The Decemberists can do no wrong, together and apart. Here’s the lowdown on drummer John Moen’s solo effort part two.
Revise Your Maps is the enigmatically – maybe, massively politically inspired/protest title for John’s project. Like the bloke wasn’t always busy, y’know, shooting the front cover of his album:
…composing drawings for each of the songs; as well as his work with the aforementioned Decemberists (swoon!), Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) and Robert Pollard (Boston Spaceships, Maroons)… Revise Your Maps is a collection of 12 elegant, sculpted pop rock arrangements with just a hint of Wintersleep-esque sensibility.
The album was recorded and produced by Jonathan Drews (Sunset Valley) at Jonathan’s Last of the Explorers studio – which is at the heart of the Boston Spaceships scene.
We’ve been lucky enough to’ve been bequeathed a free download for y’all; but I highly recommend getting your mitts on the whole album. There’s a beautiful sense of continuous evolution of style, melody and composition throughout the record – again, something that’ so inextricably blood-and-heart borrowed from The Decemberists.
You get the feeling upon first listen that there’s a resounding analog sensibility about it; it’s music designed to have the crackly crispness of a vinyl’s needle etching it out. While you could listen to all 13 Decemberists albums and Revise Your Maps in one sumptuous, indulgent session, John’s voice and lyrical style sets it apart with grace. “Birds off a Wire” is a majestic opener, really, for someone who is so well-versed in playing with subtlety above and over grandiosity. His voice is the real beauty: you don’t expect the heights of a falsetto to wash in with the whole sound. But then, these are the expectations set by popular indie that, of late, doesn’t seem proud to be such; instead, trying hard to cut in with pop’s clashing world of simple contrast and easy synth, rather than a build of contrasts which create depth. You know, it’s like listening to Bastille, and then using your brain a little bit more to listen to Bjork. Anyway… depth is something John does well. The themes themselves are universal and deserving of of the grand: being a husband, becoming a dad, the role of musician as it changes alongside the autumn leaves of life (John, below).