Album Review – A Carnival of Sorts: An R.E.M. Covers Compilation (2021) (God is in the TV)
Somewhere along the line, micro blogs with far more gumption than this one, tend become successful. From that point there can be a gradual tendency for them to start drifting off into a more commercial bias, as they are offered the patronage of bigger media houses, labels etc.
An absolute swerve from this trend has always been the quite brilliant God is in the TV zine, who have always managed to combine the extra professionalism and knowledge that sets them apart from us mere micro blog mortals and our wordpress hobbies, with a big beating indie heart that has consistently backed quality acts, irrespective of their potential to increase readership/revenue.
As such, news that they were going to coordinate the release of a tribute compilation to celebrate R.E.M’s 40th birthday, was always something that promised absolute quality and the potential for the sort of left field aesthetc that God is in the TV have consistently championed over the years.
Thankfully the album fully delivers on all the above promise, with an eclectic mix of the more faithful adaptations, fuzzy/reverb machinations and the gloriously weird.
The best of the obtuse weirdness section of the release is represented by Body in the Thames (So Central Rain), Idiac feat: Sarah Quirke (Drive) and Napoleon IIIrd (Leave). These acts completely re-engineer anything remotely R.E.M, with their synth laden, post-punk propensities. Weird, but in a manner that you cannot help but admire.
Other tracks that are slightly more faithful, but just have a beguiling sense of strange due to the context of what we assume R.E.M to always be, are the indie-folk inflected covers by S. T. Manville (Welcome To The Occupation) and Joshua Caole (Imitation of Life), whereas as acts like Desperate Journalist (Finest Worksong), Mezmerised by Avon (Get Up) and The Pocket Gods (The One I love) offer wonderful fuzz-laden versions of our favourites.
Of course no tribute album to the jangliest of all acts, would be complete unless the release was heaving with lucid jangle-pop riffs. Of course, this is delivered in absolute spades with the best of the album represented by shimmering tracks such by Quivers (Near Wild Heaven), DUNKIE (The One I Love), the brilliant standout twee-pop laden I, Doris (It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) -2021 version), Man’s Body (Driver 8) and Bandicoot (Fall On Me).
Across a massive 40 tracks, this is an album that has plainly been put together by a group of musicians who love R.E.M. and who have been given absolute carte blance to express such affection in any way they choose fit, by the label. With all proceeds going to the www.helpmusicians.org.uk this is one that is well worth backing. Grab a digital copy here.
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