Early December

When the lyrics include words like petticoats, catacombs, parapets, balustrade, wastrel, fontanel and waylaid it’s a good bet you’re not listening to the latest gem from the mouth breathers in Hinder. No, it could only be The Decemberists, and their sound is as unique and haunting as their words. Boston is fortunate to get a weekend’s worth of these indie-troubadours in early November — tickets for the 11/3 and 11/4 shows at the Orpheum go on sale Saturday at 10:00 AM. Do not miss this opportunity to see a genuinely inspired band.

It’s perfect that the shows are at the Orpheum since The Decemberists often sing songs steeped in the Civil War era — you’d swear the seat covers in the theatre also were made in 1862. Colin Meloy, the voice and pen behind The Decemberists brings such rare wit and intelligence to his songs. It’s like he’s been magically transported from a century ago and instead of freaking out he picked up a guitar and formed a band. His other-worldliness reminds me a lot of Sufjan Stevens, but Meloy puts more of a rock back beat into his tunes. Where Sufjan keeps it pretty acoustic, Colin will plug in when necessary.

So, is it all to quirky for its own good? I don’t think so. Listen to tunes like “Leslie Anne Levine” .. “Grace Cathedral Hill” .. “16 Military Wives” .. and “The Crane Wife 3” — these songs just plain work. They don’t fit into corporate radio’s narrow minded playlists, but listen to college radio or an independent station and the songs will jump out at you. Play just about any track for someone with a decent musical palette and they’ll be intrigued.

Meloy’s songs can be melancholy at one point, pogo inducing the next. It’s music to be enjoyed with another person and talked about afterwards. Hey, who else do you know who can make a rhyming couplet out of aluminum and cinnamon? The Decemberists may have a frosty name, but they always leave me feeling cozy and glad.


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