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When I first heard about Dark Was the Night, the latest benefit comp from AIDS charity the Red Hot Organization, I admit I didn't particularly care. The idea of Feist singing a duet with Ben Gibbard fills me with a very particular kind of dread, and a compilation where Sufjan Stevens appears on two different songs isn't statistically likely to be my kind of thing.
Surprisingly, I'm finding the double-disc set kind of enjoyable. Like Red Hot's mid-90s alt-rock comp, No Alternative--the only way anyone's ever induced me to sit through entire songs by the Goo Goo Dolls and the Straitjacket Fits--Dark relocates artists I don't particularly care for (or even downright despise) far enough outside their usual contexts that I can reevaluate them (or at least wedges them in with enough people I actually like that I'm willing to put up with them).
Some standout moments: the Books and Jose Gonzalez's percolating version of Nick Drake's "Cello Song," a characterstically uptight piece of punk-pop called "Well-Alright" that's credited to Spoon but sounds like a Britt Daniel solo demo, and TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek doing a cover of the Troggs' "With a Girl Like You" that sounds like a goth band colliding in slow motion with the horn section from a soul outfit.
Dark was the Night hits shelves tomorrow, but the Empty Bottle's hosting a listening party tonight from 7 till 9 PM. The event's free with an RSVP here.