SOUNDS LIKE: Nectar. Pure nectar.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:Two great bands transforming one of the best tracks from a third great band? You should care.
In 2008, Guelph, Ontario art-punk band The Constantines released Kensington Heights, their first release for Toronto-based Arts& Crafts Records and what would prove to be their final album before going on an indefinite hiatus. While their prior releases on Three Gut Records and Sub Pop revealed an exceptional level of musicianship and versatility, it is fair to say that “Time Can Be Overcome” represented the emotional centerpiece of Kensington Heights and a high-water mark for frontman Bry Webb. It was also arguably the most delicate, introspective song in the band’s discography. The Constantines would go on to tour in support of Kensington Heights before announcing an indefinite hiatus mid-way through 2010.
Fast forward to 2013 and Arts & Crafts is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a pop-up store, a wildly successful hometown music festival, and commemorative releases to highlight the label’s rich catalog and deep roster. In addition to the excellent, de rigueur two disc compilation of hits and rarities (Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013), the label has also released X, a ten track collection of collaborations that includes original material and creative covers and reinterpretations. While label luminaries like Broken Social Scene, Feist, and Stars garner headlines (and deservedly so), the emotional centerpiece of X is a collaboration between two bands garnering less acclaim thus far, The Darcys and Ra Ra Riot, as they reinterpret The Constantines’ “Time Can Be Overcome.” It is a fitting tribute to a venerated band.
Where the original is a gloriously ragged barroom ballad, the cover is a lush, note-perfect comedown selection for the ride home. Where the original is a sparse display of world-weary vocals, lyrical depth, and rich guitar, this new interpretation is a fragile, haunted affair with sweeping strings. Both versions feature a slow-burning build, but where Cons pushed toward distorted, dueling guitars, the cover version ends with a blast of digital squall reminiscent of late-era Radiohead. The Constantines were a force to be reckoned with, live and on record, because of the camaraderie and intensity in even their lightest moments. The Darcys and Ra Ra Riot honor this legacy without aping it by seamlessly integrating the strengths of both bands. I can think of no more fitting tribute to a band that took their music more seriously than they took themselves. In an ideal world, Arts & Crafts Records will have many milestones to celebrate in its future. Hopefully the Constantines, The Darcys, and Ra Ra Riot will have an opportunity to overcome time together someday.