Its story-time, folks. Gather around your chosen device emitting stereo symphonic sound, get comfy and settle in for a fantastical tale. Colin Meloy and the Decemberists are the authors of our story and while Meloy was not likely a pirate, knight, mobster, or criminal in a past life his imagination will have no problem trying to convince you otherwise.
Formed in 2000, Colin Meloy along with Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, and Nate Query released their first EP the following year and were all too easily classified as just another indie folk rock band. Luckily they used their first full-length album, Castaways and Cutouts, as a stage to show just how they intended to set themselves apart.
While Meloy’s nasally vocal inflections may be an acquired taste, they serve to highlight the elaborate stories that unfold in the lyrics. The band employs instruments such as the accordion, Hammond organ, upright bass and Wurlitzer organ to create a lush, vintage backdrop for Meloy’s quixotic historical allegories. With such an ambitious vision it was hardly surprising to hear that their 2009 release, Hazards of Love, was initially envisioned as a staged musical.
With their sixth studio album The Decemberists go back to basics with a less dramatic, stripped down sound influenced by Country, Blues and Folk. Taking the time to explore the catalog of this unique indie staple is sure to be a worthwhile adventure.
If you like: Death Cab for Cutie, The New Pornographers, R.E.M., The Shins, Sufjan Stevens
Check out: The Decemberists (Start with The Crane Wife, continue with Castaways and Cutouts, graduate to Hazards of Love and The King is Dead)
Feeling brave: Neutral Milk Hotel, Norfolk & Western, The Long Winters, XTC
AI level: Intermediate