Aug 122011

For the last few years, the folks at Cokemachineglow have marked the end of the year with a Fantasy Covers Podcast. In the latest edition, they give the Podcast a twist by making it a contest– they encouraged artists to submit covers that “re-contextualize” a track with an unexpected new genre. As they predicted, the results are both strange, creative, and occasionally hit-or-miss, but the overall result is a set of imaginative covers with some terrific standouts. Unfortunately the Podcast format means that the 13 covers are only available in one massive file, but it’s one worth downloading.

The Fantasy Covers kick off with a metal-tinged cover of David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” It’s an attention-grabbing opener that’s especially startling in comparison with the next two tracks, a pair of decent if not exceptional low-fi covers. Of the pair, the slow-burning take on Can’s “Deadlock” is stronger. The cover of Thom Yorke’s “Eraser” that crops up later in the mix is similarly quiet but more distinctive, embellished with touches reminiscent of a Postal Service b-side.

The first standout track in the mix comes from Decomposure, who offer a fun, Beach Boys inspired re-imagination of Katy Perry’s summer smash “California Gurls.” The falsetto harmonies are spot-on, a perfect pairing with the sunny lyrics, but the track stumbles when the Snoop Dogg bridge becomes a cheesy ’60s spoken word voiceover.

“Eraser” is followed by the most unusual track in the collection, the distorted mashup “Zombeyonce.” Smashing together Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl” with Beastie Boys, Young Jeezy, and 50 Cent samples, Phil Nelson creates a track that sounds like an unholy alliance between Girl Talk and Crystal Castles.

After the shock of “Zombeyonce,” a dreamily hypnotic take on LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change” is a startling but pleasant comedown. A second Can cover, this time of “Vitamin C,” reverts to the unremarkable low-fi found earlier in the mix, but things pick up speed again with Loaded People’s “Penelope Tree,” an upbeat indie cut with a bright, hyperactive guitar line at its center. An organic take on The Magnetic Fields’ “Asleep and Dreaming” is the most successful of the mix’s quieter tracks, feeling like a laid-back outtake from Edward Sharpe. An indie-folk play on Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” has a similar homegrown feel; its harmonies and fiddle make it one of the most distinctive covers in the set and put it in line with the hot musical trends of the moment.

Two tracks near the end of the Podcast falter, though for opposite reasons. A splice of Little Dragon’s 2009 track “Never Never” with the Paul Simon classic “Slip Slidin’ Away” is interesting in theory, but it’s more clamorous than harmonious– stick with “Zombeyonce” if you’re looking for a good mashup. By contrast, Gnomeshaft’s cover of The xx track “Stars” does too little to distinguish itself from the original song. It’s a competent but unexciting rehash of the track, which is sparse enough to allow room for far more innovation.

Though this is an eclectic collection, it’s worth shuffling through the misfires for the solid set of creatively “re-contextualized” tracks. The Podcast skews a bit heavily toward vaguely electronic low-fi, but tracks like “California Gurls” and “Penelope Tree” shake it out of its funk. Every track might not be for you, but it’s certainly a collection with something for everyone. Download a couple sample tracks below, along with the tracklist, then snag the full set here.

Fantasy Covers Podcast Tracklist:

01. Bambers, “Modern Love” (David Bowie cover)
02. Dokkemand f/ Lars Wiik, “Deadlock” (Can cover)
03. Sewing Machines, “Angel Treads” (Dolly Mixture cover)
04. Decomposure, “California Gurls” (Katy Perry cover)
05. High Cold Star, “Eraser” (Thom Yorke cover)
06. Phil Nelson, “Zombeyonce” (Beyonce/Beastie Boys/Young Jeezy/50 Cent)
07. Aid Fantasm, “I Can Change” (LCD Soundsystem cover)
08. Baja, “Vitamin C” (Can cover)
09. Loaded People, “Penelope Tree” (Felt cover)
10. Erik Haugen, “Asleep & Dreaming” (Magnetic Fields cover)
11. Dust Office, “Never Never/Slip Slidin’ Away” (Little Dragon/Paul Simon)
12. Sewing Machines, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” (Talking Heads cover)
13. Gnomeshaft, “Stars” (The xx cover)

Download the 2011 podcast at Cokemachineglow and check out older editions of the Fantasy Covers Podcast here.

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