Tortoise & Bonnie ‘'Prince' Billy The Brave and the Bold

Holy great expectations Batman! Perhaps only Tortoise and Will Oldham could get away with naming their highly anticipated collaboration album after DC Comics’ classic superhero team-up series. It’s particularly gutsy considering that the end result is merely good and not stupendously super. The idea is a sound one: pair up Oldham and Tortoise for recording sessions but take them out of their element a bit by having them tackle cover songs together. Not surprisingly, the track selection is inspired and eclectic, and the artists’ idiosyncrasies mesh well together. Tortoise get their groove on (with what Oldham might call their "samba-style rhythms”) for Milton Nascimento’s "Cravo E Canela,” while the ‘Prince’ playfully tackles phonetic Brazilian Portuguese. A familiar post-rock, dub vibe emerges out of a noise guitar track for a version of "It’s Expected I’m Gone,” which of course cannot match the frenetic zeal of the Minutemen. Synths and guitars approximate the familiar sounds of the E Street Band underneath Oldham’s mournful reading of Bruce Springsteen’s "Thunder Road,” which plods along without the hope and melodrama of the original. While great things happen on a lovely rendition of Don Williams’ "Pancho” and a scrambled up version of Devo’s "That’s Pep,” the most interesting homage is saved for Elton John’s "Daniel.” Slow, other-worldly and moody, the pop hit is oddly perfect in the hands of these indie super friends. Though some fans might have hoped for original songs here, Tortoise and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy almost go one better by making a varied collection of covers their own. (Overcoat)