“Sometimes vanilla just tastes so good.”
A friend of mine (Nate Cavalieri) once made that statement in relation to a Steely Dan video he was sharing–and I always remembered it, and thought it made perfect sense in relation to that band’s sort of uber-polished, borderline-bland, radio-friendly pop sound.
Personally I’ve never entirely settled on where I stand with Steely Dan. On one hand it’s ubiquitous radio pop that is overly crisp, with all the dirt washed off and creases ironed out; the sound can be cloying, and as we all know it’s been impossible to escape for decades. On the other, man, when you really listen to some of those songs, they’re impressive. In terms of the writing, yes, but especially the production. And from that perspective alone, an album like Aja deserves its accolades.
Toronto indie-rock band The Darcys today paid tribute to Steely Dan by releasing their own version of Aja–a song-by-song re-creation of the classic 1977 album, though done in their own moody, fuzzy style.
I heard their version of “Peg” on the radio the other day, and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. What was the point? I understand the desire to take an overplayed song and give it a contemporary, hipster spin–but the result better be something unique on its own, and not just ‘fun’ because of its ironic conception.
Today, though, I heard this ‘alternate’ take on their version of “Josie,” and it’s got a deeper dirge that slows it down, gives it more grind and grit, and is more captivating. Download “Josie (vol. 2)” and see where it takes you.
Read a full review of the Aja tribute on Consequence of Sound.