Walk the Line by Winona Bechtle
As your trusty and humble summer music director here at KSPC, I am the only person responsible for approving (or in most cases, remaining skeptical of) the constant stream of music that comes into KSPC. While I do try to keep an open mind, program new things into each and every genre, and read up on all of our listener’s favorite labels and releases, it’s impossible to keep my taste out of it. And I’ll be the first to admit, my taste is, well, quite forgiving.
I listen to a bit of everything, and I generally like it. Without hesitation I will tell you of my affinity for ABBA, or the way I dance madly to the B-52s every time they come on the radio. Hey, I’ll give everything a try.
I gushed to Joseph just yesterday about how wonderful Dan Fogelberg was, I mean, the man’s album covers look like this:
That’s not to say I don’t listen to awesome music. I love everything we play at KSPC and have a genuine appreciation for talented, indie bands. But I don’t limit myself to it. And in the same vein of my permitting taste, I bring you to something at which music snobs turn the other cheek, I bring something that can remake and bedazzle a song, or just as easily destroy it forever in your mind, tainting and dismembering beloved classics. My friends, I present to you the COVER SONG.
Cover songs are something that I admit can go terribly wrong. But. I. Can’t. Stop. Listening. To. Them.
It’s not that I don’t think Prince is brilliant, but Dump’s cover of “The Beautiful Ones” brings the song to life in such a way that I can’t believe they’re from the same block of musical marble. So imagine when I saw the compilation album in the library called “‘Til Things Are Brighter…” and noticed it was an eclectic bunch of Johnny Cash covers from various UK, self-described “postmodernists.” This was a trainwreck I just had to hear.
But! Alas! It was…. good. And I don’t think that’s the Fogelberg side of me speaking. The songs are catchy, fun, downright punchy. Thoughtful, even. I wouldn’t say they come anywhere near to surpassing the original Man in Black, but Stephen Mallinder’s cover of I Walk the Line is well done and somber.
I’m not saying to go crazy and listen to every cover ever produced. I admit, there are some stinkers. But they can be fun. Camp can be fun, and occasionally, not all that campy. So c’mon… give it a chance. Find this album, and sing along, I know you know the words.
Unusual Animals by Jojo
If you read last week’s post, you know I am a fragile human and that the arduous vinyl hunt required for these posts brings me to the brink of insanity. Many of our vinyl compilations are stained with my tears.
This week, however, the hunt was not so self-destructive. To be completely honest, I phoned it in a bit hunting-wise. I briefly perused our split records and pulled the first interesting vinyl I saw. This does NOT mean, however, that the music is worse in any way. The release I’m droppin’ on y’all is a split 7″ from Asthmatic Kitty. Asthmatic Kitty is probably most notable for being indie/regular-darling Sufjan Stevens’s label. Hilariously and self-parodically in tune with Sufjan’s image, his official title is “Minister of Aesthetics,”* which probably means he lounges on a bamboo chaise-lounge popping grapes and sending out memos via carrier finch.
I may be caricaturing the man a bit, but I’m fairly certain ol’ Soofy had a delicate, banjo-pickin’ hand in the 7″ series in which this record belongs. Called Unusual Animals, each 7″ features a picture of an “unusual” animal on the front and includes some facts about the animal in the liner notes. I was blessed enough to stumble upon Vol. 4 of the series, the one for the West Indian Manatee (aka Trichechus Manatus), an animal of which Native Americans apparently the bones to treat “earaches and asthma.”
The b-side to this split is a cover of the Steely Dan song “Peg” by the band Cryptacize. Cryptacize is Nedelle Torrisi and ex-Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen. Steely Dan, of course, are the smoothest MFers around. If you haven’t heard the original, it sounds like the beginning of every ’80s sitcom. I highly recommend watching this fantastic fan-made video:
Cryptacize tone down Charles-In-Charge vibe of the original, opting for some light guitar and keyboard work, a minimal groove and Nedelle’s pretty vocals. For an optimal listening experience, I recommend closing your eyes and imagining Sufjan Stevens floating in his private meditation pool with his West Indian Manatee, Sebastian.