The single “Down By The Water” from the Decemberists’ new album The King Is Dead has an obvious single feel to it, that and it is simply just a darn good song. The two bareboned songs “January Hymn” and “June Hymn” have a drowsy feel to them. “Don’t Carry It All” instantly reminded me of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” with similar beat and harmonica, and a strong example of the mostly mid-tempo songs here. The songs “Vox In The Box” and “Calamity Song” are excellent examples of this as well. “This Is Why We Fight” has a more alternative rock sound than the alternative country flavor of this entire body of work.
The diversity of tempo is obviously a priorty that works like a charm. “All Arise” and “Arise To Me” are more country than most country music, although that is not very hard to do these days. Singer/songwriter Colin Meloy has stated the stripped down sound is acually harder to do than past efforts were. Chris Funk guitar/multi-instrumentalist, Jenny Conlee hammond organ/accordion/melodica/piano/keyboard, Jason Query bass guitar/string bass, John Moen drums/melodica/backing vocals, complete the group lineup.
The King Is Dead is a major departure from 2009′s The Hazards Of Love, and a four star recording in an already strong showing for alternative music in 2011. With a start like this, the alternative genre is really setting itself up for an excellent year. I am extremely encouraged by the offerings so far this year — and it is only January.
Contact the Author: KennethEOquist@ArtsandEntertainment.com