Monday, September 24, 2007

Various Artists--To: Elliott From: Portland (2006)

Artist-Various Artists
Album-To: Elliott From: Portland
Release Date-Feb 7, 2006
Genre/Style-Tribute Albums/Indie Rock

Official site-,,3527770,00.html

Review-In the notes in To: Elliott From: Portland, Expunged Records president Anthony Davis writes, "Elliott Smith was someone who told your sad story and made you feel like you were not alone." With this in mind, Davis set out to release a tribute album to the late singer, featuring covers from other Portland musicians (the city that Smith called home) with whom Smith's distinct, fragile style resonated and who counted themselves among his many fans. Tribute albums are always accompanied with much dissent, because almost never are the new versions of the songs better than the originals, but Smith's songs had touched too many people to not make one. Though die-hard fans will most certainly object to Lifesavas' hip-hop rendition of "Happiness," or To Live & Die in L.A.'s made-for-modern-rock-radio "King's Crossing," for the most part, the artists stay true — almost too true — to the original versions, keeping the sparse, melancholic arrangements, the breathy vocals, the quavering, emotional voice. While "The Ballad of Big Nothing," performed by the Thermals (and mixed by Joanna Bolme, Smith's ex-girlfriend), is a near copy of the original, and very good, the most successful arrangements are in fact those that are willing to stray slightly from Smith's already proven path. Amelia's version of "Between the Bars" brings a fantastic song to greater heights as vocalist Teisha Helgerson pulls even more emotion out of the melody, and the electronica-esque "Angeles," by Crosstide, shows how well Smith's songs can transfer from genre to genre (the same cannot be said, sadly, of Lifesavas' version of "Happiness," which doesn't actually come together as a song until the very end). But the star of the show is a cover of the previously unreleased "High Times," by former roommate Sean Croghan, whose angry guitar and angry voice reflect the feelings shared by everyone Smith had affected: the sadness for the promise lost with his friend's early death.

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(The file links are just for pre-reviewed purpose and will be removed in 24 hours.)

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