Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy

Cover albums are generally the province of self-indulgence and creative ennui, wherein the revisionist attempts to relive a childhood fantasy or merely leech off other people’s ideas because he or she has nothing of importance to say. The Bold and the Brave — the recent collaboration between gloomy alt-rocker Will Oldham (under his moniker Bonnie Prince Billy) and ambient post-rock moodsters Tortoise — does little to refute this theory. On Elton John’s classic “Daniel,” Oldham 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 bloodless and lethargic to make for anything compelling. For all 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.

Richard Cheese The Sunny Side of the Moon:
The Best of Richard Cheese
(Surfdog Ada)

A more honest album is Richard Cheese’s The Sunny Side of the Moon. Cheese is the vaunted lounge Lothario who butchers pop songs with witless 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 interpretations of pop, heavy metal and hip-hop. His sterile mutation of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” adds a mambo to the mix, and his moody, ivory-tickling version of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” is vaguely interesting — if you’re not catatonic by the time you get to it. It’s an album that was intended to be listened to in small doses for a few cheap laughs before the munchies set in. Unlike The Bold and the Brave, then, it serves some purpose.

Categories: Music