the Buzz for May 16th, 2012


Cary Brothers (with Priscilla Ahn) — “Maps”
(from Covers, Volume One) — Maps (feat. Priscilla Ahn) - Covers, Vol. 1 - EP

As would certainly befit what has become a modern classic, it has seemingly become quite en vogue for artists to record their own take on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ indelibly brilliant 2003 smash “Maps”: my old favorite indie band Rogue Wave contributed a version to a Starbucks Valentine’s Day compilation a couple of years back; our old pals The Fray turned the tune into some sort of bizarro hoedown foot-stomper for the digital-exclusive deluxe edition of their latest album earlier this year; and even that magnificent wackydoo Macy Gray included it in her recent covers project. But none of those remakes are quite as ambitious (or, frankly, as good) as this, as the keenly astute Brothers completely deconstructs not only the text but the intent of the song, and the effect is bone-chilling and brilliant: whereas Karen O sang her words with a deceptively muted rage, Brothers crawls inside the story emitting a devastated vulnerability that is utterly breathtaking to behold. I played this on a constant loop for over an hour yesterday morning, and there’s not a thing about it — from the gently insistent, quietly urgent tinkling of the piano that keeps getting lost in the lush atmospherics of the chorus, to Ahn’s haunting harmony vocal (a pitch-perfect counterpoint to Brothers’ brusque, beautifully gruff line readings) — that doesn’t strike me as pristine perfection. In every way, a total triumph. (Incidentally, this man is one of Sherry Ann’s favorite artists, and I even managed to convince Cary to sing eight bars of her favorite Brothers tune just for her when he was a guest on Brandon’s Buzz Radio a couple of years back. And if you missed any of that conversation — or, Sherry Ann, if you’d like to relive it anew, wink wink — you can catch up with it right here.)