Vail CD Reviews: Dark Was the Night has more hits than misses |

Vail CD Reviews: Dark Was the Night has more hits than misses

Daily staff reportsVail, CO Colorado
Dark Was the Night features songs by Feist, Grizzly Bear, Iron & Wine and Yo Tengo, among others.

Various artists/Red Hot compilations4 stars of 5Charity compilation albums are shotgun blasts of pop. Some of the songs are going to be right on target, cutting through the anonymity and filler that is the hallmark of the genre. Some will miss the mark completely.Dark Was the Night, a compilation by Red Hot, manages to produce far more hits than misses by packing both barrels with enough indie sweethearts it was nearly impossible to miss.It doesnt hurt that there are 31 tracks on the dual CD set, curated by the Dessner brothers from the band The National.Even the track listings are exciting. Ben Gibbard singing with Feist? The Dirty Projectors with David Byrne? These do not disappoint.Gibbard backs Feist on Train Song, bringing more depth and range than the original 1970 version by Vashti Bunyan. Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons) brings a remarkably appropriate sadness to a cover of the Bob Dylan track I Was Young When I Left Home.But it would not be a true indie behemoth without Bon Ivers Justin Vernon, who continues his breakout year with two tracks on the album and his first collaboration. He still sounds like hes living in a cabin in Wisconsin especially when he sings Brackett, WI, but what are compilation albums for if not the worthy b-sides omitted from the albums?As expected there are some misses in the two tracks most notably the clinical title track by the Kronos Quartet devoid of the emotion that made the original by Blind Willie Johnson a classic. But with this many tracks, it is easy to skip.By purchasing this album, listeners are also supporting AIDS and HIV research, but that added bonus is an unnecessary selling point. Zach Fridell, Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele2.5 stars out of 5Dent May makes a big deal about appealing to his mostly college-age audience. Or at least it looks that way from his track listing: College Town Boy and At the Academic Conference jump out.But listening to those songs, its clear May is aiming a little bit older though not much older, like maybe for graduate students. College Town Boy is about a guy whos lingered too long in town with no real job and no direction. At the Academic Conference is about being at a meeting so boring the singer becomes obsessed with someone across the room. You Cant Force a Dance Party is about trying to impress a girl by getting guests at a party to dance (something most dont realize is impossible until the parties get more low-key).As his debut album title suggests, Dent May makes good feeling music with his ukulele. 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) is a tropical 1950s throwback; God Loves You, Michael Chang puts doo-wop bass behind lyrics about a former teenage tennis star; Meet Me in the Garden junks together an intro before it introduces a mixed-up love story.The record fizzles after 26 Miles, with two ending songs that dont do much to lift Mays sometimes lounge-singer-esque vocal style. But Good Feeling Music is a brave, kitschy debut, even when it fails. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Changing Horses2 stars of 5Ben Kwellers frail, boyish voice makes sense on his first two solo records, Sha Sha and On My Way. Those CDs were collections of slightly deranged but musically lighthearted pop songs that fit well with Kwellers background now 27, Kweller started playing in pop rock bands more than 15 years ago.Changing Horses is a nod to Kwellers Texas roots, pairing the same kind of burnt-love lyrics that gave Sha Sha its quirky charm with steel guitar and the occasional honky tonk. It sounds ridiculous.Wantin Her Again is the biggest victim here, using an easygoing guitar line as a background for Kwellers lament about that girl she has runnin back and forth again. He yelps just a little bit as he tries to channel I dont know, Hank Williams? Its hard to tell what the goal is here.But even as Wantin Her falls flat on its face, Kweller manages to fill Changing Horses with enough charm mostly on the poppier tracks, and especially on the mid-album cut Sawdust Man to give it the same ease his earlier efforts had. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today

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