Album review: Various Artists, “Day of the Dead”

by Jon E. Lynch

Various Artists, “Day of the Dead”

Available: May 20 via 4AD Records as a digital download, on a 5 x CD set, and as a limited edition vinyl boxed set.

I never really had a “Dead” phase. Surprising to some of you, maybe not so surprising to others. The closest I’ve come to it was a good friend making it his personal mission – a spiritual thesis of sorts – while an undergraduate in Lawrence, Kansas, to find out precisely what era of the Grateful Dead best suited my preexisting tastes. He was certain that it not only existed for me, but for all those not well-versed in the band’s expansive catalogue/career.

(His conclusion: I specifically dig the ’68-’70 era. To my dismay, he was correct.)

I was simply exposed to and digging into other genres of music in those early formative years. The clerks at the record store were giving me SST & Dischord cassette tapes, not bootlegs. Fast forward to the present and the forthcoming collection of Grateful Dead covers curated by the Brothers Dessner of indie rock monoliths The National. Five years in the making, this project was a labor of love that “brought together some of their favourite musicians to reinterpret the songs and sounds of the Dead for a new generation.” Sixty-plus artists, 59 tracks, and five-plus hours of music. A few of the contributing artists: Courtney Barnett, Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), Fucked Up, Wilco, Angel Olsen, and members of Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, Yo La Tengo, My Morning Jacket, Sonic Youth and Arcade Fire amongst many, many others.

If that isn’t enough, all profits of the album sales are going to the Red Hot Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit fighting HIV/AIDS health issues around the world. This is the 20th album of original music Red Hot has produced over the past 25 years to help raise awareness and money to fight HIV/AIDS

Recommended for fans of cover albums, helping a decent cause, indie/rock & roll, and the Grateful Dead.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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