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Nina Simone

Album Review: Xiu Xiu - Nina

When one thinks of Nina Simone, immediate visions of strikingly beautiful, heart wrenching messages accompanied by somber jazz melodies are called to the forefront of one's mind, and when one thinks of San Jose-based experimental group Xiu Xiu, their radically innovative style isn't one that is necessarily pegged in the same category. Nevertheless, the band's album Nina offers a mind-blowing interpretation of the late songstress' classic tunes. Xiu Xiu's cover of Don't Smoke In Bed maintains the same somber, melancholy theme it was originally created with, but with an added eerie twist of Jamie Stewert's dramatic, breathy, stark and masculine vocals . Pirate Jenny bursts in with leading jazz lines (thanks to saxophonists Tim Berne and Tony Malaby) and a seemingly endless supply of hypnotic experimental sounds, only to wind back down as Stewart delicately whispers Nina’s masterfully crafted tale down the listener's necks. Every component of this cover album fits together beautifully like a bluesy, emotion- laden puzzle of a homage. Nina offers a portal to a world of new possibilities for a revival of classics. -Kat Collins


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