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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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!

A quarter of a century has gone by since Husker Du’s final drumbeat, and Bob Mould has spent those twenty-five years repeatedly disproving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous quote about there being no second acts in American lives. To recount: his band Sugar marked his most commercially successful period of his career; he dabbled in acoustic and electronica; he worked as a live DJ; he wrote scripts in professional wrestling; he wrote a well-received autobiography, See a Little Light; he wrote the theme to The Daily Show. Best of all, he never stopped being Bob Mould.
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The A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series produces too many great gems to keep track of. We’ve shared recent highlights like Grouplove’s bloody Andrew W.K. and Deer Tick’s rowdy Harvey Danger, but the series may be too much of a good thing and it’s hard to keep up. If you’ve fallen behind on these too, we’ve rounded up some of the recent highlights that we never got around to posting. A robed 24-person Neil Young, a mariachi Decemberists, and a pink-mohawked Violent Femmes await… 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!

Christine McVie is the Mona Lisa of ’70s rock music. She always seemed one cool remove away from the maelstrom of Fleetwood Mac, but there was a lot going on behind that sardonic gaze, and she let it out in her songs, where she specialized in first-person accounts of romances that could be right even when they felt so wrong – and, of course, vice versa. She turns 69 today, and we’re celebrating with five covers that give a whole different meaning to the phrase “one cool remove away.”
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Celebrating their 50th anniversary The Chieftains will mark the occasion with the release of Voice of Ages on February 21. The album features the torch-bearers of traditional Irish music collaborating with  stars from the worlds of indie-rock (Bon Iver, The Decemberists, The Low Anthem), country and Americana (The Civil Wars, Pistol Annies, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers), Irish and Scottish folk (Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, Paolo Nutini) and more. Continue reading »

Last week, A.V. Undercover took a break from covers. Well, took a break from real covers anyway. Bob Mould performing a song he wrote for his band Sugar clearly does not count as a cover, despite his protestations to the contrary. His performance of “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” was good, but we were a little bummed that the alt-rock classic wouldn’t see a genuine cover. Continue reading »

Since releasing their acclaimed #1 album The King Is Dead, the Decemberists have covered the Grateful Dead, R.E.M., and the Louvin Brothers. Well, their new iTunes session, out today, adds two more artists to that list: Leonard Cohen and Fruit Bats. Continue reading »

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.

The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.” Continue reading »

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