Subterranean; Wed 17
Sometimes disparate isolated individuals come up with similar innovations simultaneously. Thomas Edison wasn’t the only electric lightbulb inventor—just the first to successfully market it. When Certainly, Sir’s Michael Brodeur and Klaus Hubben sent their early demos to Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard in 2001 (Brodeur’s old band the Wicked Farleys had been friendly with DCFC), they were quite surprised to hear that Gibbard was also crafting a dreamy blend of indie pop and electronica with his new side project the Postal Service. Despite the distance between their hometowns of Boston and Seattle, there was some healthy overlap of stick-in-your-head songwriting, soft-spoken vocals and pulsing, synth-driven rhythms.
While the Postal Service was a one-time affair, Certainly, Sir has been progressing steadily since its bedroom Pro Tools beginnings, fueled by mingled loves for New Order, Kraftwerk and dub reggae. With Hubben providing the clever beats and Brodeur the cleverer words, they assembled a backing band and hit the road opening for the Promise Ring and American Analog Set. Amazingly, after two sublime overseas albums, including last year’s sleek and sophisticated TAN! (featuring guest vocals from Gibbard), and kudos from the British press, it’s still without a domestic record deal.
Still aiming for the dance floor, Certainly, Sir’s been showing more of its rock-band roots lately, adding incredibly dynamic drummer Jeff Galusha (ex–Vehicle Birth) and relying less on computer sequencers. Like local loopy trance rockers Michael Columbia, the group’s heavily but not exclusively electronic, with Brodeur’s hushed croon and chiming guitar offsetting the synths and vocoderized background vocals. Opening things up live and letting the songs breathe, Hubben and Brodeur prove they may be slaves to the rhythm—but never to the technology.—Ben Taylor