Posts Tagged ‘Indie folk Rock’


When the new album from The Decemberists, “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World” comes out on 20th January – it will have been just over four years since their last release, During this time Colin Meloy  the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, Has written no fewer than three Wildwood fantasy novels that were received with, uh, wild enthusiasm and illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis.  Meloy spoke about how writing the series affected the songs on the record and generously gave context to where The Decemberists are now by commenting on all their releases to date.

Hear Colin play songs from the forthcoming album and enjoy this great opportunity to get to know the man and the band much more intimately.

It is impossible for any character to make it through an entire Decemberists song without drowning; heaven help us if anyone ever relates the tale of Atlantis to Colin Meloy, who will immediately begin to shake and bleed and spew out song lyrics about sailors walled up in catacombs and ancient queens’ abortions if he ever learns that there is an entire drowned city in the annals of folklore. If someone is not drowning, they are merrily rattling their scimitars in the Boer Civil Spanish War or flinging infants into cisterns and committing gang rape in coastal cities. Here is a thorough and exhaustively researched list of all of the prosecutable felonies named in The Decemberist’s six studio albums; may their sentences be extensive.
Castaways and Cutouts, 2002

Infanticide, “Leslie Anne Levine”
Bootlegging, possible manslaughter, “July! July!”
Rape, multiple counts; aggravated assault; kidnapping, “A Cautionary Song”
Rape, assault, assault with a lethal weapon, “Odalisque”
Election fraud, “Cocoon”
Possession of a controlled substance (Class I), “The Legionnaire’s Lament”
N.B. The admission of “paying [one’s] debt to society” in “California One” is inadmissable, as library fines do not qualify as a felony, no matter how large the amount owed

Her Majesty The Decemberists, 2003

Criminal threat and assault, “Shanty For the Arethusa”
Indecent exposure, “Billy Liar”
Assault and battery, infanticide, “The Bachelor and the Bride”

Picaresque, 2005

Providing alcohol to a minor, “The Infanta”
Rape, criminal liability in relation to suicide, “We Both Go Down Together”
Murder of a police officer in the line of duty, treason, bribery of a public official, “The Bagman’s Gambit”
Aggravated assault and battery, “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”

The Crane Wife, 2006

Assault and rape, “The Landlord’s Daughter”
Murder in the first degree, “You’ll Not Feel The Drowning”
Manslaughter, suspected arson, “O Valencia”
Kidnapping, grand theft, manslaughter, “The Perfect Crime #2″
Criminal threat and murder in the second degree, “The Shankill Butchers”
Bribery of a police officer, multiple counts; kidnapping, “The Perfect Crime #1″

The Hazards of Love, 2009

Murder in the first degree, three counts; desecration of a corpse “The Rake’s Song”
Kidnapping, “The Abduction of Margaret”

The King Is Dead, 2011

There are no felonies committed in The King Is Dead. While “scores of innocents die” in “Calamity Song,” the fault cannot be pinned on the narrator; the “you” in “All Arise!” commits multiple acts of theft,


The Decemberists don’t have a single bad record in their discography. You could also say it’s pointless to categorize their work in the first place since it all follows the same solid formula of old-timey musicality, Dickensian vocabulary, and highfalutin storytelling. But we’d argue that while every Decemberists album does indeed feature these things, it’s to differing degrees and always done with a specific mission in mind. Luckily, we’ve outlined these slight changes in temperature for you, from the dark outcast sympathy of Castaways and Cutouts to the country leanings of The King Is Dead. Where their seventh studio album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (out January 20th), will land on the spectrum is anybody’s guess, but we can almost guarantee it will be a variation on a theme we’ve come to love.


While The Decemberists’ debut, “Castaways and Cutouts”, was never anything short of literary in its aspirations (and is a more solid set of songs front-to-back), Her Majesty the Decemberists was the band’s first release that could truly be called theatrical. For hard evidence of this, look no further than the seven-minute manifesto “I Was Meant for the Stage”. With the help of horns, keys, strings, and bells, Colin Meloy and company spin tales on Her Majesty that maintain the richness of their previous works (the 5 Songs EP and Castaways), but also bring their musicianship and lyricism to new heights. Songs like the sly “The Soldiering Life”, about men who are more than just battlefield comrades, showcase Meloy’s ever-expanding vocabulary — “bombazine” is just one of the words on Her Majesty that no indie rock lyricist had ever employed and probably never will again (it’s an archaic fabric made of silk and/or wool, in case you were curious). As exciting as it was to see The Decemberists best themselves on 2005’s Picaresque, they could’ve laid down their instruments after Her Majesty and still have had a rich body of work to be proud of.


Though I’ve never heard anyone argue it’s The Decemberists’ best album, “The King Is Dead” might be the most accessible, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard 200 thanks to a cast of cameos that included singer-songwriter Gillian Welch and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. According to Meloy, the band’s sixth album reflects a retreat from the lavish British progvfolk that underpinned Picaresque, The Crane Wife, and The Hazards of Love in favor of more stripped-down American folk influences. Seeking to craft “first-person meditations, rather than third-person fantasies,” Meloy penned many of the album’s 10 tracks while settling into his new home amidst Oregon’s Willamette River and Tualatin Mountains. “January Hymn” and “June Hymn” are both firmly rooted in these surroundings, as is the harmonica-drenched “Don’t Carry It All”.

Likewise, “Down by the Water” — brimming with an accordion, harmonica, Peter Buck’s 12-string, and Welch’s resounding vocals — sounds fulsome but never turgid. “This Is Why We Fight” chronicles the wastes of war with an icy clarity, while the country closer, “Dear Avery”, sends us off with meandering pedal steel and angelic female harmonies. A tight album with almost no filler, The King Is Dead has The Decemberists breaking away from their signature sound to try something new.


Two Christmases (or Decembers!) ago, I told a friend I had just watched my second-favorite Batman movie, Batman Returns. “Ah,” he nodded. “When Burton goes total Burton.” “Exactly!” I said, before he told me he actually hated the film. Regardless of our differing views on its quality, we both agreed it was The Dark Knight at his most extreme, an unapologetic story where all of the things fans love — and hate — about him get brought to the forefront in grotesque, gothic glory.

So if we’re talking about “The Hazards of Love” in cinematic Batman terms, this would be the record where Meloy goes full Meloy. Sure “The Crane Wife” took The Decemberists’ love of yarn-spinning up a tier by featuring two songs about the same Japanese myth, but Hazards is a full-blown rock opera with a complete beginning, middle, and end to its long-form narrative. Your feelings toward the tale of forbidden love between a young woman and a sylvan shape-shifter — not to mention Chris Funk’s Sabbath-esque guitar theatrics, the multiple character voices, and a choir of ghost children — largely depend on your taste for the histrionic. But love it or hate it, the band’s unwavering loyalty to their vision demands respect. After all, how many true rock operas have there even been in the 21st century


“Castaways and Cutouts” opens with a song told from the perspective of a dead girl. Leslie Anne Levine’s mother “birthed me down a dry ravine,” she tells us, and the combination of macabre, vivid lyrics, and whimsical accordion tell you most of what you need to know about The Decemberists’ debut. In between Leslie Anne’s unfortunate story and the dreamy escapism of “California One / Youth and Beauty Brigade” at the close, Colin Meloy and his cohorts sketch a number of lushly detailed (albeit ominous) pictures, from a mother of dubious profession (“A Cautionary Song”) to romance in impossible situations (“Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect”) and an especially morose New Year’s Day (“Grace Cathedral Hill”). Despite the general cloud of gloom, Castaways still showcases some of the sharpest and most enjoyable storytelling in The Decemberists’ catalog, and lays the groundwork for more ambitious triumphs such as Picaresque and The Crane Wife.


Her Majesty and, to an extent, Picaresque both contained a few allusions to existing pieces of literature (“Song for Myla Goldberg”, “Of Angels and Angles”, etc.). But on “The Crane Wife”, Meloy gets more epic, pulling from a Japanese myth for the multi-part title track and Shakespeare’s The Tempest for the 12-and-a-half-minute “The Island”. Unlike The Hazards of Love, however, The Crane Wife‘s stories are simple enough to enjoy without having to read along on the lyrics sheet, making it the most user-friendly Decemberists album (other than maybe The King Is Dead) to new fans. Also, while the tale at the center does involve a shape-shifting crane, the words stay rooted in the difficulty of marriage and romantic expectation, a topic that far more of us can relate to than a transmogrified bird.


Kicking off with a cathartic shriek, Picaresque is The Decemberists’ most extravagant and brazen offering, at least musically speaking. Anchored by the delightfully outlandish lyrics of Colin Meloy and Chris Funk’s instrumental bag of tricks (hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, and mountain dulcimer all make an appearance), the band’s third album earned them universal critical acclaim and an instant cult following.

But whereas the equally spectacular Hazards stuck to one story, Picaresque covers an insane amount of ground. Evoking impending doom and the blinding ecstasy of love, frantic violins frame a star-crossed couple’s struggle on “We Both Go Down Together”. Unable to reconcile his sweetheart’s sordid past (“tattooed tramp”) with the stifling expectations of an elitist patriarch, the singer finds suicide to be the couple’s only form of salvation: “And while the seagulls are crying/ We fall but our souls are flying.” There’s also a self-conscious ditty about athletic incompetence (“The Sporting Life”), a diatribe on the rigidity of socioeconomic hierarchies (“The Engine Driver”), and an eight-minute gypsy rock saga chronicling naturalistic calamity, exploited kindness, and masochistic retribution (“The Mariner’s Revenge Song”).
“16 Military Wives” is another notable entry as, unlike Picaresque‘s other songs, it takes its inspiration from real life, serving as an anthemic rebuke of President Bush and the media’s lame response. Backed by a majestically swirling organ, Meloy belts out in righteous frustration, “If America says it’s so/ It’s so!/ And the anchorperson on TV/ Goes la-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da!” Touting a more sparse arrangement, closing track “Of Angels and Angles” finds the singer sounding wounded and exposed over nothing except a gentle acoustic guitar. It’s a fitting testament to an album whose diversity not only defined The Decemberists, but inspired a whole generation of Pacific Northwest folkies. A full decade later, its reverberations are still being heard.

Cheshire based indie-rock trio The Luka State released  the single ‘Rain’ in the summer of 2014 – a superb, powerful indie ballad covering a solemn subject matter, and which reminds us of Doves and Richard Ashcroft.

Pale Seas anticipation of the release of their debut album, are filming and recording acoustic versions of the tracks off the record. There will be tracks you’ve heard before, along with totally new tracks off the album. They released their EP Places to Haunt earlier this year and will tour the record across the country in October and November,The past year has seen burgeoning Hampshire four-piece Pale Seas sail the ocean of success as they plot their ascent to stardom.

The band, which is formed of Jacob Scott, Graham Poole, Matthew Bishop, and Will Hilliard, are on the cusp of becoming household names as their ethereal and moving brand of guitar pop quickly impresses the music world.



I am hearing this on BBC adverts all the time,It is a song that really sticks in your mind, taken from the early EP “The Wild Youth”  check out the wonderful debut album “If You Leave” on 4AD Records, Elean Tonra Hushed Dreamy vocals added to the guitars of Igor Haefell and later added drummer Remi Aquilella