Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 47: The Decemberists

And...we're back to new album time. What can I say - I bought a lot of new albums. This one is the result of someone giving me a mixed tape.

Disc 47 is...Castaways and Cutouts

Artist: The Decemberists

Year of Release: 2002

How I Came To Know It: I learned about the Decemberists earlier this year, when my friends Catherine and Ross did me a mixed CD for my birthday. It is an awesome mixed CD - with songs from both of them all mashed up (it's a mash up!). And they both have great musical tastes. Anyway - the Decemberists is Catherine, and a few months ago I bought the album with the single she shared with me (and liked it). So I decided I wanted a second album (that's how I roll - when I'm not rolling randomly).

I picked this one for the cover art. A tried and true method of buying an album!

How It Stacks Up: I was surprised how many Decemberists albums there were (I thought maybe two, but there's a lot more). As for me, I've only got 2. They are close, but I've got to put this one at #2 of the two. More on #1 when I roll it.

Rating: 3 stars.

The Decemberists are an indie type band, in the modern style of that movement. I like them because they have a folksie quality to their music (if you read this, you know I go for the folk).

This album is kind of a summation of what is good about indie and what is bad.

What is good - the lyrics are clever, and the music well constructed with simple, but appealing arrangements. In the case of the Decemberists, they sing about a lot of weird-ass stuff that has a historical bent to it, and I like that.

This particular album has a track about a ghost, whose body lies in a ravine "Leslie Anne Levine" - yes they use the rhyme. There is also a song called "A Cautionary Song" which tells the story of a woman who waits for her children to go to sleep, and then sells herself to sailors in the harbour, and uses the money to buy her kids food (in this case "collard greens").

Other tracks have the annoying indie habit of painting an interesting image, or series of images that don't quite add up to a a full picture. It is kind of like Impressionist painting, but stepping back doesn't help you see it any better.

The second annoying element is that the lead singer's voice has that kind of high vibrato thing that a lot of these acts use. It is a great voice, but it has an affected feeling that makes it feel emotionally detached in places.

I think that's the idea, but I wish that these songs were slightly more linear, and sung with a little more heart. Still, overall a good entry in the Decemberists catalogue - and worth listening to. I'm glad I got introduced to this band. I'm going to let these two albums sink in and think about getting another one down the road...

Best tracks: Leslie Ann Levine, Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect, July, July, A Cautionary Song

1 comment:

Sheila said...

A mixed tape? You're showing your age, m'dear.

I dig the indie sound - I'm looking forward to checking this album out.