Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Decemberists

Periodically, I discover a band that, while may not be new to everyone else, is new to me. While watching How I Met Your Mother, specifically, the "Ted Mosby - Architect" espisode, I hear a clip of a song in the background. What struck me about this clip was not that I liked the little I heard, but that the lyrics were "and I am nothing of a builder, but here I dreamt I was an Architect". Being easily amused as usual, I thought, "wow, the creators really found a song with the word Architect in it."

My next step was to log into iTunes and search for Architect. It has to be that easy, right? Of course it was. The first song to pop up on the list was The Decemberists "Here I Dreamt I was an Architect". While I had heard of The Decemberists before, most notably on The Colbert Report, I hadn't really listened to any of their music. I listened to a few clips on iTunes, was pleasantly suprised, and download the last three albums to listen to in full.

The newest album "The Crane Wife, released in 2006, is inspired by an old Japanese folk tale. Here's the jist courtesy of Wikipedia.

While there are many variations of the tale, a common version is that a poor man finds an injured crane on his doorstep (or outside with an arrow in it), takes it in and nurses it back to health. After he releases the crane, a woman appears at his doorstep with whom he falls in love and marries. Because they need money, his wife offers to weave wondrous clothes out of silk that they can sell at the market, but only if he agrees never to watch her making them. They begin to sell them and live a comfortable life, but he soon makes her weave them more and more. Oblivious to his wife's diminishing health, his greed increases. He eventually peeks in to see what she is doing to make the silk she weaves so desirable. He is shocked to discover that at the loom is a crane plucking feathers from her own body and weaving them into the loom. The crane, seeing him, flies away and never returns.
Needless to say, I've been listening to the Decemberists over and over again over the past week or so. Some of their songs remind me of early REM, some of the Barenaked Ladies, but overall they have a sound all their own. I highly recommend you check them out, and if you don't want to purchase all their albums, I put together a list of my favorite songs along with the album they are on:

1. Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect - Castaways and Cutouts
2. The Crane Wife pt. 3 - The Crane Wife
3. O Valencia! - The Crane Wife
4. On the Bus Mall - Picaresque
5. Grace Cathedral Hill - Castaways and Cutouts
6. We Both Go Down Together - Picaresque
7. Yankee Bayonet - The Crane Wife
8. Clementine - Castaways and Cutouts
9. Summersong - The Crane Wife
10. From My Own True Love - Picaresque
If you're only going to buy one album though, I'd make it The Crane Wife.

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