The Decemberists Nail their Set at the Ryman

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The Decemberists tear into opening song “A Singer Addresses His Audience”

 

Let it be known that when I last saw the Decemberists back in 2011, I successfully predicted that their first song would be “Apology Song” off their debut EP 5 Songs. Thus, when I predicted that they’d begin this show with the very appropriate “A Singer Addresses His Audience,” the Decemberists didn’t let me down and I am now two-for-two on my predictions. The Decemberists have never let me down: they’ve pumped out quality album after quality album, excellent live show after excellent live show. And Monday night, led by charismatic frontman Colin Meloy, was no different, even if Meloy and Co. had to struggle against an at times apathetic crowd at Ryman Auditorium.

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Sufjan Stevens Dials it Back for the Intimate ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Sufjan Stevens has never been afraid to bear his heart to an audience. Even at his most thematic and theatrical–2005’s masterpiece Illinois–he wasn’t shy about including a line like “I cried myself to sleep last night” as the centerpiece of a song before asking the listener to question “are you writing from the heart?” But while Illinois buried its confessional nature amidst richly arranged baroque pop playgrounds, Carrie & Lowell is a thoroughly intimate affair; all you’ll find here are fluttering guitars, double-tracked vocals delivered with a whisper, and haunting synthesizer elegies bookending the album’s brisk tracks. It is an album that is simple and anguished to its very core.

Sufjan's seventh album is inspired by his mother and step-father
Sufjan’s seventh album is inspired by his mother and step-father

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Better With Age: 4 Albums to Consider

Like a fine wine or high-quality bourbon, some albums just seem to get better and better–some get better with multiple listens, some get better because they were too ahead of their time, and some get better because they exist completely outside of time. Here are a few albums that, if you haven’t heard them in a while, should be given another few listens.

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“Their Older Stuff Was Better” and The Bethesda Effect

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Last year, Interpol released their El Pintor, an excellent album filled with hooks, grooves, and some surprisingly daring vocals from Paul Banks who I’ve previously mentioned in my articles has a love for singing in an ALL CAPS MONOTONE. It was, by all accounts, a good album, and certainly their most critically successful since they released Antics ten years prior. Yet a cloud hung over the album, a phrase that was spoken with a casual grace that belies it’s endemic presence in today’s music culture: “Their older stuff was better.”

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