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The Decemberists

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The Decemberists Picaresqueties album cover
2.63 | 5 ratings | 2 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Bandit Queen (with "Dialogue" and "Tap Dancing") (4:19)
2. Bridges And Balloons (3:13)
3. Constantinople (3:34)
4. The Kingdom Of Spain (Version Prescott)(3:43)
5. The Bandit Queen (Version Prescott) (4:26)

Total Time: 19:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Hill / trombone
- Petra Haden / violin, voices
- Joe Cunningham / baritone sax, tenor sax
- Eric Stern / tenor (vocal)
- Aaron Stewart / tamtam
- Sean Nelson / voices
- Paul Brainard / trumpet, horn arrangements
- Christopher Walla / electric guitar, mixing, producer
- Colin Meloy / guitar, vocals
- Jenny Conlee / voices
- John Roderick / sound effects

Releases information

LP Jealous Butcher JB-053 (2005 USA)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Joolz for the last updates
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Buy THE DECEMBERISTS Picaresqueties Music

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Tain/5 Songs [Vinyl]Tain/5 Songs [Vinyl]
Jealous Butcher 2004
$13.88 (used)

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THE DECEMBERISTS Picaresqueties ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE DECEMBERISTS Picaresqueties reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars This isn’t really an album per se, and it isn’t quite an EP either. It was a companion disk to the vinyl version of the ‘Picaresque’ album on the U.S. Jealous Butcher release. As far as I know it hasn’t been released on its own, but there were some distributed during the west coast swing of the band’s 2006 tour. I’ve read it can also be downloaded from eMusic.

This is a very short collection of four outtakes the band recorded during the making of ‘Picaresque’, and includes two versions of the goofy ditty “The Bandit Queen”. The video of one of those versions can also be found on youTube. The songs are all pretty much acoustic, mostly Colin Meloy on guitar and Jenny Conlee on piano. The one kind of surprising track is a cover of the harpist Joanna Newsom’s “Bridges and Ballons” from her first album, which released only a few months before this album was recorded.

“Constantinople” is a weird twist on the ancient Greek take of Hero and Leander, the former a fair maiden and the latter the poor sot who pined for her during nightly visits to the tower where she was ensconced before finally drowning one night while leaving her castle. A typical ambiguously accurate historical vignette for Meloy, for sure; while “The Kingdom of Spain” is yet another Meloy story about a poor soul cum fodder of the Establishment, in this case an unjustly accused young lad who is sentenced to die by the callous king and queen of Spain.

Colin Meloy has a very predictable talent for turning period scenes and obscure literary references into the most enjoyable kind of faux-folk ditties that project his profound sense of self-amusement. Check out the video for “The Bandit Queen” or pretty much the entire “Decemberists” A Practical Handbook” DVD and you’ll see what I mean. This particular record isn’t anything to write home about really, but it’s a nice completer piece if you are into the band. A little better than collectors-only, but not quite great. Probably 2.49 stars. Pick it up if you run across it, but you can probably find most of these songs as sound samples around the web or as youTube videos otherwise.


Review by The Whistler
3 stars The thing that I find most amusing about this EP is how radically different it is from Picaresque in structure (well, that and the name). Are these outtakes from that album? If so, I can see why; they aren’t NEARLY as built up as they ought to be. Heh. These sound more like bizarre, futuristic toss offs from the first album. I tend to say that for every Decemberists EP, don’t I? It just means that the most violent the orchestration on these songs gets is slide guitar. Besides that, I’m pretty sure that piano/ acoustic guitars are all we get.

And “The Bandit Queen (With Dialogue and Tap Dancing)” pretty much gets my vote for best song. I meant, dude! It’s got a pleasant turn of the century piano melody, and it’s got some tap dancing in the middle and some dialogue at the start. In other words, pure Decemberists nonsense, and I love it. I think there was also a video somewhere...I seem to recall enjoying that.

The Joanna Newsom cover of “Bridges and Balloons” is nice enough, but kind of passes me by. I mean, based on what I’ve heard, Colin’s weird voice is a lot easier to stomach than Joanna’s weird voice, believe it or not, but not even the Decemberists can breathe “interesting” into the vocal melody. The original “Constantinople” is honestly not much more interesting, but the melody is much prettier, and certainly better constructed.

“The Kingdom of Spain” is another original, so that means its better constructed. Nothing too pretty to look at mind you, but it’s a pleasant enough tune, definitely reaching back towards that Pink Floyd style folk slide guitar the band cultivated so much back in the early days. The EP rounds out with another version of “The Bandit Queen,” this one the “Prescott Version,” whoever Prescott is. Don’t look at me. All I know is that it’s still a fun song, but not quite as fun; the piano has been swapped for guitar, and the tap dancing is absent. Pity.

But there’s nothing particularly wrong with this little gift pack. I mean, it’s hardly the most essential thing on earth, but if you’re even a passing Decemberist fan with some money that you NEED to get rid, and this happens to be cheap and staring you in the face, you probably will get your kicks out of it. Certainly “The Bandit Queen,” the longer one, is a dirty gem of a Decemberists song, and fans of the band’s earlier, folkier material will find something in the acoustic recording here that has been missing for a while.

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