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The Decemberists

Aye, matey. Ye olde accouterments of seafaring days gone by -- mermaids, sea captains, galleons, and the like -- have become the aural calling cards of the eccentric Portland, Oregon, band called the Decemberists. There is the whiff of days of yore about them, 'tis true, especially on the recently reissued EP The Tain, a five-part song cycle that moves from haunted-house-lullaby lushness to sea-chantey simplicity and tells of souls lovelorn and lost alike. Known for being lyrical sorts, the Decemberists weave pretty poetry in imagery-stained lyrics such as "O the Wind is blowing, it hurts your skin/As you climb up hillside, forest, and fen/Your arms full of lullabies, orchids and wine/Your memories wrapped within paper and twine." Lead singer Colin Meloy's plaintive voice is as thin as the mirror-backing tinfoil referred to in the album's title, but he sensitively evokes a spectral sense of longing. Accompanied by a plethora of instruments worthy of a pirate's plunder -- from accordion and glockenspiel to tin toys and bottles -- The Tain 'tis buried treasure, to be sure.

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Lori Ellison

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