SXSW 2009: The Decemberists Already known for its creative ambition, the hyperliterate and sweepingly melodic band has just made its most grandiose record yet. Hear the band premiere the entire work live at SXSW.

Watch The Decemberists Perform "The Hazards Of Love 4"

SXSW Music Festival

SXSW 2009: The Decemberists

The Decemberists in Concert at SXSW 2009 - 03/19/2009

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Fans of the beloved Portland, Ore., rock group The Decemberists already know the band for its outsized ambition. Frontman Colin Meloy's blend of sweeping melodies and hyperliterate, deliberately anachronistic references won the group major indie-pop laurels — and, as of its last album, the attention of a major label. But The Decemberists' newest project promises new heights of bombast: Its new record, The Hazards of Love, is a sprawling 17-part narrative song-cycle.

The band premiered the music of Hazards in its entirety, and played music from the rest of its repertory, as part of NPR Music's official South by Southwest showcase.

The Hazards of Love tells the woodland melodrama of a character named Margaret — voiced by Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, alternately — who encounters such obstacles as a lecherous villain, forest royalty and rapacious, shape-shifting fauna. As for the music itself, Meloy draws heavily from British folk, but also adds plenty of synthesizers and hard rock verging on heavy metal. Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Robyn Hitchcock also make guest appearances on the record.

Set to be released on March 24, The Hazards of Love is the band's fifth full-length release. The Decemberists' previous album, 2006's The Crane Wife, was named the top CD of 2006 by listeners of NPR's All Songs Considered. This Wednesday-night concert will also mark the third time the full band has performed a live webcast for NPR Music.

[+] read more[-] less

More From SXSW Music Festival

Lydia Ainsworth performs "Afterglow" in the Optic Obscura installation during SXSW. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Escape The Noise: Watch 9 Lullabies From Austin

Lydia Ainsworth, Phoebe Bridgers, L.A. Salami, Valerie June, Let's Eat Grandma and others sing us quiet songs on hotel beds and in art installations during SXSW.

Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief steps into the limelight during her band's set at Stubb's BBQ. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Big Thief Whispers, Then Roars, At SXSW 2017

Big Thief's Adrianne Lenker had the capacity Stubb's crowd in the palm of her hand at our showcase.

L.A. Salami performs "Day To Day (For 6 Days A Week)" during SXSW. Nickolai Hammar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Nickolai Hammar/NPR

L.A. Salami Takes A Long Exhale Of The Day Before Midnight

Standing on the smoking balcony of a hotel overlooking the Austin skyline, L.A. Salami plays "Day To Day (For 6 Days A Week)" for a small crowd just before midnight.

Fear not a high kick. PWR BTTM perform during NPR Music's annual SXSW showcase at Stubb's in Austin, Texas. Adam Kissick for NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR/NPR

PWR BTTM Unleashes The Glitter At SXSW 2017

PWR BTTM, once two and now four members strong, brought glitter, humor and bombast to the stage at Stubb's this year.

Back To Top