Welcome to this week's edition of Free Music Friday, in which The Darcys tackle the gorgeous album by Steely Dan, Aja, adding enough of their own modern buzz to make it their own while respecting the original masterpiece. Check out two more that we've got for you, a Halloween-y fun one by Naked on the Vague and a classic songwriting gem by Diego Clare.
1. The Darcys - Aja (Steely Dan cover album)
(free download with e-mail)
There was no way I couldn't post this album this week:
1) The Darcys are one of my new favorite bands out of Canada
2) Steely Dan are one of my favorite bands
3) Aja is one of my favorite albums.
So when The Darcys record a cover of Steely Dan's Aja, and give it away for free? It's like I don't even have a choice.
This album does what I like in my favorite covers: it reveals new aspects of previously familiar songs. While it doesn't go as far as, say, Sun Kil Moon's Tiny Cities, where the songs are completely re-imagined, The Darcys' version of Aja is very much their own. None of the songs are the same tempo or length as the versions on the album and the instrumentation is much more droney and nowhere near as precise as Steely Dan's honed session musicians. I imagine that this is what Aja would sound like if Becker and Fagen had brought in Sonic Youth and Mogwai as session musicians. The end result is a completely different take on Aja that repeatedly touches on the original in small ways, while never giving into the temptation to merely recreate the original.
The standout track for me is "Peg," which I was anxious to hear to see what they did about the layers of Michael McDonald in the chorus. While they change the tempo and feel of the song (from a bouncy horn number in the original, they derive an indie rock anthem), they left in the focus on the layered vocals, to wonderful effect.
-By Andrew McNair
2. Naked on the Vague - "Clock of 12's"
(free download from Soundcloud)
EP: Twelve Dark Noons
Naked on the Vague is an intriguing Australian group with no-wave roots. "Clock of 12's" is a song from their Twelve Dark Noons E.P., a collection of songs composed as a companion piece to an experimental film of the same name by a director named Jacqueline Castel. It's a totally crazy song that sounds like something you might hear out of a girl group starring in a 1970s exploitation horror movie. A cluttered, noisy affair with Halloween-y guitars and indecipherable lyrics, "Clock of 12's" is a tune full of vitality and raw energy. Like the sound of a room collapsing, it assaults your ears and never lets up. Definitely worth a listen. Learn more about Naked on the Vague here.
3. Diego Clare - "Claim Your Prize"
(click to stream or right click to save as)
LP: Even Now (Part Two)
Los Angeles native Diego Clare's sound is a throwback to the classic singer/songwriter spirit commonly associated with greats such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. While most 20 year olds are slaving away at college, Clare is devoting his sleepless nights to making highly appealing music with an air of sophistication. "Claim Your Prize" is off his sophomore effort, Even Now (Part Two). Check him out at diegoclare.net/.