Various Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers!

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Merge gathered a bevy of non-label artists to cover 20 tracks from its catalogue. Despite Score!'s inherent unevenness, it boasts a wealth of playful and moving interpretations. The Shins' take on Tenement Halls' "Plenty is Never Enough" cleans up the original, straying little, creating a predictably infectious rendition. Similarly, the National and St. Vincent's tag-team treatment of Crooked Fingers' "Sleep All Summer" isn't much of a stretch, yet Matt Berninger's voice makes it even boozier, while the interloping horns heighten the heartbreak. Conversely, Times New Viking gloriously drags the Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" through the lo-fi mud. Less successful are Okkervil River, sedating East River Pipe's "All You Little Suckers"; Magnetic Fields take a beating, with Bright Eyes sucking the life out of "Papa was a Rodeo"; and Tracey Thorn and Jens Lekman drain the spryness from "Yeah! Oh Yeah!" But, overall, it's a fun collection with a number of standouts. (Merge)