Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Decker Slides Into Psychedelic Folk

Decker Music
There are only a handful of bands that can claim to have been risen from the dead. Decker (a.k.a. decker.) is one of them. Brandon Decker and company suffered a near-fatal rollover accident en route to Santa Cruz, Calif., while touring last summer.

While most band members walked away, singer-guitarist Kelly Cole was ejected from the van. She broke her neck and was Medivaced to the nearest hospital. It was a miracle she survived.

Not only did Cole recover, but she eventually rejoined the band after they retreated to their homes in Sedona, Ariz. As Decker describes it, they were changed people and their newest album reflects that.

Slider is richly drawn psychedelic folk rock.

Anyone familiar with Decker already knows that the Arizona band is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Brandon Decker. He founded it in 2009 and over the short course of five years, the lineup has seen its share of change before settling with Decker, Cole (vocals, guitar), Bryant Vazquez (bass), Mike Leibowitz (drums), and Dan Allmond (guitar). Sam Cavanaugh also guests on the album.

While the lineup is the same on Slider, the band has changed for other reasons. The music is richer and more dynamic, not nearly as loose as some earlier outings. They sound more cohesive as a group, possibly brought closer with a newfound appreciation for their collaboration. The songwriting is also some of their best ever, heartfelt and reflective despite only one song with any connection to the crash.

In The Van was penned while the band was driving to SxSW in Austin, a few months before the crash. Singing the song still haunts Decker, especially because he says that there is an eerie, prophetic quality to the lyrics. There is some symbolism in the song that fits, especially a few words sung by Cole.

But perhaps even more haunting than the In The Van is Killing Me, a slow burn anti-ballad that captures the crumble of a destructive relationship. It's painful and bittersweet, with every effort between two people becoming one more thing to despise. The sense of quiet desperation is apparent throughout.

Although Killing Me is the slowest folk-rocker in their arsenal, it still represents a sound that the band has taken to calling psychedelic desert folk. Like many of their songs, it has the harmonies and structure of folk, melodic spaciousness of psychedelic, and survival despite hardship associated with the desert.

As both a comparison and contrast, check out the album opener, Speak In Tongues. The track has a restrained upbeat bluegrass boogie tempo while retaining many of those other qualities for texture and tone. There is a hint of Southern swamp country in the tune too, but even that is emblazoned with a dry crispness then seems to draw out of Sedona.

Brandon Decker and Kelly Cole
Other standout tracks include the lyric-driven authentic plead of Weight Of Gold Pt. 1, the big drawling funk of Shadow Days, and the dusty country rock groove of Weight Of Gold Pt. 2, and the deliciously complex and dreary Robes Of A Profit. But even with these standouts, there is a case to made for owning the album.

Sure there are a few areas where the album slows to a crawl on tracks like Blowhard, but then the band punches up sections of such songs to make them feel essential to their music.  Even Interluder, which is a psychedelic minute-and-a-half stitch of instrumental noise, lends something to the band's most memorable album to date. Give it a spin in its entirety.

Slider By decker. Dusts Up 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Decker has rendered something raw and unforgettable, allowing what often begins as a simple acoustic foundation to explode into something bigger with the added diversity of both solos and duets. Eventually Slider gets under your skin and stays there; moody, melodic and mesmerizing.

Slider by decker. is available on Amazon. You can also download it from iTunes. For tour information, visit their Facebook page. The band has several upcoming shows in Arizona and two in Santa Barbara, California. More shows to be added daily.
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