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4Play: Duncan Sheik, Various Artists, Kate Bush, Various Artists

Kristi Kates - July 11th, 2011
Duncan Sheik - Covers ’80s - Red General
Part karaoke extravaganza, part (one would think) stroll down an
experimental version of an ’80s memory lane for singer Sheik, this
collection veers between true-to-the-original covers and (more
intriguingly) Sheik’s own interpretations of these eighties classics.
Fortunately for the listener, Sheik chose some of the smarter ’80s tunes,
as opposed to the throwaways (of which there were many); standouts include
his takes on The Thompson Twins’ floaty “Hold Me Now,” Howard Jones’
previously synth-dark “What Is Love?”, and Tears for Fears’ Hughes-worthy
classic “Shout” heard through Sheik’s unique arrangement lens.


Various Artists - Rave on Buddy Holly - Hear Music
Buddy Holly is paid tribute in this new covers collection that’s pretty
evenly divided between versions that are solidly loyal to the original
tracks and versions that take more than a few modern-day liberties.
Several of today’s quirkiest buzz bands are included here, from Modest
Mouse’s bouncy take on “That’ll Be the Day” and Florence and the Machine’s
version of “Not Fade Away,” and Cee-Lo Green’s fitting, if slightly wacky,
“(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care.” Elsewhere on the set, Fiona Apple
makes a return via her Jon Brion-produced version of “Every Day,” and the
Karen Elson/Jack White collaboration “Crying, Waiting, Hoping.”


Kate Bush - Director’s Cut - Fish People
Not quite a ‘new’ album from the influential British singer-songwriter,
Director’s Cut nonetheless finds Kate approaching her picks of songs from
two of her album’s with - as the title suggests - a director’s or
producer’s sensibilities, as she added new drum performances to each
track, re-recorded all of the lead vocals, and changed up some of the
other elements on each song, including adding guest performers (Danny
Thompson and Mica Paris among them.) “Top of the City” adds in
traffic-jam-worthy percussion, “Rubberband Girl” adds in some interesting
synth textures, and “This Woman’s Work” gets an even more thoughtful
revamp.


Various Artists - A Nod to Bob 2 -
Red House
This Bob Dylan tribute set brings back several of the artists who
participated in the first Nod to Bob, which was originally released to
commemorate Dylan’s 60th birthday. Heavy (appropriately) on the
folk/Americana artists - or at least, folky/Americana approaches to the
songs - the arrangements and covers are, for the most part, quite
original, from Lucy Kaplansky’s “Every Grain of Sand” to The Pines’ “What
Good Am I?” and Storyhill’s perfectly-harmonized take on “Lay Down Your
Weary Tune” - it’s especially cool to hear that a good portion of the
songs included here are some of Dylan’s less-known numbers.
 
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