Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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The Decemberists Kings of Their Stage

Kristi Kates - July 25th, 2011
The Decemberists Kings of Their Stage
By Kristi Kates
Indie folk-rockers The Decemberists aren’t your typical West Coast hipster band. Fusing their ambitious, complex songs with everything from historical happenings to old wives’ tales and lore borrowed from sea shanties, a live Decemberists show might find the audience doing everything from singing along to watching a quirky reenactment of a ship battle to being told to “scream as if they were being eaten by a whale.”
It’s all just part of The Decemberists’ colorful stage show, which also finds the audience doing a whole lot of applauding.

SIMPLE SPACES
Much of that applause will likely be for the tuneful tracks from The Decemberists’ sixth full-length album, The King is Dead, which was released this past January on Capitol Records. The King is Dead serves as the complex follow-up to the band’s 2009 hit set, The Hazards of Love, a romantic collection of tracks inspired by Old English folk music.
Their latest songs are a little more grounded in today’s realities, in part spurred by frontman Colin Meloy’s move to a more rural neighborhood, away from the band’s homebase of Portland, Oregon.
Spare, acoustic arrangements and more of an Americana, country feel infuse The King is Dead - an approach that actually better serves to showcase the talents of songwriter Meloy and his bandmates, Chris Funk, Nate Query, John Moen, and Jenny Conlee.
“It’s a real challenge to make simple music,” Meloy says, “and a lot of times we had to deliberately hold off and keep more space. This record is an exercise in restraint.”

RURAL PLACES
Echoing the sounds of the sorts of music festivals heard in small barns and across large farmer’s fields, the album’s musical theme also inspired Meloy and crew to bring in a couple of guest stars, one who fit perfectly in to this particular album’s mindset - namely Gillian Welch, who sings on most of the album’s songs - and another, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, who served as more of a reminder of The Decemberists’ own cult status as indie-rockers who were, in turn, influenced by R.E.M.’s music.
Welch was chosen as a female foil to Meloy’s own singing, a paean to some of his own favorite country-rock records that paired up male and female singers, while Buck was snagged through the band’s connection to Robyn Hitchcock; Buck contributes guitar to two songs, as well as playing mandolin on the striking “Don’t Carry It All.”
Actually recorded in a converted barn that’s home to an annual “Pickathon” indie roots music festival just outside of Portland, The King is Dead includes even more Americana sounds, from Funk’s pedal-steel guitar to guest Annalisa Tornfelt’s fiddle work. But don’t fear, Decemberists fans - it’s still solidly a Decemberists album, even with all of these farm-fresh influences. The songwriting, the performances, and Meloy’s distinctive vocals are all intact and quite recognizable.
“The syntax of The Decemberists is definitely still there,” assures Meloy.

The Decemberists perform at Interlochen on Wednesday, July 27 at 8 p.m. Tix at https://tickets.interlochen.org/
 
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