Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beneath the Tilt-a-Whirl

Some may call it a sellout. I call it damn fine music.
I have been aware of The Decemberists, and their front man Colin Meloy, since the beginning of their musical run. How could I not be, my early pop music compass was Colin’s uncle, Paul. Paul introduced me to REM’s “Gardening at Night” (the Athens band’s first LP) and to Joy Division before there was a New Order.
I met Colin once. I think he was 17. He corrected my butchering of David Gray’s lyrics as I belted out “Made Up My Mind” in the house Paul and I rented in college. Charitable to a fault, Colin made no mention of my vocal miss-stylings.
I was an early fan. The Decemberists, “Shiny,” from their first EP, “5 Songs”, still sets my back ashiver (click below). But try as I might, I just couldn’t keep the fire burning for the Portland based band regardless of their critical and financial success. 
The spark has returned. The Decemberists’ new LP “The King is Dead” delivers everything I want and need in a prog-rock-folk-alternative-Americana album without the hyperliteration. Colin’s minstrel-esque accents are cut to a minimum and replaced by an unadorned, energized clarity of voice. Other highlights include Gillian Welch’s graceful, home rooted harmonies enhancing several tracks such as, “Down by the Water” and “All Arise!”. My favorite cut, “Calamity Song” is, thanks to Peter Buck, the best REM song REM never recorded.


The New Album: The King is Dead

Munk's Opening line:

I couldn't pull the trigger. 

Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk