Throughout their decade-long career, the Colin Meloy-led The Decemberists have had listeners reaching for a dictionary thanks to their hyperliterate lyrics. With 2009's 17-part rock opera (The Hazards of Love), the band raised the music's complexity to match, but in the process, they had creatively painted themselves into a corner: Where exactly does a band go when they've taken it to the limit, both lyrically and musically?
With The King is Dead (releases on Tuesday), The Decemberists have seemingly started over, with an acoustic-based, rootsier recording featuring guest turns from Gillian Welch and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck -- recorded in a barn, no less. Sadly, Meloy has hinted that the band will likely be going on hiatus after their current tour, as he sets to work a three-book deal he signed with publishing giant HarperCollins. All the more reason to savor their appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this Thursday.
Meanwhile, one of last year's best recordings came from Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti with the album Before Today. The 2010 breakout band makes their television debut Wednesday night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, performing "Round and Round," which was the number one song on Pitchfork's Top 100 Songs of 2010. Ariel Pink has a reputation for spotty live performances when he's by himself, but with his band Haunted Graffiti in tow, we should fully expect minds -- and hair picks -- to be blown.
Finally, Jack White has always had a love affair with the past. From the music he chooses to play, to the artists he chooses to collaborate with, the common theme is a love of music's rich history. Next week, 73-year old Wanda Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly, releases the Jack White-produced The Party Ain't Over, an album that subtly brings Jackson's signature sound into the 21st century, something he did for Honky Tonk legend Loretta Lynn with 2004's Van Lear Rose. Look for Jackson and White to perform together on The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night.
Picks for the week
Monday, January 17
Tuesday, January 18
Wednesday, January 19
Thursday, January 20
Friday, January 21
Saturday, January 22
Sunday, January 23
curator of the music/soundtrack blog thus spake drake