Back in 2002 when Built to Spill were on hiatus, Doug Martsch decided to invite some local players to his house to jam. The results were captured as the Boise Cover Band who recorded a collection of cover songs in an extremely relaxed setting and titled it Unoriginal Artists. The album was initially only sold at merch tables on BTS tours but now it has received an official digital/vinyl wider release.
Boise Cover Band are guitarists Ned Evett and John Mullin, drummer Ian Waters and Martsch on bass (with guitar/keyboard/percussion and lots of vocal overdubs) having a good time with tunes from a wide variety of sources. Opening with perhaps the most interesting effort, Martsch and company filter reggae artist Dobby’s Dobson’s soulful “Loving Pauper” through the BTS indie-rock spectrum; an odd pairing that blissfully works wonderfully.
That unique song selection continues with Lee Williams and the Cymbals doo-wop original “I Love You More” which the band successfully delivers in looping, keys/vibes accented fashion while their take on Captain Beefheart’s “I’m Glad” continues that indie doo-wop combo winningly.
A more direct connection for the players is David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” which fits the warbling guitars and vocals that Martsch has been working out for decades while light and breezy version of The Pretenders “Chain Gang” is played as a fun poppy instrumental. The players clean up The Delusions “Strange”, scrubbing the feedback and inserting pretty strings before the album-closing “Ta Magia Sto Pegadi”, originally by Georgios Trakis, slides right into Martsch’s weepy wheelhouse around layers of guitar strums.
Basically. a Built to Spill take on tunes across a spectrum of genres, Boise Cover Band’s Unoriginal Artists is a satisfying dip into Martsch and company’s laconic, wooly style draped around unique originals.