The Seldon Plan is a post-rock pop band from Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It consists of Michael Nestor on guitars, keyboards and vocals and David Hirner on bass. Since 2008, Nestor and Hirner have used a rotating core of fill-in musicians to put out records. Although The Seldon Plan is primarily associated with the indie rock scene in the Northeast U.S., they have had national print, radio and television exposure and are featured in popular iPhone applications.
While primarily playing indie rock that is reminiscent of The Weakerthans, The Feelies, Nada Surf and Camera Obscura an aspect of their sound has been compared to that of emo. Though recent records have increasingly been influenced by both indie pop and traditional pop.
The band was founded in 2003 by original guitarist Bobby Landle and bassist Dave Hirner. Landle chose the name for the band because of a lifelong fascination with Isaac Asimov. In late 2003 Hirner and Landle met Michael Nestor while he was working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Maryland School of Medicine via an ad placed on a local music website. The band played a few shows using a drum machine and sometimes with fill-in drummer Austin Stahl. The earliest Seldon Plan demos feature Stahl on drums. While playing shows, the trio met drummer Mike Landavere, a traditional jazz drummer, and decided to take the band more seriously allowing Stahl to work on other projects like The Beechfields Record Label, which released the first Seldon Plan EP.
The Seldon Plan started off by playing in non-traditional venues in and around Baltimore like art galleries and DIY spaces. Many of their early shows were part of the DIY renaissance that began in the Baltimore music scene around 2004. During the early history of the band, they gained notoriety by inviting artists, poets, and filmmakers to display their work at their concerts.
With the line-up of Landle, Landavere, Hirner and Nestor, The Seldon Plan took on a busy tour schedule during 2005-2007 releasing two critically acclaimed full-length records and playing shows with Explosions in the Sky, The Stills, Now It's Overhead, The Octopus Project and Matt Pond PA. In August 2008 the band announced the addition of a new drummer and a new guitarist as both Mike Landavere (drums) and Bobby Landle (guitars and vocals) left the band. The Seldon Plan was subsequently highlighted along with Joan as Policewoman and Jason Mraz in the December, 2008 edition of the Music Alive! magazine.
In April 2009, to announce the reformation of the band, and promote their new record, Lost and Found and Lost, the band offered a limited-time-only free download of the title track. The single was immediately highlighted by The Baltimore Sun in a multimedia showcase and Arts & Life piece discussing creativity as an outlet for economic woes.
The Living Room EP was released in 2003 on The Beechfields Record Label. Although thought to be a well-produced demo, the CD was picked up by a number of college and internet radio stations and earned the band some local notoriety including a review in Allmusic.
In 2005, The Seldon Plan released their first full-length, Making Circles. Making Circles received an overwhelming number of positive reviews in the United States and in Europe. The record was featured on NPR, and was named a top 40 record of 2005 by the influential indie magazine The Big Takeover. The record was also featured in a number of indie films, including one that aired on Current TV in October 2005. Songs from Making Circles were also featured in some episodes of the lonelygirl15 series, a T&C Surf Design advertisement and some early iPhone applications. Although originally released by Baltimore-based label OTPRecords, Making Circles was subsequently picked up by the internet-only record label Magnatune.
In October 2007, The Seldon Plan released their second full-length The Collective Now on Magnatune. The Collective Now was quickly named one of the "Best Baltimore albums of 2007" by The Baltimore Sun. Again, songs from this album were licensed by lonlygirl15 and by Simplify Media for its top-rated music-streaming iPhone app. The Collective Now received some national exposure when it was discussed as part of the music debate referred to as the loudness wars. Referencing the loudness of the Magnatune release of the record, Nestor was quoted saying, "we had to compromise our principles to get noticed." The band then re-released a re-mastered version of the record in December 2007 on The Beechfields Record Label. This re-mastered version of the record was a response to the loudness wars debate. Referring to this new, quieter version Nestor said, "We're so awash in a sea of loudness, we forget what records that don't sound like that-sound like.".
The Seldon Plan's third full length, Lost and Found and Lost released in June, 2009, tackles the economic collapse of 2008 and the subsequent election of President Barack Obama. Featuring an all new line-up, the record is influenced by temporary members Dawn Dineen and Matthew Leffler Schulman. Lost and Found and Lost has been described as "catchy simple melodies awash with lush vocals, hip full guitars, and a hint of Flaming Lips" and “smart pop with no wasted space”.Lost and Found and Lost landed another "top 40" record bid from The Big Takeover, and is the bands most pop-influenced record to date. Although Nestor was wary of putting social and political commentary into his music, the album has been described as Nestor's personal reaction to the economic recession of 2008. After embarking on an east-coast tour to support the record, the band has announced work on a new CD. Both Nestor and Hirner have said that the new CD will be darker than Lost and Found and Lost and will feature a new cast of backup musicians.
In 2011, The Seldon Plan released their fourth full length, titled Coalizione del Volere. The record features new members Frank Corl and Chris Ehrich and is a return to the more angular guitar rock oriented pop sounds of Making Circles. The record tangentially deals with the theme of mass marketing in the digital age as described by Nestor, “I used to go to the record store and buy a tape, take it home and pop it in the cassette player and pull out the liner notes," Nestor says. "Then I'd go to school and find two or three people that liked the same band and they would be my best friend. Now it's like the whole school is your best friend. How is the listening experience special? I think that's why vinyl is making such a comeback, because you don't get mass marketing. You actually have to take the record out, put it on a record player and listen to it."
- The Living Room EP (2003), The Beechfields Record Label
- Making Circles (2005), OTP Records
- Live at the Creative Commons Salon (2006), Magnatune
- The 2007 Magnatune Records Sampler (2007), Magnatune
- The Collective Now (2007), Magnatune (re-released on The Beechfields Record Label)
- This City of Neighborhoods (Beechfields Compilation Record) (2008), The Beechfields Record Label
- Lost and Found and Lost (2009), The Beechfields Record Label, (re-released on Magnatune)
- Coalizione del Volere (2011)