VARIOUS ARTISTS – ” Bills & Aches & Blues “

Posted: March 10, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

In 2020, 4AD Records turned 40 years old. Never one to be on time for a party, the label is commemorating that landmark this year with the release of “Bills & Aches & Blues”.

The compilation features 18 of its current artists covering a song of their choosing from 4AD’s past: a creative experiment rooted in the spirit of collaboration and a snapshot of 4AD, 41 years after its inception.

“Bills & Aches & Blues” will be released on double LP and double CD on 23rd July. The first 12 months’ profits from Bills & Aches & Blues will be donated to The Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based after-school programme for children from communities and schools that lack equitable access to studying the arts or music.

Bills & Aches & Blues’ 18 recordings contain fascinating connections between artist and track. The earliest song chosen (by U.S. Girls) is The Birthday Party’s ‘Junkyard’, from 1981; the most recent are the two Grimes covers (‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’, respectively by Spencer. and Dry Cleaning) from 2012. Suitably, for the one band that bridges 4AD past and present, The Breeders are all over Bills And Aches And Blues. They’re covered three times – ‘Cannonball’ by Tune-Yards, ‘Mountain Battles’ by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and ‘Off You’ by Big Thief, whilst The Breeders cover ‘The Dirt Eaters’ by their ‘90s contemporaries His Name Is Alive.

Landmark songs such as ‘Cannonball’, ‘Song To The Siren’ and Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind?’, will feel comfortable to casual fans, however by contrast, much joy can be found in the album’s surprise choices, such as Air Miami’s ‘Seabird’ and the Lush B-side ‘Sunbathing’, covered respectively by new signings Maria Somerville and Jenny Hval. Bills & Aches & Blues is named, arguably (as Elizabeth Fraser never published the lyrics) after the opening line of Cocteau Twins ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’. Perhaps too unique and uncoverable in their own right, their legendary take on Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, under the name This Mortal Coil (along with Buckley’s pre-Starsailor acoustic version) informs SOHN’s cover.

Some tracks unearth hitherto hidden shared DNA, such as Future Islands’ and Colourbox’s ‘The Moon Is Blue’; other tracks are more akin to reinvention. Aldous Harding distils the melodic essence of Deerhunter’s ‘Revival’ and recasts it in her own uncanny image. U.S. Girls’ future-disco ‘Junkyard’ and Bing & Ruth’s neo-classical instrumental ‘Gigantic’ are even more radical interpretations. Leading off the album, Tkay Maidza brings both her Art Rap and R&B game, but also an unexpected ‘80s synth pop template, to Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’, a perfect title for these chaotic times.

Long-running and influential indie label 4AD have never been ones to care about the usual milestones, instead preferring to commemorate milestones like The 13-Year Itch in 1993. Last year was the label’s 40th anniversary, but they’re celebrating this year with a new compilation titled Bills & Aches & Blues

The compilation title is taken from Cocteau Twins’ “Cherry Coloured Funk” but no artist dared take on one of their songs for this. The closest anyone comes is SOHN‘s cover of Tim Buckley‘s “Song to the Siren,” which was famously covered by This Mortal Coil featuring Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie. Elsewhere on the record, there are three Breeders covers (performed by Tune-Yards, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and Big Thief), two Pixies covers (Bing & Ruth and Tkay Maidza), two Deerhunter covers (Aldous Harding and Helado Negro) and two Grimes covers (by Spencer and Dry Cleaning), plus Future Islands delivering a soulful rendition of Colourbox‘s “The Moon Is Blue,” Jenny Hval covering Lush‘s “Sunbathing,” and more.

4AD has just shared the first side of the compilation: Tkay Maidza turns Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” into a glitchy, stadium-sized anthem; U.S. Girls clean up The Birthday Party’s “Junkyard” with bongos, acoustic guitars and swooning strings; Aldous Harding delivers a tender, bewitching take on Deerhunter’s “Revival”The Breeders delicately cover His Name is Alive‘s “The Dirt Eaters”; and new signing Maria Somerville transforms Air Miami’s “Seabird” into an even more ethereal creature.

You can listen to those covers, along with the originals, and check out the full “Bills & Aches & Blues” 

tracklist below.

Bills & Aches & Blues:
1. Tkay Maidza – Where Is My Mind? (Pixies cover) 02:57
2. U.S. Girls – Junkyard (The Birthday Party cover) 03:00
3. Aldous Harding – Revival (Deerhunter cover) 02:17
4. The Breeders – The Dirt Eaters (His Name Is Alive cover) 03:35
5. Maria Somerville – Seabird (Air Miami cover) 04:37
6. Tune-Yards – Cannonball (The Breeders cover) 03:11
7. Spencer – Genesis (Grimes cover) 04:30
8. Helado Negro – Futurism (Deerhunter cover) 03:10
9. Efterklang – Postal (Piano Magic cover) 04:00
10. Bing & Ruth – Gigantic (Pixies cover) 05:30
11. Future Islands – The Moon Is Blue (Colourbox cover) 04:39
12. Jenny Hval – Sunbathing (Lush cover) 02:46
13. Dry Cleaning – Oblivion (Grimes cover) 03:50
14. Bradford Cox – Mountain Battles (The Breeders cover) 06:25
15. SOHN – Song To The Siren (This Mortal Coil / Tim Buckley cover) 04:46
16. Becky and the Birds – The Wolves (Act I and II) (Bon Iver cover) 04:31
17. Ex:Re – Misery Is a Butterfly (Blonde Redhead cover) 05:09
18. Big Thief – Off You (The Breeders cover)

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