Monday, October 09, 2006

Playing name that tune with The Decemberists

I've really been back and forth on The Decemberists for some time, and I somewhat dreaded taking on the new album The Crane Wife as a result. While leader Colin Meloy writes some incredible lyrics, his voice (much like Death Cab For Cuties' Ben Gibbard) can sometimes cause me to do myself bodily harm - perhaps it's the masochistic timbre which triggers it, I'm not sure entirely.

Album: The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

That's why it's a pleasant surprise that I've found The Crane Wife to be not at all grating, and in fact, quite enjoyable. It might just be the 'soundalike' game that I've been playing though.

First up is the second track, "The Island, Come and See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll not Feel the Drow" which is, make no mistakes here folks, PROG ROCK. The song goes through more changes then Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and at about 6:12 (it's a 12+ minute song, again PROG ROCK) The Decemberists rip into some Emerson Lake & Palmer-like rock, fully realizing the ELP factor at around 8 minutes.

Next in on the homage is "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" which is carried in duet by the great Laura Veirs. It's a bit of a stretch, but if you're in the right place, the song starts with the guitar opening from "Waiting on a Friend" from The Rolling Stones, but by the time Veirs joins in, you've forgotten that the Stones appears.

What cornocopia of sound would be complete w/o some Talking Heads? "The Perfect Crime #2" accomplishes this perfectly, relying on the classic groove from "Life During Wartime." Once again, the chorus not so much... but get back to that verse, and that David Byrne shines through once more.

The last comparison I'll shine is for "When the War Came" whose verse has an eerie similarity to Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter." Decemberists copping Led Zep? Yes, it's there.

You'd think all this "Name That Tune" would be distracting, but somehow the album works in spite (or because of) this eclectic source material The Crane Wife seems to draw from.

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

1. The Crane Wife 3
2. The Island, Come and See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel the Drow
3. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
4. O Valencia!
5. The Perfect Crime #2
6. When the War Came
7. Shankill Butchers
8. Summersong
9. The Crane Wife 1 and 2
10. Sons and Daughters