The Bad Plus – For All I Care

March 14, 2009

thebadplusNew York and Minneapolis based jazz piano band the Bad Plus are back reworking contemporary songs for their latest album, For All I Care, though for the first time they’ve added a vocalist, Wendy Lewis, to the mix. She’s a perfect fit for the band, a strong, confident singer whose background is in indie rock rather than jazz. The songs themselves range from inspired (Nirvana’s “Lithium,” which seems designed to resist any listener attempts to keep time, and a particularly eerie and appropriately chilling version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” both of which open the album) to somewhat dubious (Heart’s “Barracuda,” which I have to admit kind of works anyway, despite my dislike of the original). There’s also a spooky version of the Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love” that recalls Sonic Youth’s take on the Carpenters song, “Superstar.” The band also shines on the instrumentals they’ve chosen to include as well, György Ligeti’s “Fem (Etude No. 8),” Igor Stravinsky’s “Variation d’Apollon” and my favorite, Milton Babbitt’s “Semi-Simple Variations.” The album ends on a high note with a great version of “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” by the Flaming Lips. Hearing them work with a vocalist takes some getting used to, but in general, For All I Care is a success. Standout cuts: “Lithium,” “Comfortably Numb,” “How Deep is Your Love” and “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate.”



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