Various Artists

Chairman of the Board: Interpretations of Songs Made Famous by Frank Sinatra

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You can't argue with a great concept: Songs sung by Frank Sinatra are interpreted by a slew of indie rock and punk bands. A great concept, but one that makes for truly (and gloriously) unpredictable results. Chairman of the Board is, of course, not a perfect record, but it offers up some true gems. Sister Double Happiness does an appropriately languid, drunken version of "Summer Wind," and the Flaming Lips were made to cover "It Was a Very Good Year" -- the Oklahomans have always been good at poignant ballads, and Wayne Coyne's fragile vocals curl up perfectly around the nostalgic lyrics. Other highlights include Jawbox's brooding "I've Got You Under My Skin" and Pitchblende's "Here's to the Losers," which is so dirge-y and messy that you believe the band is singing about itself as much as any of the characters described in the song. Surprisingly winning is Prisonshake's "I Wish I Were in Love Again"; nothing more than vocals, guitar, and finger snaps, it manages to capture the spirit of the song quite nicely, the clever lyrics coming to the fore as singer Douglas Enkler dons his best Sinatra voice (it should be noted that most of the vocalists don't even attempt to sound like the Chairman). But that's not to say the album doesn't have its missteps -- it would be more surprising if a compilation like this didn't. "The Lady Is a Tramp" by Babe the Blue Ox is highly imaginative, but in the end it just sounds like an exercise in weirdness; "Come Fly With Me," as done by Samiam, seems to be an excuse for the boys to act goofy. And a band as good as Girls Against Boys could've done a little more with "My Funny Valentine"; as it is, it sounds like grunge by the numbers. Fortunately, the good far outweighs the bad (heck, in this setting, even the bad is kind of good), and Chairman of the Board could introduce songs by greats such as Rodgers & Hart, Frank Loesser, and Sammy Cahn to listeners who never would've given them the time of day. An added plus: the cynical, witty liner notes by Penn Jillette.

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