So, it occured to me just now that most of the time, Decemberists covers are kind of like that Eddie Izzard bit from "Dress to Kill" about how Anglicans can make a chorus of "Hallelujah" sound like the most dreary thing ever...
There's something weird, something phenomenally dreary about Christian singing. The Gospel singers are the only singers that just go crazy, joyous and it's fucking amazing! And it's born out of kidnapping, imprisonment, slavery, murder, all of that - and this joyous singing! And the Church of England, well, all those sort of Christian religions, which is mainly Caucasian white people, with all the power and money - enough power and money to make Solomon blush, and they're all singing, [dirge-like] "Oh, God, our hope in ages past, our hope for years..." They're the only groups of people that could sing, "Hallelujah" without feeling like it's a "Hallelujah!" thing. [drearily] "Hallelujah, hallelujah, joyfully we lark about." It's just not kicking, is it? God must be up there going, "What on Earth is that?"Oh Mr. Meloy, I know you're trying, but it was better you were all affected and dorky doing "Bridges and Ballons" or "Human Behaviour" -- not to mention all those Mozzer covers -- and not completely, dourly, and flatly murdering one of the best songs ever (and for the record, I wasn't a fan of of that Left Field cover that re-surfaces every once and a while either).
Colin Meloy -- Pregnant For The Last Time
Colin Meloy -- Dance To Your Daddy (repost)
Anyway, a good bit of news, also concerning covers. Sean Nelson, lead singer of Harvey Danger (and late of The Long Winters) told me about a bajillion years ago that he was going to do an album of Nilsson covers. We once discussed options over email -- I strongly suggested "Turn On Yr Radio" and "Miss Butters' Lament," I believe -- but I never heard anything else about the project. And after the new Harvey Danger album, Little by Little..., was released, I assumed it was completely dead for good. How wrong I was! Seems Mr. Nelson sneakily recorded his Nilsson covers album, with the assistance of producer/multi-hyphenate Mark Nichols, and is looking for someone to release it. Believe me, it's enough to make a girl start a record label, let me tell you... *ahem* Anyway, just add him to the pantheon of Nilsson lovers out there: The Format, The Walkmen, and the omnipresent Carlos D. You're in good company, Mr. Nelson.
Sample some tracks at the Nelson Sings Nilsson Myspace page. It's all very promising -- Mr Nelson's full-bodied, sweet voice is naturally well-suited to the material and his versions, though hardly huge departures from the originals, have a class and flash of their own.
And, if you're not familiar with Mr. Nelson's song stylings, save from the ubiquitous "Flagpole Sitta," here's some goodies for you:
Harvey Danger -- Cream and Bastards Rise
Harvey Danger -- Elvis, I Don't Love You
Harvey Danger -- Defrocked
Sidebar of no particular importance: The Wikipedia entry for Girl Talk's Night Ripper clearly exemplifies the underlying problem with Mr. Gallis' mashups/mixes/whathaveyou -- and I know I've mentioned this before -- that the songs seg into each other with a predictable, precise regularity. Though flashy, after a few listens, you start to realize that there's no strong foundation for each track -- and that for all the exciting stuff (MIKE JONES! WITH NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL! OMG!) going on up top, they just kind of cave in on themselves.
Ok, enough complaining from me...