CD Review – Various Artists, The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver, ATO, 2013


Library Classification: V for Various
File Under: Country / Indie-Folk

Artist: Various (John Denver, if you must)
Title: The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver
Label: ATO Records

Date(s) Recorded: 2013
Date Released: 04/02/2013
Date Received: 04/08/2013

Clean: All
Indecent: None
Play: 3-All Of My Memories (holy crap), 1-Leaving On A Jet Plane (also holy crap), 4-Prisoners (\m/), 12-Take Me Home Country Road, 13-The Eagle And The Hawk, 16-Wooden Indian (weirdness from Edward Sharpe, etc.)

RIYL: John Denver (duh), Indie Folk / Alt-Country, Soundtracks to your childhood and/or trips you never took to Colorado.
In a nutshell: Modern takes on a country legend. If you’re too young to remember, here’s your gateway. Listen up, young folks.

Comments: I really feel for kids these days. They didn’t get to grow up with the Clinton years, though some would argue the Obama years are better in some ways. But if you remember Reagan or Carter, then you might have a soft spot for John Denver. My folks were fans, so it reminds me of my childhood.

As with all tributes / soundtracks / collections, some tracks are stronger than others. The album is definitely front loaded. John Denver’s starry-eyed optimism can shine even through simplest of instrumentation and starkest of vocals. Case in point, the album’s opener, Jim James/MMJ singing “Leaving On A Jet Plane” or Kathleen Edwards with “All Of My Memories” (3). Holy crap, them’s some pipes.

On the other hand, you have radical re-interpretations like J.Masics & Sharon Van Etton handling “Prisoners” (4). I don’t think J.D. ever shredded quite like J. Or, even weirder, is the album’s closing track, “Wooden Indian” (16). Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes take a song that was once country, drag it though a futuristic wasteland, and make it into something very much their own. This is the other thing that cover albums do, give artists a chance to re-interpret their influences, transforming classic songs into something either very current, or very timeless.


CD Review – Kurt Vile, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, Matador, 2013


Library Classification: Rock
File Under: V for Vile

Artist: Kurt Vile
Title: Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Label: Matador

Date(s) Recorded:
Date Released: 04/09/2013
Date Received: 04/08/2013

Clean: All
Indecent: None
Play: 5-Never Run Away (3:25), 2-KV Crimes (3:57), 3-Was All Talk (7:42), 1-Wakin On A Pretty Day

RIYL: Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, Chunky Guitar Solos
In a nutshell: Lazy, hazy rock from Kurt Vile who continues to build his own rock legend.

Comments: Kurt Vile is so fucking cool. In “Was All Talk” (3), Vile says, “Making music is easy: watch me.” And he delivers. Eleven tracks of hazy guitar rock, none of which is hurried. Kurt is the opposite of punk here, content to noodle around on his guitar for a while, circle back to some Lebowski-esque lyrics, and then back to guitar. It’s a hypnotic record, and it just feels like the dog days of summer. Several of the tracks clock in at 7-10 minutes, so DJs can cue one up, go out for a sandwich or hit the head. Whatever. Kurt won’t mind.