The Decemberists have christened their new album “The King Is Dead” and are preparing for a Jan 18 release for the new year.

Colin Meloy and company have crafted 10 “country based” songs, and have the help of a true country voice: Gillian Welch will be featured on seven songs. Legendary R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck is also on for three, and the two artists may even help out with the chamber-pop/rock band’s next big gig: they’ll be taking the stage on “Conan” on Nov. 18.
 
A press release calls the set “concise,” and “simple, stripped-down” which isn’t exactly what the band’s last effort was: at 17-tracks, “The Hazards of Love” was what frontman Meloy called a “suite,” around the same fantastical concept.
 
“For all my talk about how complex those records were, this one may have been harder to do,” Meloy said in a statement. “It’s a real challenge to make simple music, and lot of times we had to deliberately hold off and keep more space. This record is an exercise in restraint.”
 
The sounds was also influenced by locale. The band recorded and wrote from a converted barn on “Pendarvis Farm, an 80-acre estate of lush meadows, forest, and Mt. Hood views outside of Portland [Ore.].”
 
“Over the last eleven years or so, since I moved to Portland, I feel like I've been mining mostly English traditions for influence. I guess I've kind of come back to a lot of the more American music that got me going in the first place – R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven and all these bands that borrowed from more American traditions like Neil Young and the Byrds,” he said. “Sometimes I kind of miss the epic-ness of the other albums, but it’s nice to get all of the information across in three minutes. It’s like going from reading a novel to reading a bunch of short stories.”
 
The leading single is called “Down By the Water,” to be released digitally on Nov. 16. Pre-order for the album starts Nov. 22.
 
Here is the tracklist for “The King Is Dead”:

1. Don't Carry It All
2. Calamity Song
3. Rise to Me
4. Rox in the Box
5. January Hymn
6. Down by the Water
7. All Arise!
8. June Hymn
9. This is Why We Fight
10. Dear Avery