The Decemberists

We All Raise Our Voices to the Air: Live Songs 04.11.08

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Recorded while the band was on tour for their chart-topping album, The King Is Dead, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air captures the remarkably tight live performances of Portland indie band the Decemberists. Though their last full-length studio album found the band moving toward a simpler, more Americana-influenced sound, the live set finds the band recapturing the intricate and ornate sound of their earlier work, making full use of multi-instrumentalists Chris Funk and Jenny Conlee as the band works is way through this career-spanning set. While roughly a third of the material comes (understandably) from The King Is Dead, the band hits all the high points, belting out classics like "The Bagman's Gambit," "Billy Liar," and all three parts of the "Crane Wife" suite. Combine the stellar set list with the band's affable, easygoing stage presence and singer Colin Meloy's banter (which includes a detour at the hilariously bad "Dracula's Daughter," a song Meloy himself has referred to as the worst song he ever wrote) and you have a recipe for an album that almost feels like a greatest-hits compilation. Normally, a live album without a ton of rarities would be a hard sell to fans of the band, but We All Raise Our Voices to the Air is such a strong set of performances that even Decemberists diehards might have a hard time passing up on this one. More importantly, however, is that the album gives new fans the ability to experience the band's music without the layer of carefully cultivated shroud of preciousness that can be a bit daunting for anyone unfamiliar with what they might be getting themselves into.

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