Various Artists

Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl

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Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl Review

by Marcy Donelson

Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl is a 20-track collection of new recordings in honor of the 20th anniversary of Polyvinyl Record Company. Still independently owned and operated, based in the U.S. Midwest (Champaign, Illinois), and using a 50-50 profit sharing model with its artists, it seems a landmark worth celebrating. The album consists of covers of Polyvinyl acts by other Polyvinyl acts, past and present, and it's as intriguing and fun as it sounds like it may be. The set includes performances by bands ranging from Xiu Xiu to Owen and from Of Montreal to Beach Slang, some of whom are also covered. A few of the less surprising matchups include Psychic Twin's like-minded interpretation of the STRFKR groover "While I'm Alive" and the Dodos' affectionate version of American Football's "Never Meant." Though, it should be noted that none of the covers here are paint-by-numbers. The Dodos themselves are covered in one of the bolder renditions as experimental outfit Xiu Xiu takes on the understated "Bubble" with electronic drums, synths, noise, and an anxious half-whisper. In contrast, one of the sweeter entries is also the biggest mouthful as Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin covers Saturday Looks Good to Me. They update the sax-bolstered girl-group tribute "Since You Stole My Heart," picking up the tempo while showcasing the corsage-evoking tune. Saturday Looks Good to Me leader Fred Thomas also represents with a kaleidoscopic version of Vivian Girls' "I Heard You Say." The only musicians covered twice here are Jacco Gardner and Of Montreal. While the former doesn't perform on the album, Of Montreal offers one of Gardner's songs ("Find Yourself"). Another noteworthy track is Deerhoof's take on Xiu Xiu's "Hi" -- in the style of White Reaper. Full of clever arrangements and compelling source material, it's a set that speaks to the high-quality roster at Polyvinyl.

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