By: Ron Hart
An amazing version of Crooked Fingers' "Sleep All Summer" by The National with St. Vincent, Smog-man Bill Callahan taking on Versus' "Santa Maria," Laura Cantrell sprucing up Lambchop's "Cowboy On The Moon" and Death Cab for Cutie doing a better version of "Kicked In" than Superchunk themselves are just a few of the highlights on Merge Records' 20th anniversary celebration compilation.
The twist of this 20-track set is different artists covering their favorite songs from the label's extensive back catalog, which Score! (released April 7) certainly acknowledges when looking at the track listing, which handsomely showcases the diversity and intelligence with which Mac McCaughan captains his ship - as smart and cohesive as the songs he writes as Portastatic.
However, you certainly don't need to hear Broken Social Scene butcher The Clean's "Complications" or Ryan Adams' cheese out Superchunk's "Like A Fool," nor Lavender Diamond lilting their way through "New Ways of Living" from Destroyer's New Ways of Living. So, cherry pick this otherwise spotty compilation on iTunes.
Or better yet, break out your faithful copy of your own Merge fave to enjoy (1992's Cor-Crane Secret by Polvo, inexplicably unpicked for this Score! compilation, is in desktop rotation as we speak) if you really wanna celebrate the existence of this legendary indie imprint.
01 Quasi: "Beautiful Things" (3 Ds cover)
02 Les Savy Fav : "Precision Auto" ( Superchunk cover)
03 The Shins: "Plenty Is Never Enough" (Tenement Halls cover)
04 St. Vincent and the National: "Sleep All Summer" (Crooked Fingers cover)
05 Broken Social Scene: "Complications" (The Clean cover)
06 Ryan Adams: "Like a Fool" (Superchunk cover)
07 Bright Eyes: "Papa Was a Rodeo" (Magnetic Fields cover)
08 Lavender Diamond: "New Ways of Living" (Destroyer cover)
09 The Apples in Stereo: "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
10 Laura Cantrell: "Cowboy on the Moon" (Lambchop cover)
11 Bill Callahan: "Santa Maria" (Versus cover)
12 Barbara Manning: "Through With People" ( Portastatic cover)
13 The Mountain Goats: "Drug Life" (East River Pipe cover)
14 The New Pornographers: "Don't Destroy This Night" (Rock*A*Teens cover)
15 Tracey Thorn and Jens Lekman : "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" (Magnetic Fields cover)
16 The Hive Dwellers: "My Noise" (Superchunk cover)
17 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: "The Numbered Head" (Robert Pollard cover)
18 Okkervil River: "All You Little Suckers" (East River Pipe cover)
19 Death Cab for Cutie: "Kicked In" (Superchunk cover)
20 Times New Viking: "Neighborhood #1" (Arcade Fire cover)