Record Store Day preview: April is the month for the Decemberists

The latest Decemberists album, The Hazards of Love, is a challenging yet rewarding song cycle. Yet "The Rake's Song," which serves as the recording's centerpiece, is as musically compelling as it is lyrically unusual: Lead singer/tunesmith Colin Meloy portrays a widower who bumps off the "three little pests" left in his care after his wife's passing, and feels not the slightest guilt for doing so. It's grim, gripping, catchy as hell, and available on seven-inch on Record Store Day.

Note: Record Store Day is an annual event honoring independent record stores -- a onetime retail staple that's becoming an endangered species. In an effort to preserve this important cultural resource, dozens of artists are lending their support to this year's bash on Saturday, April 18, by issuing exclusive material, including loads of unique seven-inch singles, that can only be found at retailers such as Twist & Shout, 2508 E. Colfax -- ground zero for the celebration in Denver. Each weekday between now and then, we'll feature a different 45 that's sure to make your collection cooler. Learn more at the Record Store Day website or the Twist & Shout home page.

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