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Andy Whitman

David Bazan - Strange Negotiations

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David Bazan has a new album, Strange Negotiations, out May 24th. The press release is billing this one as a more broad-ranging and outward-focused album than Curse Your Branches, which was a conflicted, ambivalent roller coaster about personal faith and the lack thereof. I'm not sure I'm buying it. This one sounds to me like a conflicted, ambivalent roller coaster about personal faith and the lack thereof. Oh, and there's a full band. They're loud, David sounds pissed off, and the thing rocks like crazy. I like it a lot.

when i was young

i saw people helping people

all the time

because you were

people-helping-people

in your prime

i thought people-loving-people

were the norm

because you were people

loving people

before the long dark storm

but now you’re selfish and mean

your eyes glued to a screen

and what titillates you

is depraved and obscene

and i know that it’s dangerous to judge

but man you’ve gotta find the truth

and when you find that truth don’t budge

until the truth you found begins to change

and it does i know i know

when you love the truth enough

you start to tell it all the time

when it gets you into trouble

you discover you don’t mind

cause if good is finally gonna trump

then man you’ve gotta take stock

and you’ve gotta take your lumps

or else they trickle down

into someone else’s cup below

you know

i wanna know who are these people

blaming their sins on the fall

who are these people

if i’m honest with myself at all

these are my people

man what else can i say

you are my people

and we’re the same in so many ways

then your eyes turned green

and you broke the machine

that when handed to you

was still kind of functioning

and i know that it’s dangerous to judge

but man you’ve gotta find the truth

and when you find that truth don’t budge

until the truth you found begins to change

and it does i know i know

-- David Bazan, "People"

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Perhaps Bazan is suffering the same fate as the latest Death Cab for Cutie record: people are over him. I thought his last album, Curse Your Branches was pretty great. And yet I was still surprised when I realized Bazan had a new album out today.

Has anyone other than Andy heard it? Thoughts?

I'm downloading it as I type, so I'll know soon enough.

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Has anyone other than Andy heard it? Thoughts?

A few friends have gotten to know Mr. Bazan over the past decade, and got copies of the album from him a little in advance. I know they all love it. I'm curious about what you think, Kyle. I wasn't too into his previous album.

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Ben Gibbard was raving about it on Twitter yesterday, but they're old friends. My coworker is a close friend of Dave's, and he's been listening to it too; he loves it.

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The press release is billing this one as a more broad-ranging and outward-focused album than Curse Your Branches, which was a conflicted, ambivalent roller coaster about personal faith and the lack thereof. I'm not sure I'm buying it. This one sounds to me like a conflicted, ambivalent roller coaster about personal faith and the lack thereof.

I agree with Andy here. I loved Curse Your Branches, and by the fourth or fifth listen to this one, I thought that I'd end up liking it just as much. I got the download code (for pre-ordering the vinyl) the same day I bought the new Paul Simon album a couple weeks ago, so this sat on my desktop for a week or two before I dove in. But it has been in pretty constant rotation for two or three weeks, along with the Paul Simon, and I'm finally starting to get a good picture of the album as a whole. I do recommend it.

NPR did a story about the album yesterday, "David Bazan: Fighting His Conscience."

Oh, and this is my favorite song so far:

Level With Yourself

wake up in the morning

check your revelation

making sure you know it

as well as you can

then sell it to yourself man

cause it won’t make a difference

if everyone believes it

but you don’t believe it

just level with yourself

level with yourself

level with yourself

and be at peace with thee

we’re making a list of all

the negative side effects

that come with the shit you let

yourself get away with

oh your god

we’re building a wall between

the kids and the gasoline

of editorial and advertising

riches i heed not

nor man’s empty praise

means f*ck the gatekeeper

cause i’m fine outside the gate

i wanna level with myself

i wanna level with my friends

i wanna level with my kin

and be at peace with them

i’m making a list of all

the negative side effects

that come with the shit i let

myself get away with

oh my god

i’m building a wall between

the kids and the gasoline

of editorial and advertising

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At some point -- I hope soon -- my review will be up at Paste. I'm not sure why it hasn't yet appeared.

There it is.

Hey Andy, I've always liked reading Paste's reviews of albums, but I often wish they were a little longer. Does Paste give you a certain word-count criteria when writing these things or..? Maybe it's just me -- but with certain albums I feel like there could really be some fleshed out reviews, especially with a guy like Dave Bazan. I don't really like the new stuff as much as his Pedro or Headphone's tunes, but there could be some great references and comparisons into his earlier work in a review if someone took the time to really get it all out. I guess it's possible most people aren't really looking for a novel when reading an album-review, though.

I'll always be a supporter and fan of Dave, but I have to admit that his new stuff doesn't carry the same weight with me as his earlier stuff does. Thinking on it - the last albums I really enjoyed of his were Achille's Heel and the Headphones album. I think there's some good songs on his newer records, but something seems missing. I don't like a lot of the electric guitar stuff he's been writing, it sounds clunky to me.

Edited by Tim K

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I pre-ordered the record, so I've had it for about 3 weeks now. I think it's probably just as good as Curse Your Branches (which I think is probably among Bazan's best work). I think it yields less of an impact in the media because it covers much of the same thematic ground that Curse Your Branches did. For the same reason, it didn't have the same visceral, hollowing immediate impact that the "break with the past" first solo record did. You can only burn your bridges once. That said, I think it's definitely a grower.

As I noted when I first got the record, there's a disclaimer on the record which says that not everyone involved in the record shares the views espoused therein. I assume that this was for the benefit of the still-Christian Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59), who co-wrote a couple of the songs, but that's besides the point a bit. I thought that this was a perfect encapsulation of a critical aspect of Bazan: the man always feels the need to explain things, to explicitly spell out things, that very few people feel the need to explain.

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Hey Andy, I've always liked reading Paste's reviews of albums, but I often wish they were a little longer. Does Paste give you a certain word-count criteria when writing these things or..? Maybe it's just me -- but with certain albums I feel like there could really be some fleshed out reviews, especially with a guy like Dave Bazan. I don't really like the new stuff as much as his Pedro or Headphone's tunes, but there could be some great references and comparisons into his earlier work in a review if someone took the time to really get it all out. I guess it's possible most people aren't really looking for a novel when reading an album-review, though.

I'll always be a supporter and fan of Dave, but I have to admit that his new stuff doesn't carry the same weight with me as his earlier stuff does. Thinking on it - the last albums I really enjoyed of his were Achille's Heel and the Headphones album. I think there's some good songs on his newer records, but something seems missing. I don't like a lot of the electric guitar stuff he's been writing, it sounds clunky to me.

There were definite word-count requirements for reviews when Paste was a print publication (anywhere from 75 to 800 words, with several gradations in between), but it's not as much of a consideration with the online publication. Still, the length of the review is significant. I was stretching it with 500 words , which was the length of that Bazan review. Most people don't want to read anything longer than that.

I prefer in-depth articles and reviews. Alas, many people don't. Readers are also coming to the review from many different viewpoints, everything from "I'm a longtime Bazan fan, and I want in-depth comparisons of the current songs to the older songs" to "who is this guy, and why should I be interested in his album?". I tried to keep it in the middle of the highway.

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Hey Andy, I've always liked reading Paste's reviews of albums, but I often wish they were a little longer. Does Paste give you a certain word-count criteria when writing these things or..? Maybe it's just me -- but with certain albums I feel like there could really be some fleshed out reviews, especially with a guy like Dave Bazan. I don't really like the new stuff as much as his Pedro or Headphone's tunes, but there could be some great references and comparisons into his earlier work in a review if someone took the time to really get it all out. I guess it's possible most people aren't really looking for a novel when reading an album-review, though.

I'll always be a supporter and fan of Dave, but I have to admit that his new stuff doesn't carry the same weight with me as his earlier stuff does. Thinking on it - the last albums I really enjoyed of his were Achille's Heel and the Headphones album. I think there's some good songs on his newer records, but something seems missing. I don't like a lot of the electric guitar stuff he's been writing, it sounds clunky to me.

There were definite word-count requirements for reviews when Paste was a print publication (anywhere from 75 to 800 words, with several gradations in between), but it's not as much of a consideration with the online publication. Still, the length of the review is significant. I was stretching it with 500 words , which was the length of that Bazan review. Most people don't want to read anything longer than that.

I prefer in-depth articles and reviews. Alas, many people don't. Readers are also coming to the review from many different viewpoints, everything from "I'm a longtime Bazan fan, and I want in-depth comparisons of the current songs to the older songs" to "who is this guy, and why should I be interested in his album?". I tried to keep it in the middle of the highway.

Off-topic, have you heard "Other Lives?" I heard a song of theirs called, "Tamer Animals" and it actually sounds like something off a record by The National. Not sure they're worth a whole new thread -- trying to decide whether to go for their whole album or not.

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"If you believe what Jesus said, which I almost do ---" What a line. I can totally see that as a Bazan lyric.

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