Chris Walla, if you didn’t already know, is the lead guitarist, backup vocalist and producer/engineer for a little band called Death Cab For Cutie. He’s immensely talented, and, this being lifeafternirvana, is a born and bred Seattleite, direct from Bothell.
Unbeknownst to most people, Walla’s also a “prolific” indie music producer (according to Wikipedia), having produced the excellent recent Tegan and Sara albums as well as several recordings by The Decemberists, The Thermals, Ra Ra Riot, Seattle favorites The Lonely Forest, his own underrated solo album Field Manual, and even engineering a song for the reclusive Postal Service.
So, while I was slightly disappointed by the recent Death Cab release (more on that later), I stumbled upon Walla’s official Hall of Justice website. I was pleasantly surprised to see many Walla solo recordings (some under his old pseudonym Martin Youth Auxiliary) and odd demos from the early years (some even pre-Death Cab) made free for download by Walla himself.
The demos are not only a good listen, they’re an incredibly well-produced welcome blast from the past, as one would expect from Walla. The accents are subtle and well-played, foreshadowing his opuses Transatlanticism and Plans. The sounds are crisp and clean, and it all sounds pretty darn slick for turn-of-the-century cheap analog–his achievements on the production end can’t be understated here.
Walla’s voice isn’t perfect, but he gets it done, and he even plays all of the instruments.
What’s even cooler about these demos is that some of them are not fully written songs; Walla admits himself that “Tiny Spoons” was built around a drum soundcheck recording that he particularly liked one afternoon.
Right-click to download: