Sunday, March 1, 2009

What I'm Listening To - Dark Was The Night

I'm often wary of a benefit album. I shudder to think of getting ripped off on songs I already own, or worse, treacly "Do They Know Its Christmas?" dreck.

So I was a little bit cautious about 4AD/Red Hot Organization AIDS benefit album "Dark Was The Night."

First, it seemed to be chock-a-block full of every indie darling imaginable. A lot I really don't like (I'm looking at you Dirty Projectors).

Second, it was long. Really long. 31 songs over two discs long.

Third... Pitchfork gave it 8.6. The only thing worse than a low rating from Pitchfork is a high one.

I'm not sure if a compilation can be deigned as best album, but this might be the first must purchase of 2009.

So much on this album you would think sounds better on paper than it could in real-life. Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch? Justin Vernon, and Justin Vernon as Bon Iver?

But it all does. The Feist and Ben Gibbard joint is gorgeous (Zooey better tell Feist to back up off her man). The Conor rehash of Lua is slower, prettier. Gillian Welch makes it sexier, countrier.

There are those you expect to perform well and exceed that. Spoon pulls out some Primus-influenced bass line and funks up the start of the second half. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers, Yo La Tengo, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And there are the bands that I have loathed, who turn up here and make me want to go buy their stuff. The National blew me the fuck away. Antony somehow managed not to annoy me as he usually does, and instead belted out a sleepy acoustic soul song, reminiscent of a perfect Nina Simone (and less of the Dylan-cover it is). Dirty Projectors even stepped up and made nice with David Byrne.

You can get this album at eMusic, but don't. I paid the $12 and got it from Amazon, but you can order it too. The money goes to a good cause, and every song on the thing is worth it. When your kids look back and ask you what was independent music like in 2009, you can whip out this collection.

You need to own this album.

Get "Dark As The Night"

Buy from The Beggars Group

Buy digitally from Amazon

No comments: