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Music / Built To Spill

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Built To Spill is an American indie rock band, which consists of singer/guitarist Doug Martsch and a revolving door of other members. Having played in a number of other bands in Idaho throughout the 80's, Martsch formed Built To Spill in 1992 with drummer Ralf Youtz and guitarist/bassist Bret Netson. Taking cues from the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Neil Young and Pavement, Martsch and company gained critical praise for their catchy sound and musical proficiency. Their style would in turn be heavily influential on fellow indie rockers such as Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie.


Every album after their first release has featured a different lineup of backing musicians, which is something that Doug Martsch specifically planned. Their most recent album, Untethered Moon, was released in 2015 and they continue to be one of the more highly regarded bands in modern indie rock.


  • Ultimate Alternate Airwaves (1993)
  • There's Nothing Wrong With Love(1994)
  • Perfect From Now On (1997)
  • Keep It Like A Secret (1999)
  • Ancient Melodies Of The Future (2001)
  • You In Reverse (2006)
  • There Is No Enemy (2009)
  • Untethered Moon (2015)


The band provides examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The subject of "Fling".
  • Adorkable: Several of their music videos come off this way.
  • Badass Beard: Doug Martsch usually sports a fairly bushy beard.
  • Band of Relatives: Not a straight example, but Martsch is married to the sister of former drummer Ralf Youtz.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Martsch had previously played in a few other highly regarded bands, such as The Halo Benders and Treepeople.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Stop the Show", "Living Zoo"
  • Epic Rocking: Not the most extreme example, Perfect From Now On was noted for containing longer song lengths than usual, with most songs on the album clocking in at about 6-8 minutes.
    • Notably, the live version of "Broken Chairs" as well as their cover of "Cortez the Killer" (both from the Live album) are both around 20 minutes long.
  • I Am the Band: Martsch's vision from the get-go would be to record each album with a different lineup of musicians each time. He's released some solo material, but Built To Spill has basically always been "The Doug Martsch Band".
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  • Lyrical Dissonance: A few songs feature upbeat-sounding riffs with somewhat depressing lyrics.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They usually keep it in the 3-4 range.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Martsch's vocal style sometimes falls into this territory.
  • Rock Trio: The original incarnation, anyway.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup" is named after a fictional song mentioned in Philip K. Dick's "Flow My Tears", The Policeman Said. The verses are largely based on "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" by Velvet Underground
    • "Dystopian Dream Girl" mentions David Bowie and his album Lodger.
    • "Planting Seeds" mentions Bill Hicks: "I think Bill Hicks was right / About what they should do". Based on the previous lines "I heard that they'll sell anything / and I think they might", it's a likely allusion to a monologue Hicks had about how advertising executives should commit suicide.

  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Lyrically, they're somewhere in the middle.


Example of: