The Decemberists — The Hazards of Love
(Capitol 50999 2 14710 2 5, 2009, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2010-07-01With each successive release, The Decemberists seem to get more proggy. Their brand of folk-oriented rock owes more to Jethro Tull and Strawbs than the Byrds and CSNY. Leader Colin Meloy’s stories are as old-fashioned and literate as ever, this time worked into a full-on concept, with the songs running together and various themes (musical and lyrical) recurring in variations, and in fact it could be called a rock opera. Four vocalists cover the characters: Shana Worden and Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond, and Meloy himself. The story was inspired by an old Anne Briggs album with the same title, and concerns a jealous forest queen, a woman who falls in love with a shape-changing forest spirit, and a villainous Rake. The instrumentation includes banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion, pedal steel guitar, and upright bass augmented by some very proggish keyboards and occasional more orchestral moments, even including a children’s chorus backed by harpsichord and a very warped synthesizer tone. And there are some grand heavy riffs as well, bringing the rock in no small way. To my ear, it succeeds on every level, and given the band’s major label status, it’s great to hear something so obviously progressive get the kind of attention they get. Prog fans certainly should check this out.
Related artist(s): The Decemberists
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more