Æ: Aglet Eaters

Echodrone – Mixtape For Duckie

Posted in Album, Review by R on March 3, 2013

MfD

Hardworking is the band that records one album while writing another album.

While working on the follow-up to Bon Voyage, Echodrone took some time out to unwind by creating a collection of cover songs. As you do.

The heads up I got for Mixtape for Duckie had me even more excited than news of their follow-up album will.

Unless, the announcement of their next release ALSO contains the words ‘George Michael‘.

George Michael was my first famous-person crush/love. My first memorised discography. My first mailing list. Even now, in the more advanced and progressive (or primitive?) stage of my musical life, I would put ‘Soon’ on pause just to have 6 uninterrupted minutes with ‘The Strangest Thing’.


[you can tell the inclination towards shoegaze started early]

Now, cover songs – there’s an art form. When Eugene wrote to tell me about Mixtape for Duckie, he made it sound like recording an album’s worth of cover songs, each from a different era/genre, was some dinky paint-by-numbers scene. Good lord, successfully executing a cover version of a song is often a bigger achievement than pushing out all-new material. When working on your own stuff, your benchmark is yourself. When making a cover version, you are well-aware you’re going to be compared to whoever you’re choosing to reinterpret. And Higher-Power-Of-Choice help you if you pick a well-loved track to operate on.

Not one but SIX beloved songs sit happily in the digital grooves of Mixtape for Duckie. What are you DOING, Echodrone? I ask, simultaneously eager and apprehensive. ‘WE FEAR NOTHING’, they declare as they wriggle into ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, deftly replacing Numan’s capitulation with…

with..

what IS that?

HOPE?

Yep – no longer a vanquished sigh, Echodrone’s version is less wistful and more curious. Less jaded, and more genuine.

Even more astounding is their version of ‘Cry Little Sister’. Immaculate – it doesn’t lose its conviction quite as much as it loses its solitude. It’s an irrepressibly beautiful interpretation of the original which now appears to only have been brought into existence so it could live to be transformed into this more liberated, more elevated, less isolated mantra.

And then, Echodrone chose to tackle GM’s ‘Praying For Time’ – the despondent narration of the demise of humanity (or, more precisely, humaneness). In their version, it’s the instrumentation that carries the apocalypse. The bridge “the rich declare themselves poor/and most of us are not sure/if we have too much/but we’ll take our chances/because god’s stopped keeping score” etc. is swirled around, sucked into, and spat out of the noise around it. The essence of the song isn’t lost – it’s just being carried by waves instead of words.

It’s a few years ago now that a, presumably unofficial, three-part mixtape hit the online airwaves. In it, shoegazers covered other shoegazers. While I have my favourites from that collection, the futility of the exercise was apparent. Even the best of tracks were black and white xeroxes of untouchable originals. Learn from Echodrone – Why imitate, when you can adopt?

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One Response

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  1. Jim Payne said, on March 20, 2013 at 3:31 am

    So much respect…

    Respect for Echodrone; for the songs they covered in their “mix tape”; for the idea of a modern-day “mix tape”; and for this write-up on it. It’s all just perfect.

    One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard is the live version of “Praying for Time”:

    I caught a version of it a few years back on VH1, where he dedicated the song to his mother. The dedication and the song was just heartbreakingly beautiful. I was literally in state of awe. I had never witnessed a song made so perfect, and performed so flawlessly. The force of the lyrics resounded with so much more resonance than even/ever before. The performance was (to borrow a term from the review above that is the ONLY term that gives justice here) — “immaculate.” Every note was perfection, in its premise and its delivery. It was a great song to begin with, one of my favorites by George Michael — and the live version of it was just extraordinary.

    But, errr, this was a review of Echodrone, was it not?

    I am not surprised to see this song and other exemplars of melodic perfection covered by Echodrone. The band has an undeniable ear (and an accompanying voice) for such melody.

    I hope there are many more mix tapes to come. I have no doubt they would all be extraordinary.

    And Radhika, your description of “Praying for Time” — “the despondent narration of the demise of humanity (or, more precisely, humaneness)… carried by waves instead of words.” Welllll, it’s official. You have reached the event horizon of perfect and precise synopses, in function and in form.

    So much respect…


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