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Dark Was The Night

February 18, 2009

Yesterday I finally got my hands (well, my hard drive) around Dark Was The Night. The album is a compilation benefiting the Red Hot Organization that works to fight AIDS and HIV across the globe. For the last month, the album’s myspace page has streamed a single song a day until the album was finally released on February 17th.

Beyond benefiting a great cause, the two-disc set holds some great music. The featured artists include The New Pornographers, Feist, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Iron & Wine, Cat Power, and many others. For someone wanting to sample most of the heavy hitters of indie rock in one convenient package, this album is the jackpot. Many of the artists chose to put cover songs on the compilation, but even the covers are impressive–Nick Drake’s “Cello Song” gets a nice once-over by The Books and Jose Gonzalez.

The most intriguing song, to me, is Sufjan Stevens’ cover of “You Are the Blood” originally by Castanets (who are on Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty record label). Sufjan–I like to imagine that we’re on a first name basis, after all we’re facebook friends–seems to pull barely rhythmic electronic sounds he hasn’t much used since Enjoy Your Rabbit and combine them with orchestral grandeur juxtaposed with the occasional lone-piano nakedness of his BQE project. Though the song doesn’t seem to reach its full potential, it is still quite good. Combine “You Are the Blood” with “Blood Pt 2) by Buck 65 Remix featuring Sufjan then the song becomes even more interesting.

Overall, the album is very much worth the purchase price. It’s an early favorite for top-5 albums of 2009.

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