The Decemberists Gong Their Way into Hipsters' Hearts Everywhere. - Oh My Rockness

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The Decemberists Gong Their Way into Hipsters' Hearts Everywhere.

September 22, 2004
When a guy from Montana with a Creative Writing degree and an obsession with 19th century Russian rebels starts an indie rock band, you just know it's going to be interesting. The Decemberists are certainly that. Colin Meloy uses his wonderfully weird pipes to sing theatrically quirky and ambitious tunes that leave you both enraptured and giddily confused.

Meloy's epic lyrics are backed and fortified by a cosmic array of eclectic instrumentation. The resulting sound seems a product of a bygone era and a distant land. Meloy's songs tend to champion the unheard plights of such characters as chimney sweeps, French legionnaires, seafarers, aristocratic Jewess gypsies, and other "castaways" that society scornfully shuns. The band's fantastical leanings and eccentric musicality is rooted in folk but is transformed Decemberists-style with swirling acoustic guitars, rapturous organs, accordions and even a theremin. The music often has a jovial beat that offsets the morbidity of the lyrics.

It's Meloy's off-kilter wit and sophisticated songcraft that likens them to such influential bands as The Mountain Goats, Belle and Sebastian and Neutral Milk Hotel. But really, The Decemberists are truly like none other. I don't remember any other band playing the Soviet Anthem before taking the stage, or bringing a massive gong with them on tour, or being nearly as captivating. We may not fully understand The Decemberists' world, but we're sure glad to scratch our heads as we rock out to it.

Lo-fi hero Lou Barlow opens. Just as important as Stephen Malkmus ever was to what we now know of as indie rock, Barlow is perhaps the most prolific songwriter of his generation. Not only did he release half a dozen albums with the beloved Sebadoh but he also found time to be in two other critically acclaimed bands, Dinosaur Jr. and The Folk Implosion. And just to show he isn't even close to being burned out, he has released several other albums under different monikers. The man can do it all and shows no signs of slowing down. Go to the show and perhaps one day you can say you saw the legendary Lou Barlow.

The Decemberists play with Lou Barlow, Monday, September 27th at Webster Hall.


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