The Decemberists: We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 4.11-8.11) [Album Review]

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The Decemberists
We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 4.11-8.11)
Capitol Records [2012]

If you have never seen The Decemberists live, then We All Raise Our Voices to the Air will be a true treat as it captures the energy, musicianship, and playful nature of a band that continues to challenge both their audience and themselves. This double album set covers their entire catalog of music, and with 20 tracks totaling a little over 2 hours, The Decemberists nicely blend their full material into one cohesive listen.

There is something about the live show that always makes this happen, as We All Raise clearly highlights how you can have “The Rake’s Song” from the critically divisive The Hazards of Love (2009) following “Leslie Ann Levine” from their 2002 debut Castaways and Cutouts, and then have the band roll into the 16-minute “The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3” with the new version forming a nice twist by sequencing the three Crane Wife tracks in succession. It is this special type of track listing and uniqueness that makes We All Raise worth checking out for a new Decemberists experience.

At the end of the day, We All Raise is still a live record, so if you were not a fan of The Decemberists before, you probably will not be convinced after this undertaking. For fans, though, this record captures the essence of what the band offers live and is a nice piece that gives you Colin Meloy’s humor as he introduces “Dracula’s Daughter” by saying he “would like to play the worst song he ever wrote in his entire life” before it kicks into the crowd favorite “O Valencia!” It also showcases an upbeat and confident spirit that sounds great on the newer material from last year’s solid The King Is Dead (2011) to staple tracks like “We Both Go Down Together”. Who knows where The Decemberists will go next, but We All Raise Our Voices to the Air shows that it doesn’t matter because they will always aim to entertain!

Key Tracks: “Oceanside” / “The Crane Wife 1, 2, And 3” / “Calamity Song”

Artists With Similar Fire: Lullaby For The Working Class / R.E.M. / Camper Van Beethoven

Christopher Anthony
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