Does The Decemberists' "Calamity Song" Steal The Riff From R.E.M.'s "Talk About The Passion"? YOU DECIDE!

Sure, The Decemberists are a beloved hipster band that can seemingly do no wrong, but on "Calamity Song", a track from their 2011 studio album The King Is Dead, as well as the newly-released live album We All Raise Our Voices To The Air, the opening riff is just a little too familiar, if you ask me.

Anyone who has ever heard R.E.M.'s "Talk About The Passion" will no doubt slap their forehead in recognition and wonder how the heck The Decemberists could be so bold as to lift the riff from such an obvious source.  Never mind the fact that the rest of "Calamity Song" proceeds to ape early-R.E.M. in almost every facet, except for the lyrics and vocal melody, which owe an obvious debt to They Might Be Giants, but perhaps not enough to get litigious over.

So, is it just me or should REM sue these riff robbers?

You decide:

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  1. Dude, the person who is playing that riff on "Calamity Song" is R.E.M.'s Peter Buck himself. So... I guess it would make for an interesting lawsuit?

    1. Haha. Precisely, a little research is due before accusing someone of thievery.

  2. come on man if all the band where this aggressive like you,3/4 of the band would not exist! Think about it, if like you they were led zeppelin would have low suits against 1/10 of the bands of the world. And biased that its Peter Buck plays the riff himself and I think his ok with it to be played on a Decemberists song.