Tag Archive | "The Decemberists"

Eyelids OR – 854

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Eyelids OR – 854

Posted on 04 October 2015 by Dorian

Nearly a year ago we reviewed the debut album 854 by the Oregon band Eyelids, and it was one of our favourite releases of the year. The band have added the “OR” part to their name for this release to avoid confusion with another act and signed to Charlatan Tim Burgess’s Ogenesis label.

Eyelids OR 854

You can read the full review of the album which sounds even better 12 months later. If you buy 854 on a physical format you also get 6 bonus tracks to enjoy. Only one of these is a new Eyelids original, the other being covers plus an alternate take of ‘Psych #1’, but they are definitely worth a listen.

Fingers crossed that the long awaited UK release of the album will lead to a tour on these shores some time soon. Watch this space for Eyelids news as we get it.

By Dorian Rogers

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Top Ten Albums of 2011….so far

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Top Ten Albums of 2011….so far

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Joe

Welcome to our round up of 2011’s album releases so far. Our early thoughts are that compared to the same time last year 2011 hasn’t been as great. True, there’s been some fine albums, but far less competition to get into our top ten and only one runaway contender for the top slot.

The list below  picked itself fairly easily but whereas in June last year we pretty much already our Top 20 Albums of 2010 list in place. There were a handful that did narrowly miss out though, and are more than likely to feature in our end of year Top 20. These include Johann Johannsson’s classical masterpiece Miners’ Hymns and newcomer Alice Gun’s Blood and Bone.

Another feature of this year’s list is the dominance of American acts with a folk, country leaning, with just three UK acts making our list and one Canadian.

Sit back, get your early Christmas lists ready and enjoy Neonfiller’s Top Ten Albums of 2011 ….so far.

10.Singing Adams – Everybody Friends Now

Featuring former Broken Family Band singer songwriter Steven Adams this UK act hark back to a golden era of indie music from the likes of Teenage Fanclub and The Wedding Present. Underpinning this debut are some damn fine tunes. The future of UK indie music is in safe hands. (Read our full review here)

9. The Leisure Society – Into the Murky Water

A beautiful, inventive and thoroughly English pop record that more than matches this former Willkommen Collective act’s stunning debut The Sleeper. (Read our full review here)

8.Bill Callahan Apocalypse

With its stripped back feel, punctuated with squealing electric guitars and flutes, Apocalypse can be an unsettling listen at times, but not for too long as Callahan’s luxuriously deep voice has a calming influence and can easily draw you back to normality.  (Read full review here)

7.Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Timeless harmonies and lush pastoral folk arrangements are the hallmarks of Fleet Foxes and this their second album sticks close to the formula. It’s beautiful stuff at times, with real care taken over production values. (Read full review here)

6. The Decemberists – The King is Dead

A  change of pace and style for Colin Meloy’s band on an  album that is most influenced by the radio safe country pop of REM.  (Read our full review here)

5. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

John Darnielle’s song writing and survival instincts grow stronger with each release.  With three different producers there’s a surprising consistency as The Mountain Goats expose their hidden demons and offer some bittersweet tales of the famous along the way, from Charles Bronson to Judy Garland.  Uplifting stuff.  (Read our full release here)

4. David Lowery – The Palace Guards

The Palace Guards is the first solo album from Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven front-man David Lowery. It’s taken a while but  its worth the wait as this is among his best work. (Read the full review here)

3. Okkervil River- I am Very Far

The Texas act are back with an ambituous, cinematic indie rock album.  Among our highlights are opener ‘The Valley’, with pounding drums and a string arrangement that is part ‘Bellbottoms’ by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, part Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. (Read our full review here)

2. Destroyer – Kaputt

Although this was the only one of our Top 10 that made NME’s lacklustre Top 50 albums of 2011 so far list, don’t let that put you off. Dan Bejar has never sounded better, harking back to an early 80s sound, it is part Prefab Sprout, part New Order as Bejar takes the role of world weary rockstar reminiscing in style. (Read our full review here)

1. Darren Hayman – January Songs

Our runaway top placed album goes to former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman and his successful attempt to write, record and release a song a day in Janaury. Not only did he come up with 31 excellent and diverse songs,  featuring a range of artists such as Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris and Spanish band Litorol, but he also created a multi-media experience that gave his audience a unique insight into the song writing process. Each day to compliment the song, he also released a video, video diary and artwork. People were invited to submit ideas and help with lyrics and our co-editor’s runaway dog Arthur even inspired a song. January Songs is a  superb effort that is going to take some beating if it is to be toppled from first place by December. (Read our full review, including a link to buy this download only album, here)

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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The Decemberists – The King is Dead

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The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Dorian

When I first heard the Decemberists, on Picaresque, I was interested by their sound and impressed by the musical execution on the album. It wasn’t an album I fell in love with though and I wasn’t tempted to buy the follow up record, The Crane Wife.

Their 2009 album, The Hazards of Love, was a different story entirely, I came to it late last year and was immediately blown away by it. A folk-rock opera with a multitude of overblown ideas and over dramatic guitars it was unlike anything else I’d heard in years. It was a record that was pretentious and unpredictable but one that encourages the listener to stick with it from start to finish to appreciate the whole picture. As such it is an album at odds with the single song buying public and one that the critics didn’t quite know what to do with.

The King Is Dead

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

The King is Dead is a real change of pace and style for Colin Meloy, an album that is most influenced by the radio safe country pop of REM.

Initial review reaction to The King is Dead has been split between “Boring, not as exciting as The Hazards of Love” and “Brilliant, not a pretentious mess like The Hazards of Love”. That seems to make me the winner here as I love The King is Dead and I loved The Hazards of Love as well.

The King Is Dead isn’t as exciting a record as its predecessor, and the scope is definitely more modest. It is a classic country rock album that has hints of early Wilco, mid period REM and late period Camper Van Beethoven, whilst sounding like The Decemberists throughout.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

Opening track ‘Don’t Carry It All’ is one of the standout tracks and sets things up perfectly. Chunky acoustic guitar, harmonica lead off the song which includes a range of beautifully played acoustic instruments (including mandolin by Peter Buck, who guests on several tracks). Meloy’s vocals well on this kind of music and seem less affected than on previous outings. They are balanced perfectly by Gillian Welch’s backing vocals, present on most of the albums 10 tracks.

The album is well paced balancing country rock stompers, like the aforementioned ‘Don’t Carry It All’ and the spritely ‘Calamity Song’ with ballads including the pedal steel drenched ‘Rise To Me’ and the beautiful ‘June Hymn’.

Many of the lyrical themes match the more pastoral feel of the album but they cover a wide variety of themes. One of Meloy’s finest skills is making songs seem simple and poetic whilst managing to make them reveal more with each listen. Classic themes or love and loss and death are covered with real subtlety and skill.

It is true that The King Is Dead sounds like a safer option than on previous outings, but when it is executed this well that need not be a problem. The fact that The Decemberists can produce such diverse work in the space of two albums is something to treasure. It means that you have no real idea what they’ll produce next, which is both exciting and unusual.

9/10

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