When The Decemberists put out The Crane Wife in 2006, they edged just slightly from story-song-pseudo-folkrock into progressive rock territory, most notably with the 12-minute The Island: Come & See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning, which is every bit as pretentious and meandering as its name suggests.
But while I eventually came to like that track a lot (along with the rest of the album), what really struck me as interesting even on first listen was the way the album’s title track was split into two, telling the end of the story as the album’s opener and then circling back to tell the beginning near the end. This sounds kind of pointless and cumbersome, but The Crane Wife 3 is a great album opener and although there’s a clear narrative thread between parts 2 and 3, part 2 ends on an emotional note that’s dulled a little by transitioning right into 3.
That said, when I saw that the band had recorded the song in narrative sequence for their live album We All Raise Our Voices to the Air, I was excited to hear it that way for the first time. I’m sure they’ve been playing it that way live for a while, but I’ve never seen them do so. It takes more than 16 minutes to listen to the whole thing, but I promise it’s worth it.
Listen: The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3
I meant to post this last July around the last time I went to see them live, but I never got around to it. This used to be their show closer, and was an amazing way to go out on a high note. For a few years they even added a drumming-duel-as-intro to the song between drummer cgak (née Chris Tsagakis) and either a drummer from one of the opening bands or another member of RXB. It was a great way to build energy for the pounding, staccato intro.
Decrescendo itself represents everything that is/was awesome about the band (it’s unclear whether their current split is permanent or not–though I’d guess it’s not). It’s the closing track from 2003‘s The Resignation.Though I think they got a little too proggy and technical in their last full-length effort, the mix of complicated riffs and beats, emotional lyrics and just a hint of bombast here make for a potent combination. I’m sad that they no longer close with it, but I got to see them do so a bunch of times and it’s immortalized on their 2007 Live at Bonnaroo set (iTunes link because it’s not available on Spotify or at Amazon), and in a few other places, including Rx Bandits Live: Vol. 1.
Rx Bandits - Decrescendo
It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, but I’ll try to get back into the habit of it, because I love inflicting music I listen to on other people and also writing about it.
Anyway, today’s song is the opener on WWPJ’s latest album, In the Pit of the Stomach. It’s a propulsive album opener, setting the stage for slightly mathy post-punk to come. It should be noted here that I know that it’s post-punk because I’ve been told it is. I generally don’t have much concept of music genres, especially post- anything. Regardless, the whole album is a good time, though it rarely fires on all cylinders quite the way it does here.
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Circles and Squares