The King Is Dead (album)

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The King Is Dead
Studio album by The Decemberists
Released January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14)[1]
Recorded Spring 2010 at Pendarvis Farm (near Portland, Oregon)
Genre Indie folk, indie rock, folk rock, Americana[2]
Length 40:26
Label Capitol and Rough Trade
Producer Tucker Martine
The Decemberists chronology
The Hazards of Love
(2009)
The King Is Dead
(2011)
Long Live the King
(2011)
Singles from The King Is Dead
  1. "Down by the Water"
    Released: November 2010 (2010-11)
  2. "This Is Why We Fight"
    Released: January 25, 2011 (2011-01-25)[3]
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 77/100[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
BBC (positive)[6]
The Boston Phoenix 2.5/4 stars[7]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media 7.2/10[9]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[10]
The Skinny 4/5 stars[11]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[12]
SPIN 7/10 stars[13]

The King Is Dead is the sixth studio album by The Decemberists, released on Capitol Records on January 14, 2011.[1] Described as the "most pastoral, rustic record they've ever made" by Douglas Wolk of Rolling Stone,[14] the album reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for the week ending February 5, 2011.[15] The song "This Is Why We Fight" reached number 19 on the U.S Alternative Songs Chart, while the song "Down by the Water" also charted in the United States. In November 2011, the band released an EP of album out-takes, entitled Long Live the King.

Prior to the album's release, the vocalist and guitarist Colin Meloy stated that: "If there's anything academic about this record, or me trying to force myself in a direction, it was realising that the last three records were really influenced by the British folk revival [...] this whole world that I was discovering, that I was poring over, learning inside-out. It was a wanting to get away from that. And looking back into more American traditions, reconnecting with more American music."[16]

Background[edit]

The King Is Dead was recorded during spring 2010,[17] with most of it being made in a six-week period in a barn at an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site called Pendarvis Farm, near Portland, Oregon.[14] It has been speculated that the album title is an homage to The Smiths' 1986 album The Queen Is Dead,[18] largely due to Colin Meloy's long-touted influence from the band.[19] It was co-produced by Tucker Martine.[14] At least three of the ten songs—"Down by the Water", "Rise to Me" and "June Hymn"—were performed live in 2010.[20] Meloy has said that a primary musical influence for much of The King Is Dead is R.E.M.,[21] and three songs, "Don't Carry It All", "Calamity Song" and "Down by the Water", feature the R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.[22] The album was released on January 18, 2011.[23] The King Is Dead has been called the "most pastoral, rustic record they've ever made" by Douglas Wolk of Rolling Stone.[14] On January 26, 2011, it became their first No. 1 album on the U.S. album chart.[24]

On November 1, 2011, the outtakes EP Long Live the King was released, collecting six songs recorded during these sessions.

"Down by the Water"[edit]

The first single, "Down by the Water", includes Peter Buck and the singer-songwriter Gillian Welch, who contribute 12-string guitar and vocal harmonies, respectively.[17] It also features accordion riffs and heavy harmonica reminiscent of Neil Young;[25] particularly the song "Heart of Gold".[26] "Down by the Water" has been compared to the music of Bruce Springsteen.[27][28] It was featured for free download on November 2, 2010, on the band's official website. Meloy has said that The King Is Dead is more straightforward and heavily influenced by R.E.M.,[29] and "Down by the Water" is a prime example.[21] Meloy said that the song "started out as more of a paean to R.E.M. than I think any of us really wanted it to be".[14]

Lyrically, "Down by the Water" is vaguely mournful.[30] It has been described as "folksy", "uptempo",[31] and "country-esque".

Reception[edit]

Uncut placed the album at number 26 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011".[32]

Rolling Stone ranked the album as the 7th best of 2011. [33]

The track "Down by the Water" was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 54th Grammy Awards but lost to "Walk" by Foo Fighters.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Colin Meloy.

No. Title Length
1. "Don't Carry It All"   4:17
2. "Calamity Song"   3:50
3. "Rise to Me"   4:59
4. "Rox in the Box"   3:10
5. "January Hymn"   3:14
6. "Down by the Water"   3:42
7. "All Arise!"   3:10
8. "June Hymn"   3:58
9. "This Is Why We Fight"   5:30
10. "Dear Avery"   4:52

Personnel[edit]

The Decemberists
Additional musicians
  • Peter Buck – mandolin on "Don't Carry It All", 12-string electric guitar on "Calamity Song", electric guitar and baritone guitar on "Down by the Water"
  • Tucker Martine – tambourine on "Calamity Song"
  • David Rawlings – backing vocals on "Don't Carry It All", "June Hymn" and "Dear Avery"
  • Annalisa Tornfelt – violin on "Don't Carry It All", "Rox in the Box" and "All Arise!"
  • Laura Veirs – backing vocals on "Dear Avery"
  • Gillian Welch – backing vocals on "Don't Carry It All", "Rise to Me", "Rox in the Box", "Down by the Water", "All Arise!", "June Hymn" and "Dear Avery"

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label Format Catalog
United States January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14) Capitol Records Vinyl LP 42727[1]
United Kingdom January 17, 2011 (2011-01-17) Rough Trade Records, Capitol Records Compact Disc RTRADCDX656[34]
United States January 18, 2011 (2011-01-18) Capitol Records 50999 9 47547 2 8[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The King Is Dead (Capitol Records, Vinyl LP Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved Feb 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ Barshad, Amos (November 3, 2010). "The Decemberists Let It Swag". New York magazine. New York Media LLC. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Radiol1 Rodos Greece ::: USA Forthcoming Singles
  4. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/music/the-king-is-dead/the-decemberists
  5. ^ Allmusic review
  6. ^ BBC review
  7. ^ Boston Phoenix review
  8. ^ Consequence of Sound review
  9. ^ Pitchfork review
  10. ^ Rolling Stone review
  11. ^ The Skinny review
  12. ^ Slant review
  13. ^ Spin Magazine review
  14. ^ a b c d e Wolk, Douglas (November 4, 2010). "Colin Meloy Reveals Details of New Decemberists Album". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Billboard 200 Week-Ending Feb 5 '11". Billboard. Feb 5, 2011. 
  16. ^ Barton, Laura (January 6, 2011). "The Decemberists: The changing of the seasons". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^ a b "The Decemberists | News 11.2.10". The Decemberists Official site. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  18. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (November 3, 2010). "Decemberists Announce New Album". Gibson. Gibson Guitar Corporation. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  19. ^ Luerssen, John D. (November 3, 2010). "The Decemberists Announce 'The King Is Dead' Album, Offer Free Song". Spinner. Spinner.com. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  20. ^ Puiu, Tibi (November 2, 2010). "New Decemberists album announced – The King is Dead". ZME Music. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b Zeidses des Plantes, Erik (November 3, 2010). "Down by the water". Prefix magazine. prefixmag.com. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Rihanna and Katy Perry's Duet & More". Spin Magazine. SPIN MEDIA LLC. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  23. ^ "The Decemberists Announce New Album". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media Inc. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  24. ^ Caulfield, Keith (January 26, 2011). "Folk-rock band Decemberists lead U.S. album chart". Reuters. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  25. ^ Brickner, Sara (November 2, 2010). "The Decemberists Share New Song From Upcoming Album, Attempt to Be As Much Like R.E.M. As Possible". Seattle Weekly. Seattle Weekly, LLC. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  26. ^ Weiner, Juli (November 3, 2010). "Blog That Tune! "Down by the Water," by the Decemberists". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  27. ^ Jones, Colin (November 8, 2010). "Free Music Monday: The Decemberists, Stereolab and Michael Jackson". Death and Taxes magazine. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  28. ^ Alvarez, Daniel (November 5, 2010). "The Week in Singles: New Music From Quincy Jones and Amy Winehouse, Bruce Springsteen, the Decemberists, and more". Crawdaddy!. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  29. ^ Jessica (November 2, 2010). "The Decemberists –". Stereogum. BUZZMEDIA Music. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  30. ^ Vestal, Shannon (November 3, 2010). "Buzz Sugar". Buzz Sugar. Entertainment Hourly. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  31. ^ Warner, Brett (November 3, 2010). "Listen To This: New Music From The Decemberists". ...ology. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  32. ^ http://stereogum.com/891311/uncuts-top-50-albums-of-2011/list
  33. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/50-best-albums-of-2011-20111207/the-decemberists-the-king-is-dead-20111205
  34. ^ "The King Is Dead (Rough Trade / Capitol Records, CD Album, UK) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved Jan 25, 2011. 
  35. ^ Capitol CD release @ Discogs

External links[edit]