I'm an awful Conan O'Brien fan. I'll admit that I'm not the most devout member of "Team Coco," but my excitement for The Big Red Head's new TBS talk show has waned to the point that I would have completely forgotten he was on if it wasn't for Colin Meloy. Last night the Decemberists debuted their new single, "Down By the Water," on the late night circuit, and it's a riveting and inspired performance of a song that doesn't have one whiff of pretension or Dictionary snobbery in its short run time. I have to admit, I like this new direction, but I also basically like anything that features a harmonica solo or Gillian Welch, so a song with both a rippin' harmonica solo and Gillian Welch on backup vocals is totally my bag. Maybe I am with Coco.
The Decemberists' new album, The King is Dead, drops on January 18, and features Welch on three tracks. R.E.M.' Peter Buck also lends his guitar on half the tracks.