Decemberists - Picaresque

Vinyl Finds is back for its second installment! My freshman attempt far exceeded my twelve view goal, so I expect the sophomore slump to follow. This time, if I gain five views for June Hymn, I will consider it a personal triumph.
Every couple should have that one band. The one where if their tour stops within a 200 miles radius, you don't even ask, you just buy the advance tickets. The one where it doesn't even matter what album you pick, you just put one on at random in the car on long trips and everyone's satisfied. That band, for us, is the Decemberists. 

Instead of detailing all the Decemberists' virtues in paragraphical form, I will choose the expedient route and run down a list of what The Decemberists do that may make them the culmination of all that is musically good and right with the world. The Decemberists are - 
  • Reclaiming the accordion from mariachi music
  • Writing lyrically difficult music that enhances the vocabulary of even well spoken listeners (just yesterday, I had to look up the phrase "wastrel misallie" from "Leslie Anne Levine," Castaways and Cutouts, 2002)
  • Bringing awareness to obscure historical events (i.e. "Shankhill Butchers" & "When The War Came," The Crane Wife, 2006). Even the band's name is historical
  • Having a ton of fun in live shows --someday, Decemberists, you will tour again, and we will see you-- as evidenced in their 2011 live album We All Raise Our Voices To The Air
  • Continually evolving their sound. Listen through Castaways and Cutouts and then jump to The King is Dead, 2011, and you'll see what I mean. 
  • Writing a whole album about love while never white washing the difficulties thereof (The Hazards of Love, 2009)
  • Providing a counterpoint for our society's fascination with catchy, vapid music (I think vapid is a sufficiently acerbic and self-important word to use; that's what I was going for at least) 
Let's jump in. 

Artist - The Decemberists
Album - Picaresque, 2005
Source - Amazon
Cost - Unspecified/Gift

The Vinyl

Picaresque is a collection of small stories ranging from a likely autobiographical account of the main character's ineptitude at youth sports ("The Sporting Life") to Jordan's favorite, the swashbuckling tale of high seas, Jonah style revenge ("The Mariner's Revenge Song"). 

I plan to play our future children to sleep with the final song on the album, "Of Angels and Angels." I learned the simple guitar part a few years ago and I like to think that Colin Meloy wrote the song for his own future children, one of whom bears the middle name of Cannonball (Sam: "This is a really cool name...", Jordan: "That's not a name."). 

If you listen to only three tracks from this album, here are my suggestions: 
  1. We Both Go Down Together - A joint suicide love song. 
  2. 16 Military Wives - A discussion of American imperialism. Check out the music video, too. 
  3. On the Bus Mall - The Decemberists' take on having no worldly resources but still being in love.
It's really hard to pick just three, but there you go. 

Oh, and the vinyl version comes with an extended release including songs like "The Bandit Queen," "The Kingdom of Spain," and others. I am realizing that artists often take a lot of pride in their vinyl and include more material on their vinyl releases. 

The Find

As one of the first two albums Jordan gave me along with my record player this year for my birthday, you can bet Picaresque has enjoyed many, many plays at our house. I have a hard time picking favorites, but Picaresque is at the top of my Decemberists list. Jordan knows that "On the Bus Mall" is my favorite Decemberists song, so she chose well with this album.

Even as I write this, Jordan just dropped the needle on "The Infanta." Nice touch, J. 

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