The Dismemberment Plan
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
The Dismemberment Plan
In 2003, if you told the members of The Dismemberment Plan that ten years later they would not only be releasing a new album, but their best record to date, there’s no way they would have believed you. Since forming in Washington, D.C. in 1993, the band has released four highly acclaimed full-lengths, toured the world many times over, and become one of the most well respected—and indefinable—acts in indie rock. But the past decade has seen their members exploring other areas both inside and outside of music, and even embracing adulthood. However, along the way something funny happened: They reunited three years ago to play some shows to support the reissue of 1999's Emergency & I, and realized their most potent magic had yet to be bottled.
"We never psyched ourselves out and thought, ‘NOW we're making a Plan record," explains guitarist Jason Caddell. "It was more like stay calm and play on," he continues with a laugh. These sessions between the band—which also includes guitarist/vocalist Travis Morrison, bassist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley—resulted in a collection of songs that are inspired because they weren't burdened by any expectations, allowing them to retain the fire of their nascent recordings while entering a fresh sonic aura. "We weren't going to get anything good unless we could trick ourselves into staying in that place where it was creativity for its own sake," Morrison elaborates. "It was a real blessing and opportunity to be in that space again without thinking we had a product to deliver."
To be fair, The Dismemberment Plan never thought of their music as a commodity, despite the fact that they have been handpicked to tour with Pearl Jam and shared the stage with peers Death Cab For Cutie on the co-headlining Death And Dismemberment Tour, among other career milestones. "Our goals have always been more abstract than sales and statistics," Caddell explains. That statement is confirmed by the fact that in the years since their hiatus the members have gone on to thrive in their respective creative and intellectual fields while still keeping music an active presence in their lives.
Case in point, Axelson has been teaching in public schools and playing in various bands, including Maritime; Morrison worked for The Huffington Post and The Washington Post, and now is the president of his own start-up in addition to singing in church choirs; Caddell has been a freelance audio engineer for corporate and political events ranging from presidential elections to the G8 Summit at Camp David, all the while playing on and producing records for his friends and bandmates; and Easley received a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and now works at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on a robotic satellite servicing program in addition to playing with Axelson in Statehood.
Uncanney Valley was recorded by longtime collaborator J. Robbins (Jawbreaker, The Promise Ring) at his Baltimore Studio, Magpie Cage, and mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie (Pixies, Radiohead), and the result is an album that maintains The Dismemberment Plan's unique sound while simultaneously allowing them to open up and expand on the foundation of their celebrated back catalog. Produced by Jason Caddell and The Dismemberment Plan, this is the first time in the band's history that they didn't use an outside producer. "When I listen to this record it's hard for me to believe we're a bunch of 40 year olds now," Morrison admits. "It sounds like the musical heat is stronger than ever.”
This love of music is as evident in the buoyant groove of the Jackson Browne- inspired "Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer" as it is on the sweetly syncopated, electronically augmented rocker "Mexico City Christmas." "Generally we have deeply broad taste in a lot of different types of music, and it's not a fashion statement. It's a genuine heartfelt appreciation, and I think you can hear that in our music," Caddell responds when asked about the colorful sonic palette illustrated on the album. Whether Morrison is flexing his R&B chops on the quirky, catchy “Waiting” or approaching the concept of a love song in a new and effective context on the quasi-ballad “Lookin,” Uncanney Valley has moments certain to captivate both new listeners and longtime fans of the band.
The Dismemberment Plan's personal growth is mirrored in Morrison's lyrics, which center on his move to Brooklyn. "I wrote the kind of lyric stories I wanted to hear that I just wasn't getting from other artists," he explains. And even when he’s exploring isolation on the synth-driven “Invisible,” the songs retain a level of honesty that’s impossible to fake.
This spirit of collaboration paired with the members' diverse taste and life experiences are what make Uncanney Valley such an enthralling listen—and although the group remains unsure what the future holds for them, the most important thing right now is that they exist here in the moment. "We're very much taking things one step at a time, but I will say that at this juncture the excitement level is high. So, whatever comes next comes next," Caddell summarizes.
Ultimately, whether the members are controlling robots on a space station or performing live with an enthusiasm that transcends age, The Dismemberment Plan are a special band, and Uncanney Valley solidifies that as times change and tides shift, this will always hold true.
Young People’s Church of Air
“Scheuerman has a gift for distilling complex thoughts into everyday language.” – Pitchfork
“[Bedbedbedbedbed] is an indie club anthem with floating guitars, gentle-and-charming melodies, and military-march drums” – SPIN
“playfully unpredictable songs that veer in unexpected directions while
remaining completely infectious.” – NPR
Deleted Scenes, a four-piece art-rock band from DC, released its first self-titled EP in 2007, twelve years after meeting in grade school. In 2009, the band released their debut full-length, Birdseed Shirt, which was recorded mostly in group houses across the east coast over the course of a year. Birdseed Shirt not only won the approval of local publications, Washington Post raving, “If Deleted Scenes isn’t the best rock band in Washington, it’s certainly on the very short list,” but also solidified their national acclaim, Pitchfork awarding the album with an 8.0 review, calling it “ferocious, brave, and a well-balanced demonstration of both thoughtful existentialism and strange, drowsy downers.” Comprised of Daniel Scheuerman (guitar, vocals), Matt Dowling (bass, keyboards), Dominic Campanaro (guitar, keyboards, samples), and Brian Hospital (drums), Deleted Scenes latest effort Young People’s Church of the Air now pushes the band’s formidable rhythm section further, exploring the possibility of hope.
Grabbing rhythmic feels from 80’s pop, R&B, surf rock, dark funk, and Go-Go, Young People’s Church of the Air reveals Deleted Scenes discovering a unique ground between pop and experimental impulses. Drummer Brian Hospital introduces the double-kick pedal to art rock with thoughtful drum arrangements.
The lyrics find Daniel Scheuerman taking risks to explore themes of family, love, death, and joy in a self-devouring poetic style. The album’s production is fuzzy and warped, inspired by the cassette warble of Southeast Asian psych-pop and the detuned stew of Elliott Smith’s final album, From a Basement on the Hill.
Their newest collection of songs originated in frontman Daniel Scheuerman‘s basement taking on a live identity over the course of 300 tour dates. Recorded at the Garden Center in Hockessin, DE, with Nick Krill (The Spinto Band) and Birdseed Shirt producer L. Skell the title was fittingly taken from a 1930′s radio-church hymnal Scheuerman found in an old piano bench at the Garden Center, and evokes the elusive nature of hope. Deleted Scenes have shared the stage with Cursive, Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda, Black Kids, The Antlers, Medications, and Matt and Kim among others, and have performed at SXSW, CMJ, and Pop Montreal.