Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Decemberists

I just discovered The Decemberists recently, thanks to, and I can't get enough of them. I'm nothing of a music junkie, so I lack the vocabulary to describe their sound. They definitely compare to Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle and Sebastian, but no one I know (except S of course - he's super cool. Like me!) has any idea who I'm talking about, so that's not helpful. Plus, they're way better than either of those two bands.

They take their name from a failed Russian revolt against Tsar (Tzar? Czar?) Nicholas I during December 1825. Many of their songs have an historical or literary context, and they often tell imaginative stories that range from enchanting to gruesome. They're sort of hipster balladeers. I'm definitely more literarily than aurally inclined, so I'm particularly drawn to the lyrics, but their melodies are also lovely.

One of my favorites songs is "Leslie Ann Levine," a morbid ghost story about a premature baby whose ghost wanders the rooftops, her only companion a chimney sweep who was lost inside a flue in 1842.
My name is Leslie Ann Levine
My mother birthed me down a dry ravine
My mother birthed me far too soon
Born at nine and dead at noon
Another one I can't get out of my head is "The Engine Driver," which tells of several different characters - an engine driver, a county lineman, a writer, and a money lender - all of whom are asking, "If you don't love me, let me go." This verse is particularly haunting:
And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
"16 Military Wives" is one of my favorites although it seems a little out of character for The Decemberists. It's an anti-jingoistic little ditty whose perky pop tune belies its political message. Here's the upbeat, rousing chorus:
Cheer them on to their rivals
Cause America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on t.v.
Goes la-di-da-di-da
The Decemberists are coming to the Gypsy Tea Room on October 25th, and I plan on going although I'm usually loath to attend organized events on a school night no less. Yes. I am willing to stay up late on a Wednesday for the Decemberists. I would love some company if anyone's interested or at least curious. If anyone wants to make a trade, I will accompany you to a show or event no one else is interested in if you need the company. AND, I promise to have fun and be enthusiastic. The only thing I'll ask for is a ride, so I can safely fuel my enthusiasm with vodka.

The Decemberists travel exclusively by Dr. Herring's Brand® Dirigible Balloons.


SerenitySprings said...

I might be interested in going, provided school hasn't killed me by then. Let's talk more this weekend.

-S- said...

Check out their music video of "16 Military Wives". It's kinda interesting.

Blogger doesn't even auto-link obvious URLs? How lame is that?