The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear and Land of Talk play BIG in Central Park. - Oh My Rockness

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The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear and Land of Talk play BIG in Central Park.

July 11, 2007
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By know the whole world knows about Colin Meloy and his motley band of gypsy pals. Over the last few years, The Decemberists have transformed themselves from beloved little indie band on tiny Kill Rock Stars records, to beloved commercial sensation band on mammoth Capitol Records. And, of course, they're headlining a Central Park Summerstage show (with Grizzly Bear and Land of Talk) that will draw thousands of fans. So that's pretty big. Who knew "P.H.D. Pop" could appeal to such a wide audience?

Colin Meloy's literary and highly theatrical tales of vagabonds, outcastes and society's destitute somehow managed to strike a chord with all different types of music listeners. This was only supposed to be for Lit majors and Mountain Goats fans (perhaps that's the same thing?), not teenagers in the throws of "prama" (see New York Times for definition). But I've definitely spotted some 15-year-olds rocking out to The Decemberists.

The band's success isn't that surprising when you really think about it. Meloy has a very nice (if nasally) pop voice that you can sing along too, and the songs are certainly catchy. And there are all sorts of climaxes and choruses to be found in the Decemberists' orchestral repertoire that make listeners feel like they're experiencing something resembling emotion. But who could've predicted that pirate music would be so hip?

Also playing is Brooklyn's bigger-by-day, Grizzly Bear. This fanciful band can been likened to the wonderful folk wackiness and child-like wonder of Animal Collective and the magic of Montreal's Miracle Fortress. Fans of both Sufjan Stevens' mellow, melodic voice and The Unicorns' weirdo rock should be into Grizzly Bear too.

Grizzly Bear expertly gathers an eclectic collection of disjointed -- oftentimes creepy -- sounds and couples them with lush, layered vocals. It sounds like soundtrack to your wackiest dreams. You know, the kind of dreams where you wake up and go, "How the hell was that in my head?"

Opening is Montreal's Land of Talk. Singer Elizabeth Powell has often been compared to P.J. Harvey and Chan Marshall of Cat Power. Her voice does sound like Marshall's at times, especially during the band's rare slower moments, and her lyrics do have some of that same angsty sass that Harvey has, but what this trio from Montreal really sounds like is a "big" band.

Land of Talk's songs are definitely guitar driven -- they fuzz, they swirl, and they have up-tempo choruses that would sound good in stadiums (or big parks). Land of Talk will probably be pretty popular. And they're just another reason Toronto is right now thinking: "Montreal must be stopped!"

The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear and Land of Talk play Central Park Summerstage, on Monday, July 16th.

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