Giant Sand Cover Magazine

I'll admit off the bat that I've never understood the appeal of this band. To me, their work was always too many lo-fi, half-baked ideas. Sure, they could conjure up some interesting atmospheres, but where were the songs? It was simply on that basis that I gave this album a chance, seeing if a baker's dozen or so of other artists' material could survive the usual Giant Sand approach. The album starts on an intriguing note, with a medley of Marty Robbins' "El Paso" and Neil Young's "Out On The Weekend," a concept so offbeat that it must be heard to be believed. A duet with Polly Harvey on X's "Johnny Hit And Run Pauline" is equally compelling, but Howe Gelb's self-indulgence fully takes over on a lounge-y version of "Iron Man" (didn't he know the Cardigans did basically the same thing?). From there, he snores through "King Of The Road," "Wayfaring Stranger," "The Beat Goes On" and others. The album is thankfully salvaged by live takes of his own "Blue Marble Girl" and deceased colleague Rainer Ptacek's "The Inner Flame," which shows off his fractured Neil Young-esque performing abilities. With word that Gelb will be putting Giant Sand out to pasture this year after two decades, I can't say Cover Magazine caused me to shed any tears. (Thrill Jockey)