Music Reviews
Indie Translations of Usher

Indie Translations of Usher

Indie Translations of Usher

Urabon Records

Usher has only released four albums, so why is a tribute album like this warranted? It’s not, but here it is: Indie Translations of Usher. A bunch of no-name artists either torturing or decently remaking ten of Usher’s biggest hits. Overall, it’s about 50/50.

I’ll start with the bad.

“Nice & Slow” by More is one of the worst remakes in history. Yes, it’s worse than P-Diddly-Do’s remake of “Kashmir” on the Godzilla soundtrack. “Nice & Slow” is supposed to be about boinking, but listening to More’s rendition makes me wonder if I can make the noose and hang myself within the interminable six minutes the torture lasts. More takes the beat, slows it down to the speed of a traffic jam, adds a singer who can’t keep a tune on an iPod and makes the song sound more like Portishead than Usher. It’s horrendous.

Leafcutter’s “U Don’t Have to Call” sounds like an outtake of Radiohead’s Kid A sessions. The tin drum, xylophone and keyboard sound exactly like the instruments used on “Everything in Its Right Place,” the opener to Kid A.

Now for the good.

Chai T makes three of the best remakes I have ever heard. “Yeah,” “You Make Me Wanna” and “Confessions (Pt.2)” are completely stripped of any club-worthy beats. Chai T does what no other artist on this album does: They make the songs their own. Take “Confessions (Pt. 2),” for example. It’s just an acoustic guitar, a cow bell (to keep the beat), overlapping vocals and some subtly changed lyrics. Towards the end of the original, Usher talks about how it’s not about this and that, blah, blah, blah. Chai T switches it to how “it’s not about my Blockbuster membership, it’s not about my ‘94 Dodge, with the busted transmission…I just hope that you can forgive me and one day, help me babysit.” That right there is worth the entire album.

Pink Nasty also does a genuinely great rendition of “Burn,” making it sound more alt-country (a la Kathleen Edwards) than R&B. It may be slower than mud, but this version makes it sound justified.

Indie Translations of Usher is ten songs of either really good or really bad remakes. Chai T and Pink Nasty’s contributions only make up 40% of the album, but knowing that you’re getting almost half an album of good music is better than most albums these days. If nothing else, this album is one to play for your friends to laugh at or be impressed with, whether you’re an Usher fan or not.

Urabon Records: http://www.urabonrecords.com


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