The Decemberists

The Decemberists & Paul McCartney Review

Colin Meloy and the members of The Decemberists visit the show for a lively conversation and performance. Also, tune in for a review of the latest from Paul McCartney.

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Music News

Jim and Greg start off the news segment by discussing Police drummer Stewart Copeland's blog posting about the band's first reunion gig. Despite critical praise, Copeland was dissatisfied by their performance to say the least. Jim and Greg wonder how dissatisfied fans were, especially those who dropped hundreds of dollars to see Copeland, Sting and Andy Summers.

Of course, the men of the Police aren't the only musicians requesting big bucks this summer. An East Hampton concert series called Social is asking fans to pay $15,000 to see five shows by Prince, Tom Petty, Dave Matthews, Billy Joel and James Taylor. Audience members will be treated to celebrity chefs, art displays and Moroccan pillows rather than the usual uncomfortable stadium seating. This elitist trend in music is disheartening to Jim and Greg, and they wish more consumers would react as people in Italy recently did. After charging between $200 and $1200 for tickets to a show in Rome, singer Barbra Streisand received protests from Italian consumer groups. She recently had to cancel this show, though her camp has not admitted the protests were a cause.

The band Wilco is making news for more than just appearing on Sound Opinions. The Chicago rock group struck a deal with Volkswagen to allow the car company to use its music in a new series of ads. This practice is becoming more and more frequent as bands have fewer and fewer options to get their music heard, but Wilco is one of the last bands Jim, Greg and their fans expected to“sell out.”But, what makes this marketing strategy unique is that VW will feature not just one, but six different Wilco songs in six different ads. The commercials will be released almost like singles, making them as much ads for Wilco as they are for the cars. The band has already received its fair share of criticism, but thankfully they've got family on their side.


The Decemberists

When Colin Meloy visited the show last year he promised to bring back his entire band, The Decemberists, next time they were in town. This week he makes good on his word. Meloy, Jenny Conlee, Chris Funk, John Moen and Nate Query join Jim and Greg for a conversation and performance. The band was in Chicago to perform a show and promote their most recent album The Crane Wife. This orchestral pop concept album is harder rocking than previous efforts, much to the delight of Greg, who only recently became a Decemberists‘ convert. Colin explains, "We’re really interested in rocking."

The band came into Chicago only a couple of weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre. Greg asks the band how that had affected their live shows. Colin responds that he was horrified by the incident, and was struck by how the media glommed onto the shooter's“macabre aesthetic.”In this case, these were perhaps warning signs, but Colin hopes people don't become unnecessarily paranoid about young people expressing their dark sides. Greg agrees, saying that art can often be the best way to respond to violence or tragedies.

The night Jim and Greg saw the Decemberists play live, Colin spoke about the Virginia Tech shootings, and the band followed that with a performance of "I'll Come Running," by Brian Eno. Sound Opinions listeners know that Jim has a special place in his heart for Eno, and he appreciated the choice of this song, which is about love and helping a friend. You can hear this song, as well as a rousing rendition of the three-part suite "The Crane Wife" in the course of the interview.

reviewMemory Almost FullMemory Almost Full available on iTunes

Paul McCartney Memory Almost Full

Sir Paul McCartney released a new album this week called Memory Almost Full. This is the former Beatle's 21st solo album, but only his first for the new Starbucks' Hear Music record label. Jim explains that McCartney perfectly timed this release with the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the 65th birthday of the man who wrote "When I'm Sixty-Four." Jim explains that there are such extremes in McCartney's work, but one strain that has been in his songs since he was 18 is his nostalgia for lost youth. Almost every song on Memory Almost Full is about yearning for a simpler time, or reminiscing about his own legacy. Jim thinks there are a few lousy songs on the album, but for the most part it's an inspiring late-career turn. Greg agrees. He explains that McCartney could fall out of bed and write a good song, but for the first time in years, he is emotionally invested in the material. He even responds to his recent divorce from Heather Mills in a really generous and poignant way. Greg doesn't think the album is a masterpiece, and calls "See Your Sunshine," a“maudlin piece of tripe.”But, he thinks Memory Almost Full is one of McCartney's best albums in two decades. Both Jim and Greg give this coffee house fare two Buy Its.


Featured Songs

  1. The Police,“Message in a Bottle,”Reggatta de Blanc, 1979
  2. Wilco,“The Thanks I Get,”Sky Blue Sky, 2007
  3. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife, The Crane Wife, 2006
  4. The Decemberists, "O Valencia!" The Crane Wife, 2006 Live in Studio
  5. The Decemberists,“When the War Came,”The Crane Wife, 2006
  6. The Decemberists,“Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)”The Crane Wife, 2006
  7. The Decemberists,“I'll Come Running”Live in Studio
  8. The Decemberists,“The Perfect Crime No. 2,”The Crane Wife, 2006 Live in Studio
  9. The Decemberists,“Summersong,”The Crane Wife, 2006 Live in Studio
  10. Paul McCartney,“That Was Me,”Memory Almost Full, 2007
  11. Paul McCartney,“Only Mama Knows,”Memory Almost Full, 2007
  12. Paul McCartney,“Gratitude,”Memory Almost Full, 2007
  13. Paul McCartney,“See Your Sunshine,”Memory Almost Full, 2007
  14. Justice,“Let there be Light,”Waters of Nazareth, 2006
  15. The Box Tops,“Call Me,”When Pigs Fly, 2004
  16. Aretha Franklin,“Respect,”I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You, 1967
  17. Joe Cocker,“With a Little Help From My Friends,”With a Little Help from My Friends, 1969
  18. Tina Turner,“Proud Mary,”Greatest Hits, 1969

Footnotes Stewart Copeland on The Police's rocky reunion The Police on AllMusic Sting's homepage Tom Petty's homepage Dave Matthews Band homepage James Taylor's homepage Barbra Streisand scraps Rome concert Wilco's homepage Volkswagen's homepage One of the VW ads featuring Wilco The Decemberists' homepage The Crane Wife on Metacritic The Virginia Tech shooting on CNN The Virginia Tech shooting on NPR“I'll Come Running”lyrics Brian Eno's homepage“The Crane Wife”lyrics Sir Paul McCartney's homepage Memory Almost Full on Metacritic The 40th anniversary of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band“When I'm Sixty-Four”on AllMusic