Picaresque, by The Decemberists (2005): When I first picked up The Crane Wife and blogged about it last year, Brandon from Ground and Sky recommended picking up the band's earlier albums. I kept my eye open and eventually picked the all up. This is the best of the lot and, in my mind, is about level with The Crane Wife. I think it's actually more consistently excellent, but lacks the serious highs of the later album (I'm generally in agreement with Brandon's review). Which is not to say it isn't chocked full of good ones. But sometimes consistently excellent and occasionally brilliant tend to balance themselves out.