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The newest tribute to the Pixies is a mixed bag. The overwhelming approach seems to be to mellow out the songs, softening the originals to arrive at a kind of Pixies-cum-cocktail-party sound.

It isn't that these toned down versions are bad. Dylan in the Movies delivers a likeably eerie version of "Down to the Well" that reminds one of Chris Isaak, and OK Go gives "Gigantic" a nice, rickety, music-box ambiance. It's that these songs mostly have a weak pulse, something that just feels wrong for a blood-boiling band like the Pixies.

Knife and Fork re-imagines "Motorway to Roswell" as a breezy electronica number with Liza Minnelli-esque vocals that are initially funny but subsequently grating. Mogwai ruins the spooky nuance of "Gouge Away" by burying it under feedback and setting it to a repetitive drum beat. Particularly embarrassing is Elk City's "Monkey Gone to Heaven," which sounds like some nerdy girls from a high school choir around the campfire.

The most successful covers here are the ones that take the songs in a radical direction. Fashion Victims, in particular, shine with their club-thumping, synthesized version of "Hey."

This feels like the Pixies de-clawed. It's heavy on atmospherics, but with little ingenuity. If you need a soundtrack to some body rockin' with your favorite girl or boy, here it is. But you won't find yourself cranking this one in the car. For that, you'll need the original Pixies catalog.

More by Sean Bottai


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