Spending the Season with the DECEMBERISTS

Falling in Love with The Crane Wife

Now I will be the first to admit I have been slow to get on the Decemberists bandwagon. (Real slow and now if I could kick myself, I would.) This situation has been made worse by a full mailbag and a backlog of listening. That's normally a good thing, unless something really good gets buried for far too long - which is the case here.

I cracked open my copy of "The Crane Wife" about 36 hours ago and am instantly a fan. Being obsessive about all things awesome - this meant me going back over the last 16 hours and listening to everything the band has ever produced. Check.

This new album, I am pleased to report, is markedly better than their prior two (which I listened to last night with my friends in their urbane villa north of the city in Somerville.) I listened to The Crane Wife driving to their apartment in the pounding rain, and once there we discussed it together. These musical sophisticates already had the album and were fans. We popped the first two discs into the player. They too agreed that the Crane Wife was the far superior but that the earlier releases had their moments. An excellent Thanksgiving indeed. (The end result is that today's blog is almost "Decemberists review by committee!")

Awash with lyrical intrigue and potent musicianship, I found The Crane Wife to be right up my alley. It's probably something you would like too. On many levels, the album is near perfect - but there are two particular successes in the recipe of The Crane Wife that are worth talking about: Singer-Songwriter Colin Meloy steps back just a bit in this album and allows the rest of the band to fill the space. Meloy is still a dominant figure, but the music is remarkably strong. This was an excellent move as the players are just too damn good to be covered up. It has allows the songs to elongate and take life of their own.

And with the emergence of the Decemberists sound comes sonic experimentation - the second success - on The Crane Wife. This album is firmly rooted, but peeks into the world of progressive rock. The use of the organ and unconventional instruments which underscore often irregular time signatures are a treat. This too helps serve Meloy's quirky lyrics and unusual voice.

Rambling, where to begin?
I tasted summer on your peppery skin
Been saved, the warm of the waves
I felt a slip into a watery grave.

My girl, linen and curls
Lips parting like a flag unfurled
She's Grand, the bend of her hand
Digging deep into the sweep of the sand

And summer arrives with a length of light
And summer blows away and quietly gets swallowed by a wave

Waylaid, the din of the day
Boats bobbing in the blue of the bay
All the dead sailors slowly slipping to sleep

And summer arrives with a length of light
And summer blows away and quietly gets swallowed by a wave

Artists– Decemberists Contest for You!

The good folks at the Decemberists want you to know there is a contest for artists going on right now: It’s called "Re-Animate the Decemberists" sponsored by mtvu.com. The band has almost completed their video for “O Valencia!" This involved them standing and acting before a giant green screen which will later be filled with animation. This animation and artwork will be created by their fans. And therein is the contest! What do you think belongs in the background for the video? Since it is a contest, there are prizes involved. Check out MTVU.com for details.



Ryan Spaulding said…
Oskar is the friend I was visiting and discussed the band with - not just your regular run of the mill fool.
Paperslut said…
Possibly one of the best albums of 2006. And by Decemberists standards, right up there with Picaresque.

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