June 17, 2011 |
Before the Decemberists took the stage to their perkily macabre "July! July!" at the sold-out Academy of Music on Wednesday, the Colin Meloy-fronted Portland, Ore., folk-rock band was introduced by Sam Adams, the mayor of their hometown. Announcing that he was speaking live from a geodesic dome floating above the venue, the prerecorded Adams urged everyone to turn and greet fellow concertgoers, and to imagine themselves in a windswept Pacific Northwest rain forest where suddenly a band emerges from a grove of Douglas fir trees . . . . the Decemberists!
November 3, 2006 |
Among people who like that sort of thing, Colin Meloy - ringleader of the Portland, Ore.-based folk-pop collective the Decemberists - is the most satisfyingly literary songwriter to emerge from the recent crop of indie-rock luminaries, which includes the likes of the Shins and the Postal Service. Others find his tune-smithing to be cloying and contrived, like an English-class apple-shiner who makes sure that his essays always incorporate alliteration, onomatopoeia and at least three examples of simile and metaphor - just because he can. A bookish, blocky man with an owlish countenance and the physique of a chatroom habitue, Meloy writes songs best described as historic pulp fiction, a faux remembrance of all things past.
April 17, 2007 |
The pop music schedule this year at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts is the best in many a summer, with choice shows including double bills of John Prine with Patty Griffin, and Lyle Lovett with k.d. lang, a pair of stylish front men in Morrissey and Rufus Wainwright, and both Elvis Costello and the Decemberists playing along with the Mann Festival Orchestra. The Mann is far more intimate and comfortable than the Tweeter Center, but for the last several years the Camden amphitheater, and Philadelphia's Festival Pier, have been bogarting the good shows.
January 30, 2006 |
As helmsman for "the famed shanty troupe the Decemberists" (as advertisements for Friday's solo show proclaimed), Colin Meloy conjures archaic worlds peopled with infant queens, chimney sweeps, and French Legionnaires. Meloy sets word-rich character studies to jaunty melodies often rooted in old English ballads and Slavic folk songs. But accompanying himself on 12- and six- string acoustic guitar before a sold-out, quietly attentive crowd at the Theatre of Living Arts, Meloy veered from the more fanciful songs in his catalog in favor of obscurities, cover versions and new material, most anchored in contemporary reality.
August 14, 2009 |
Like so many genre labels, folk music is a malleable term. Does it denote roots music from regional sources, played by nonprofessional musicians? Or acoustic music with an overt political content? Or something that reclaims and archives traditional songs? Or has the term become, as Colin Meloy fears, so vague and amorphous that it's nearly meaningless? "Most people, when they hear the word folk music, just assume it's any sort of pop-derived music that features an acoustic guitar centrally," he says.
January 22, 2004
I'm in my mid-40s and I'm an active fan of rock-n-roll, both old and new. According to Dan DeLuca ("The Power of Hip-Hop," Jan. 18), I'm really out of it. Also hopelessly out of it are the 20- and 30-something musicians in the new bands whose music I'm enjoying lately, bands like the Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie. Come to think of it, I have three boys, ages 10 to 16, none of whom has ever listened to a hip-hop record. I guess they're out of it, too. And why are we all out of it?
October 24, 2003 |
Garage rock fans are in luck tonight, as some of Detroit's finest light the Fire: the Hentchmen, who ably cover Devo and Big Joe Turner, the white-go-go-booted Gore Gore Girls - who seal the gap between the Shangri-La's and the Stooges - and the Paybacks, raw rock 'n' roll led by the whiskey-throated Wendy Case (10 p.m. 412 Girard Ave., 267-671-9298, www.iourecords.com). Mod-power pop band the Phobes play Tritone tonight with the Brothers Gieda DJs spinning punk, beat, soul and more (10 p.m., 1508 South St., 215-545-0475, $5)
December 10, 2006 |
Record stores are closing and sales of downloads - and ringtones - are soaring. Short attention spans and iPods continue to make listening to a CD all the way through seem ever more anachronistic, like reading a Victorian novel or dropping a coin into a pay phone. So does it even make sense to use full-length CDs as the artistic yardstick to assess the musical merits of 2006? It does - for now, anyway. Though CD sales are down 5 percent compared with last year (a figure offset slightly by increased legal downloading)
December 11, 2011 |
Putting together a Top Ten list of the best albums of 2011 isn't the toughest job in the world, but when there are virtually no barriers to making music and distributing it on the Internet, it can be a challenging one. Sometimes the difficulty is wading through the muck - with a laptop, anyone can make a record, and sometimes it seems as though everyone did. But once you focus on the good stuff, you remember that there was a lot of it, dating...
December 8, 2006 |
Local singer-songwriter Cynthia G. Mason has been a fixture on the indie rock scene since the mid-'90s, when she started putting out cassette-only recordings on her own label, Spiderwoman Records. The 32-year-old West Philly native is gentle enough for the 'XPN/Lilith crowd, but her darkly observant lyrics and intricate guitar picking have earned her comparisons to Cat Power, Suzanne Vega and Kristin Hersh. She took a break to study at Temple Law School and is now a public-interest attorney at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, where she helps low-income women who are victims of domestic violence.