I’m very enamored of the DIY aesthetic in indie music over the last decade or two. Several of my favorite acts have started out as multi-tracking savants, tucked away in their bedrooms and garages with borrowed instruments and laptops. It felt very new and fresh when it started, and it was, but then the act of genuine creativity is always that way, no matter what form it takes.
It’s encouraging to think about Les Paul and Mary Ford, recording this in their basement in Jackson Heights, when electric guitars and multi-tracked vocals were shocking and new.
Damien Jurado & Rosie Thomas- Wages of Sin (Springsteen cover)
There was a tribute album to Springsteen’s Nebraska LP released about 10 years ago called Badlands… which doesn’t make sense, really, because the song Badlands was on Darkness on the Edge of Town. But whatever. It’s a great compilation that everybody should check out, regardless.
There are some wonderful tracks on that disc, but this one always stood out to me. It was included as a bonus track, naturally, since this was a later Springsteen B-side not included on the album either…
Regina Spektor- No Surprises (Radiohead cover live)
I’d heard her charity single release of this song before—which is very good and well worth the buck on iTunes—but this in-studio performance is much more substantial. It doesn’t seem more substantial at first, of course, with the cute chime voice on the Nord, but Regina has made a career out of being much more sophisticated and powerful than she might appear at first glance.
Secretly Canadian just released a tenth anniversary edition of their first Damien Jurado LP, with some incredible demos that they say came from reel-to-reel tapes stashed in Damien’s basement. This is the point where I’d get on my horse and go around touting Jurado as one of the best songwriters of his generation, except I never really got off that horse to begin with. He tells so many good stories, creates so many evocative characters. And he tells it in a high, bittersweet warble that falls somewhere between Michael Hurley and Hank Williams.