2011 releases

The Decemberists – The King is Dead

So I’ve purposely held off posting about this one because, to be honest, with all the conflicting reviews that were coming out of this record before it was even officially released it was hard to go into it with an open mind.

Here’s the thing: “The King Is Dead” definitely plays like one of the easiest albums The Decemberists have ever put out. This is good, in that it’s easily their most accessible release in years, bad in the fact that it pisses off a lot of music bloggers who seem to have expected more from them. That said, it’s probably a tough, tough world we live in when a record that sounds like it was “easy” to make is a bad thing. After all, simplicity is sometimes deceivingly complex.

Actually, Colin Meloy spoke exactly to this point recently, when he said of the album:

“It’s a real challenge to make simple music, and lot of times we had to deliberately hold off and keep more space. This record is an exercise in restraint.

Sometimes I kind of miss the epic-ness of the other albums, but it’s nice to get all of the information across in three minutes. It’s like going from reading a novel to reading a bunch of short stories.”

So what’s my take on the album? It’s good.
The tunes on here are instantly listenable, and for someone who likes excessive playing of the harp – like myself – then you’ll love this album. And there are some serious highlights in here, particularly the much-spread “Down by the Water”, and “Don’t Carry It All”.

The problem, though?

I just called it a “good” album.

Listen: The Decemberists – Don’t Carry It All

2011 releases

The Mountain Goats – Damn these Vampires

The-Mountain-Goats-All-Eternals-Deck Damn, but this song has been on constant rotate for the last week. The opening track to the Mountain Goats’ upcoming album, “All Eternals Deck”, finds John Darnielle doing what he does best… spinning a yarn that absolutely sucks me in from the opening line.

Listen: The Mountain Goats – Damn These Vampires

All Eternals Deck is out March 29, via Merge.

2011 releases

Iron & Wine – Walking Far From Home

[Edit: So, today I was trying to find this post on my blog, in anticipation for Iron & Wine’s new release out next week. After trying in vain, I found it… still languishing as a draft. Turned out I never actually hit the publish button. As such, most of you will have already heard this track, but for those who haven’t… well, it’s probably apt timing. Anyway, now this edit is just about longer than the actual post, so I’m just going to hit “Publish” now. Kthx.]

I was walking far from home
And I found your face mingled in the crowd
Saw a boat-full of believers
Sail off talking too loud, talking too loud

– Iron & Wine, Walking Far From Home

Love. This. It might take a few spins to get into (at least if you prefer your Sam Beam less synthy), but once you get into it, it’s just a wonderful, wonderful journey. And how cool is that “ooh” refrain to end with?

Listen: Iron & Wine – Walking Far From Home

“Walking Far From Home” is off Iron & Wine’s forthcoming “Kiss Each Other Clean”, due out Jan 25, 2011.

2011 releases music videos

The Damnwells make me fall in love with them, all over again. Werewolves [VIDEO]

Alex Dezen (image credit: Heather Conley)

So, I know it’s been quite some time since I written about the Damnwells on this blog. But – despite the fact that I still haven’t got my copy of the “Golden Days” dvd Alex, ahem ahem – I still can’t shake my love for the guys. Especially when they post things like this; Werewolves, from their upcoming album, “No One Listens to the Band Anymore”.

“No One Listens to the Band Anymore” is out March 2011, from PledgeMusic Recrodings / Poor Man’s Records (Redeye Distribution).
What that means is that you can “pledge” towards the album here:­s. There’s still plenty of good spots left… I just pledged $25 to get a signed copy of the CD and a t shirt.

There are some bands you just come back to. And I guess, for me, The Damnwells will always be one of them.

2011 releases music videos

Elbow – Lippy Kids (live at Blueprint Studios) [VIDEO]

Bloody hell, this is beautiful.

Elbow’s “build a rocket boys!” is out March 7th.

2011 releases

G Love – Fixin’ to Die

What do you get when you add one Garrett “G Love” Dutton, two serves of Avett Brothers, and one incredible vision? You get one friggin’ excited Burgo is what you get.

More importantly, you get the new G Love album, “Fixin’ to Die”, due out February 22, 2011 on Brushfire Records.

Before I get to the trailer, some background on my love for Garrett Dutton. First, you have to understand that this is a love affair going back about 12 years now. G Love has given me one of the best concerts of my life, and has always been one of my musical idols. I’ll let that post from two years ago do most of the talking, but I will pull out one particular part of it:

G Love is, to me, one of the most complete musicians of my era. While his brand of blues and funk sometimes seems interminable to those who need their songs packaged into 3:30 min format, to me G Love hearkens back to a time when a blues man knew what he was talking about. When a blues man paid his respects to those who came before him, but produced more than homage; an innovator. And someone slightly out of step with time.

Honestly, my feelings on the dude haven’t changed. I’d really suggest you read that past post, or perhaps look at my G Love Live Music Friday post for more information on the guy.

For now though, let’s look forward to the future… and the album that has me all worked up, with scarcely a tune released…

I seriously, 100 percent cannot wait for February to roll around. Sing on G, sing on.

2011 releases

The Decemberists – Down by the Water (featuring Gillian Welch)

If you seriously can’t wait for the Decemberists’ next album, The King Is Dead,to hit shelves on January 18, Meloy and Co. have a little something to tide you over… a free (for the price of an email address) download of their first single, “Down by the Water“; which, by the way, features the always-lovely Gillian Welch.

“Down by the Water” is a welcome return from the band, following the underwhelming Hazards; on this track they’re back to doing what they’ve always done best: spinning a kick-ass, slightly dark yarn over some wonderful interplay between a mass of instruments. Bear in mind, traditionally people have either loved or hated Colin Meloy’s voice, so you have a 50/50 chance of loving this song.

I hope you love it though.

Download by putting your email into the box below.