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 The Golden Archipelago - your opinion? 
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Joined: 25 May 2008 15:22
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Location: Germany
The album is streaming now, out in Europe and most people are getting their preorders, so it's time for some content-discussion!

What do you think about the album? What do you like, what needs to grow, what's not so good?


Since I was lucky enough to get a promo-copy in December, I've had some time to let it sink in.

My first favourites were "Castaways" and "Runners Of The Sun", quite obviously. They are catchy and masterfully composed. After a few days, it shifted, and now I can say that my overall favourites are "God Made Me" (full of details, a gorgeous climax and fascinating vocals), "An Insular Life" (I'm not into Jazz, but the setup and melody are kind of jazzy here, I love that, plus one of Jonathan's best vocal performances ever and great band-effort, as everyone has amazing parts that you can easily spot and hang on to) and still, my favourite song is "Black Eyes" (I was scared if the studio-recording would capture the raw energy of the live-version, but it got translated perfectly, the piano is amazing and the brass furious, the wretched guitar-scratches - just brilliant).

That said, I like "Uniforms", though I don't like the overdramatic intro and would have loved it to drag on for longer. "Landscape At Speed" is a true grower that reminds me of Radiohead and I've had quite strong phases with "Missing Islands" and "Silver Bodies" (the latter you will discover on the vinyl-edition, it's a gem). The only track i appreciate but personally don't like that much is "Corridors". It disturbs the flow (quite obviously, it is a cut in the tracklist, see the it on the backside of the CD) and just doesn't do that much for me. Compared to the "loud one" on Rook (though they can't really be compared) "Century Eyes", which I love madly, it's the 'weakest' (as in my personal preference) song, but I'm curious if and how they'll pull that one of live!

It's an amazing album, I love it. What do you guys think/feel?

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16 Feb 2010 06:49
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Not sure yet what my favorites are, as the CD popped through my door this morning, and I'm now listening to the tracks for the first time. I will need a few listens to let the music sink in, but it al sounds very beautiful so far.


17 Feb 2010 11:15
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Joined: 20 Sep 2006 10:48
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My initial impression is that it's the best release from the band so far. I'm very happy with the more intense performance by Thor. The only thing that I'm a little disappointed in is the absence of banjo. I never thought I'd say that, but I've grown to like the band's earlier songs with banjo. Right now, Black Eyes is my favorite track, but I like all of it.


17 Feb 2010 11:40
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RobDev wrote:
I'm very happy with the more intense performance by Thor. The only thing that I'm a little disappointed in is the absence of banjo. I never thought I'd say that, but I've grown to like the band's earlier songs with banjo.


Agreed on both points. The drumming sounds much better on this album, and I also miss the banjo (not that there was much on Rook either). Overall I love TGA , but not quite as much as the past two releases. While that may change over time, it just doesn't quite seem as dynamic as Palo Santo or Rook and I think that's where it falls a little short for me. Black Eyes is probably my favourite track as well, and I think Hidden Lakes and Meridian deserve mentions too, as no one else has brought them up yet. Both are fabulous. Of course, the songs other people have mentioned are also great. Of the vinyl bonus tracks, False Sentinel is the one that stands out - it has some interesting shifts in sound, which I appreciate.


17 Feb 2010 12:27
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Joined: 08 Sep 2008 19:25
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I can't wait for my preorder and Golden Dossier to come in the mail!

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17 Feb 2010 17:10
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Joined: 09 May 2004 03:35
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RobDev wrote:
The only thing that I'm a little disappointed in is the absence of banjo.

I don't have an opinion since I've only heard it once so far (heard from Matador today that my album shipped).

But the first thought I had when I heard Danny Barnes -- a preeminent and very diverse banjo player -- was going to be host for Shearwater's showcase at sxsw, was how ironic that this is the album that had no banjo. Not that they can't play older songs that use it. And it was all kind of fitting because I remember noticing when I first started hearing Jonathan use the banjo (my second favorite instrument after drums) how he played it such that it didn't have a bluegrass sound.

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17 Feb 2010 21:26
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I still refuse to hear it before I have it in my hands...

But I expect to love it, my only wish being for more banjo. But the drums may make up for that...

And from the songs I've heard I hear a lack of JM's high vocals, which I really love. Anyone else hear that? Or is it just that way in the two singles?


17 Feb 2010 23:58
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Does anyone else think that their booklet with the CD has an incredible smell? It reminds me of smelling creosote when I was a kid.


18 Feb 2010 06:53
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Can anyone confirm whether or not the LP bonus tracks are included in the mp3 download you get a code for inside the LP package?

I don't want to unseal my vinyl if I can help it. Especially since if past history is an indication, these so-called LP exclusive tracks will be available digitally in some form.


18 Feb 2010 09:52
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I believe they are. The last two Shearwater releases had the extra tracks in the downloads.
Also, I just got an email that it shipped, so I hope to see it by this weekend. It's shipping from damned New York City, after all!

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18 Feb 2010 16:12
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Joined: 18 Feb 2010 22:21
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I just got my LP in the mail, today. The MP3 download code gave me 14 tracks and the booklet PDF. Looks like the LP itself has 13 tracks.

For the technical users out there, the MP3's were encoded via iTunes (not LAME). 256kps CBR.


18 Feb 2010 22:35
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Before I start chasing Matador around for the "missing" download code with the LP, can someone please tell me where or how I ought to find it?

Have bought the LP and the CD and, like others outside the States, am a bit disappointed to discover that there is no mini dossier with either. Is the download US only as well?

My favourites are Meridian and Hidden Lakes, perhaps because both familiar from live performance - I remember being absolutely enchanted by Hidden Lakes at the Union Chapel London concert last summer.

I'm beginning to notice that war is a theme in of a lot of JM's songs, and most, including The World in 1984 and Nobody are superb in their understated way. Meridian has a feel very like these.


19 Feb 2010 03:34
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roebeet wrote:
For the technical users out there, the MP3's were encoded via iTunes (not LAME). 256kps CBR.


Well that A) explains why the leak was in said format, and B) is super-lame.


19 Feb 2010 07:52
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The MP3's from the code download are timestamped 2/3, so these are not the same as the leak. The leaked files that I have were encoded via LAME at 320Kbps CBR. The leaked files actually don't show any clipping, but then again I have no idea what the source was, or if it was re-transcoded from something else.

@carl_w: My code was buried deep in the record jacket, and was actually stuck in there - I had to put my hand in it to get it out. Hopefully yours is the same way.


19 Feb 2010 10:18
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roebeet wrote:
@carl_w: My code was buried deep in the record jacket, and was actually stuck in there - I had to put my hand in it to get it out. Hopefully yours is the same way.

Mine the same. Must have been done intentionally. Is it just me or does everyone who orders vinyl from Matador get bent corners? I feel they have no care when they package the records.

I'm listening to the album for the first time right now. My impression is that it is everything I loved about Rook and Palo Santo combined. They have a sound of their own, and I must say, they create an atmosphere unlike anyone else. Palo Santo I cherish the most because of how much it blew me away, but Rook and TGA just add to the wonders of Shearwater.

Specific things I noticed on first listen is I feel that there is more depth in TGA, and I believe I love the piano sound the best on this album. I felt that Rook was a really 'clean' recording, and like Jonathan has suggested, this is more 'hands dirty' sort of album. I'm curious to make my second listen to be the CD album format to see if I notice any difference in the sound. (which by the way, does the LP download come from the LP mastering or the CD mastering?)
Trapped wrote:
Does anyone else think that their booklet with the CD has an incredible smell? It reminds me of smelling creosote when I was a kid.

I agree, I noticed that while looking through the dossier. Sort of added to the mystery.
RobDev wrote:
The only thing that I'm a little disappointed in is the absence of banjo.

I defiantly agree that I would love to see more banjo in future releases. Jonathan has a wonderful way of incorporating the banjo in a non-traditional way, and making it 'his own.' But I don't feel an absence from the album because of it.


19 Feb 2010 10:53
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