New Decemberists Song/Video – Make You Better (plus, Nick Offerman!)

The last two Decemberists videos have not been my favorites. A couple great¬†tracks, a bunch I could do without. We’ll see how their new album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (out 20 January 2015 on Capitol) turns out.

In the meantime, enjoy the new video – featuring Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) as a 1970s German TV show host.


Best of 2009: March

Best Albums of 2009
Rather than compiling a huge list at the end of the year, not having enough time to do a good job, and simply throwing something together really fast, I’m going to start compiling my thoughts on albums over the whole year – month by month.

March Edition

The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love

This album had a lot to live up to. The Decemberists have long waxed towards the epic – consider some of their Loooooong songs. So, when I heard that The Hazards of Love was one big long epic story of love, deception, treachery, suffering etc . . . my curiosity and anticipation was piqued. Lyrically, I was not disappointed. It is Decemberists to the core. Soncially, I liked a lot of what I heard. However, there were some serious disappointments. 1. A few songs feature female lead vocals. I have nothing against female vocals per se, but its just not the Decemberists to me. If that was the entire album, I probably wouldn’t buy it. My palatte for the Decemberists is very much oriented towards Colin Meloy’s vox. 2. Since the album is one long story, there are quite a few melodies and refrains that are recycled throughout the album. While holding the album together sonically, there are a few sections that got a bit stale. “Didn’t I just listen to this a few minutes ago?” Top tracks include The Hazards of Love 1, A Bower Scene, Annan Water [download mp3] and The Hazards of Love 4.

Dent May and his Magnificent UkuleleThe Good Feeling Music of Dent May

This album came out in February, but I didn’t find it until now. Holy out of left field Batman! Dent May sounds something like a combination of a Time-Life best-of collection of “Your Favorite 1950’s Jukebox Ballads” with lots of Ukulele. I can’t get it out of my head. Check out the following videos for a glimpse at his uber-dorky fashion styling: “Howard” video, “Oh, Paris!” video, “Meet me in the Garden” video. Top tracks include Howard, God Loves you Michael Chang [download mp3], and You Can’t Force a Dance Party.

Great Lake SwimmersLost Channels

I took my Ph.D. comprehensive exams with a lot of Great Lake Swimmers playing softly in the background on my iPod. This new release is a bit more up beat and rawkus, if you could ever consider the Great Lake Swimmers “rawkus.” Good indie-acoustic-folky goodness. Top tracks include Palmistry [download mp3], Pulling on a Line, and Unison Falling into Harmony.

Common MarketThe Winter’s End [EP]

According to their press releases, this album signals things looking up for Common Market. Last year’s LP Tobacco Road was dark, brooding and raw in its accounts of poverty, domestic abuse, etc . . . The cold dark winter though has come to an end for RA Scion. There are some great horns on this 5 song EP and well worth checking out. Check out all 5 tracks, including Slow Down Moses [download mp3]

Death Cab for CutieOpen Door [EP]

What a treat! 4 more songs from the sutdio sessions that brought us last year’s Narrow Stairs. One of the tracks, Little Bribes, has been kicking around for a while on solo Ben Gibbard under the monicer “Big Casino.” The tracks are all great, but try out A Diamond and a Tether [download mp3]

VetiverTight Knit

I’m not totally sold on this band yet. It is promising though – some good folky acoustic indie-rock. We’ll see if it grows on me. Top tracks include Everyday and Through the Front Door.

Peter, Bjorn and JohnLiving Thing

I really liked Writer’s Block (2006). I didn’t like Seaside Rock. The Swedish bands lastest is ok and worth a couple listens to see if it sticks for you. The jury is still out for me. Top tracks are . . . well . . . I’m not sure. Try I Want You! Also – Nothing to Worry about has one of the best videos ever made!

Running LP List

  1. J. Tillman – Vacilando Territory Blues (January)
  2. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (March)
  3. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast (January)
  4. Dent May and his Magnificent Ukuele – The Good Feeling Music of Dent May (March)
  5. The Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels (March)
  6. Say Hi – Oohs & Aahs (February)
  7. Coconut Records – Davy (January)
  8. The Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha (February)
  9. Peter, Bjorn and John – Living Thing (March)
  10. Vetiver – Tight Knit (March)
  11. General Elektriks – Good City for Dreamers (February)
  12. Ben Kweller – Changing Horses (January)

Running EP List

  1. Common Market – The Winter’s End (March)
  2. Death Cab for Cutie – Open Door (March)