The Decemberists – iTunes Sessions review

The latest EP from indie folk rock band The Decemberists, is pure roadtripping music. The Ep opens  fast and upbeat with “Calamity Song”, that makes you want to jump in your ride and head to the lake. “Calamity Song” was reworked from the band’s most recent album, “The King is dead” and comes along with two other tracks from that album, “June Hymn” and “This is why we fight”. I loved the pace of “Calamity Song” but absolutely adored the harmonies of the latter two songs, as lead singer Colin Meloy’s voice mesh’s so well with the melodica of Renaissance Woman Jenny Conlee. They truly know how to harmonize and the songs both have a hopeful feel to them; “June Hymn” welcoming summer, and “This is why we fight” insinuating “freedom” as an outcome. Hope and Freedom; two themes that are integral to any roadtrip.

The Decemberists give us a bit of a history lesson on the menacing and eerie reworking of “Shankill Butchers” that was originally featured on 2006’s “The Crane Wife”. The Shankill Butcher’s were a Northern Ireland Loyalist gang during the 1970’s that were most infamous for their late night abduction, torture and murder of random Catholic Civilians. The Decemberists have turned this horrible recent history event into quite a beautiful song that sounds like something mothers in victorian times would sing to their children as a warning to be good. But similar to “innocent” children’s songs like “Ring around the Rosie” there is a real gruesome story behind the warnings in Colin Meloy’s chilling vocals. The Shankill Butchers tale would be a great creepy story to tell around a campfire that any good roadtrip most certainly would lead to.

Six of the 8 songs on the EP listeners will remember from the band’s 10 year discography, but two they will recall because they are covers. They rock out with the Fruit Bats “When U Love Somebody” and give it a really fast-paced blue-grassy tempo and I was bobbing my head to John Moen’s upbeat drumming. The other is Leonard Cohen’s, “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”. The sound is a little more country than the original, especially with the inclusion of Chris Funk’s slide guitar and Nate Query’s fiddle. The band put a bit of twang in it, but they did the adept poetry of Leonard Cohen justice, and I liked listening to the song. Any roadtrip playlist has got to have some twang to it right?

This EP is crisp, full, and well rehearsed, and sounds great as it was recorded live in their L.A. studio. I’ll definitely be playing this on my upcoming Californication roadtrip this September. Won’t you?


By Tanya Casole-Gouveia

Tanya is a small town girl with a flashy soul. She moved to Toronto after finishing at the University of Waterloo and has been making her presence known on and off the internet ever since. Off the internet she performs with her acoustic hip pop duo SidePonyNation, delighting audiences and making them laugh and have a good time. On the internet she is busy up keeping her own personal blog, and she is featured on the online ustream show Nat & Marie. When she's not online you can find her playing frisbee in the park, pulling shots at the espresso bar she works at, or biking all over the city!

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