By Various Artists
The point of a covers album? Mainly it's to get a fresh and exciting new perspective on old classics, but when those old classics are nigh on perfect, do we really need this album?
I could be wrong, but the bulk of this CD pretty much affirms my point. When the album kicks off with the weakest track on the record, it's usually a bad sign. It's those over-rated hype magnets The Magic Numbers who begin proceedings with a frankly awful rendition of Tim Buckley's 'Sing A Song For You', replacing the original's subtle beauty with their over-the-top cutesy wutesy vocals, and, well, not much else.
Things don't get much better with Micah P. Hinson doing a rendition of 'Yard of Blonde Girls' from Jeff's incomplete second album 'Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk)'. A noticeably toned down version of it, Hinson then goes on to make it more of a parody in the vein of Hayseed Dixie than an actual celebration of the song, which wasn't Buckley's either, but in the context of a tribute album, we're seeing it as his.
It's mainly an acoustic record, with Adem's version of 'Mojo Pin,' being the obvious highlight, putting in as much passion and energy into it as Jeff's sublime, hazy original.
Elsewhere, Engineers run through a monotone version of 'Song To The Siren', seemingly playing the same note throughout the whole song, Sufjan Stevens does his best on 'She Is', and a nice job he does too, but King Creosote's take on 'Grace' is a hard slog for the most ardent of listeners.
Bitmap's 'Dream Brother' makes for an interesting listen, and Tunng also inject a bit of electro-glitch diversity into the album, but it's Matthew Herbert and Dani Siciliano's re-working of the gorgeous, soulful 'Everybody Here Wants You' into a cold, stark electro based wonder that really excites.
Man of the hour Stephen Fretwell does a very faithful (but still enjoyable) 'Morning Theft', Kathryn Williams does a joyful, beautifully laid back 'Buzzin' Fly' and to finish off, Clayhill run through a slow, atmospheric 'The River.'
It was a nice idea, getting all these indie superstars to collaborate on one big album, celebrating a dynasty that's survived fads, new and more baffling genres, a changing music industry and the curse of being so good it's un-cool to like. However, there's just too little here to heartily recommend. There are a few good tracks, like the Adem one, or the Herbert/ Siciliano one, and I'd recommend you track those down, but the album suffers from style over substance.
Nice idea, just executed poorly.