Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fencewalking with The Decemberists

It was appropriate to see the Decemberists in cartoon form as they accompanied the packaging of their latest escape to the land of the lost. Lost what? Some seem to think that The Crane Wife is the best thing they have ever done while others don’t even want to talk about the malaise that this album brings about compared to their prior workings. Is this their “cartoon graveyard,” the colorful suicide of sound that they have been planning for our ears since the rumors of a switch to the big leagues?

It’s hard to say. The entire album enjoys a heavy story arch filled with tricks and trades that the Decemberists have hidden deep in their pockets. Prog-rock, modern fuzz, freakity folk, and extended Japanese lullabies make The Crane Wife different than anything they have ever done but that doesn’t necessarily mean good. I am on the fence as far as this album is concerned, especially after going back and listening to Castaways. If this leads to their death I am calling for a resurrection of “Leslie Anne Levine” and the shanties of old. Whose with me?

[mp3] The Decemberists – Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
[mp3] Colin Meloy – Shankhill Brothers (Live)
[mp3] Colin Meloy – O Valencia (Live)
Buy The Crane Wife at Insound.

I know this might be yesterday’s news (or more like last year’s) but there really isn’t a more appropriate time to bring out a track from Colin Meloy’s former band, Tarkio. The band, a precursor to the Decemberist dream, is about as R.E.M. as Meloy has ever gotten. Stipe and the gang c
ould have easily backed “Helena Won’t Get Stoned” if Colin and the boys had only named themselves after a city that had more of a population than 10.

[mp3] Tarkio – Helena Won’t Get Stoned
Download Tarkio at eMusic.


Anonymous Jeff said...

I'm on the side of the fence that thinks this album is quite wonderful. Great songwriting as always, but sure, maybe not for everyone.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm leaning that way also. Well, hold on, I do think it is quite good but I guess I prefer the older stuff more. If some no name artist came out with this then it would be pretty exciting. Its a hard game to play sometimes when fans' desires get involved.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'll buy it and give it a bunch of good listens before deciding, but I'm willing to love it.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

The fence is definitely a great place to be on this album. I've listened to it a few times and it hasn't displaced any of their prior work's hold on my musical heart. Maybe it's a grower so I'll give it time. It's still better than most bands on the major label merry-go-round though, so let's hope this at least garners them more fans and thus more recognition because they definitely deserve that.

4:18 AM  

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