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Castaways and Cutouts
     

Castaways and Cutouts

4.5 11
by The Decemberists
 

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Colin Meloy's dynamic vocals lead the way on Castaways and Cutouts, the impressive 2003 effort by Portland, OR, quintet the Decemberists. Throughout the disc, Meloy's songs tell tales of life's castaways, including Spanish gypsies and Turkish prostitutes, painting glorious pictures with supposedly suspicious characters. After

Overview

Colin Meloy's dynamic vocals lead the way on Castaways and Cutouts, the impressive 2003 effort by Portland, OR, quintet the Decemberists. Throughout the disc, Meloy's songs tell tales of life's castaways, including Spanish gypsies and Turkish prostitutes, painting glorious pictures with supposedly suspicious characters. After opening the album with two subdued tracks, "July, July!" is a lively anthem, setting a gloriously quirky pace for the rest of the disc. "A Cautionary Song" centers around Jenny Conlee's accordion, as acoustic guitar swirls around Meloy's narrative. "Odalisque" is quite possibly the highlight of the album, carrying the listener through peaks and valleys led by Conlee's juiced-up organ and Meloy's grittiest vocals of the disc. "Cocoon" calms the mood back down, with gentle piano and guitar serving as the song's backbone. On "The Legionnaire's Lament," the band's effortless folk is at its best, with choppy guitars and enchanting organ swirling behind Meloy's relentlessly thrilling storytelling. Yet again, the disc continues a rise-and-fall approach as the restrained and engaging "Clementine" is next, followed by the beautiful "California One," which features some jaw-dropping upright bass by Nate Query. That song makes a seamless transition into the closer, "Youth and Beauty Brigade," a carefully crafted epic full of witticisms and reserved style. Meloy's vocals are their most engaging by now, and while the last track might not be the standout song of the disc, it's perfectly positioned on the disc for maximum effect. The song's rising intensity and lyrical imagery add up for a stunning finish, leaving the listener clamoring for more, as all great albums do. Chris Funk adds guitar and theremin, and drummer Ezra Holbrook rounds out the five-piece band. Originally released in 2002 on Hush Records, Kill Rock Stars Records released Castaways and Cutouts in May 2003.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Neil Strauss
The songs on [Colin Meloy's] beautifully arranged album, "Castaways and Cutouts"... unfold like short stories.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/18/2005
Label:
Jealous Butcher
UPC:
0751937259411
catalogNumber:
52
Rank:
23866

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Castaways and Cutouts 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Decemberists--now my favorite band--are masters of exacting lyrics. "July, July" contains the memorable phrase: "And we'll remember this when we are old and ancient/Though the specifics might be vague/And I'll say your camisole was a sprightly light magenta/When in fact it was a nappy bluish gray." Most of the songs are rolling, subtle collections of minor and diminished chords. The entire album has a ballad feel--"Legionnaire's Lament," arguably the best song on the album, is the song of a soldier in the French foreign legion, longing for his homeland, while "Leslie Anne Levine" is a dark and twisting ballad of a woman who dies in childbirth, from the point of view of her stillborn child. The Decemberists are VASTLY less popular than they should be. This album is worth the money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the decemberists are obviously underrated since i'm only the 2nd person posting. but honestly, this CD is unique from most of whats out there today adn the decemberists have a really good sound. i especially like "the legionnaire" and "obdalisque". its awesome and you should check it out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly the future of indie rock/pop. The first LP by a truly spectacular band. "Cocoon" is intoxicating and the two- part finale is pure genius.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The stories colin meloy spins about sailors, hookers, ghosts of dead children & chimney sweeps, lost loves, and recently found ones are priceless. Slide guitar, stand up bass, accordian, and that voice take you places you never thought, in the now and in times and places past. Music in the vain of robyn hitchcock & the egyptians, rufus wainwright and belle & sebastian. Tight good stuff that will infect you with it's evocative sound.
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