What better way to celebrate Rough Trade turning the quarter-of a century mark, than with a spot of karaoke? Admittedly, this could spell disaster, on a scale akin to asking Electric Six’s Dick Valentine to present Blue Peter, but luckily, it seems the label’s pedigree prevents any such disintegration of integrity. A crop of current Rough Traders turn their hands to the songs of others and largely, come away still looking cool. Moldy Peach Adam Green is torn from his lo-fi beginnings, proffering smooth sax, bongos and jazz guitar and Cocteau Twin Liz Frazer finds her trademark voice stripped but still with an ethereal, watery consistency, backed with (yay!) melotrons. Delays fail to embarrass themselves doing Mazzy Star, The Veils get angular with Scritti Politti, and Mystic Chords of Memory stun everyone by being utterly charming despite their awful name.
The familiar and left-field are both accounted for here: two Strokes covers feature, with The Detroit Cobras excellent take on ‘Last Nite’, exchanging Casablanca’s wild vocal for glossy lilt, whereas Royal City banjo-twang their way through ‘Is This It’, accompanied by a sedated barbershop quartet. At the polar opposite, there are two rather good covers of old Galaxie 500 numbers. The Tyde try hard to capture that space-rock ambience, and come close, but it takes British Sea Power to stride in and provide the compilation’s peak. Covering ‘Tugboat’, they get it right. Reverb on 11, harmonies, chaotic, huge symbol splashes, it builds, burns, and finally…bursts. Dazzle and sonic stupor ensue. Glorious. A pleasingly eclectic mixed bag.