Friday, February 25, 2011

Down By The Water

To continue our week of indie jams, I decided to go with a band that actually isn’t so indie anymore. Hell, even my mom probably knows who The Decemberists are these days. I remember being in high school listening to Castaways and Cutouts for the first time, and absolutely falling in love with the band. Singer Colin Meloy’s storytelling style, the grandiose nature of the half chamber-pop, half indie-folk sound; it just clicked for me. Never mind the ever-present likening to Neutral Milk Hotel (I always swore it was just because of the similar album art!), the band was making awesome music and clearly had something to say. I’ll be honest though, by the time The Decemberists signed with Capitol Records in 2005 and released The Crane Wife, I gave up. Songs weren’t as eloquent or fun anymore, but the band was only growing in popularity. I heard bits and pieces of the band’s other Capitol offerings, but it was more than disappointing...especially the failed indie-rock opera/musical thing. Then came last month’s Billboard Charts – The number one position filled by none other than The Decemberists. And you know, I think they truly deserve it.

Down By The Water, the first single from The King is Dead, meshes The Decemberists’ folk and pop sound with the new album’s heavy influence of traditional and alternative country. It seems it’s time to retire pairing the adjective of “theatrical” with the band. The song in particular is more straightforward than anything I’ve heard The Decemberists do. Things are simple here – nothing spectacular or extravagant, but I feel that’s what makes it so likable. Lyrics aren’t bogged down with medieval themes that just wouldn’t fit in an Americana-tinged tune. However, that’s not to say it’s missing the wittiness Meloy is more than capable of crafting for this genre. He’s actually done it before – the track (and the rest of the album) is extremely reminiscent of Meloy’s work in Tarkio, the band he fronted before he became a Decemberist. Down By The Water is heavily influenced by R.E.M., and it’s no secret, either. Peter Buck, guitarist of the aforementioned pioneers of alternative rock, even appears as a featured guest on the song. That being said, I think it plays a major part in why I completely dig it. The track retains the spirit of what I've loved over the years, but opens doors to a new era for a band that has truly lived the dream.

Down By The Water--The Decemberists

No comments:

Post a Comment