With their abstruse allusions and just-so arrangements, the Decemberists' albums often sound like they've been rehearsed and researched down to the last grace note. That's no knock — in fact, it's key to their appeal. But it's a pleasure to hear them cut loose on this eight-song EP, recorded live in an L.A. studio. They attack their back catalog with relish, jamming on jangly gems from this year's The King Is Dead, and breathing fresh life into older tunes. Best of all is a fiddle-sweetened cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" that suggests what the great Canadian might have sounded like if he came up in Appalachia.
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