Photo by Alicia J. RoseThere aren't a lot of vacant lots in indie rock to dig around in right now, but Colin Meloy and the Decemberists found one, left empty and lonely since the Kinks abandoned their village-green-preserving duties. This is vaudeville rock, hooked from the stage of a British music hall while Tommies got slaughtered on the Somme, and that makes Decemberists an indie-pop combo smothered in clever prewar theatricality and borrowed stiff-upper-lip-ism. And while Billy Childish and his Stuckists might rightly harrumph-harrumph a bit over a bunch of Yankees swiping the uneasy romance of the trench-warfare days—really, the only blood Americans saw during World War I was on the bedspreads of impressionable French virgins—Meloy swishes around enough Fitzgerald-ian melancholy to unfocus the Decemberists' shtick into something more universal: sad boys and sad girls in pretty songs set against very pretty scenery. Yes, you do detect a whiff of theater-major-ness, particularly over the swoon-y Decemberists fans who line up hours before Meloy's solo performances, helpfully echoing back Morrissey-lite adoration to Meloy's Morrissey-lite charisma. But the Decemberists bring their characters to life in the little plays that make up their albums, dangling their own puppets over the lighter parts of the later Kinks. It takes a very particular sort of person to really buy into this costume party—actually, it takes someone who might actually describe himself as a very particular sort of person—but it's a gentle sort of melodrama that the Decemberists straight-facedly ply, and it's part of the fun to see the curtains waiting to settle down over their stage.
ALSO:THETURPENTINEBROTHERS:All the Turpentine Brothers have are drums, a six-string guitar and two organs. “I keep telling people we have a bass player,” says guitarist/singer Justin Hubbard. “He just doesn't play the bass guitar.” That would be Zack Brines, who plays a Ray Manzarek pianet with his left hand while laying down organ with the right. The fuzzed-out combination of originals and Curtis Mayfield covers makes for music to make you move-ah, make you sweat-uh. As Hubbard says, “I've been wanting to hear some real dance music, not Duran Duran and all this kind of crap.”
THE DECEMBERISTS WITH OKKERVIL RIVER AT THE GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA; WWW.THEGLASSHOUSE.US. SAT., 7 P.M. $14. ALL AGES; TURPENTINE BROTHERS WITH THE HUSBANDS, THE DEAD HENSONS AND THE LITTLEST MAN BAND AT ALEX'S BAR, 2913 E. ANAHEIM ST., LONG BEACH, (562) 434-8292; WWW.ALEXSBAR.COM. SUN., 7 P.M. FREE. 21+.