On First Listen: The Beths, Car Seat Headrest cover two Ben Gibbard-led tracks
Just a few weeks ago, I shared my worthwhile experience driving from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to see a joint anniversary concert featuring Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism and The Postal Service's Give Up. On Thursday, fans of those projects got a treat from two staples in the indie-rock scene, as The Beths and Car Seat Headrest each released a cover of songs from the 20-year-old LPs.
Tackling a pair of drastically different love songs, The Beths put a new spin on The Postal Service's "Brand New Colony," while Car Seat Headrest dove head-first into Death Cab's "We Looked Like Giants."
"Brand New Colony"
The Beths found a way to make a synth-heavy song from a famously synth-heavy record much more folksy. In the new version of "Brand New Colony," we're graced with Liz Stokes playing the role of Ben Gibbard as lead vocals and fellow Kiwi Pickle Darling covering Jenny Lewis's part of the duet. The switcheroo of male and female vocals isn't groundbreaking, but it is a fun twist on this song about love at all costs.
The instrumentation is light and quirky, featuring a variation of mallets, guitar chords and ... is that a banjo? I'm about it. If you read my review of the Postal Service portion of the live show, this song in particular stood out because of the sense of community it offers. This cover provides the warmth to emulate that feeling.
"We Looked Like Giants"
It's pretty fitting that a band called Car Seat Headrest chose to cover a song about fooling around in the back of a gray subcompact car.
"We Looked Like Giants" is one of the rock-forward songs on Transatlanticism, an album that fluctuates speed and density on its tracks. Car Seat Headrest went decidedly heavier with their rendition, leaning harder on the guitar and drums than the original track.
Will Toledo's familiar vocals provide a sort of sonically distant sound that makes sense for this particular song about long-distance lovers. It's admittedly a bit too heavy for my liking, but perhaps you'll fancy it more. You can give both versions a listen below and pre-order the 7" single via Sub Pop Records.