How dominant was Saddle Creek Records during the first decade of the 2000s? Take a look at some of their roster:
Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst side projects (Mystic Band, Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos).
Cursive/Tim Kasher side projects (The Good Life, solo).
Azure Ray/Maria Taylor.
Son, Ambulance, Rilo Kiley, The Mynabirds and a host of others.
And though The Faint are no longer on Saddle Creek, the Omaha, Nebraska super-label released the three albums for which the band is best known: Blank-Wave Arcade (1999), Danse Macabre (2001), and Wet From Birth (2004).
They are also known for not allowing Conor Oberst back into the band after he quit following the band’s inception. Touché, mates.
Speaking of Bright Eyes, I saw The Faint open for Conor and co. on the 2005 Digital Ash in a Digital Urn tour here in Tampa at the USF Sun Dome, well before it was remodeled. While the building created a weird vibe for the show (because of how hollow and cold – in both the literal and figurative sense of the word – the arena felt), it was an intense and energetic performance from both groups.
Sonically, The Faint is some blend of indie electronic and dance punk. Where the album is at its best is of course the more straightforward dance-inspired tracks (“Glass Danse” and “Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat”); but these songs are backed by more experimental ventures like “Ballad of a Paralysed Citizen.” It’s a great mix of ideas.
The more aggressive elements of their sound can be attributed, at least in part, to Dapose (aka Michael Dappen). Formerly in the metal band LEAD, Dapose helps shape much of Danse Macabre with the juxtaposition of angular guitars against layers upon layers of keys. Combined with “loudness”-heavy vocals, the resulting amalgam is fuzzy like a punk record, but with less reliance on punk riffs.
And while the band does have a live drummer, track drums aid in the industrial electronic sound. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s warehouse music, because I don’t know what that is, but it felt right.
At just 9 tracks and 35 minutes long, Danse Macabre is short for a release. But what it lacks in length, it makes up for in flair – the band has carved a niche for themselves in the so-called “indie rock” scene.
Pitchfork called this album “goth.”
Don’t listen to Pitchfork. Ever.
Here’s “The Conductor” from Danse Macabre (2001) on Saddle Creek Records:
Standout tracks: “Agenda Suicide” and “Posed to Death”
Weakest track: “Your Retro Career Melted”
RIYL: Electronica, dance punk, new wave. Saddle Creek. Com Truise, Moving Units, Fishcherspooner.