Pencils tapping on desk tops, power-slam air-guitar, melodic swaying, and even a little history on classic literature: these are all bound to happen when you pop The Decemberists' The Tain into your CD Player. Between the release of their two latest CDs (Her Majesty and Picaresque), this five member orchestra made their latest EP, The Tain.
For those of you who know The Decemberist but wish to dig into their music, The Tain is a good place to start. This CD, in its nifty tri-fold case (lyrics included on each fold), gives a vague adaptation of the epic Irish poem Tain Bo Cauliage (The Tain). Colin Meloy, lead singer of the band, takes this original piece of literature that revolves around a disturbing cattle raid and a valiant hero, and then adds in a couple guitars, and an organ; a new breed of folk-pop is created. However, rather than burdening itself with definite references, Meloy gives the emotion and feeling of the story in one single track. This single track allows you to let the feeling of the music and story seep in instead of chopping each "chapter" up. The characteristic of having a one track CD is one that proves to be successful when trying to take in the CD as a whole for a better listening experience. However, those of you randomizing song skipping listeners, The Tain might not be for you.
Though it might seem like a bad idea to spend fifteen dollars at Sam Goody for one song, it is absolutely worth it; however, with any CD, some flaws can be found. The Tain may scare off new listeners to folk-pop with it's transitions from slammed distorted guitar chords to the slow accordion and chime melodies and variety of other strange instruments (organ, mandolin, Glockenspiel, tin toys...the list goes on forever), it still shouldn't stop people from buying it: this CD does have a lot going for it. It has everything a great Decemberists CD has to offer in one eighteen minute explosion of a symphony. However, it does lack some of the more upbeat songs Colin Meloy produces (like The Legionaries' Lament off of Cut outs and Cast Aways).
Personally, out of all of the EPs I've listened to, this is my favorite; consequently, it's always easy to find in my stereo. Each "Chapter" seems to have more of an oomph than some of the more well known songs by The Decemberists. If you're looking to go deeper into the scheme of The Decemberists, I'd suggest getting a hold of The Tain.