by Miles Hurley
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Recovered at The Knitting Factory night two would be a much more intimate show, comprised of more musicians than night one, though somewhat less of a crowd–only a lucky handful that made the smart choice to come to hear what would be some more truly stellar album tributes.
First up for the night was “First Band On The Moon,” by The Cardigans, being covered by a number of indivdual artists. Now, I have to admit upfront that I had never even heard of this album before. But, that being said, it made for a cool experience to hear it ‘recovered’ live, and one listen I know I can say what a really incredible album. This Cardigans’ record situates itself cooly between the sounds of soft rock, dub and punk attitude.
“Your New Cuckoo” opens it up, and includes a touch of pop also, and the band played it very tight especially considering that they are coming together for the first time on this night.”Been it,” which featured some cool keyboard work from Dan Neustadt, was a bit harder rock, bringing in the near-grunge edge the band would take on for a lot of the rest of the set. “Step On Me” was a favorite for me from this group, having a little bit of everything: an intricate melody, laced with rather hilarious metaphorical lyrics, and some slight punk power sitting behind.
As I think anyone surveying night two would agree, the star of the Cardigan tribute set was lead singer Emilyn Brodsky. Like other artists across the three nights, she professed the strong conection she’s felt to this album in her life, and her performance of it gave clear evidence of the fact. She had a whispy and routinely alluring voice to match that of the Cardigans’ own front woman, but beyond this her stage presence was something to witness.
The group progressed through the album, playing “Heartbreaker,” “Happy Meal,” and “Never Recover.” I thought in the aftermath that this may have been the most athetically on point tribute of the entire festival. I listened to the original record later on, and remembered how the artists here played it so cleanly, nailing all the instrument parts that layer into the Cardigans’ textured songs, while also bringing out the hard rock feel that some of the tunes have.
I remember thinking to myself (being new to this Cradigans record), “Imgaine if that last song on the album was a Sabbath cover…” Lo and behold, Emilyn and Co. gathered round to finish the album and they start singing Sabbath–the Cardigans version, of course, which is very cool in being way slower, and dubbed in a neat reggae, soft rock mix.
Next up was “Cure for Pain” by the band Morphine, which on the album is rather subdued; from this tributing group, however, it exploded off the stage like a rocket with the opener, Buena. This included lead singer Travis Morrison, who growled out the vocals in a very awesome, grungy voice. The following tunes jumped around in musical color: “I’m Free Now” and “Candy” were brooding, while “All Wrong” took in some great jazz feel to the performance.
Just as Bordsky shined at the center of the Cardigans tribute, this man Morrison, whom you may know from The Dismemberment Plan, was a great front for this Morphine tribute. In between songs and off stage, he actually seemd like a bit of a quirky fellow, and his voice is surprisingly high pitched. But on stage–perhaps it was his passion for Morphine or this album Cure For Pain in particular–he became something else completely, a shaking, energy-buzzing figure with adept vocal skills. He reminded me of an alternative Elvis Presely that might have strutted his stuff through the 90s Seattle grunge scene via Central Square Cambridge.
“A Head With Wings,” interestingly featured a terrfic, soulful sax solo, while “Thursday” came on super heavy and was brought into a powerful ending. “Cure For Pain,” the title-track is another brooding but gorgeous and sweet-sounding tune, which Travis sang out passionately and which featured more soulful sax work.
For the third and and final tribute of Recovered Night Two, Dan Neustadt came back on with just a couple friends to tribute Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea,” which is the youngest of the albums covered this festival, but a modern day classic in its own right.
With both the King of Carrot Flowers parts 1 and 2 and the third track that shares the album’s name, Neustadt and Co, who had just before helped Emilyn pulse through the dreamy punk of “Band On The Moon” and then helped Travis surge through “Cure For Pain,” now delivered a straight-up, bare bones folky performance, matching the album’s own acoustic character. As they began to move through the album, I realized this was a very nice, choice as a send off to this second night of Recovered.
“Two-Headed Boy,” for me at least, had the most sustaining emotional power behind its performance of the whole set, belted out honestly but richly. Emilyn, the Cardigans tribute singer, was at this point sitting on the edge of the stage, and I noticed her mouthing along with every word quietly to herself. Eventually, to the pressings of the very intimate but awestruck audience, Neustradt helped her to center stage and they rocked the rest of the material together. Art so personal and down-to-earth, yet also so talented and professional at the same time–there’s few places in this country you can get to see something like that, and the Brooklyn music scene is one of those.
Other instrumentation furthered the moving performances of this album’s tunes, such as the horn parts, perhaps most importantly of all, played out grandly and resoundingly. “Holland 1945,” for example, featured a great horn intro lead and a well-positioned accordion melody, at the heart of the song. “Oh Comely” and “Ghost” were an obvious favorites of the set, before another two-headed boy came back to mellow us out the door this evening.
The crowd, again, was much slighter on night two of Recovered, but it wasnt an under appreciatve one: I could really tell that many of the folks that joined this weekend fest at the Knitting Factory were serious music lovers, who sought out the sort of asthetic emphasis that comprised the various artists’ homages to their musical influences. Many other folks, I could tell, just came to dance and rock out, an equally glorious goal, if you were to ask me.
Whereas night one featured creative re-interpretations of the original material being played, these performances, as well as ones to come the final night in tributes to Talking Heads and The Smiths, would be delightfully representative of original, influential detail.
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