Various Bridging the Distance: A Portland, OR Covers Compilation

Bringing together some of the currents stars of the Portland scene for this P:EAR charity album seems like a great idea. Even better is asking them to do covers of their favourite tunes. Well, "favourite” might be pushing it, as I doubt Chris Walla’s (Death Cab for Cutie) favourite song is "Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz. Yes, the likes of the Decemberists, Britt Daniel (of Spoon), the Dandy Warhols and Joggers get their kitsch on for a somewhat successful covers album. Somewhat, because some of these songs suck, and can a cover of a horrible song make that song better? Thus, sometimes you get some really worthwhile, imaginative revisions, like Whip’s sombre acoustic take on Billy Idol’s "White Wedding” or the Snuggle Ups’ electro-pop vision of Springsteen’s "Dancing in the Dark,” and other times, like Chris Walla’s track, not so much. The idea is interesting but your enjoyment of this charity compilation depends on your tolerance for the songs being covered. If you love them, there’s much to mine. Otherwise, buyer slightly beware. (Arena Rock)