the other me might even be better than this one

From Death Cab for Cutie to Does It Offend You, Yeah?

March 27, 2021 — Gideon Mayhak


After much procrastinating, I finally started writing this post while staying at our new house in Barron, WI. We haven't officially moved yet, but we took Sarah's spring break to drive up and take a closer look at this place we bought entirely from Virginia. I'm very thankful for my dad's willingness to go and look at the house and give an informed opinion before we made an offer. Cheers to Casey Watters and her team for all their help.

The release of this post was also delayed for a special appearance.

Anyway, we continue exploring the collection with a look at a handful of different bands.

The Ds, part 2

Death Cab for Cutie

Sarah is directly responsible for my having any Death Cab for Cutie CDs, and I ain't mad about it. It started with her sharing the title track from Transatlanticism, which later served as an anthem for the distance between us when she was in Virginia and I was still in Wisconsin. I streamed the album a few times before deciding I should own it, and Plans followed shortly after as a logical companion.

Some time later, we bought the expanded CD release of the early You Can Play These Songs With Chords at a garage sale in our neighborhood. It sat in our living room unplayed for a long time, and then I finally gave it a listen and added it to the collection. It's an interesting combination of early demos and some more experimental takes that makes for a challenging-but-entertaining listen.

There are a lot of subtle touches throughout, little extra production tweaks that show a lot of care went into the final product. Even in early recordings on Chords, there are so many extra flourishes that you wouldn't expect on a demo tape. Along with these details are thoughtful openers and closers, and a generally thought-out flow from start to finish in each album.

I really appreciate what Ben Gibbard has put together (not to ignore the contributions of Chris Walla and others; it's just clearly Gibbard's baby). There's a lot of skill and soul--also a lot of angst and anger. Often times you'll find heartwarming and heartrending lines right next to each other.

I haven't felt strongly compelled to fill out my DCFC collection, but it's nice to have these on hand when my love is in the passenger seat.


I know exactly where I heard Deerhoof for the first time. There was a website called Sputnik7 with "radio stations" you could stream that contained handfuls of songs in different genres. It's strange to think, but it was over 18 years ago now. "Holy Night Fever" from Reveille was on the alternative station, along with one or two Spoon tracks (more on them in a later post).

I can't really describe how the song made me feel. There was an immediate connection, and I had to own the album. And yet, partly due to my hesitance to commit to their weirdness, I didn't actually buy Reveille until 2013--long after Sputnik7 was no more. I couldn't shake the song from over 10 years prior.

I'm so glad I gave in. The openers, "Sound the Alarm" leading into "This Magnificent Bird Will Rise", are a shock to the system. Deerhoof are masters of snapping from loud to quiet to fast to slow. "Holy Night Fever" has never lost its magic. To this day, I don't fully understand what they're doing. I don't need to understand.

Whether late in the night sitting at a computer in the early '00s, or sitting in my living room over twice the age I once was, the feeling is right. Hallelujah...!

Dirty Vegas

As I'm sure is true for many who have heard of them, my first introduction to Dirty Vegas was "Days Go By". I remember seeing the music video on MTV and being moved by the story it told. It also showed up in some commercials of the day. Like Daft Punk's "Around the World", I have an MPEG-1 copy of the video--this time from September of 2002.

Now that we know I've sat with the memory of "Days Go By" for nearly two decades: it was only a couple years ago I finally bought their self-titled album at a Goodwill. And I have to say I'm simultaneously sad and not sad at all it took me so long. Sad because their big hit definitely meant something to me and it would have been nice to grow with their music over the years; and not sad because, well, the album's only okay.

They have a good sound: very smooth, slick production. "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it," as it were. The track that pulled me in, "Days Go By", isn't as much of a banger as I remembered. The acoustic version at the end provides an enjoyable change of perspective for the iconic track.

A standout favorite is "Candles", but overall I don't often feel like playing the album. While I could live without it, I'm happy to have it handy as days go by.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

I have both of their albums, You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into and Don't Say We Didn't Warn You, and I have to say I love Does It Offend You, Yeah? and their super long band and album names. Their name comes from a scene in the original version of The Office, and both albums are packed full of genuine bangers.

My introduction to them was "We Are Rockstars", heard in several shows and commercials around the time of its release. I couldn't shake it, and I had to have the album. I bought it in 2009, and I was not disappointed. I eventually got their follow-up, albeit a few years after its release.

There's a lot of variety between these two discs, and some real ballads alongside the pumped up jams. Fast, heavy tracks like "Battle Royale" and "Let's Make Out" are juxtaposed with tracks like the lovely "Dawn of the Dead" and aptly-named "Epic Last Song" to great effect. "Yeah!" includes audio submitted by fans and "The Monkeys Are Coming" includes audio from a popular Internet video, both moves that feel particularly fresh considering Don't Say was released ten years ago this month. "Broken Arms" is such a powerful closer.

Everything is sincerely performed, thoughtfully put together, and perfectly produced. This is one of those bands you wish had released more than two albums but who gave us enough that you can't be mad about it. Not to mention I can't help but move and shake every time I listen to them. I imagine I could lose a few pounds just by listening to one of these CDs every day.

Danz CM

Surprise! As mentioned previously, Computer Magic is now Danz CM and she has a new album out, The Absurdity of Human Existence. While listening to the other CDs covered in this post, I was able to have Absurdity delivered from Tower Records Japan. Since Danielle Johnson now goes by a name that falls into the Ds, it seemed fitting to include the new release here before moving onto the Es.

Another great set of tracks. I think I better understand Johnson's desire to rebrand with this one. I said last time that she shows clear growth with each new release, and this is no exception. From songwriting to production, this is someone who has gone through a lot since those first songs were posted online over 10 years ago.

There are little touches here and there reminiscent of her earliest work, but those are paired with greater depth and nuance. You can hear her influences in tracks like "Something More", which has vibes from the Cars and Electric Light Orchestra. "Domino" has moments that would've fit right in with the Interstellar soundtrack. No rip-offs, maybe not even conscious homages; just clear love for the music.

Nothing absurd about it: I'm glad this exists on my shelves.

Another round...

I'll try to get another one of these out sooner than later. The next one will contain a couple letters and some intense creative forces.

"He who covers an offense promotes love;
but he who repeats a matter separates best friends."

Proverbs 17:9, WEB

Tags: cd-listening, meet-the-mayhaks, music