When we last checked in with jj, we mentioned that R&B covers were sort of their thing. That was 2010 though. This fall, they’ve gone ‘80s pop-rock. Their latest cover finds singer Elin Kastlander gently plucking an acoustic guitar to the Outfield‘s biggest (only) hit “Your Love.” Instead of tweaked-out production and reverb-soaked vocals, it’s a plaintive folksy ballad that is absolutely heart-melting. And it’s performed in a spa to boot.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.
The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.”
[Begin snobbish rant] Music for the average American consumer goes something like this: turn on radio; listen to “Top 40” station; download a 30 second ringtone of a song designed to be catchy to the point of brainwashing. Yes, I know, this is a huge generalization. But, the point is that the amount of great music currently being made is staggering, with unprecedented access to it thanks to the internet, and yet so many people are content with whatever is spoon-fed over the airways (current readers excepted, of course). If you take the time to explore the music you like, you never know what you might find. [End snobbish rant]