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(Good) Cover Version

July 1, 2008

Covering obscure songs is an odd choice in some ways. After all, it doesn’t have the instant-recognition factor that will lead to major sales. And the fans that know the song are probably so damn precious about it that they’ll hate you for attempting it.

That was what happened to Mark Kozelek’s Tiny Cities (all Modest Mouse covers) and to a lesser extent the Twilight Singers’ She Loves You (various artists). They couldn’t ride the gimmicky wave that say Cake’s “I Will Survive” owned, and they managed to piss off a few indie purists along the way.

I think the new covers album by avant-folkie Adem should manage to get away with it, but only because the quality is really high. The choices for his album Takes are pretty left-field and mostly from the 90s/early 00s. Nothing too sacred there – but maybe the hipsters will still hate it.

A couple of favourite tracks of mine that he’s attempted are Pinback’s “Loro” – hardly a cult classic, even, but a great song – and Low’s “Laser Beam”. Pinback is pretty easy to pull off and to be fair, Adem doesn’t really change things. Low is harder, mainly because “Laser Beam” is such a classic example of Mimi Parker’s astonishing vocals. Still, he gives it a woozy soul that works almost as effectively. With this album, the initial impression may be that he hasn’t done anything remarkable – but each listen will turn up different angles.

Really, you should have a listen to all of it. There’s some Yo La Tengo, some Smashing Pumpkins and a brilliant Aphex Twin reworking.

Adem – “Loro”

Adem – “Laser Beam”

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