Sailing by Night
Spring Break 2002
The Piano in the Bathtub
Gravity's Greatest Victory/Rev Snorted Coke
Origin of Love
Forty Dollar Rug
We Have to Respect Each Other
The Curious Butterfly Realises He Is Beautiful
The Horse You Ride
Ghost in Summer Clothes
Department of Eagles – The Cold Nose
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The most eclectic record yet to be released on the Melodic label, Department Of Eagles’ The Cold Nose is possibly the only album this year with beats even smarter than DJ Shadow. A bold statement we know, but more than that…songs that make your spine tingle yet rock like The Pixies and some noodletronics to make the Fourtetkid606manitobatypes sit up and take note.
Department Of Eagles are a pair of 23-year olds who conduct their operations from Brooklyn, NYC. Once-roommates and college pals Daniel Rossen (vocals and guitars) and Fred Nicolaus (beats and samples) are the dynamic duo and have been pouring together ideas for years now. This debut was written when the fellers were teenagers and then produced by Fred’s pal’s dad Jeff Saltzman in his studio in Berkeley, Califorinia. Jeff is now slightly famous for having produced The Killers’ Hot Fuss album and is now about to embark on the new Morrissey record. But of course he’s kept January free for them to record the next D of E album. Thanks Jeff.
‘About halfway through the first year at college, Dan played me a few beats he had made in high school. I started making my own little tracks for fun, and after I had three or four, I decided it would be a fun project to make an album of these things. It pretty much went from there’. Before that, their predilection for the bands that’ve flavoured all our formative tastes – Green Day, Nirvana et al – schooled them well in the art of song that would later be precipitated in moments like Origin Of Love and the Dan-penned The Piano In The Bathtub. That Fred and Dan’s seminal musical years have coincided to such a degree only helps further the dynamic of Team Eagles, each partner adding something different to the pot. Fred is responsible for, perhaps the more squirrelly stuff like 40 Dollar or Horse You Ride, Dan’s keen ear for melody and no-fat approach to songwriting yielding the more ‘complete’ moments like Sailing By Night and Ghost In Summer Clothes.
To this extent, The Cold Nose certainly has a capricious feel. It’s very much a record enthused by the spirit of fun, of the love of creation rather than the desire to perfect, unsullied by outside opinion or expectation. ‘When writing material for the album, one way that worked for us to agree on stuff would be for it to be funny and weird. If we could laugh about the song or find it charming in some way, it was easier for both of us to contribute to. Secondly, we didn’t really know what we were doing. Some of the songs on the album were done when we were eighteen years old, messing around with samples in a college dorm room, assuming we would be the only ones to hear these things.’
Nowhere is this more evident than in the tracklisting, extrapolating ideas from in-jokes; cryptic phrases becoming seeds of inspiration for their work. For instance ‘The Piano in the Bathtub ‘ is about the photographer Cindy Sherman, and Romo-Goth ‘ is essentially gibberish’. Noam Chomsky Spring Break 2002,’is based on ‘a spring break trip that Dan and I took to Boston. We tried to break into Noam Chomsky’s office at MIT. It didn’t work’. Full points for trying, though: ol’ Noam could’ve put the experience toward a dissertation on the phenomenon of fan-dom or something.
Fred’s optimistically low-key about the future of the record, but seems keen to get into the swing of being an international genre-straddling music hero even if ‘the small amount of attention we’ve gotten has been somewhat crazy’. For example ‘Some guy just emailed me the other day, he wants me to DJ his pig roast. As payment, he’s offering cake, beer, and free roast pig’. Just don’t let that get out to any venue managers or they’ll be greeted by a tea-party rather than a rider.