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CD Review - The Minus 5: Killingsworth 

The Minus 5


Yep Roc Records

Portland's Minus 5 arrives in style with, Killingsworth, a Gypsy caravan of acoustic folk songs woven through with softly ethereal, downtrodden voices. Most of the tunes are downers to the point of absurdity, but absurdity hardly indicates a lack of artistic worth. The lyrics of Killingsworth drip with the gray rains of Portland, specifically the rain falling on this album's namesake street, part of the creative hotbed of the Alberta Arts District in the northeast part of the city. The Minus 5, a project piloted by indie rock busy body Scott McCaughey of Fresh Young Fellows fame, emanates the sound of a folky band in a small bar, crooning about lost love and begging the barkeep for one last sip of booze as the band pleads on "Tonight, You're Buying Me a Drink, Bub."

With this album, the band's 13th release, McCaughey represents a diverse and talented collaboration of at least 30 individuals including Peter Buck from R.E.M. and the Decemberists' Colin Meloy. McCaughey founded the band back in 1993 and has provided leadership for this experimental group since. Lending his talent and experience from past and present work with The Young Fresh Fellows and the newly unveiled Baseball Project (which he co-founded with Buck), McCaughey designed the Minus 5 as a collective project rather than a one-genre, one-sound band.

The size and constantly evolving nature of this band produces some pleasant contrasts. This shape-shifting band plays everything from rootsy folk tunes to poetic lyrics that are as cryptic as a gothic novel. In Killingsworth, The Minus 5 mixes a surprising cocktail of familiar sounds and faces enriched by Northwest artists and dark, dramatic lyrics, all the while keeping the Gypsy caravan rolling. What an awesome spectacle they must be live, with stars like Buck strumming guitar next to local Portland poets and lesser-known creative minds.

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