Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Morning Listening: "No Cities Left" by the Dears

On Sunday mornings, Michelle usually goes to the gym, while I edit this week's Splash Page Podcast and write my 4Rs review of TNA Impact. It's a nice little routine of busy work and writing usually with some music playing since I almost always have music playing. Today, it's No Cities Left by the Dears. The Dears are a Montreal band that I got into back in 2004, I believe. In 2004, I joined the Columbia House CD Club since I just couldn't resist their "15 CDs for two bucks" (or whatever it was) offer. Turns out that finding so many CDs was hard. I had read a positive review of two of No Cities Left and made it one of my selections. I got into a few artists this way -- like Ryan Adams, who continues to be one of my favourites. With so many albums, I didn't get to the Dears immediately. But, eventually, it was No Cities Left that got put in my discman as I headed to do my workstudy job on campus. I did that on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer. I don't remember much of listening to it on the way to campus or even during workstudy (if I had it on then at all). I do remember listening to it on the way home. The bus I took to campus, the 31 Orchard Park, shared a route with the 32 Windermere, switching over when it hit campus. A combination of construction changing where buses had to go, the bus being late, and drivers having a habit of not immediately changing the sign on the bus had me mistakenly get on the 32 that day instead of the 31. So, I spent an extra hour or so on the bus with nothing but No Cities Left to listen to.

This is a story I sometimes tell when people ask why I prefer CDs and listen to them instead of getting an iPod or mp3 player. I like the limits of CDs. I like being confined to that single album/disc. I like having a lack of options. After all, sometimes you're in a position where you have to listen to an album you don't know that well more than you thought you would and you discover something amazing. Maybe I would have loved the album eventually, but who knows. I have plenty of albums that I listened to a few times and never again. Riding the bus that day for an extra hour or so, watching the strange route with the Dears as my soundtrack -- it was great. I fell in love with the album then.

No Cities Left is epic. It's big. On the first page of the booklet, it reads:

No Cities Left performed by The Dears
Produced, Written and Directed by Murray A. Lightburn

It's a movie in music form. Telling a big story, not through a lyrical story, but through the feeling of the music, through the different songs. You can almost see scenes at times. Right now, "Warm and Sunny Days" is playing, a song that's complex and a little sad. It oddly reminds me of walking in the snow, but suggests a romantic discussion before seguing into "22: The Death of All the Romance," which is the best song ever written about staying with someone because you don't want to hurt them. It's also one of those rare rock duets.

The album sounds like an indie rock album (whatever that means) -- very melodic, lots of guitars and synths and keys... Lightburn writes some amazing songs. Broad, well-constructed with interesting lyrics. He's very good at producing feelings and moods with the songs he writes. I tend to react to the Dears on an emotional level first. The album they did after No Cities Left, Gang of Losers is like that, too -- though, if this album is an epic, large movie, that one is an indie flick.

Sorry, I haven't written about music in a long time. Hopefully, I'll get better at it as I go. Back to writing about wrestling.

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