Everything they do is golden: The Decemberists release an iTunes session

This iTunes Session format is becoming rapidly more popular and The Decemberists, who are known for toying with album formats, are perfect candidates to hop on board this band wagon. This iTunes Session is a brilliant step for the band to take right now, as it mixes the old, the new and the extremely-new with covers recorded especially for this project. This fusion really showcases The Decemberists’ strengths and development and, furthermore, shows that they are still capable of more even after all this time.
The covers are the unexpected joy of the album and include “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” from Leonard Cohen and “When U Love Somebody” from Fruit Bats. These renditions highlight The Decemberists’ unique folksy flavor and show that they are still full of surprises. “When U Love Somebody” especially emphasizes a wilder side, sounding like the soundtrack to a country house party.
Revivals from their latest album The King is Dead include “Calamity Song,” the extremely popular “This Is Why We Fight” and a new take on “January Hymn” called “June Hymn.” “June Hymn” leaves listeners with a second half to the whole. It was an interesting choice as “January Hymn” is highly underplayed, but this track has a powerful feeling of intimacy that leaves a lasting impression. As for “Calamity Song” and “This Is Why We Fight,” there are no inhibitions. Though they are very similar to the original versions, any tidying up that was done for The King is Dead is put aside and what’s left is an excuse to fully rock out.
Other tracks include glimpses at the older albums The Hazards of Love and The Crane Wife. All in all, this session is a perfect “Decemberists 101”. To anyone who is eager to learn more about this Oregon-based indie folk band, the iTunes Session is a perfect place to start.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-G
Key Tracks: “When U Love Somebody,” and “Calamity Song”.
Recommended if you like: The New Pornographers, Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats.

W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!

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