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A Death Cab For Cutie Curated Collection

The band’s Nick Harmer weighs in on his VMP favorites

On May 18, 2023

Death Cab for Cutie’s bassist Nick Harmer curated albums from VMP’s back catalog to share memories of home and the Pacific Northwest, and his admiration for fellow artists.  His picks range from ’70s outlaw country to ’90s hip-hop and more. Read more below to learn about why he picked each record (and click here to read the liner notes for Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, the VMP Essentials Record of the Month for June 2023).


Beastie Boys: Check Your Head

When this album was released, it was the perfect intersection of so many subcultures and interests of mine that I felt like it was created specifically for me. Hip-Hop, punk, B movies, skateboarding, street art, pop culture… the list goes on. It’s a time machine of an album and whenever I play it, I’m immediately transported back to those high school days. 


Waylon Jennings: Honky Tonk Heroes 

When I was growing up, Waylon was one of the first musical artists I remember my father playing for me. His music became a sort of bond between us and part of the soundtrack of our family. As far back as I can remember, Waylon’s music was in our house and I revisit it often in my adult life to stir up old memories and emotions. 


Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West

A band I will endlessly admire for their creativity and musicianship, and an album that has such a strong aesthetic point of view. I can’t talk about the music of the Pacific Northwest without talking about Modest Mouse, and this album is solid proof of their necessity and importance to the musical landscape of where I live.


Built to Spill: When the Wind Forgets Your Name

I have been and will remain a fan of Built to Spill forever. Doug Martsch’s guitar playing and voice is a cornerstone of the soundtrack of living in the Pacific Northwest. The question isn’t when am I listening to Built to Spill, the question is when am I not?


Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet

I remember being a kid in the suburbs when this album came out and when my friend played it for me, we sat frozen, absorbing the magnitude of what we were hearing. The beats and production sounded like the chaos and energy of big cities we’d only seen on TV. The lyrics spoke truths that weren’t taught in our school, and the ferocity of emotions coming out of Chuck D and Flavor Flav opened our eyes to larger systems and injustice we couldn’t see. Even today, this album continues to educate me and remind me of the power of Public Enemy. 


J Dilla: The Diary 

I can’t give enough praise to the musical genius of J Dilla, and after reading [Dan] Charnas’ biography Dilla Time, I gained a whole new appreciation for the depth and reach of his music and art. For me, this album is an essential piece of understanding the complete picture of J Dilla’s musical mind and his indelible contribution to modern music. 


Missy Elliott: Under Construction

A modern masterpiece. Just song after song of inspired beats and Missy Elliott’s clever lyrics, playful delivery and infectious confidence. I play this album to get hyped, admire the production and smile at how much fun Missy Elliott is having. 


Georgia Anne Muldrow: Seeds

Georgia Anne Muldrow is one of those artists who inspires me constantly. Always evolving and  acknowledging where music has been while simultaneously showing where music can go. When I’m stuck in a rut, I play this album — and many of her others — to open my ears and mind to what is possible. 

Profile Picture of Nick Harmer
Nick Harmer

Nick Harmer is the bassist for Death Cab for Cutie.

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