Various Artists

Wiretap Music Presents: Covers

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San Francisco's promotional music website Wiretap Music celebrates its one-year anniversary with a roster sampler that has a twist. The word "Covers" in the title might suggest to a potential buyer that Wiretap has had its artists cover well-known songs, especially since there is no information about the tracks on the album cover. In fact, this is a two-disc set on which bands associated with Wiretap have been asked to cover songs by other bands associated with Wiretap; the first CD contains the songs performed by their original artists, and the second follows with the same songs in the same order as rendered by others. The pairings are arbitrary, although they were made in a pattern, as explained in a press release: "We asked each artist to cover the band that was featured the month before themselves, whether they were familiar with them or not." This proves to be an idea that works better in theory than in practice. The Wiretap acts tend to be esoteric indie bands with somewhat rudimentary chops, and they have enough trouble rendering their own material competently, much less working up someone else's. Much of the time, their versions are nearly instrumental, retaining only a tag line from the original. But then, the most casual versions, such as Little Teeth's shambolic version of Schande's "Out on You," can be the most enjoyable. Similarly, Pope of Yes' take on Pidgeon's "Strelnikov," which somehow evokes "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music in its repeated last line, "We really ought to kill you," is a fun reinterpretation. Wiretap's idea, that a scene can be nurtured by getting the artists in it to listen to each other, is a good one, even if the resulting recordings as heard here fail to inspire most of the time.

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