Despite the initial apprehension towards the reboot of iconic horror flick Poltergeist, there is at least one aspect well worth rejoicing over: Austin-based rock group Spoon taking on The Cramps‘ classic punk boogie tune “TV Set,” off of their seminal 1980 debut Songs The Lord Taught Us.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn has become synonymous with hipster culture, so it’s no surprise that a covers album featuring a lineup of tracks with serious indie cred would originate in the neighborhood. Somewhat more surprising? That those covers would come from an 11-piece salsa band. The self-titled debut album from the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra adds some Latin flair to tracks from indie staples including Peter Bjorn and John, TV on the Radio, and LCD Soundsystem.
It’s apparent from the get-go that the WSO is a talented group of salsa musicians. Bandleader Gianni Mano leads the ensemble through the album’s ten peppy tracks with precision and energy. However, the combination of salsa and indie is rather hit or miss, with the up-tempo excitement of the orchestra sometimes overshadowing the content of the song being covered. Blaring horns, timbales, and bongos make for a fun cover of an upbeat track like Peter Bjorn and John‘s “Young Folks,” but can feel overwhelming in quieter moments. Similarly, Solange Prat’s vocals have a very polished, almost Broadway quality that meshes well with the salsa backing but lacks the emotional subtlety needed to get the most out of softer tracks or lyrics originally voiced by less traditional singers.
An Indie Timeline:
August 2, 2010: Arcade Fire cover Jay Reatard.
August 4-5, 2010: Spoon open for Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden.
September 13, 2010: Spoon cover Jay Reatard.
Coincidence? Maybe. Whatever the case, more Jay Reatard covers is never a bad thing. Since his sudden death last January there have been far too few, but it seems the indie mega-groups have begun making up for lost time.