Bridging the Distance
Like many folks born in the 1970s and 1980s, I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with what we now refer to as "classic rock." Such music certainly dominated my initial immersion in music, and my collection is loaded with the usual suspects. It's rare that I get out those Zeppelin, Doors, whatever albums these days but they certainly inhabit my consciousness and always will. However, I'm pretty much sick of hearing most of it.
Now, for whatever reason, I still sometimes get excited by the prospect of hearing contemporary artists covering their predecessors. I was all over the Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack when it hit, and I'm a total sucker for tribute compilations. Given all that, it should be expected that I would be into Bridging the Distance, a collection of covers by Portland, Oregon, artists that was released in April. It helps that unlike many such collections, it's actually pretty darn good.
Heavy-hitters and upstarts alike contribute to the collection, with the former bunch including The Decemberists taking on Fleetwood Mac and Spoon's Britt Daniel covering a Sam Cooke classic. The Thermals offer a droning take on Zep's "Tangerine" while The Joggers contribute a Yes cover that has long been part of their live set. The Snuggle Ups turn The Boss's "Dancing in the Dark" into a synth-driven romp; if Courteney Cox danced to this version I imagine she'd do so clenching glowsticks.
Some of the more interesting reinventions are Whip's anguished folk rendition of "White Wedding" that removes the track from its roots almost completely, as well as Blitzen Trapper's electro-pop "Crazy on You." Menomena side project Lackthereof's Casiolicious "What a Fool Believes" sounds like Michael McDonald getting inspired at a Radio Shack. I found myself expecting someone to introduce the starting lineup for the 1998 Chicago Bulls while listening to Vica Voce's cover of "Eye in the Sky," but that might just be me.
01. The Decemberists - Think About Me [Fleetwood Mac]
02. Pat MacDonald - The Harder They Come [Jimmy Cliff]
03. The Joggers - Long Distance Runaround [Yes]
04. The Snuggle Ups - Dancing in the Dark [Bruce Springsteen]
05. The Thermals - Tangerine [Led Zeppelin]
06. Christopher Walla - Shattered Dreams [Johnny Hates Jazz]
07. Viva Voce - Eye in the Sky [The Alan Parsons Project]
08. The Minus 5 - That Smell [Lynyrd Skynyrd]
09. Talkdemonic - Sombre Reptiles [Brian Eno]
10. The Minders - Don't Bring Me Down [Electric Light Orchestra]
11. The Kingdom - Sister Christian [Night Ranger]
12. Lackthereof - What a Fool Believes [The Doobie Brothers]
13. Whip - White Wedding [Billy Idol]
14. Wet Confetti - Invincible [Pat Benatar]
15. The Dandy Warhols - She Sells Sanctuary [The Cult]
16. Point Juncture, WA - Pearl of the Quarter [Steely Dan]
17. Blitzen Trapper - Crazy on You [Heart]
18. Crosstide - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? [Elvis Costello]
19. Britt Daniel - Bring It on Home to Me [Sam Cooke]
The full comp is available from Arena Rock Recording Co. for only $10. For further incentive to purchase, sales benefit Portland's p:ear organization which provides peer mentoring for youth who are homeless or in transition.
For those of you in Atlanta, Bridging the Distance is in stock at Criminal Records.