Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Are the Decemberists a band that “craft theatrical, hyper-literate pop songs that draw heavily from late-’60s British folk acts like Fairport Convention and Pentangle and the early-’80s college rock grandeur of the Waterboys and R.E.M.,” as described by Allmusic, or are their songs an “unbearable exercise in indie high-quirkiness, with each new release deepening the impression that Meloy thinks he’s Edmund Spenser or, at least, the only rock singer smart enough to keep a copy of The Faerie Queene on his bedside plinth,” as writer Jody Rosen wrote in Slate?

Although I lean toward the former, I can understand believing the latter.

There can be no doubt that the Decemberists’ focus on tales of pirates, highwaymen, shape-shifters, and interpretations of myths and legends from around the world, plus primary lyricist Colin Meloy’s empty-the-thesaurus writing style, not to mention their practice of performing live historical reenactments in their shows, set them up for being mocked by some, and beloved by others. And that is what makes life interesting.
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In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

The rock and roll bands that slammed on the brakes and took the turnoff at country music are numerous. Gram Parsons got high with Keith Richards and “Dead Flowers” was born. The number of times Elvis Costello has cheated on rock and roll with country’s graces is too numerous to count. Jack White turned the knobs for Loretta Lynn. And so on.

The postpunk and indiepop bands that have segued into a Ryman act are no less numerous. X gave birth to the Knitters. The New Pornographers cut loose chanteuse Neko Case. And the Archers of Loaf’s Eric Bachmann disbanded all notions of his indie rock band and spread out into numerous directions, including the roots rock band Crooked Fingers.
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With most cover session series such as AV Undercover, the BBC’s Live Lounge and Like A Version you get some bands selecting a cover they feel safe with while others try something completely new. I’m a big fan of reggae covers of other songs (The Dynamics pulls this feat off repeatedly and brilliantly) but have never seen many going the other way, reggae songs into another style. Of course there are excellent exceptions such as The Clash’s versions of Police & Thieves and Armagideon Time. Continue reading »

Despite lead singer Brandon Flowers’ moments of delusional grandeur (IE, claiming they would have the best album in 20 years with Sam’s Town), the Las Vegas natives collectively known as The Killers seem to know how to have fun every now and then. While performing at the V Festival in Staffordshire, Flowers whipped out a stripped down version of Iggy Azalea‘s “Fancy,” much to the delight of the crowd. Continue reading »

Back when John Mellencamp went by John Cougar, he scored his first hit with 1979′s epic “I Need A Lover.” For the AV Club’s Undercover series, Hamilton Leithauser (formally of The Walkmen), took on the saga with his touring band and absolutely killed it. Continue reading »

Kathleen Edwards has covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” live a number of times, usually with the assistance of Jenn Grant, a frequent touring companion. The online YouTube versions are okay, but suffer from less than stellar performances or shaky recording. Apparently, that almost perfect performance has been tucked away in the record vaults. Edwards recently decided to share it with her fans via a Facebook post. Continue reading »

Sam Amidon has built a career out of taking traditional folk, blues and Appalachian tunes and modernizing them. Although he occasionally strays into pop culture (his version of R. Kelly’s “Relief” was Cover Me’s 2nd favorite cover song of 2010) he can typically be found playing some obscure tune of long-forgotten origin. The first release from his upcoming album, Lily-O, fits the bill. Continue reading »

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Forgive me, Father for I have sinned.

It has been….a really long time since my last confession. My sins are multitudinous (lust, blasphemy, coveting my neighbor’s ass… but in my defense, it’s a really nice ass), but the most egregious of all is idolatry.

See, ever since I could sway to music, Madonna has been my idol. The long-established Queen of my Universe and a musician I just can’t quit despite her numerous attempts to break my heart (that horrible faux English accent, sleeping with Vanilla Ice, sleeping with Vanilla Ice and then documenting it in her Sex book…).

I didn’t grow up Catholic, so I couldn’t seek solace in the open arms of Holy Mother Church. Instead, I sought solace from a leonine-eyed beauty who often incited the ire of the Catholic Church.

Madonna taught me lessons that have carried me through adolescence and well into adulthood.
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