I've listened to the latest album by The Decemberists, The Crane Wife. It's pretty good. I won't attempt any sort of review other than to say I'm enjoying it. I shan't even deconstruct why that is; let's just let the enjoyment speak for itself.
What I do find more interesting, given their "indie rock" roots (and quirky take on the pop song), is where I bought their album: Target.
Yes, the chain stores that aren't as evil as WalMart. (Not as evil.)
I can remember a time when the only music one would expert to find in the music section of that chain would be the latest from whatever pop flashes in the pan that are on the Top 40, or the greatest hits from established radio staples.
The Decemberists don't even get played on the so-called alternative rock radio (to the extent I pay attention to that). They are pretty far from household names. Yet, their disc was amongst the featured albums on an endcap display. Not only was it featured thusly, but it was on sale. (Yes, this is where they are somewhat evil like WalMart.)
That's the main reason I purchased it there. I wish I could be a bigger supporter of the smaller music stores, but I like a bargain when there's a moment like this where something I would have otherwise paid more for is available.
I know the world of popular music really did change in the wake of Nirvana—it may be glib to attribute it to that, but I remember what it used to be like 15 years ago to try to find music like the Decemberists, and that's why it still astounds me to find Target carrying them. And that Target would be the best deal on it, even lower than bigger music-only chains (of course, those are slowly becoming extinct, probably because they are losing what used to be their bailiwick—non-mainstream artists—to stores like Target).
However, I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised to see Target carrying their CD in light of the promotion they seem to be getting. I saw a bus stop bench with a big ad for The Crane Wife across the street from the Grove. And they got mentioned on The Colbert Report for having a contest on their website similar to one Stephen Colbert had.
So they quickly are approaching household-name status. Of course, having songs that are 11 minutes long may keep them off the charts.
Some things don't change. Thank goodness.