Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Dodos - Carrier

Death is a motherfucker.

I’m frightened of it, and the repercussions of death make me consider everything from how my family will adapt to what music I’m going to miss on when I’m gone. The solace, I suppose, is knowing that death will bring a point where I’m not longer tormented by such things.

 Who knows, maybe in the afterlife I’ll be a drop D tuning or a bass drum kick.

More tragic than my own self-loathing are those who pass at an early age, particularly those who have lived a selfless life, or contributed something to the well-being of others. I’ll use a musician as an example of this, but to leave it as just another guitarist who passed too soon.

Chris Reimer was more than just a typical musician when he passed away from an undetected heart ailment in early 2012. He was initiated as the touring guitarist for the San Francisco band The Dodos and was about to join them for the recording sessions of their new record as a full-fledged member until he didn’t wake up from his sleep on February 21, 2012. Prior to his final work with the Dodos, he was also a member of the band Women among others.But what was really telling about his life is how he spent at least 2 years devoted to being with his grandmother who was battling ALS before she passed.

There are not that many twenty-somethings that have the build for that.

This part of the Reimer’s tragedy is what spoke to me the most. The fact that he devoted what is normally the most selfish period of a young man’s life to be with someone else reaching the end of their's.

It’s actions like this that speak large about a man’s character.

Reimer was 26 when he died, and his passing and all of this is nothing more than the bits and pieces of this story that I’ve culled through to provide an introduction to a record review. Can you imagine what it must be like for his family, friends, and the band(s) he’s performed with? The ones who had a chance to see this generosity and warm spirit firsthand?

For The Dodos, the best legacy for Reimer would be in the songs they’ve created for their latest, Carrier.

This, the San Francisco duo’s 5th release shows Meric Long and Logan Kroeber continuing on with the more electric route that they probably would have undertaken with Reimer by their side. It’s a fulfilling direction, one that’s made more poignant by the tragedy that is hinted at in many songs, while the passion for living is found throughout every arrangement.

Carrier has the obligatory musings on death, but it is also a celebration of life, specifically the healing power that music possesses in announcing and overcoming the end of an existence.

To get there, Long explores new sounds with his electric guitar, transforming his syncopated picking into a battle with Kroeber’s already kinetic timekeeping. “I plan to see this through until you grieve” Long declares on “Stranger”, before changing the line on the final verse to “I plan to see this through until it’s done,” an almost challenging reversal in outlook, defying life’s unexpected grief from derailing the original intent of these talented young men.

Long doesn’t hide behind coy distractions or muddled messages in his words; he’s brave enough to detail the loss and the guilt that sometimes comes with it. “If I took your place would it hurt?” he asks on “Death” before admitting that he and Kroeber were “better off with you near.”

The irony is how Carrier sounds like Chris Reimer was right there with him, helping him work through the grief during the recording sessions and helping the rest of us realize how wonderful it is to be alive to get to hear the end result.

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