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Castaways and Cutouts

May 1, 2009 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: May 1, 2009
  • Label: Kill Rock Stars
  • Copyright: 2003 Kill Rock Stars
  • Total Length: 49:59
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B000UTTDS6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,396 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Great album, consistently good music from this great band.
Heather
I am excited to listen to the rest of their stuff if everyone here is saying it just gets better from here.
Van Heezy
Though I can hear the resemblance, I like Colin's voice much, much better.
Jellybones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By carl cuchetti on June 2, 2004
Format: Audio CD
have you ever heard a beautiful old celtic song, where upon listening closely to the lyrics you discover it's about how a bride is killed on her wedding day and her ghost avenges her death... and you think "that's a weird thing to write a song about..."

Well, this disc is a lot like that.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jellybones on March 31, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Last years opening salvo from The Decemberists was Castaways and Cutouts. Crafting beautiful songs rich with story, they have quickly become a pinnacle on the scene (followed by another full length release the same year, and already an EP this year, they may also quickly become one of the most prolific if they are not careful). Colin Meloy and his Decemberists hail from Portland OR, and are oft compared to Neutral Milk Hotel. I'm going to get one thing clear and out of the way right off the bat if you don't mind. One, yes, they do sound akin to Neutral Milk Hotel. And two, I'll be perfectly honest, I'm not that fond of Jeff Magnum's voice. Though I can hear the resemblance, I like Colin's voice much, much better. Another reviewer implied that this was a less daring album than Neutral Milk's outings, and I concede that might be a fair assessment. But while the blueprint might not be pushing the envelope quite as far as they did, that does not keep this group from putting together a musical monument through perfect, beautiful execution and well measured emotion.
Overall, this album is dotted with beautiful musical interaction by so many instruments and graced with detailed lyrical imagery. In my mind I can picture them as the last of the wandering minstrels, recanting the ghostly mid nineteenth century tale of young death on "Leslie Ann Levine", featuring what I can only identify as some sort of well played squeeze box ("Fifteen years gone now, I still wander this parapet and shake my rattle bone / Fifteen years gone now, I still cling to the petticoats of the girl who died with me").
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Blake Maddux on June 29, 2008
Format: MP3 Music
I will try to keep this short, as you have surely read by now that The Decemberists' debut album Castaways and Cutouts is inhabited by ghosts, prostitutes, nefarious seamen, and various other rogues. You probably also know that the songs evoke a time virtually untouched by modern civilization.

About half of the songs on the album are at least pretty good. These include the only two up-tempo numbers on the album, "July, July!" and "The Legionnaire's Lament". The strong mid-tempo songs include "Leslie Anne Levine", narrated by the ghost of a stillborn baby, "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect", and "A Cautionary Song", which is about mother who must sell her body to randy sailors in order to feed her children. "Odalisque" mixes up the tempos, and will require the first - if not second or third - reference to a dictionary for most listeners. The prominent arpeggios toward the end are reminiscent of "Because" by The Beatles. With these five songs going for it, the first half of the album is uniformly strong.

Alas, several songs on the second half of the CD are a bit, well, boring. "Cocoon" slows the tempo significantly, to the detriment of the song and the album. It is quite difficult to remain interested in it over the course of its seven minutes. "Grace Cathedral Hill" is a better song, but does little to add any momentum. The aforementioned "The Legionnaire's Lament" rescues the listener from the onset of ennui, but "Clementine" - a sweet and sincere song worth listening to at least once - threatens to set it right back in.

Fortunately, Castaways and Cutouts closes on a upbeat note, albeit a very long one. "California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade" is the first epic of the group's career.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Spencer G. Dickson on May 23, 2003
Format: Audio CD
"Castaways and Cutouts" is as fully-realized a debut as I've ever heard. Everything about this band--from its name and homespun artwork to Colin Meloy's beautiful and beguiling songs--feels right. Meloy's vivid lyrics spin intimate tales of unrestful spectres, reluctant prostitutes, and lonely soldiers with an effortlessness that belies their complexity and completeness. His highly literate and captivating wordplay is backed by a woozy folk/pop hybrid that perfectly matches the lyrics in tone and impact. Acoustic guitar tracks are augmented by Hammond organ, accordion, and tasteful pedal steel. Though familiar, when coupled with the lyrics, the sound is somehow fresh. This probably owes to Meloy's unique phrasing (he's from Montana, but sings with an appealing mid-Atlantic lilt), lovely melodies, and self-assured, troubador's vocals. Everything fits together perfectly. This is a special record.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on July 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There are some bands that one is happy to hear the first time, and there are others that make one feel blessed. Listening to this Decembrists' CD, I reveled in my good fortune; what a wonderful world we live in that can yield music this good.

The Decembrists' "sound" is very distinctive-- organs and accordions feature prominently, while singer/songwriter Colin Meloy's voice is slightly reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock. Like Hitchcock, Meloy has a uniquely personal writing style, but where Hitchcock is deliriously surreal, Meloy's writing is structured around storytelling. Simply reading through the lyrics (which can be enjoyed in and of themselves), these tales of life's, er, castaways in various exotic time and place settings entertains. Listening to them, of course, is even better.

Throughout, the Decembrists walk a remarkable tightrope. Their music is quirky without being obtuse, literate without being pretentious, catchy with being cloying... I've been listening to a lot of good music this year, and CASTAWAYS might be the highlight. And the fact that they're from Portland is just icing on the cake. Hey, there's a song here called "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect"! You know, I wrote a guidebook to Portland architecture... and you really don't care. :)

Listen to this CD.
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