The Brave and the Bold

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Well, this one is a surprise. The Brave and the Bold is an all-covers collaboration between Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Will Oldham) and Tortoise, and it's got a set of songs that has to be among the most eclectic of any such project, ever. From Melanie to Devo to Richard Thompson to Lungfish to Milton Nascimento, this is one interesting mix. Some of the songs are done reasonably faithfully to the originals. "Some Say (I Got Devil)" is so faithful that the gender is left intact! And while "Cravo é Canela" keeps the rhythm and melody of the original, it benefits from beefed-up instrumentation, great production, and a surprisingly spirited Portuguese vocal from Oldham. "Love Is Love" trades the guitar grind of Lungfish's original for an industrial synth sound. Others are completely transformed, like the brooding "Thunder Road" and the newly ominous "Daniel." The Minutemen's "It's Expected I'm Gone" loses its tense punk rock edge but gains a great "out" solo section, and the cover of "Calvary Cross" is fantastic, but they should have let the guitar outro go on longer. This is a fun project to be sure, but don't expect more than that. It sheds a bit more light on what kind of eclectic music fans these guys are, and shows that Tortoise are consummate musicians, able to tackle virtually any style convincingly. It's not the new Tortoise album (that comes later in 2006), and it's clearly not your standard Bonnie "Prince" Billy effort, either. Approach it as a slightly goofy one-off, and you won't be disappointed.

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