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4Play: Various Artists, The Ready Set, Various Artists, The Drums

Kristi Kates - August 9th, 2010
Various Artists - Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: The Songs of John Prine - Oh Boy Records
Progressive bluegrass/folk artist John Prine has been called one of the most influential songwriters of his time, and his poetic lyrics and tunes been compared to everyone from Neil Young to Bob Dylan. Today, a who’s who of current indie-rockers pay tribute to Prine’s songwriting, from The Avett Brothers’ version of “Spanish Pipedream” to My Morning Jacket’s attempt at “All the Best”; Conor Oberst’s (Bright Eyes) take on “Wedding Day in Funeralville” to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon’s version of “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow).”


The Ready Set - I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming - Sire/WEA
The Ready Set - aka Jordan Witzigreuter - basically consists of one man playing every instrument on an album - but don’t think that means it’s a one-note offering. Overloaded with a variety of influences, but still cohesive, Witzigreuter’s debut disc, signed by Pete Wentz’ label, is quirky and poppy, and takes songs quickly through their paces, no matter which genre Witzigreuter is focusing on at the time. First track “Love Like Woe” is all production-sheen and pop, while “More Than Alive” is more about the beats and the pseudo-rap lyrical steps.



Various Artists - Almost You: The Songs of Elvis Costello - Glurp
A re-release of the earlier collection, this is definitely a tribute set worth a second listen, especially for diehard Elvis Costello fans. Many of the interpretations of Costello’s songs are vastly different from the originals, which makes either for an interesting setlist or a non-loyal one, depending on how you look at it. Hem retooks “The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes” into adult-contemporary rock, Matt Pond PA adds strings to “Green Shirt,” Okkervil River takes “Riot Act” into the alt-
country; and Brenda Kahn adds her own flair to “Watch Your Step.”



The Drums - The Drums - Island/Moshi
They’ve toured alongside Bombay Bicycle Club and The Maccabees, and have been tipped for fame everywhere from MTV to MSN. Okay, so perhaps The Drums haven’t caught on big just yet - but that doesn’t mean they won’t, given this uber-catchy set of debut songs. “Let’s Go Surfing,” their first breakout single, doesn’t actually live up to the rest of the set’s complexity; you’ll be more intrigued listening to the Roxy-Music- like “Skippin’ Town,” the immense pianos/guitars of “Forever and Ever Amen,” and the jumpy “I Need Fun in My Life.”

 
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