The Decemberists – July, July!

The Decemberists seem an odd band to celebrate the start of July with a post about(although I suppose given we’re now six months through the year, we’re closer to next December than last today!), but then they’ve never seemed to be solely a ‘winter band’, name notwithstanding. As a digression, for me ‘winter bands’ are those who are either to be solely listened to during the colder months, or at elates those who sound better then, and vice versa for ‘summer bands’. Some examples of the type would include Joy Division, Bon Iver and Plastikman for the winter, and Sublime, the Beach Boys and the Kinks for summer.

Anyway, returning to why we’re all here, or at least why I am, July, July. Drawn from the Decemberists’ 2002 debut album, Castaways and Cutouts, something about the song has always reminded me of the sea and of pirates, despite there not really being any lyrical connection to drive the association. I can only think it is a strange synapse in my head that associates running gin with smuggling… Or perhaps it’s down to the album art (here). In any case, it’s there, and I have hence been seeking a shot of a pirate ship to accompany the sounds of the song on shotwithsound since I started the blog last summer.

The photo above was taken on a – to my knowledge – typically foggy day in the Halong Bay, Vietnam, in the sort of atmospheric conditions that strip colour from the landscape, leaving nothing but moody monochromes and junks hovering on the indiscernibly thin strip of surface between sea and sky, looking like Marie Celestes of the East as they do.

Castaways and Cutouts set the template for the evolution of Decemberists’ music over the last eight years. They specialise in producing what I guess I’d refer to as whimsical, almost anachronistic indie music, the song on the album after July, July is an accordion driven, faux-European sounding shanty for example, and prefer to tell epic historical stories with their lyrics.

They are currently working on their sixth studio album, alongside REM’s guitarist Peter Buck (no yoghurt on the rider then) but as it isn’t due out until early next year, in the mean time you can buy the album Castaways and Cutouts from Amazon here. For some reason iTunes don’t appear to have Castaways and Cutouts, but they do have most of the other Decemberists albums here: The

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