To: Elliott, From Portland
Listening to a tribute album can be risky, kind of like watching the Hollywood adaptation of your favorite book. You can’t resist seeing the movie because you loved the book, but you leave the theatre feeling two hours older, ten dollars broker, and you swear you’ll never do it again. That said, don’t be scared to pick up the Elliott Smith tribute. Do what I did. Pop in the disk, listen intently, cross your arms and stare doubtfully at your CD player ready to hate everything about To: Elliott, From: Portland. Then breathe a sigh of relief when you realize that Expunge Records did a good thing. They put thirteen songs you already love on one album and they chose bands that do more than just their best Elliott imitations. Sure, they play songs we’ve heard a million times, but they do it without sacrificing individuality and diverse influences. If you loved Elliott as much as I did, the sad tracks turned happy on the tribute can take a little getting used to, and you might not love hip-hop covers of songs that used to make you feel glad to be depressed. Still, nobody could have told me I’d be playing Crosstide’s Prince-inspired "Angeles" on repeat or that I’d be putting Dolorean’s version of "The Biggest Lie", complete with country twang, on the mix CDs I play at work. It’s true. I actually like hearing Amelia’s soft, pretty voice sing me to sleep in "Between the Bars." I was as skeptical as you are, but I’m not ashamed to admit that To Elliott is still in my CD player and that I’ve checked out more than one of these bands’ original albums. It’s not because I’m an Elliott Smith fan who likes Elliott Smith fans. It’s because they’re good.