The Decemberists: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
the seventh studio album from the Alt-Rock band. Produced by the band and long-time collaborator Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Neko Case), it is The Decemberists’ first full-length studio album since 2011’s THE KING IS DEAD, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in Jan of 2011. From the soaring first single ‘Make You Better’ to the acoustic ruminations of the Nick Drake influenced ‘Lake Song’ and triumphant closer ‘A Beginning Song’, WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD, is the band’s most varied and dynamic work, both musically and emotionally. Since their earliest recordings more than a decade ago, the Decemberists have always been known for their sense of scope and daring-from “The Tain,” an eighteen-and-a-half minute 2004 single based on an Irish myth to their last two ambitious, thematic albums, THE HAZARDS OF LOVE and THE KING IS DEAD. This time, though, Meloy explains that they took a different approach: “Let’s make sure the songs are good, and eventually the record will present itself.”
the first album in 10 years by Sleater-Kinney (guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein, vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker, and drummer Janet Weiss), who came crashing out of the ’90s Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, setting a new bar for punk’s political insight and emotional impact. Formed in Olympia, WA in 1994, Sleater-Kinney were hailed as ”America’s best rock band” by Greil Marcus in Time Magazine, and put out seven searing albums in 10 years before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006. NO CITIES TO LOVE was produced by the band’s longtime collaborator John Goodmanson.
the long awaited follow-up to 2010’s WRITE ABOUT LOVE. Produced and mixed at Maze Studios in Atlanta by Ben H. Allen III, best known for his work with Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, and Raury, among others, the band – who have been listening to things like vintage Detroit techno and Giorgio Moroder – have brought a dance-party element into their gorgeous tales of sensitive souls navigating a world gone awry. It is perhaps the most inspired and wide-reaching album Belle and Sebastian have ever made. Given that band leader Stuart Murdoch has openly declared himself pro-bubblegum before, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’, ‘The Book Of You’ and ‘Play For Today’ have keyboard hooks that recall Scandinavian pop machines past and present. The filmic loves, kitchen sink imagery and baroque touches are still there, too, don’t worry. It’s all about trusting in the restorative power of pop music. If you’d trust anyone to write a great Europop song about Sylvia Plath, you’d trust Belle & Sebastian.
Recorded mostly LIVE with a brand new backing band FEAR & SATURDAY NIGHT shows Bingham facing down his past with a poetic grace throughout. Some of the most affecting moments on the album are in the harmonica-driven wistful waltz ”Broken Heart tattoos”, a song written to an unborn child, and in the title track when he sings, ”I don’t fear nothin’ except for myself/ So I’m gonna go out and raise me some hell.” ”Certain things aren’t going to change,” he explains of the song. ”You can’t run away or hide form the past. You have to live in it and deal with stuff and find your own way to overcome.” Those hard-learned lessons, through both good times and bad, helped make Bingham the man he is today. FEAR & SATURDAY NIGHT is the most authentic, personal, and deeply moving portrait of that man we’ve heard yet.
i wanna be your thurston moore
wrestle on the bedroom floor
always leave me wanting more
throw away those old records
we go downtown
put on our best frowns
give me a chance
i know i can dance
cus it’s all mine
“I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone” Sleater-Kinney (1996)
See you on the Avenue!