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(Un)covered: The New Year

“The New Year”
Songwriters: Ben Gibbard, Nick Harmer, Jason McGerr, Chris Walla
Original Release Date: October 7, 2003

Goodbye, 2014. It’s finally January 1st, which means the holidays are officially over. You can turn off the Christmas carols, take down the icicle lights, and let life go back to normal (until the frenzy that is Valentine’s Day, at least). I’ll miss my beloved Christmas covers, but it’s time for new things! Unfortunately, there isn’t a wealth of New Year’s songs out there, so we’ll be kicking off (Un)covered with something a little slow and a little sad. Without further ado, let’s ring in 2015 with some  classic Death Cab For Cutie.  

Death Cab For Cutie’s 2003 record Transatlanticism opened with this startlingly somber song about the New Year. But it’s about more than the holiday: it’s the bitter disappointment that inevitably follows New Year’s. It’s a moment where the beautiful illusion is shattered–like finally learning that Santa Claus isn’t real. Despite it being a day of celebration for the beginning of something new and fresh, the song pulls back the veil and finds that without resolutions and nice clothes and the mentality, January 1st is just another day. This idea is clearly stated through the very opening line, “So this is the New Year/ And I don’t feel any different.” Though the song pulls into focus the cracks in the picture perfect image of the holiday, it also magnifies the desperate attempt to keep the illusion alive and hope for happiness.

 Petal and Modern Baseball teamed up with Space Jam Sessions earlier this year to put out this cover of Death Cab’s “The New Year.” Kiley Lotz, of Petal, has a careful and clear voice, articulate and precise. It is perfectly balanced by Jake Ewald’s distinctly unique vocals, which are instantly recognizable from singing in Modern Baseball. The two vocalists sing crisply in tandem harmony over two soft acoustic guitars. This song is a lovely choice for a duet, and Kiley and Jake combine their vocals to create a truly melancholy melody. Both the original and this cover are piercingly sad, but as a duet, this one seems to feel a little sharper. I love this version and will probably play it at least once this New Year’s to keep me grounded, but if it’s a bit too sad for your New Year’s, you can always wait until January 2nd!

Though this song is a heavy dose of reality right after the magic of the holidays, it’s a welcome break from all the merriment that comes with Christmas. It may be a song about initial disappointment with the start of a new year, it still inspires me to make sure my new year is not a letdown and not to take the other 364 days of the year for granted. Happy New Year!

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