I, for one, am thrilled. It's nice to find bands who have paid their dues for years finally get the attention and success for which they have worked so hard. But perhaps more importantly, I take it as a sign that people are getting smarter. Take, for example, the Decemberists, a Portland, Ore., band whose songs are some of the most literary out there right now--which, until recently, would have translated into "cult success," if any sort of success at all. But this week, the band will perform at the Rialto Theatre, which is quite a jump from their previous two shows at Plush just last year.
Singer-guitarist-songwriter Colin Meloy is a creative-writing graduate, and his songs betray that fact. A bit precious at times, and with a predilection toward nautical themes, Meloy's songs are highbrow to the max. (He has said that if it weren't for his musical idols, Robyn Hitchcock and Morrissey, he wouldn't be writing songs at all.) Take for example, a somewhat randomly selected couplet from 2003's Her Majesty the Decemberists' (Kill Rock Stars) "Song for Myla Goldberg," an ode to the Bee Season author: "Pretty hands do pretty things when pretty times arise / Seraphim in seaweed swim where stick-limbed Myla lies." It's a far cry from "I did it all for the nookie," to be sure. And musically, the band is equally risky; as Gene Armstrong wrote in these pages last year, "Meloy's balladry brings to mind vaudeville, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, 'Sweeney Todd,' the Victorian and Edwardian eras, Kurt Weill and Nick Cave, 1960s psychedelic rock pop and roaring pub sing-alongs."
The Decemberists' latest album is Picaresque, released earlier this year on Kill Rock Stars. It's the band's most accessible yet, even as it follows 2004's The Tain EP (Acuarela Discos), which consisted of a single, nearly 20-minute prog-influenced song broken into five parts--not exactly the sort of thing that's going to storm the Billboard charts (though it did make my year-end Top 10 list).
The Decemberists perform on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Rialto, 318 E. Congress St. Sons and Daughters open the all-ages show at 8:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $12 at the theatre box office; they'll be $14 on the day of the show. For more information, call 740-1000.
Following their recent Rialto show, Queens of the Stone Age open, with Autolux also on the bill. This one's at the TCC Arena, 260 S. Church Ave., at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17. Tickets are $45 and $35, available at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000. For further details, call 791-4101.
Tucson's dark prog-rock flag-hoisters Camp Courageous celebrate the release of their second full-length this week, with the requisite CD release party. Unfortunately, we didn't receive a copy of the new album, so we can't grace you with our opinion on it. But suffice it to say that we'd listen to Danny Moreno sing his ABCs for hours on end.
Things get started at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., with opening sets from Is to Feel, Manifold, Embercoast and The Ballad of Us. Cover is $4, and the show is all-ages. Call 622-8848 for more 411.
I am, however, excited to see that Chuck Prophet has been added to the bill of the Allstars' show here this week. Prophet took the stage at the Rialto Theatre a couple weeks ago, with his old band, Green on Red, as part of Club Congress' 20th anniversary celebration, and returns with his own band this week. His solo output has been consistently great, and his last three studio albums--The Hurting Business (2000, Cooking Vinyl), No Other Love (2002, New West) and Age of Miracles (2004, New West)--combine Prophet's folk and country roots with technological touches that make them sound modern, without sounding like they're trying to sound modern. And while Prophet is well known as a master of the Telecaster, he's an entirely underrated lyricist, too--the complete package.
The North Mississippi Allstars and Chuck Prophet perform at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 22, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $14. Call 622-8848 for more info.
The Kills perform on Sunday, Sept. 18, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. She Wants Revenge and The Deludes open at 8:45 p.m. Advance tix are available for $10 at virtuous.com. For details, call 798-1298.
Grand Buffet performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Monday, Sept. 19. DJ Jester the Filipino Fist and Peachcake open at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $6. That number again is 798-1298.