Album: Tortoise and Bonny 'Prince' Billy

The Brave and the Bold, DOMINO
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The Independent Culture

There are many reasons for releasing an album of cover versions - to pay tribute to heroes, to provide a matrix of influences that might illuminate your own work, maybe just to have some fun - but it's hard to discern the rationale for this covers collaboration between Chicago post-rockers Tortoise and alt.country icon Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, which apparently grew out of the latter's desire to cover "Thunder Road". Springsteen's anthem gets a parched desert-rock treatment in the vein of Neil Young or Giant Sand, and, like several of the more well-known songs here, a new melody that doesn't quite do it justice. The desperate desire to find new shapes for familiar songs produces hit-and-miss results: Richard Thompson's "The Calvary Cross" is suitably spartan and tense; and Melanie's "(Some Say) I Got Devil" is rendered so dark and creepy it could be an original Will Oldham mea culpa admission. But the brio of Devo's "That's Pep" is replaced by sinister fuzz-guitar riffing, while Elton John's "Daniel" is all but destroyed by the scratchy industrial loop and Oldham's shaky command of the tune.

DOWNLOAD THIS: '(Some Say) I Got Devil', 'The Calvary Cross'

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