Various Artists


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Secretly Canadian is one of the true giants of American indie rock, with a current stable of excellent artists like Jens Lekman, Antony, the Earlies, and I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. They've got a bit of history, too. They've been doing this for 11 years, after all. To celebrate their hundredth release, they wanted to do something special, so they let any artist who released anything between catalog number 01 and 99 record two songs by someone else who also was within that range. Sounds kind of confusing, but it all worked out well (even though it was released a year later than planned). The disc is loaded with fine performances by big names like Damien Jurado (covering Early Day Miners' mournful "Upstate"), Songs: Ohia (Nikki Sudden's "The Last Bandit"), Danielson (Dave Fischoff's "Abilene"), and Jens Lekman (a predictably wonderful and moving version of Scout Niblett's "Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death"). Best of all is a track by the late, lamented Nikki Sudden, whose suitable ramble through June Panic's "See(ing) Double" starts the album off on a high note. Along with the indie rock royalty, a fair share of artists like Cornelius Boots, Havergal, and Japonize Elephants, who might be known only to Secretly Canadian completists, are represented. One of them, Havergal, provides one of the albums highlights with their atmospheric cover of Ativin's "Riding and Roaming." As with any label-wide collection, there are some rough patches (Racebannon's screechy cover of Swearing at Motorists' "The Real Thing" being the main offender), but for the most part the disc is an enjoyable trip through the trippy, lo-fi, and always interesting history of Secretly Canadian. [Along with the single-disc version being sold in stores, there is a downloadable second disc available for purchase that includes the second song each artist covered.]

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