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The Decemberists -- The Crane Wife


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Pitchfork as a review of "The Island: Come and Sea/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll not Feel the Drowning".

I'm excited for the Crane Wife as well. I think the Decememberists are one of the most exciting and challenging bands out there today. I think it speaks volumes for Capital to take a risk by signing them, they don't seem the most marketable bands out there.

It is worth seeing the Decemeberists on the road as well. I've seen them three times before, each time at a bigger venue. They keep getting better and better live. They are polished, fun, and engaging. Did I mention risky? Last year at Seattle's annual Bumbershoot festival they had an afternoon spot on the mainstage. In front of thousands of Dashboard Confessional fans ready to sing every word they opened with all 20 minutes of the five part rock-opera "The Tain". I could not believe it, talk about gutsy. The crazy thing is, they pulled it off. No one seemed bored, they loved it. In fact, about 4 songs into Dashboard Confessional's set, the crowd started filing out. They totally stole the show.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Guest thom_jurek

I have a copy. Got it Friday, and have been so busy I haven't had a moment to even break the seal--it's one of those watermarked advances that have all the ridiculous warnings on them. I will try to get i to it today because I dig the band a lot.

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I'm eagerly anticipating your thoughts about it Thom. I know Alan doesn't like too much bean spilling before release dates, but a "it's great, it's really great" would be enough to please me.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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I'm eagerly anticipating your thoughts about it Thom. I know Alan doesn't like too much bean spilling before release dates, but a "it's great, it's really great" would be enough to please me.

I'd like to hear more about this policy, however official or unofficial it might be. I know that I do a fair amount of bean spilling before release dates, and this is the first I've heard that that might be against board policy. I'll certainly respect whatever policy Alan has in place. I know that for me, I "spill the beans" because 1) I tend to write about whatever music excites me at the moment, and 2) I get a lot of advance copies of albums, and by the time they're officially released, I've usually moved on to other music and wouldn't necessarily think to come back to something I heard a few months back. But I'll respect whatever policy is in place.

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I hadn't heard anything about such a policy when it comes to music; I know we respect the rules that film studios issue concerning advance screenings of new movies, but as far as I know there's no problem with talking about advance music early. Alan, did I miss that memo?

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I hadn't heard anything about such a policy when it comes to music; I know we respect the rules that film studios issue concerning advance screenings of new movies, but as far as I know there's no problem with talking about advance music early. Alan, did I miss that memo?

Well if its not against board policy in music, let the beans be spilled.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Guest thom_jurek

I hadn't heard anything about such a policy when it comes to music; I know we respect the rules that film studios issue concerning advance screenings of new movies, but as far as I know there's no problem with talking about advance music early. Alan, did I miss that memo?

OH yeah there is. Pitchfork gets away wioth it by reviewing import titles of new albums.--check their reviews of botyh Scott Walker's the Drift (over a month early because that's whenthe UK edition came out) and Primal Scream's Riot City Blues (again, over a month early because of the UK edition despite the American version contains bonus tracks). If we wanted to (the All-Music Guide, thgat is) we could publish anything we wanted to early, but then would have to contend with labels going apes#%$ about it and independent publicists who are hired by some labels for really biog releases--SHore Fire for all Bruce Springsteen, Carla Sacks for most Nonesuch releases, Tmumba for Tom Waits, etc.--not sending us early advance copies. IN the case of some Springsteen records we've had to sign waivers not to publish early. Same with Heido Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald for Cash, Tom Petty, Slayer, etc.. We are held to not publishing until ther Friday before relewase date and we don't until the Monday before--less than 24 hours.

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OH yeah there is. Pitchfork gets away wioth it by reviewing import titles of new albums.--check their reviews of botyh Scott Walker's the Drift (over a month early because that's whenthe UK edition came out) and Primal Scream's Riot City Blues (again, over a month early because of the UK edition despite the American version contains bonus tracks). If we wanted to (the All-Music Guide, thgat is) we could publish anything we wanted to early, but then would have to contend with labels going apes#%$ about it and independent publicists who are hired by some labels for really biog releases--SHore Fire for all Bruce Springsteen, Carla Sacks for most Nonesuch releases, Tmumba for Tom Waits, etc.--not sending us early advance copies. IN the case of some Springsteen records we've had to sign waivers not to publish early. Same with Heido Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald for Cash, Tom Petty, Slayer, etc.. We are held to not publishing until ther Friday before relewase date and we don't until the Monday before--less than 24 hours.

I've had to sign the same waivers, and I don't have a problem with what they're asking me to do: refrain from discussing the contents of my review until 1) the album has been released, and 2) the review has been published in the magazine for which the review is copyrighted. I've taken a similar approach for albums I've reviewed for All Music Guide; that is, I'm not going to cover the specifics I cover in my review, but I've made more general comments about yet-to-be released albums here.

But I don't see how a discussion on Arts & Faith would violate those terms. For example, I just wrote some comments about Mindy Smith's yet-to-be-released album Long Island Shores. I talked about the album in general terms, and didn't discuss specific songs. I'm also reviewing that album for Paste Magazine, and have in fact already written my review. But except in the broadest sense (my overall impression of the album remains the same, both at A&F and in Paste), I haven't duplicated any material, and my review reads nothing like what I posted here.

Admittedly, this is something of a grey area for me. I understand why artists and publicists want to protect the material until it is released. But I have a hard time believing that that extends to general discussions on Internet lists, that, if anything, tend to whet the appetite of the readers for the upcoming albums. Am I off base here? I'm willing to have my understanding changed.

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Are the labels worried about negative reviews? It seems to me that if the album is any good, any publicity, early or not, is good for creating a buzz around the album. Or is it a case of "don't talk about this album, wink, wink"?

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Total bragging rights. The decemberists are from Portland (also where I am from. In fact, I am actually on one of the corners mentioned in "At the bus mall."

Sorry, I have to do that. I won't tell you about seeing Jenny Conley on the light rail every so often. Oh wait, I just did.

End bragging rights, lol.

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Guest thom_jurek

Total bragging rights. The decemberists are from Portland (also where I am from. In fact, I am actually on one of the corners mentioned in "At the bus mall."

Sorry, I have to do that. I won't tell you about seeing Jenny Conley on the light rail every so often. Oh wait, I just did.

End bragging rights, lol.

the album is GREAT, GRET, GREAT.

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The earliest Decemberists stuff is my favorite. Five Songs has an understated glow to it reminiscent of the earliest Belle & Sebastian singles.

After that they just got too overblown and cabaret-oriented for my tastes, and the fake Robyn Hitchcock vocals started to grate.

but i'll probably give this a listen, if only because Tucker Martine can turn anything into gold

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You know, I am starting to get excited about this album. I have only ever dabbled in The Decemberists, a few songs here and there; I have not yet gone so far as to purchase an album. We went to a Colin Meloy solo show last spring that was ... delightful. I feel as if I have been standing on the edge and this is my chance to jump in and enjoy this creative band.

Yes, I think I am going to go ahead and let myself be excited about this album. ::w00t::

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Curious bedfellows: Capitol/Pitchfork/The Decemberists

At any rate, Pitchfork is hosting an exclusive MP3 of "Summersong" from the Decemberists forthcoming album the Crane Wife. Here is the link. I haven't been able to download it myself, but when I get home from work I'm all over it like white on rice.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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I heard "Perfect Crime #2" on the radio this morning, and it's like the band didn't have the usual number of quarters for their Wayback Machine and had to stop in the 70s. Imagine Colin and friends over a full-out disco strut.

I only heard it through my clock radio, and I've wanted to listen to it again all day. I'm definitely looking forward to this album.

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I've been listening to "Summersong" quite a bit lately and I daresay I'm impressed. It is nothing new as far as the Decemberists go, but it succeeds in the same way the best Decemberists songs succeed: it sounds effortless. It is like a warm summer breeze, it feels good. It sounds exactly as it should. You get the impression that song has to exist, it feels that effortless (in a good way, by no means does it sound like they're going through the motions.)

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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I love it. This is immediately my favorite album that these guys have done-- tighter and more focused than Picaresque, with better songs and a more cohesive thematic arc. They do things we've never heard them do before-- there are Led Zeppelin stompers, a bluesy number, a three-part prog-rock suite-- but the best moments, I dare say, are when they refine and expand their signature folk-rock sound, which has never been more beautiful, more emotive, or more melodic. And the lyrics are, of course, delightful, every bit as literate as before but with a bit more of an emotional whallop.

GREAT record.

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With the Hold Steady love-fest going on around here I was begining to think this album was lost in the shuffle. I ordered my copy from Amazon last week but it was just shipped today. I guess thats the price you pay for free shipping.

I'm glad this seems to be getting really good reviews. I think the Decemberists are a truly great band that have nary a dull moment. I'm really looking forward to it arriving in the mail. In the meantime I can imagine what it must sound like. From everything I gather it is Picaresque + the Tain.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Yesterday, I picked up the new Decemberists, Hold Steady, Beck and Sparklehorse albums. And this is the one that I've wanted to spend the most time with, which is saying quite a bit, considering the competition. (Although to be fair to The Hold Steady, I've been streaming their album almost non-stop for the past few days.)

I'm just so taken with the sheer scope of this album. Maybe it's been the mixing in the past, but Meloy's voice has always felt a little bigger than the music to me, sometimes almost to distraction. But not so here.

It's great, indeed. It's as if they set out to record Picaresque + The Tain in the 1870s and ended up in the 1970s by mistake: whirling organs, strutting percussion, and even some feedback in parts.

Right now, I'm riveted by the exploration and ambition of this album. It'll be interesting to see if I'm still as captivated once that initial feeling wears off. I have a feeling that I will be.

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I'm beginning to think that The Crane Wife is one of the best war-time albums of its era. None of these stories are set in Iraq or Bush's America-- in fact, none of them seem to be set in modern times at all-- but they're brimming with painful truths about human nature, about love and hate and violence. Colin Meloy's words are rife with meaning and pathos-- they're witty and wise, often very funny, and just as often very unsettling. It's a brutal testament to human depravity, and Meloy somehow makes it easy to swallow.

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Umm...so yeah...this is really, really good.

You really have to give the Decemberists credit, they must be one of the hardest working bands out there. They tour constantly and still have time to write, record, and release an album a year. And what is more, this may be their most definitive album as a band. It certainly still has the Decemeberists "feel" to an album - Meloy's narratives and wilting vocals, tender ballads, jaunty stompers, etc. Yet, they move beyond that. This is the most full they've ever sounded as a band. Now they also slink and slither, it's the sexiest album they've ever made. I'm always impressed by the Decemberists, but this is better than I expected.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Umm...so yeah...this is really, really good.

You really have to give the Decemberists credit, they must be one of the hardest working bands out there. They tour constantly and still have time to write, record, and release an album a year. And what is more, this may be their most definitive album as a band. It certainly still has the Decemeberists "feel" to an album - Meloy's narratives and wilting vocals, tender ballads, jaunty stompers, etc. Yet, they move beyond that. This is the most full they've ever sounded as a band. Now they also slink and slither, it's the sexiest album they've ever made. I'm always impressed by the Decemberists, but this is better than I expected.

I like this album more and more. I was initially thrown by some of the prog rock in "The Island" (shades of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; yikes) and the 12-minute suites, usually a sure sign of the apocalypse. There are still some curious choices (putting Part 3 of the Crane Wife before parts 1 and 2, for example; those wacky artists), but overall the songs are strong, and Colin Meloy continues to be the most interesting trad folkie with thesaurus working today.

As Josh mentioned above, there is a strong anti-war sentiment to the album. "Yankee Bayonet" is the album's highlight for me, a Civil War song that sounds surprisingly contemporary. Laura Veirs, whose solo work doesn't do much for me, is the perfect harmony vocalist.

I do wish Meloy would lose the faux-Cockney accent, though. Sometimes he's a dead ringer for Robyn Hitchcock, which is fine if you're Robyn Hitchcock, but a little offputting for a guy from Missoula, Montana.

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I've been going back and forth for "Yankee" and "Sons and Daughters" for best moment on the album. I had a vision the other day while listening to the later. I was at a festival, the Decemberists were playing. They ended their set with "Sons and Daughters". As they reached the chorus members of all the bands that played that day came out onto the stage and begin to join in. Soon, the whole audience joined along. There were 10,000 people singing in unison, "Hear all the bombs fade away." Then I had a vision I was a worship leader and I adapted the song for a congregational setting. The congregation was singing a song of eschatalogical hope and rather than singing the typical refrain of "peace like a river" we were singing "hear all the bombs fade away." Then I snapped out of it.

I do wish praise song writers could write songs akin to "Sons and Daughters", while recognizing the need for Bibilical vocabulary, excercising a little theological imagination in your songwriting never hurt anyone

Edited by Kyle

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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