Sunday, September 21, 2008

Musical Elective Of The Week

After a month-long hiatus following the relocation of the Optimists, Optimist Junior, and Optimist Dog from Madison to Stoughton, Wisconsin, this feature is finally back on track....

The Musical Elective Of The Week Month is The Decemberists.

The city of Portland, Oregon is good for so many reasons. It's one of our favorite places. It has great food, great wine, great coffee, great bread, and great bookstores. Well, maybe not good weather (perhaps that explains the umbrellas?). But it also provides The Decemberists. So that makes up for the occasional rainy day.

The Decemberists are songwriter and frontman Colin Meloy, multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen. They burst onto the indie music scene with 2003's Her Majesty, The Decemberists and followed that up with 2005's Picaresque which includes the track "We Both Go Down Together". But it probably was The Crane Wife that earned them the immense attention they now receive.

The Crane Wife, released in 2006, is a masterpiece of an album. It's not a collection of songs. It's an album. Inspired by a Japanese folk tale of the same name, the album features "The Crane Wife 3" and the singles "O Valencia!" and "The Perfect Crime #2". It was voted the number one album of 2006 by National Public Radio listeners.

The Decemberists are anchored in Meloy's brilliant songwriting and are fueled by his unique voice and the band's lush instrumentation. As a band, they are hard to categorize musically. They are certainly cerebral, but also can deliver some compelling pop hooks. Without hearing them, perhaps a combination of folk, art rock, and rock is the most apt description.

Expect a new album from the Decemberists sometime in 2009.

The Decemberists will play select dates on the East and West Coasts during the month of November 2008. So, if you're lucky enough to live in those cities, go check them out.

To learn more, check out their web site.
My girl, linen and curls
Lips parting like a flag all unfurled
She's grand, the bend of her hand
Digging deep into the sweep of the sand
--"Summersong," The Crane Wife (2006)

Extra Credit--Past Musical Electives of the Week:
Ron Sexsmith
Kasey Chambers
Lucinda Williams
Great Big Sea
Griffin House
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
Neil Finn
Ray LaMontagne
Stuart Stotts
Dan Wilson
Kathleen Edwards

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