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Dickel Our Fancy 

You're still worn out from the Decemberists' show, I know. You bounced up and down for so long that you gave yourself shin splints. You swung your arms so hard when the sea shanties picked up that you wonder if you didn't slip a disc.

But you ain't felt nothing yet.

The Decemberists might play banjos and mandolins and sing songs about historical archetypes, but for folk purists, they're just a poppy appetizer. The Portland-based quartet aims to take you way back. Back before keyboards and drum sets and melodicas. Before kids forgot how to dance. Before iPods, CDs, cassettes, eight tracks -- almost before vinyl, even.

Here, listen to this. Maybe you'll get it. It's the opening track from 1999's Volume One, called "The Farmer's Daughter."

No cutesy intro. The track explodes with a bang. A fiddle saws back and forth at breakneck speed -- spritely, angular, a little out-of-tune. A guitar and a stand-up bass dance along side each other, running up one line and back down another. All the while, a banjo like a pecking chicken on methamphetamines scrambles in circles around the barn house doors. It's organized chaos wrapped around a bone-steady bass line.

Twenty-eight seconds in, two tinny nasal voices bleat out Treat my daughter kindly/Say you'll do no harm/When I die I'll will you my little [garbled] farm. That penultimate word is so tinny and nasally that I can't even figure out what he's saying. That's old-timey.

Or maybe not. Asked whether he'd label his music "Old-Time," Matt Dickel, the guitar player and one of the group's founding members explains: "We're trying to squirm away from ['Old-Time'] because there are other players who are doing that kind of stuff. We're doing more parlor stuff; that's what we're calling it." Oh.

On the road to Anacortes, Dickel (like the Ramones and the Makers, all the band members use the same last name) comments on confusing the press. "A lot of reviews ... were comparing us to punk rock, the whole DIY thing. We weren't going for any of that."

Still, when those vocals on "The Farmer's Daughter" subside, giving way to another blitzkrieg of acoustic bounce, the comparison doesn't seem entirely off. The frenetic energy is undeniable. It's impossible not to listen without tapping your toe, stomping your foot, bobbing your head and -- when the spirit moves you -- throwing your whole body into an apoplectic fit.

Rest up tonight, folk fans. Tomorrow, we dance again.

The Dickel Brothers at the Masonic Temple, on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 pm. Tickets: $8; children under 10, free. Benefits KYRS and Lands Council Visit or call 325-SEAT.
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