Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sticks to you like flypaper

By Mike Tierney

No pop song in the past six months has combined catchy and classy as much as "Down by the Water" by the Decemberists.

Frontman-writer Colin Meloy marries the band's folk sensibilities with lively indie rock, built on surprisingly hyper-active percussion and spiced by a lively accordion, to create a tune that, once heard, is not easily dislodged from your brain.

The song's thread is a standard guitar line that seemed stolen from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. Not guilty, given that Buck is the player on "Down by the Water" as well as the producer of the uneven but pleasing album, "The King is Dead."

So the news was initially welcome that Meloy had agreed to drop by my little town, tucked into metro Atlanta, on Labor Day weekend. But the devil is in the details, and it was disappointing to learn this detail: He will appear not as music-maker but wordsmith.

Meloy, along with his artist-wife, will headline the Decatur Book Festival, promoting the launch of their adult-aimed fantasy trilogy.

I don't suppose Meloy will pack his guitar, at least for public consumption. So, having missed the Decemberists' tour, I will have to bide my time with the CD and YouTube videos.

But I will cut Meloy some slack. Some years ago, the former creative writing major in college penned a quick-read listener's appreciation of the Replacements' gem, "Let It Be." That book makes him all right in my book.

Still, it would be nice if Meloy brought his guitar to the festival, should the mood strike.

When the mood strikes Mike Tierney contributes thoughtful commentary for the Sanctuary from his musical tramping grounds in Atlanta.

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