Bonnie “Prince” Billy / Tortoise 

The Brave and the Bold

There’s a lot of complicated logistical crap surrounding the concept of a “covers record,” but somehow, really talented people can disguise the fact that they’re playing someone else’s songs. In the case of this first-time collaboration between post-rock heroes Tortoise and indie-folk pioneer Bonnie “Prince” Billy, only a few of the songs bear a real resemblance to their originals. But the twisted end result is enough to make you forget that Tortoise doesn’t ever really play pop songs, and that Will Oldham is best known for his quieter, more intimate recordings than for the huge, gated drum sound behind him here. Their version of Milton Nascimento’s ‘Cravo é Canela’ is an overdriven run-through of the tropicalia classic, while their take on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ is simply the biggest-sounding thing since, well, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road.’ The two artists are a strange match for each other, not to mention for the mixed bag of selections (others include Melanie, Devo and Elton John), but the two put together make up some sort of strange superband that can pretty much get away with playing whatever they want. 

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