Friday, May 23, 2008

Altered States

You might not have heard of Robin Danar, and that’s absolutely fine. You can still enjoy his debut Altered States. You won’t hear his voice on the album, but you’ll certainly hear his influence. As the title suggests, it’s an album of alterations, of taking artists that you’re familiar with and giving them a song and a style that’s well outside they’re usual stomping ground, of letting them fly. Of the thirteen tracks on the album, eleven are covers, with the remaining two new songs penned specifically for this collection.

Covers can be a tough territory to travel through. Most either soar or crash and burn. What is interesting about this album is the wide choice of material that is re-interpreted by new artists, some of whom were not even familiar with the original.

It starts with Inara George (one half of The Bird and the Bee) with a very Patsy Cline’esque take on an old Johnny Mathis tune, Chances Are. As with almost all of the material here, Inara is taken away from the sounds you’d normally associate her with and does a marvelous job breathing life into the composition and making it her own. Up next on the album is one of the original numbers, Yell, which is performed by Jesca Hoop. It’s got an almost Middle-Eastern feel to it (listen to it below).

Other highlights of the album include Pete Yorn and Kinky taking Bill Withers’ funky classic Use Me and modernizing its texture with a guitar driven techno-light feel to it that brings it onto the dance floors of today. Then you’ve got Lisa Loeb working with Steve Reynolds on the classic punk track Video Nasty from The Damned. Didn’t see that coming for sure! Another stand out is Julian Corywell’s smooth take on Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (check it out below).

Like I said before, covers can go over like a lead balloon sometimes, and while you might not catch on to every remake here, there’s certainly enough here to pay attention to.

Visit Robin's website, his label Shanachie, and become his friend on MySpace.


Bill Withers - Use Me : Starsky & Hutch Soundtrack

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