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The 21st century has been good to Daryl Hall and John Oates. They’ve experienced an enormous resurgence of popularity among capricious young listeners and have maintained an enviable momentum of success, both together and solo. Oh, and people love to cover them.
It’s lucky for us, then, that Herohill – bloggers extraordinaire of the Canadian music scene – took the initiative to assemble a tribute album. Herohall and Oates, as they call it, was spearheaded and compiled by the site’s Bryan Acker and Shane Nadeau and draws from a variety of Canadian indie artists. Variety, though, is the key word here. The artists, despite all coming from the Great White North, are as eclectic in sound and style as one could possibly hope for. What’s more, they don’t stick entirely to Hall and Oates’ hits (although the classics certainly don’t get neglected either) – the picks on this album are as diverse as the artistry. Then again, it’s hard to designate any Hall and Oates tracks as anything other than classic.
Rae Spoon, Homo Duplex, and Gianna Lauren, interestingly enough, all attack the tribute’s few hits with varying degrees of electropop. Spoon brings a flavor to “Rich Boy” (just switching up “Rich Girl” ever so slightly) with a beeping, chiptunesy sound reminiscent of the best that The Postal Service has to offer. The song gets slowed down, but it’s not that much of a slowdown – what’s more poignant are Spoon’s precise, beautiful vocals over the sparse but ideal digital instrumentation.
On “Out of Touch,” Homo Duplex takes a very different approach, bringing sweeping layers of bass, distorted guitar, and a steady beat of deep thumps and tappy percussion. Kristina Parlee’s vocals prove a bit surprising when they kick in, but serve as a perfect contrast to the cover’s meticulous grittiness. Continuing to change up the expectations, Gianna Lauren drops “Kiss On My List” in what may well be the sparsest delivery of the song ever done. She delivers a light, metronomic percussion overlaid by ethereal vocals and sparse keyboard chords to give the song a feel teetering somewhere on that fun border between heartfelt and creepy; the tune careens into delightful, intentional confusion at the end, scattering layers of vocals like breadcrumbs for ducks on the still lake of the instrumentals.
Chris Page takes on the original frantic “Tell Me What You Want” with a fitting acoustic calm. His soft voice hangs low over some light, easy-listening guitar, complemented only occasionally with a bit of chilled out electric riffing or peacefully distorted chords. On the album’s bonus track, Ox, in keeping with with the simplicity of their name, delivers an easygoing, bluesy “She’s Gone” that ostensibly sounds the most like a Hall and Oates track out of the entire tribute.
All said, the tribute is a treat. One can never have too many opportunities to appreciate Hall and Oates, and it’s not often that we find ourselves specifically exposed to Canadian artists. It’s not the nationality that distinguishes these musicians, though; as with all other music worth listening to, it’s the talent. The eclectic nature of the recordings and arrangements layered on top of the skillful songwriting inherent to Hall and Oates tunes makes for a delightful and, at times, surprising listen. Enjoy the sample tracks below and check out the full album here.
Herohall & Oates Tracklist
01. The Provincial Archive – Adult Education
02. Rae Spoon – Rich Boy
03. Homo Duplex – Out of Touch
04. Gianna Lauren – Kiss On My List
05. Brian Dunn – Abandoned Luncheonette
06. Coco et Co – Sara Smile
07. Young Doctors in Love – Every Time You Go Away
08. Chris Page – Tell Me What You Want
09. Bravestation – Maneater
10. Milks & Rectangles – Private Eyes
11. Ox – She’s Gone
Herohill has lots more free music on their blog.