This E.P. contains songs recorded at the same time as their album ‘I’ll Be Your Girl’ released earlier this year, yet somehow these tunes didn’t fit properly on that album. The Decemberists have ways been a band full of folk infused indie tunes, brimming with a storytelling ambience, but for the last album they stepped away slightly from that sound, and although these songs were left over from the last album sessions, they’re more than capable of standing on their own as an E.P. ‘I Will Not Say Your Name’ is cut from the same cloth as Will Oldham’s melancholy country tinged musings, before it launches itself into more of a southern rock stomp, whereas ‘Tripping Along’ is a folk tinged ballad, and although this one did make the album, it’s a full band version which appears on the E.P. as opposed to the more stripped back version which was used on the album, with vocalist Colin Meloy leading a gentle melody with strings. ‘Midlist Author’ sounds Beatle-esque with its piano chords, and tales of a struggling writer who’ll “never be last, but you’ll never be first”, as the main character struggles  to make a name for themselves, and ‘Travelling On’ has violins accompanying the tales of life on the road as Meloy and co. sing of the perils of touring. As you’d expect from a band whose love of English folklore is rooted in every song, there’s plenty of tales to tell and dramatic characters roam through every tune. This is from a band who apparently once wrote a song called ‘The Mariners Revenge’ which they re-enacted on stage involving them asking the audience to pretend they were being consumed by a whale, whilst the band pretended to die on stage, and another gig involved the band re-enacting a fictitious battle within the aisles of the gig venue! The Decemberists are definitely a unique bunch, whose enthusiasm for storytelling in songs sets them apart from most U.S. indie bands. This lot from Portland, may have changed direction slightly, but they still remain a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to crafting unique guitar tunes, and this E.P. is a great way to round of the year – a surprising little extra Xmas treat from The Decemberists.

The Decemberists: Traveling On EP – Out Now (Rough Trade Records).

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.