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A fake Death Cab for Cutie album yields real self-excoriation

May 17, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Dcfc Joe Berkowitz at the Awl wins the morning in music blogging for his very funny and self-deprecating essay on the 16 months he spent touting Death Cab for Cutie's "Narrow Stairs" to friends after pirating it online. Unfortunately, he didn't realize it was a cheekily mislabeled collection of songs from the quite similar German band Velveteen.

The tale is something like "Brokedown Palace" for music fans -- a small mistake in a morally murky subculture yields horrifying, humiliating consequences. But Berkowitz really breaks out the lash when he comes to realize that digital culture may have cheapened music to the point where it doesn't even matter if you have the actual songs at all.

"The Velveteen album served the same purpose and produced the same effect for me as the Death Cab for Cutie album it replaced for 16 months," he said. "In doing so, it proved that as long as our expectations are met, we’ll believe anything, even if we don’t buy it."

-August Brown

Photo: Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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