Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Various Artists 

To: Elliott From: Portland

Wednesday, Feb 8 2006
How can an Elliott Smith tribute album go wrong? The guy was practically deified before his apparent suicide in 2003, and the exaltation has only continued since. But such an homage presents a dilemma: Adding too much of a new twist to Smith's songs (say, a death metal "Pitseleh") might seem arrogant or inappropriate, while playing it too straight only proves the superiority of the original. This compilation of covers by Portland bands (the Decemberists, Helio Sequence, Dolorean, the Thermals, and more) gets caught in the no man's land in between, resulting in 15 generally lackluster versions of songs culled mostly from Smith's Either/Or and self-titled albums. (Notable exception: Lifesavas' rap-and-beats-enhanced take on "Happiness.") It's not that the tunes are bad, obviously, nor the musicianship; it's just that Elliott Smith's music was so chillingly great because it was infused with his misery, his anguish, his heartache. Hearing other people try to sing his words with the same intensity feels inauthentic and just makes you long for the original. Still, die-hards will find something to love here, and it's hard to knock the fact that 10 percent of the proceeds go to Smith's charity for abused kids.

About The Author

Maya Kroth


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"