The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Funny… The Decmberists revolt in Russia… The Boxer Rebellion in China… what is with all these intellectual, literary minded bands who take their names from famous uprisings? I guess proof that smart writers and well written songs make for good bands!
And as my friend Patrick says, proof that Rock N’ Roll is all about revolt and rebellion!!!
My brother has been raving about this from the moment it came out, so since we were hanging together in DC and he kept telling me how amazing it was, I figured it was high time to muse it over.
I have had this one for a while, but somehow it did not make it into my iTunes, which is why I think it has not been brought up earlier. I know KCRW likes this band, and I have heard various older tracks there and elsewhere, but the credit for today will all go to Dan.
I love this kind of music… this folk, alt. country, rock hybrid thing. They remind me a lot of two phenomenal bands, The Low Anthem and Gin Blossoms. Funny story… I was friends with a bunch of guys in a band called The Brothers. They were playing a club in LA and I asked if I should come and see the band who was on before them. My buddy Vince said not to rush over as they were not that good. So I walk in on the last two songs of Gin Blossoms, who needless to say were amazing, and went on to become one of my favorite bands. Doh! I was not happy about missing them in a tiny LA club, but since Vince introduced me to my beloved Peter Himmelman and The Gear Daddies, I trusted him… Obviously we had a difference of opinion here.
To say The Decemberists have a thing for R.E.M. (Peter Buck guests on three tracks) would be a huge understatement. Just listen to the opening strains of “Calamity Song” and tell me that would not fit on an R.E.M. album. Same with “Down By the Water!” Some critics and fans might say it is a little too like R.E.M., but I dig it.
They are also very influenced by The Band, Neil Young and The Smiths and British/Irish folk-rock groups like Fairport Convention, XTC and The Waterboys.
Plus, anytime you have Gillian Welch singing anywhere near you, you know stunning beauties and harmonies are not far behind.
The critics have been drooling over this one, and it actually debuted at Number One in Billboard, which makes the fact that Colin Meloy is walking away and taking a multi-year break all the more crazy. He is apparently a talented literary writer as well, and is off to work on some books, including some young adult books with his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis. Like Garry Marshall says, “if you can do one thing well, you can usually do many things well.”
So enjoy this one while you can. It may be a while before another album!