a very unique voice makes a few of these likable
he does sound like somebody, just can't place it right now
still, just misses the buy list

Grade - 1.6

released Feb 22nd, 2011

from the album - All Away - 2.0


from all music


Although the Builders and the Butchers formed in Portland during the mid-2000s, the band's hybrid of folk, country, and twangy rock evokes the Great Depression more than the contemporary Northwest. The group's beginnings date back to fall 2003, when frontman Ryan Sollee relocated from Alaska to Portland with his then-current band, the Born Losers. A newfound fascination with blues, country, and gospel music convinced Sollee to launch a different project, and the musician teamed up with several local players -- including bassist Alex Ellis, organist/percussionist Ray Rude, drummer Paul Seely, and mandolin/banjo player Harvey Tumbleson -- to form the Builders and the Butchers.

Playing their first show in fall 2005 (on Halloween weekend, no less), the Builders quickly found an audience with their dark, Southern gothic songcraft, most of which was played on acoustic instruments with little amplification. Although the band was forced to add amplifiers as the crowds increased, the down-home appeal still remained, and local Americana label Bladen County Records soon signed the Builders and the Butchers to their roster. A self-titled LP followed in March 2007.

Despite being recorded in a studio, the band's debut was essentially a live record. Released in 2009, Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well proved to be a different story, featuring a polished Americana sound courtesy of the Decemberists' Chris Funk, who produced the album. After logging several months on the road, the Builders and the Butchers went back to their original approach for their third effort, Dead Reckoning, which was recorded in a series of inspired live takes over eight days.

Album Review

The Builders and Butchers combine folksy Americana with a hybrid of Celtic and Southern gothic traditions, creating a sound that doesn’t evoke one specific location as much as a patchwork of long-forgotten places. The guys keep things loose on their third album, Dead Reckoning, whose 12 songs were recorded in a series of live takes with few overdubs. The result isn’t as lushly textured as Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well, which found the Builders beefing up their old-time folk songs with 21st century production, but it’s far more representative of their live show. Apart from guest performers Amanda Lawrence and Zy Orange Lynn, both of whom add string parts to the album, Dead Reckoning is a stripped-down effort, with acoustic instruments taking precedence over their electric counterparts and a sense of raw, off-the-cuff energy reigning supreme. The Builders and the Butchers still brew up an expansive sound on the shanty-esque “It Came From the Sea” and the country-rocking “Black Elevator,” but they also know how to scale things back. “Blood for You” features little more than a cappella vocals and homemade percussion (which sounds like someone banging a 2X4 against the wall), while “All Away” keeps things simple with guitar, mandolin, and light organ. It’s hard not to draw parallels to the Decemberists -- fellow Portland residents whose frontman, Colin Meloy, shares a strikingly similar voice with frontman Ryan Sollee -- but Dead Reckoning is further proof that the Builders and Butchers are building their own identity.

Track Listing

1 I Broke The Vein Builders and the Butchers 5:34
2 Rotten to the Core Builders and the Butchers 4:00
3 It Came from the Sea Builders and the Butchers 2:48
4 Lullaby Builders and the Butchers 3:53
5 Moon is on the March Builders and the Butchers 4:36
6 All Away Builders and the Butchers 4:09
7 Cradle On Fire Builders and the Butchers 3:52
8 We All Know the Way Builders and the Butchers 3:45
9 Out of the Mountain Builders and the Butchers 5:30
10 Blood For You Builders and the Butchers 1:22
11 Black Elevator Builders and the Butchers 5:36
12 Family Tree Builders and the Butchers 4:06