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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Alternative > Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003/SACD/SA-CD/Super Audio Compact Disc/Barsuk Records)

Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003/SACD/SA-CD/Super Audio Compact Disc/Barsuk Records)


Sound: B+     Music: B



Fifteen years ago or so, you would likely have heard of the great Rock band Death Cab For Cutie simply because the major record labels hired people who knew and loved music, who would then collaborate with the label to deliver the music and performers to the public.  Hard to believe so much changed so quickly, but they have still managed to become a success and it is nice to see real talent pull through.  Their fifth album (after You Can Play These Songs With Chords, Something About Airplanes, We Have The Facts Wrong & We’re Voting Yes, The Photo Album) Transatlanticism (2003) is another impressive entry, so much so that Barsuk Records has rightly decided to issue it in the Super Audio CD format.


The songs include:


1)     The New Year

2)     Lightness

3)     Title & Registration

4)     Expo ‘86

5)     The Sound Of Settling

6)     Tiny Vessels

7)     Transatlanticism

8)     Passenger Seat

9)     Death Of An Interior Decorator

10)  We Looked Like Giants

11)  A Lack Of Color



The music is very good, somewhat paired down, yet has its share of surprises.  The lyrics have an ironic sense of humor and an honesty one would associate with Split Enz, Toad The Wet Sprocket and other bands who evoke the best of the singer/songwriters.  Benjamin Gibbard wrote all the lyrics or co-wrote (or wrote solo) all the songs, sometimes along with his talented bandmates Nicholas Harmer, Jason McGerr and Christopher Walla.  That they have been successful and enduring without selling out is great and for many diehard fans, without becoming popular is a plus.


I had heard their music before, including from the great documentary about them called Drive Well, Sleep Carefully, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  And to think they have not peaked in the least since this release.  I hope we see the band get some new recognition so an at least somewhat larger audience can discover them because they prove that original music is alive and well.  You just sometimes have to go looking harder for it.


So how does a recent such Rock album recorded on analog tape benefit from being issued on Super Audio CD?  Very well.  The DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 2.0 Stereo is better than the PCM 16/44.1 Stereo CD tracks and though you can hear some tape limitations here and there, the sonics are resolved much more clearly on the high fidelity/high definition DSD audio tracks.  No, there is no 5.1 or 5.0 mix here, but this is one of the most distinguished 2.0 mixes we have heard on a modern release since Aimee Mann issued two of her solo albums (reviewed elsewhere on this site) with Mobile Fidelity.


The band did not have a huge budget to make this album, yet the money is well spent and some serious talent (Walla and Ed Brooks) was involved in the producing, mixing and engineering of the album itself which really pays off especially well in this format.  Those looking for SA-CDs they may have missed will want to consider this a must-own.  As compared to some high profile SA-CDs that did not sound good, it fares very well.


There is also a nice booklet in the SA-CD case including lyrics and tech information backed by nice illustrations.  For more on the band, see and read about the documentary Drive Well, Sleep Carefully at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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