Produced once again by Tucker Martine, The King is Dead features special guest appearances by Americana luminary Gillian Welch and legendary R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. The King is Dead showcases the ways in which The Decemberists -- Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen -- sound just as glorious in simple, stripped-down compositions as they do on the elaborate structures that have defined their work for years.
The album was recorded in a converted barn at Pendarvis Farm, an 80-acre estate of lush meadows, forest, and Mt. Hood views outside of Portland, and it was the concept of the barn -- as recording space and as attitude -- that informed the making of The King is Dead. -- From the Label
Performance CreditsDecemberists Primary Artist
Peter Buck Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (Baritone),Guest Appearance
John Moen Drums,Tambourine,Background Vocals,Shaker
Gillian Welch Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
David Rawlings Background Vocals
Tucker Martine Tambourine
Nate Query Bass,Cello
Laura Veirs Background Vocals
Chris Funk Banjo,Bouzouki,Pedal Steel Guitar,Electric Guitar
Colin Meloy Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Vocals,Pump Organ,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (Tenor),Guitar (12 String Acoustic),Guitar (Baritone)
Jenny Conlee Organ,Piano,Accordion
Annalisa Tornfelt Fiddle,Violin
Chris Meloy Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals
Technical CreditsTucker Martine Producer,Engineer
Colin Meloy Composer
Carson Ellis Illustrations
Andy Schichter Intern
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Decemberists' prior output has a reputation of being dense, artsy, dramatic and not particularly accessible. With this release, the group turns that reputation on its head. Sounding musically like a cross between Neil Young and R.E.M., this album boasts tight, efficient playing and outstanding melodic content with a slight country tinge. The vocals are fairly standard alt-rock, but with an interesting twist - Colin Meloy sings loudly and confidently, an approach that works perfectly with the material. Rootsy American acoustic music played with an alt-rock perspective - it's hard to beat that combination in my book!
This album was everything I had hoped it would be. It just keeps getting better each time I listen to it too!
Some albums are perfect for certain seasons. Wilco's Summerteeth, for example, is a great record to listen to just as spring has begun to sprung. Tears for Fear's Seeds of Love somehow sets just the right tone for a cool, crisp Fall day. And when it comes to Summer, well.....there are just way too many LP's to mention. Of course alot of this has to do with the season in which the album was released, but somehow I can't imagine spinning Alice Cooper's School's Out (a perfect Summertime listen) in early October. Full of great folk country roots songs The King Is Dead , the sixth album from Portland Oregon indie folk rock band The Decemberists, joins the club of being a near perfect seasonal record. File this one under great Winter/January records.....the time when winter has just begun and one yearns for the unfolding of the mysteries that Spring and Summer will soon reveal. 'Don't Carry It All' sets the tone and theme for the whole record, It opens the album with these words: "Here we come to a turning of the season." There are actually references everywhere on this record to every season during the calandar year. 'Don't Carry It All' could stand alone as a great harvest hymn for late autumn. With its great strumming guitars and mandolin and lyrics declaring that we are all in this together, the song paints a great communal picture. 'Calamity Song' builds on this idea of community with references to building a pastoral society after the "end times." The highlight is 'Rise To Me', an absolutely beautiful country folk song masterpiece that continues the themes of nature and the progression of seasons/experience. Here the harmonies soar, the steel guitar weeps, and the harmonica (like the wind) blows perfectly in just the right places. A wonderfully moving piece of music. Both 'January Hymn' and 'June Hymn' are classics of traditional-like folk ballads. While "January Hymn' displays the extremes of cold winter inactivity ("On a winter Sunday I go/To clear away the snow/And green the ground below"), 'June Hymn' goes on to vivdly describes the LIVE imagery of Summer: "And once upon it/The yellow bonnets/Garland all the line/And you were waking/And day was breaking/A panoply of song/And summer comes to Springville Hill." The King Is Dead is a moving listen and indie folk rock at its best. A great Record.