March 5, 2009

Test Spin: Dark Was the Night

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Imagine this: around 40 of the biggest stars from all reaches of the indie universe get together and put out a 31-song, double-disc album featuring mostly-new material and several all-star collaborations, like Feist and Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner (The National).
No, this isn’t a hipster’s wet dream — this is Dark Was The Night, a new release spearheaded by the charity group the Red Hot Organization.
It would figure that any album with such an impressive pedigree would struggle to match its hype, and Dark Was The Nightdoes sputter at places (see: My Morning Jacket’s Mariachi-tinged number), but barely. For the most part, this album comprises a staggering collection of songs. Wunderkind Zach Condon of Beirut fame channels all of his mad Klezmer genius on “Mimizan.” The National ditch their characteristic murky electric guitars on “So Far Around The Bend” for, of all things, a woodwind section — and somehow it works. The best song on this album, however, may be the first one, Dirty Projectors and David Byrne’s “Knotty Pine,” a two-minute jolt of stomping drums and rattly acoustic guitar.
Of course, these are only four of the songs from Dark Was The Night; there are 27 other ones deserving of attention. But since I don’t have an 800-word column, I’ll just get to the point — go buy the damn thing.