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Album Review
Almost Xiu Xiu/Almost Deerhoof

Almost Xiu Xiu/Almost Deerhoof
by Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof


Review Date
29th April
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

I really like oddities in the music world. By that I do not mean the drunken renditions of The Pogues' classic track 'Tuesday Morning' (Waiting for Herb, 1993) that have been seeping from my neighbour's property this evening as the party-goers continue to keep their glasses at least half-full, while I increasingly begin to view my glass of sanity as being half-empty. Among the pain, however, there has been some respite - namely in listening to this incredible split EP by indie stalwarts Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof.

Released in time for this year's Record Store Day, this 7-inch project entailed Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart undertaking a version of the Deerhoof track 'Almost Everyone, Almost Always' from the very recent Deerhoof vs Evil record, and Deerhoof's Greg Saunier covering Xiu Xiu’s 'The Fabrizio Palumbo Retaliation' from last year's standout release Dear God I Hate Myself.

Anyone who has heard the Tu Mu Piaci covers EP will know that Jamie Stewart is by no means a stranger to tackling and converting songs that aren't his into tracks reminiscent to his bleak and brutally honest outlook on life. Here his performance is spot on, transforming the Deerhoof track into a bolder version drenched with adolescent sexuality predicated with the shouted words 'Playtime is over'. It's a haze-filled and questionably distasteful tale of renegade youth caught up by the police officer abusing his authority, that begins with shyness but loses any innocence by the end as Stewart sings in Antony-impression, 'Mrs Officer, please be mine ... oh, the Aviators above your eyes; make sure the cuffs are fastened'. It's tense and terse, and an incredible track.

As for Greg Saunier's take on the Xiu Xiu track - tentatively entitled this time as 'The Greg Saunier Retaliation' - he instead pegs the track back, making it much less intense instrumentally than the original though still relatively true to its form. But despite the dilution of Jamie Stewart's craft into a slight pop jaunt, it still works in its soft vocals and electronic blips to achieve a disturbing sensibility. Softy, softly, Saunier sings of the mutilation of being burnt and the torment associated with those feelings. The undertaking of this song has added meaning, as it originally references Fabrizio Palumbo - a member of the one-time Xiu Xiu-collaborators Larsen. Goodness knows what the tale is behind what happened to Palumbo and why it's being recounted here, but hearing Saunier sing 'Cherry blossoms fall, And for a twinkle there I have the will to live, But then Gomorrah calls...' with such an almost blasé cognisance evokes disturbed thoughts of a victim's psychosis.

To be fair, this release may not be for the faint of heart but it really is worth a listen. The coming together of Jamie Stewart and Greg Saunier amounts to one of the best Xiu Xiu collaborative projects to date, besides the effort alongside Grouper (Creep Show, 2006). Please, take a few minutes out of your day!


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