March 12, 2009 Volume CXXV Issue 7

“Hazards of Love” hits the stage

The Decemberists’ new concept album to feature on-stage theatrics
A&E Editor
The Decemberists plan on incorporating more theatrics into their stage show, and will spend this spring playing their new album straight through.

The Decemberists plan on incorporating more theatrics into their stage show, and will spend this spring playing their new album straight through.

The entwining of music and literature is not unheard of in most circles, but the original flair with which Colin Meloy combines the two forms the entire bases for his band The Decemberists. The entire discography of the band is devoted to Meloy’s literary musings, his songs often functioning as short stories, and thus, their albums are as much collections of fiction as original recordings. As the band has progressed, there has been a corresponding expansion in ambition, often creating songs that, when strung together, form a narrative arc. Indeed, “The Tain” EP consists of a five-part and nearly 20-minute song that tells a single story. Sometimes the band will even embellish their live performance with theatrical elements that reflect the content of the stories. “The Mariner’s Revenge” will occassionally be accompanied by onstage theatrics, including choreography, costumes, and an enormous whale puppet that swallows band members whole.

The band’s latest offering, “Hazards of Love,” will hit shelves on March 24 and is the first album that the band has crafted specifically to tell a complete story throughout the duration. “The Crane Wife,” the band’s previous album, featured a few songs that were meant to be listened to in order, but did so by creating longer songs, epic in structure and cohesive in storytelling. However, the album cannot fully be described as a concept album. While the tendency is to refer to the work as a “rock opera,” the recording itself barely steers clear of such a classification. The 17 tracks on the album all blend together seamlessly, and often feature reprises and continuations on musical motifs from earlier songs. Certainly, various characters make appearances throughout the album, voiced by well-known artists in the indie-rock community.

Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond makes an appearance, as does My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James and singer Robyn Hitchcock. The most interesting aspect of the album can also be its most alienating. The songs are vastly diverse, touching on almost every genre that The Decemberists have ever ventured into and then some. While simple, acoustic guitar and achordion-driven tunes are uplifting moments, the band also thrashes into genuine heavy-metal riffage a couple of times. This diversity is appreciated, but not always as rewarding as intended.

The appearance of repeating riffs and chord progressions can lead the listener to feel like the album is a bit monotonous and takes away the element of surprise. If there is a complaint, it is that the seamlessness of the album makes it difficult to single out individual songs, as they all seem to function as means to an end. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, but it does make listening to the album somewhat of an exhausting experience. As a cohesive recording, the album stands out for its ambition and quality, as the songs are fairly consistent all the way through. If reports hold true, the band will be embarking on a full tour later this spring to play the album it its entirety, complete with scenery, costumes, and guest appearances. Given the penchant for dramatics within the band, this seems like the perfect undertaking.

“Hazards of Lova” is thematically similar to an updated fairy tale.

“Hazards of Love” is thematically similar to an updated fairy tale.

Where everyone screams your name

Restaurant Enthusiast
Pizza is just one of the delicious Italian offerings at Mancino’s.

Pizza is just one of the delicious Italian offerings at Mancino’s.

One of the most underrated restaurants in Georgetown is Mancino’s. Somehow, it is very easy to mentally place all of the restaurants in town in the Wal-Mart area. With Mancino’s being very close to campus in the K-Mart shopping center, it is probably one of the best places to eat in Georgetown. First of all, I love Italian food and I especially love sub sandwiches. Put the two together and you have a winwin combination. The pizza grinders and the sandwiches are especially tasty, but the portions are also very filling. The subs are 18 inches and they are sure to get the job done in the fight against hunger. You can never go wrong with the Stromboli and the Italian sub is also a crowd favorite.

If you are looking for a place that will give you a unique eating experience, I would strongly suggest Mancino’s. What other restaurant in town screams your name at the top of their lungs when your food is ready? When you go to The Grille, you take a number for your food and wait for your number to be politely called over the microphone. At Mancino’s, I find the screaming of names to not only be much more personable, but also enjoyable.

The mood of Mancino’s is not geared toward a romantic dinner setting, but place is very informal and a bit historic. The booths and tables remind me of the hit TV sitcom “Happy Days” minus the jukebox of course. It is a very nice place to enjoy lunch or dinner and the service has always been friendly. While Mancino’s is great place to eat, it is also a fine place to get something on the go. You do not quite get your food as fast as a McDonald’s drive-thru, but you get good food quality in a timely fashion. I wouldn’t expect to get something super quick, but the quality is worth more than getting your food in over five minutes.

When it comes to the price, Mancino’s also has reasonable prices. Eighteen inches of a hearty Stromboli is worth $9.00 in my book. Overall, Mancino’s is a great restaurant and it is at least worth a try. If you do decide to try Mancino’s, however, I do not think you will be disappointed. Italian restaurants are few and far between, so make sure that you at least take advantage of Mancino’s. It is close to campus, it has reasonable prices and the food is remarkable.


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