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Death Cab For Cutie's 'Transatlanticism' turns 10 -- looking back at a classic indie-rock album

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Earlier this year, the Postal Service celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its landmark one-off album Give Up

That album still holds up remarkably well, but it’s unfair to talk about Give Up without discussing frontman Ben Gibbard’s other landmark accomplishment from 2003: Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism, which came out a decade ago today.

The creation of Transatlanticism is not as romantic as the long-distance construction of the Postal Service’s Give Up, but Gibbard was working on both albums simultaneously, and it’s fair to think of the two as bookends; though there are thematic and tonal crossovers, they come from two very different places.

“Strangely, I don’t think the two records have much to do with each other as far as the emotional tone,” Gibbard told EW earlier this year. “I felt like I could shift pretty seamlessly between working on Postal Service and then turning around and writing a Death Cab song.” Gibbard allowed the tracks that Postal Service collaborator Jimmy Tamborello was sending him to dictate the emotional tone of the songs themselves, while Transatlanticism is the product of Death Cab’s collective hive mind.

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Lollapalooza 2013 Day 2: Mumford & Sons set the tone, Kendrick Lamar ascends, and Postal Service run a victory lap

Most of the time, Lollapalooza’s scheduling seems left to the whims of fate, the daily lineup strung together seemingly at random so that indie poppers bump up against metal acts and soul throwbacks open for folky singer-songwriters. It makes for some wildly jarring juxtapositions, with occasional stumbles into transcendence.

Saturday was different, at least at the south end of Chicago’s Grant Park. The ascendance of headliners Mumford & Sons rippled all the way into the afternoon, where banjo-friendly arrangements and country twang informed the bulk of the performances: Court Yard Hounds brought their pop-friendly version of crossover bluegrass, Eric Church stomped through a set of outlaw Southern rock, and twee Irish strummers Little Green Cars crafted colorful tapestries out of all manner of acoustic thread. (The National, sandwiched in between Church and semi-main eventers the Lumineers, must have been deeply confused by all the headband-wearing sunflower girls hanging around, as they’re used to playing for broodier types. Still, they did dedicate “England” to Mumford & Sons.)

It all led up to a triumphant turn by Mumford & Sons, who drew a massive throng of folk-hungry youth to sing along with Marcus Mumford’s every bellow and wail. There wasn’t a single tune across Mumford’s nearly two-hour set that wasn’t greeted as a massive hit, though the gathering masses reserved extra glee for “Little Lion Man,” “I Will Wait,” and “Lover of the Light.”

Mumford & Sons are not showmen, and their performance was free of both bells and whistles, but their songs clearly resonate across a wide spectrum, and they’re savvy enough to get out of the way of their trainload of sing-alongs.

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The Postal Service's 'Give Up': An oral history of the indie side project that became an aughties touchstone -- and a platinum seller

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Last week, the Postal Service released Give Up: Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition, a two-disc version of their platinum-selling (it only took nine years!) sole album, and they celebrated by kicking off a new tour that includes a prominent slot at Coachella.

EW caught up with all the principals involved in the creation of Give Up for an oral history that appeared in issue 1255/56, but we couldn’t get it all in in print, so enjoy this expanded version here.

2001 Jimmy Tamborello releases his first full-length album as Dntel, Life Is Full of Possibilities. The acclaimed indie electronic collection features a song called “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” with vocals by Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard.

JIMMY TAMBORELLO One of my roommates was in a band that went on tour with Death Cab for Cutie, so Ben and my roommate had become friends. Ben was going to come stay at our house for a couple of days for fun, and it was right when I was working on this album with different guest vocalists. So I asked him if he’d be up for it, and I sent him the instrumental and when he came to visit he recorded it. We hung out and had fun, and that’s where it started.

BEN GIBBARD It wasn’t as if we really connected personally all that strongly when we first met. It was just an interesting arrangement that he would send me this music and he would let me put whatever I wanted to put on it. “Evan and Chan” came together really quickly, and the only thing I had on it was vocals.

TAMBORELLO Ben brought up the idea of doing more together—like an EP or something.

GIBBARD Initially the idea I pitched to him was an EP, and it was only when Sub Pop started sniffing around that it turned into an album.

TONY KIEWEL, Sub Pop A&R Jimmy and I went to college together. He told me they were thinking about doing an EP based on the experience of “Evan and Chan.” I had just started doing A&R, and I had recently learned how the world treats an EP as opposed to an LP. Why would you waste time making an EP? If you’re going to do it, do a full album. People will review it, and you can sell it for three times as much. I told them for sure Sub Pop would want to do it if that was something they wanted to do.

GIBBARD The music has always been the more difficult thing for me to write, so the idea of somebody basically turning in what were mostly finished beds of music and then I could sprinkle other things on top of it and write melodies and lyrics was really appealing to me. He was nice and easy-going and a kind of shy quiet guy, and I’m a little more gregarious, so I think that worked too.

2002 Operating out of Los Angeles, Tamborello begins the process of sending Seattle-dwelling Gibbard music, which Gibbard would then send back with his additions—which included guitars, keyboards, and additional vocals by friends Jen Wood and Jenny Lewis. READ FULL STORY

Listen to the second track from the new Postal Service album, 'Turn Around'

A second bonus track from The Postal Service is available to stream today.

The reunion of The Postal Service has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention, as they are heading out on tour for the first time since 2003 to promote their 10-year anniversary re-release of “Give Up” — the band’s only album. The new edition of the album will feature previously-released song “A Tattered Line of String,” as well as today’s release “Turn Around” and new versions of old favorites like “Such Great Heights.”

The new tune fits in pretty well with the rest of The Postal Service’s repertoire, featuring synth beats and singer Ben Gibbard’s earnest vocals urging “you gotta know that this will turn around, until then I will not let you down.” We’ll have to see if fans take to the new track, or if they’ll be hoping for a turnaround.
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Possible reveal of Lollapalooza lineup includes Phoenix and The Postal Service

Rumors are swirling that Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, and The Killers just might be the chosen ones headlining Lollapalooza.

Two anonymous Twitter accounts have been slowly leaking names of artists who will be featured at this year’s Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, and today the Chicago Tribune reported that the three-day event would feature the above bands as well as The National and The Postal Service.

The lineup hasn’t officially been announced yet, but The Killers are participating in Lollapalooza Brasil and according to their tour schedule, Phoenix will be geographically posed to pop in for a show in Chicago on those dates.

The other bands’ tour schedules show an opening during that weekend as well, so let’s say it’s safe to hope. Calls by EW to Lollapalooza organizers for confirmation were not immediately returned.

Early-bird tickets and special packages go on sale this week for the ninth Lolla festival at Grant Park. The festival runs August 2-4.

Follow @amandataylor88

Read more:
Mumford & Sons split four ways for ‘Whispers in the Dark’ video: Watch it here!
Phoenix to release new album in April
Vampire Weekend premiere new songs ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Step': Hear them here

The Postal Service drops first new song in 10 years: Hear 'A Tattered Line of String' here!

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It’s been a good year for comebacks so far. David Bowie? Welcome back. My Bloody Valentine? Excellent to see you again. Justin Timberlake? You’ve been missed.

The excitement over the return of the Postal Service—the tracks-by-mail collaboration between Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard and electronic artist Jimmy “Dntel” Tamborello—is not quite as large as that for the above artists, but it’s just as fiercely passionate. The group’s first and only album Give Up came out in 2003 and found a surprisingly massive audience attracted to its combination of confessional lyrics, deeply-rooted melodies, and blippy electronic undercurrents. In a way, it’s quite trenchant—what song not called “Such Great Heights” has better melded the worlds of rock honesty and electronic cool?

Give Up sold over a million copies, and Gibbard and Tamborello have decided to dust the project off for some tour dates this summer. They’re not putting out new music per se, though they are resurrecting some songs from the Give Up sessions for a deluxe edition of that release. The first song unveiled is called “A Tattered Line of String.” Give it a listen below, and for a bonus 2003 callback, listen for the guest vocals of Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis.  READ FULL STORY

The Postal Service releases 2013 tour dates

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We knew The Postal Service was back, but now it could be coming to a city near you. According to the band’s website, The Postal Service is going on tour in 2013 for the first time since 2003.

The band is set to release a 10th anniversary edition of its album Give Up complete with 15 additional songs on April 9, which also marks the band’s first tour date in Reno, Nevada. Two months later, the tour will wrap in Brooklyn, New York. Check out a full list of tour dates below: READ FULL STORY

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