It wasn’t enough that The King is Dead, the chart-topping new record from the Decemberists, borrowed guitarist Peter Buck and producer Tucker Martine from R.E.M. It wasn’t even enough that they included at least two songs on the record that could’ve been recorded by the Athens, GA quartet. Seriously, if you replace Colin Meloy with Michael Stipe on “Calamity Song” and “This is Why We Fight,” you’d have an R.E.M. classic. No, the Decemberists have now slid from homage to out-and-out tribute with a cover of the group’s 1986 cut “Cuyahoga.”
Meloy’s indie five-piece laid out their take on R.E.M.’s anti-pollution screed while making a promotional stop at Los Angeles’ KCRW 89.9. The cover retains a distinctly Decemberists sound, due mostly to the texture added by Jenny Conlee’s sweet accordion and, of course, Meloy’s unmistakable vocals. All teasing aside, the Decemberists do their progenitors proud here. Though The King is Dead has basically guaranteed them musical success for the foreseeable future, they could always fall back on being an R.E.M. tribute act. Download the cover below!