This live album came after the tour of their then last record, The King is Dead. I had heard a number of concerts (mostly on NPR) of their previous tour in which they played the entire epic playing live for The Hazards of Love album in sequence. That was pretty awesome, both because of its complexity and because they had so many guests with them.
The King is Dead was a decidedly simpler record–one of the simplest they have made–and the live show proved to be an interesting mix of simple and complex rockers. This collection of songs is not from one show–songs were cherry picked from throughout the tour.
While the show relies heavily on the King is Dead (7 songs out of 20), there’s a bunch from their other records as well. There’s only one from Hazards of Love (a rollicking “Rakes Song”) but there’s all three parts of the titular “Crane Wife” trilogy. And then there’s a few classics thrown in as well. I love that they have an audience participation of the “Mariner’s Revenge Song” (but I do wish there was a visual as to what the signal that Chris Funk sends out is).
There are only 20 songs since three of them are over 10 minutes long,
This album is a really great summary of The Decemberists live music. The sound quality is different–rawer and less “perfect” sounding than the records. There’s also nice changes of instrumentation in some of the tracks, with Jenny Conlee’s accordion taking center stage from time to time and lord only knows how many things Chris Funk is doing.
And Colin Meloy proves to be a chatty and funny host, as you might expect from his lyrics.
This is a great document that could have been the band’s last. Although I’m glad they’ll be releasing more music next year.
[READ: October 10, 2014] Benson’s Cuckoos
My oh my this is a strange book. I am unfamiliar with Ricard’s work. Evidently she does mostly children books (a series called Anna and Froga) and this is her foray into more adult themed stories,.
In this graphic novel all of the characters are animals with human bodies. And each character is a different species. The drawing style is simple and child-like but very effective in conveying emotions and feeling. You can tell a lot from the cover image above.
The story opens with a blue headed duck (Richard) applying for a job at the titular Cuckoo factory. He hands in his resume the boss (the big poodle looking guy on the cover) And the boss says, “What kind of lousy paper is this?” Confused, Richard replies, “Uh… printer paper.” To which the boss responds, “Yes it is. That’s one point for you.” The boss is clearly cuckoo. He draws a mustache on Richard’s picture and then tell him he look stupid. Then he asks if he can touch his toes, and then basically hires him without even actually saying that he is hired. Richard is pleased except that he has to bring his own computer to work.
The rest of the staff proves to be just as weird. The frog looking lady with the Annie wig gets mad that he doesn’t want to see her panties in the elevator and then offers curt responses to everything he says for the next few pages. But it’s during the first conference meeting (in which Richard is expected to do a presentation even though he was given no materials to work with) that we learn that he was hired because George has gone missing.
George was a beloved employee and husband and father and he just didn’t show up one day. So he was fired. Sophie, the brown dog looking lady is the nicest person in the office and she is clearly upset about George’s disappearance.
They decide to do the meeting the next day, and Richard is told that he will be fired if his presentation isn’t awesome (the boss tends to fire people at will). And on the next day (with the boss wearing a Happy Birthday hat even though it’s not his birthday, the board meeting is another cacophonous crazy show.
But that evening the Richard watches a show called Lost and Found and sees that George is missing. He quickly spreads the word to the office mates and the next day the shows comes to their work. The next night Richard and Sophie have dinner and plan to watch themselves on TV (with hilarious results).
The company is set to go on a team building workshop (which the all have to pay for themselves). On this retreat something weird happens (well weirder than the rest of the story) and it points towards what has happened to George. And soon the story turns very dark with the disappearance of George revealed as a kidnapping. And some familiar faces (in funny masks) may be responsible.
The story was very very strange and quite funny. The brusque language (translated by Helge Dascher–who seems to be the go to translator for French comic books) makes the story seems even edgier and possibly weirder. I’m very curious to see what he children’s books are like.