decker., Sail Inn, 3/1/13

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But Decker and decker. have two very different vibes. Whereas Decker's calm and unassuming, decker. is a stomping, gospel-fried rock 'n' roll unit. Decker was joined by guitarist/vocalist Kelly Cole, bassist Bryant Vazquez, guitarist Dan Allmond, and drummer Michael Leibowitz last night, performing songs from the new album. With a cowboy boot on a tambourine, Decker led the band into a snarling rendition of "Speak in Tongues," Slider's country noir opener.

The band's intensity, its ability to tap into spooky Old Testament terror as well as pastoral Verde River amble, is what sets it apart from the ever-crowded indie folk populace. Plenty of young songwriters are content to sing about trains and "the good o'l days;" decker. explores darker (but no less traditional) folk themes: murder, damnation, and solitude.

It's a lyrical stance shared with Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Neko Case far more than fashionable moppets like Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, and the band's undercurrent of darkness assures that only the most adventurous Starbucks music supervisor would ever slide the band into rotation over the coffee grinders.

Which isn't to say that decker. isn't pretty, or that the combo doesn't get pop music. "Weight in Gold Pt. 1' showcased a polished balladeer side of Decker's composition, and on "Shadow Days," Cole and Decker traded terse R&B moans and skeletal blues durning the verses before breaking into a chorus that recalled classic '90s indie. It's sort of mashup of The Staples Singers with The Breeders (an iffy proposition, sure, but it works).

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.