tracks do blend together, but several listens will cement certain parts of the album into your mind permenantly: the "I'm definitely shaking" section on the power-popish "Pictures in an Exhibition"; the chiming electric guitar channel on the almost twangy "Sleep Spent"; the entire song "Amputations," one of the finest songs Gibbard has written; and the shoegazing swell of album closer "Line of Best Fit," in which the harmonized male/female vocals are near hypnotic over the throbbing guitars.
On the downside...there really isn't one. The lo-fi quality of the recording might be hard to take for someone not accustom to it, but the songs themselves are what really counts.
As far as what the band sounds like, I'd say they are far far far away from the "emo" tag many have wrongly labeled them with. The Built to Spill references aren't dead on either, but I will say Death Cab for Cutie could be compared to a more fuzzed out There's Nothing Wrong With Love-era BTS, minus Doug Martsch's guitar heroics.
Something About Airplanes is a melodic, creative, and lush album that is a great starting point for a wonderful band. I highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 12, 2008
Format: Audio CD
What a year 2008 is turning out to be for Death Cab for Cutie. Their latest album "Narrow Stairs" was generally well received, both critically and commercially, earlier this year, and now, just in time to wrap up the year, comes this re-release/deluxe edition of the band's debut album from 10 years ago, with a bonus live CD from that era.

"Something About Airplanes" (2 CDs; 17 tracks; 78 min.) first brings the original album (10 tracks; 43 min.), which was released in August, 1998. This is a very strong debut album, no question, and indeed it is astonishing to hear how solid the band sounds, keeping in mind that they only formed in the summer of 1997. All the elements that would eventually lift DCFC into the more mainstream are already visibly in place here: pensive, dynamic and atmospheric tracks. From the opening sounds of "Bend to Squares", on to outstanding gems like "Pictures in an Exhibition, to "Sleep Spent" to the epic closer "Line of Best Fit", it's all here. In fact, this album is stronger than its follow-up "We Have the Facts" album, but that's just my opinion...

CD2 (7 tracks; 34 min.) brings the band's entire show from Seattle's Crocodile Cafe in February, 1998, 6 months before the release of the "Airplanes" album, and it is an outstanding addition to the album. From the sound of it, there weren't a lot of people there that particular evening, but it's irrelevant really. The band plays a couple of their earliest tunes (such as "Your Bruise"), and also several tunes that would end up on the album such as "President of What?', "Fake Frown", "Amputations" and "Pictures in an Exhibition". It's fascinating to hear these versions and how they compare to the eventual studio tracks they'd become.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Abby on May 2, 2004
Format: Audio CD
An interesting mix of inspired mellow rock and moody calm, Something About Airplanes is the highly listenable, infectious debut from Death Cab for Cutie, a band that has now released several other albums and enjoyed a moderate amount of success. From listening to this, it's not hard to see why. Death Cab is bouncier than Coldplay and calmer than Modest Mouse, finding a nice niche in between. "Bend To Squares" and "Your Bruise" have a gothic feel, while "President of What" and "Pictures in an Exhibition" are a little lighter feel to them. I wonder about how the band was spread around amongst so many people, since almost all of these tracks are too different to be played on radio. I can only think that it must have been word of mouth, because after hearing this, I had to tell everyone I knew about them. Hopefully my review will have convinced another listener unfamiliar with the group to buy this album and start listening to the band's other releases as well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I love Death Cab, and Ben Gibbard is probably one of my favourite singers as of right now (who knows when that will change) However, this is a great album with some great songs, and an overall great cd for Death Cab. My opinion is most likely slanted since I bought Transatlanticism first, and with so much more to offer, this one seems a little weak, but its still definitley one of my favourites. It's a bit short, but well worth it.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By FierceLastStand on May 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
When you listen to a cd, why do you listen to it? Simply because it sounds cool, or you enjoy how it relaxes you, or it fits a certain atmosphere? If that's how you listen to cd's, don't bother getting this album. I wouldn't want you to. This album is best enjoyed by those who listen to something because they get the feeling inside of it. I don't know why so many people here call this album pop and lighthearted. I completely disagree. The lyrics are not particularly dark, as opposed to maybe, lyrics from Alice in Chains' "Dirt", but they aren't exactly happy either. I absolutely love them. "Sleep Spent" is a great song. There is a lot more to this album than everyone seems to let on. The key to DCFC's music is that it takes a lot of listening before you actually get it, and the emotional value begins to sink in. I have been listening for three years, and just in the last six months or so, has the meaning of their music, the emotion behind it, the depression, sadness, and confusion finally begin to show themselves through the tone of Ben's voice and the guitar riffs. I'm not suggesting this is a depressing album, in fact it's rather comforting. Most of their albums are.
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