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The Decemberists, ‘Florasongs’ (Capitol)

Portland’s The Decemberists have one of the most distinctive sounds of any Northwest band, owing to singer Colin Meloy’s rich voice. This EP collects five songs that didn’t make the band’s “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World” album and they are winners.

That album was the band’s first in four years, but also saw the Decemberists firmly mining folk-rock narratives.

These outtakes are more experimental. “Riverswim” combines both a Celtic vibe and a country guitar riff, and one can understand why this didn’t fit on “Terrible World.” “Why Would I Now” has more traditional instrumentation and Jenny Conlee’s piano is a perfect counterpoint to Meloy’s voice. “Stateside” is just Meloy, with a stark guitar backdrop, but it is achingly beautiful, as if he were singing in your living room.

 

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It is easy to be suspicious of outtake EPs, as they can be attempts to pad sales with material that should have been on the album to start with. The Decemberists aren’t that kind of band, however. These songs are true experiments and welcome additions to an already rich and rewarding catalog.

Charles R. Cross, Special to The Seattle Times

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