Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy | Richard Cheese

The Bold and the Brave (Overcoat) | Sunny Side of the Moon: The Best of Richard Cheese (Surfdog Ada)

Cover albums are generally the province of self-indulgence and creative ennui, wherein the revisionists attempt to relive a childhood fantasy or merely leech off other people's ideas because they have nothing of import to say. The Bold and the Brave — the recent collaboration between gloomy alt-rockster Will Oldham (under the moniker Bonnie Prince Billy) and ambient post-rock moodsters Tortoise — does little to refute this theory. The scratch effect on Oldham's voice in Tortoise's tuneless version of Elton John's classic "Daniel" tries for antediluvian texture but achieves a soulless crackle at most. Additional indie picks from the Minutemen, Devo, and Richard Thompson are too deliberate to be clever, too decisively formed to permit any raw energy, and too bloodlessly lethargic to make for anything lasting or compelling. And for all of the supposed prestige behind the Tortoise and Oldham brand names, The Bold and the Brave is little more than a novelty record in denial. In the end, the album creaks under the onus of Oldham's wispy, dolorous warble and Tortoise's pretentious pile of pretty noise.

A more honest album is Richard Cheese's The Sunny Side of the Moon. Cheese is the vaunted lounge Lothario who butchers pop songs in a witless display of Vegas schmaltz. Denizens of bad taste might appreciate the Sinatra-does-Metallica formula, but be warned: Cheese is no Sinatra. Few sentient beings will be impressed by Cheese's flat voice and unfunny offshoots of pop, heavy metal, and hip-hop. His sterile mutation of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" adds a mambo-infused timbre to the mix, but Cheese's delivery is ultimately noisome. His moody, ivory-tickling version of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" is vaguely interesting — that is, if you're not catatonic by the time you get to Track 15. It's an album that was intended to be listened to in small doses for a few cheap laughs before the munchies set in. But, unlike The Bold and the Brave, at least it serves some purpose.

 
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