Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "The Silence of Love"

Headless Heroes

Used to be musicians recorded one or two songs on a lark and used the material as b-side fodder. But these days, more and more artists, particularly up-and-coming indie rockers, are releasing entire albums of cover songs. It would be a disturbing trend were it not for the knowing song selections and left-field interpretations.

Out today is a pretty good one from Headless Heroes, a New York City art/music collective. Like Nouvelle Vague, the project was puppet-mastered by a couple of producers, Eddie Bezalel and Hugo Nicolson, and executed by a hand-picked crew of musicians led by neo-folk singer Alela Diane.

Fans of Daniel Johnston, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Vashti Bunyan and others covered on The Silence of Love will be pulled in by the names, but they'll soon forget they're listening to a collection of other people's songs — despite the breadth of material, The Silence of Love coalesces like an album of originals.

Credit Bezalel and Nicolson for steering clear of karaoke and applying a singular style to the disparate source material, sticking to a lush template infused with the parched atmospherics of Mazzy Star, the breezy warmth of Beach House and the dark undertones of English folk music.

That said, expect the unexpected. While the album opens with an echoey, reverb-drenched reworking of Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End," The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" — a song more suited to the sonics Bezalel and Nicolson employ on "True Love" — gets a crisp country-rock makeover lacking one lick of guitar fuzz.

Diane, whose rich vocals fall somewhere between Hope Sandoval and the Innocence Mission's Karen Peris, can be sultry, sweet and spooky. The same can be said for the satisfying Silence of Love. Get ready to fall for it.

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