Castaways & Cutout
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Top Customer Reviews
I mean, yeah, there are some similarities, but they're all pretty superficial. Really, the arrangements, the production, and the songwriting on this album is a lot more safe than anything you'd find on a Neutral Milk Hotel album.
That said, there are some nice moments here. The Instrumentation is lush and at times the melodies are quite pretty. The lyrics make a great deal more sense than Mr. Magnum's lyrics, and I think that's a good thing. Yeah, Neural Milk Hotel's lyrics are unique and they often do seem to fit with the music, but when you get right down to it they're pretty much meaningless. The lyrics on this album depict little vignettes and occasionally fully-realized narratives, it's interesting stuff.
Well this disc is a lot like that.
Just to get it out of the way, I see the reason for the Neutral Milk Hotel comparisons, but I'd ultimately reject them. Yes, Colin Meloy and Jeff Mangum have similar voices (though I'd say Meloy has a bit more range) and they appear, on the surface, to have similar song-writing styles. However, I'd say Mangum's more of novelist while Meloy is a short story writer. Mangum's masterpiece - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - was a grand sweeping epic of an album. Castaways & Cutouts feels like 10 intimate portraits.
Getting back to the album, I can say that I haven't been so instantly captivated by an album in a long, long time. (And, for the record, this is the first time ever that I've found myself with accordian line stuck in my head.) The album's a nice blend of more up-tempo songs and quieter, more instrospective numbers. The former quickly lodged themselves in my brain. The latter took a bit more work (somewhat like the entire followup album - Her Majesty etc. etc. etc), but proved to have quite a good deal going on, sonically speaking.
So, I'd reccommend this album to, essentially, everyone. Certainly to Neutral Milk Hotel fans, who will find this, at first, familiar, and then simply wonderful
The short answers to those questions are yes and no. Castaways and Cutouts is incredibly strong. While it is clearly influenced by NMH, the record reveals more than enough originality to warrant the fuss. The Decemberists' Colin Meloy forgoes NMH-proprietor Jeff Mangum's gut-wrenching, breathless delivery and swirling surrealism in favor of a more grounded emotional tenor that sketches maudlin vignettes of characters cutout of history books. At times Meloy resembles a medium giving voice to history's castaways: young vagabonds with "kickabout hearts;" legionnaires pining for their "gay Paree in [a] desert dry;" even an aborted infant still "cling[ing] to [its dead Mother's] petticoat."
Vocally, Meloy is difficult to pin down, as his voice sometimes has a nasal clip that gives him a mild English accent. This is most noticeable on the more up tempo tracks like "July, July!" or "The Legionnaire's Lament," where he reminds of Lee Mavers from the early 90's British pop group The La's. On the slower tracks like the stately "Grace Cathedral Hill" and the forlorn sounding "Clementine," his vocals are similar to Ben Gibbard's from Death Cab For Cutie.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Have you stayed in the Neutral Milk Hotel's coffe-house-psychedelic rooms? Evidently Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy has, especially in sophomore album "Castaways and... Read morePublished on May 12 2004 by E. A Solinas
If you like soft indie music that envokes feeling and piece of heart, this cd is for you. All the songs are unique and are written very very well. Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2004 by Anapanasati
I liked this album alright, but they too often reminded me of The Shins. While I like the music, all their songs sort of sound alot alike. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004
architect was preloaded on my rio player. it was the only real song worth note of the 10 or so songs that were there. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2004
Reviewers are correct in disputing claims that this is a Neutral
Milk Hotel ripoff. Aeroplane Over The Sea beats the pants off this music in energy, intensity and... Read more
Er, who's Neutral Milk Hotel? I must be getting old, because actually I thought of Robyn Hitchcock when I first heard this band. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003