Various Artists

While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records

Various ArtistsWhile No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
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Bloodshot Records, the storied Chicago "insurgent country" label, has hit the double decade milestone, and is celebrating with the release of a two-album anniversary release. Artists, young (Samantha Crain, Ivan & Alyosha) and old (Mike Watt, the Minus 5), some Bloodshot-affiliated, some not, covering two decades worth of the labels' material.

What makes this album worthwhile to the already devoted Bloodshot fan is how well the songs stand up when reimagined. Robbie Fulks' songs, for example, comes across sad and sweet without his characteristic sneer attached; Neko Case's writing shines even when sung by a voice other than her own dazzling one; and Ryan Adams, one of the most covered artists on this compilation, sounds just fine when stripped of his bombastic rock star ambitions (although Superchunk's raucous pop-punk sing-along cover of "Come Pick me Up" arguably improves upon the new-Dylan dirge of the original).

If you're new to the label, or the genre, While No One Was Looking gives you twice the bang for your buck; it'll make you want to hear more from both the original artists and those playing the covers. The compilation serves its purpose perfectly: not only does it make you want to listen to it over again, but you'll also end up with a long list of albums to (re)discover. (Bloodshot)
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