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March 14, 2012 / jhsaeger

The Decemberists Wrap King Is Dead With Live Album

   In the nine years between their debut LP Castaways and Cutouts and their chart-topping album The King Is Dead, Oregon folk rock band The Decemberists steadily ascended the record charts before securing the coveted number one spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 in 2011. To document the following tour, the group released We All Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11), a two-disc, twenty-song compilation covering various stops along the tour circuit. Their third live release, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air is the longest and most extensive live album from The Decemberists to date.
   The recordings, selected from eleven different stops on the road, capture the marked strengths of The Decemeberists: soothing harmonies, spirited performance, and excellent execution from the vast group of accompanying touring musicians. We All Raise Our Voices to the Air also relays lead singer Colin Meloy’s effervescent interactions with the audiences,  including a series of humorous call-outs of crowd members who declined the audience participation bit of an extended version of “Billy Liar.”

    Like the previous material that worked its way into the tour’s set list, the songs from The King Is Dead translated well live, particularly a killer performance of “Down By The Water.” Past hits, like the 16-minute “The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3” and “Oceanside” were also among some of the most memorable takes. Similar to “Billy Liar,” one of the best cuts on the record, “The Soldiering Life,” includes Melloy’s witty inclusion of the “Footloose Moment” of the show following an audience member’s command to “stand up and dance.”
   In addition to The Decemeberists, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Works Progress Administration) contributed vocals, guitar, violin, and percussion as a touring musician.   
   We All Raise Our Voices to the Air is available as a digital download, double-disc CD, and tripple-LP vinyl. A must for the most serious fans of The Decemberists and a good discovery for those trying to get a feel for the band’s live performance, the record will also serve as a stopgap between projects for the folk group.
   The Decemberists will also contribute a new song, “One Engine,” to the talent-laden Hunger Games soundtrack due out on March 20. “One Engine” is currently available as an itunes-only download as an advance single.

Other Cool Stuff That Hits This Week: Artwork: To Feel Alive (EP), The Swell Season: The Swell Season (DVD), The Dropkick Murphy’s: Going Out In Style, B.O.B.: Clouds.

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