Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee has unveiled a covers album entitled Quarter Century Classix, featuring covers from artists such as Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Pavement and Daniel Johnston. In preparation for the full release, which will be out on Novembber 22nd via New West Records, lee released covers of The Breeders “Divine Hammer,” and Johnston’s “Speeding Motorcycle.”
Lee made this album as a tribute to independent music and artists that have inspired him since his youth. Other artists including electronic artist Julianna Barwick, punk rock icon Mike Watt of the Minutemen & Firehose, William Tyler, Petra Haden of that dog. & The Haden Triplets, Maria Taylor of Azure Ray, the harpist Mary Lattimore, and drummer Joey Waronker make appearances on the project.
“Speeding Motorcycle,” was made as a tribute to Johnston, who passed away earlier this year. The song takes a stripped back approach with nothing but guitars, as Lee sings in a heartfelt manner to remember the icon, who originally wrote the song for his 1983 album Yip/Jump.
“It’s been powerful this past week to see so many people sharing how Daniel’s music touched them so deeply. It’s one of those bittersweet elements when a beloved artist dies – we are given the opportunity to say out loud what we’ve thought privately so many times. It’s strange timing for me personally, as I had recorded my cover of ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ earlier this year, after performing it with Daniel on KCRW and at the LA show that night, which was one of the high points of my musical life,” Lee described regarding the Daniel Johnston cover.” Climbing inside that song was like a celebration of everything that initially moved me about Daniel’s music and rock ‘n’ roll in general: the freedom, the melody, the wit, the artistic rebelliousness. So here it is for you to hear, oddly, a week after Daniel’s death. And I get the chance to say that I believe Daniel Johnston was amongst the greatest songwriters in American history.”
“Divine Hammer,” takes a more experimental approach, with lush vocals from Lee along with a gorgeous string arrangement, that takes a unique look at the track, that was originally released on The Breeder’s 1993 album Last Splash.
Check out our review for Lee’s Love Is The Great Rebellion here.
Quarter Century Classix
01 “Web In Front” (Archers of Loaf)
02 “Blueprint” (Fugazi)
03 “Divine Hammer” (The Breeders)
04 “Car” (Built To Spill)
05 “Sugar Kane” (Sonic Youth)
06 “Get Me” (Dinosaur Jr.)
07 “In The Mouth A Desert” (Pavement)
08 “Goldheart Mountain Top Queen Directory” (Guided By Voices)
09 “Speeding Motorcycle” (Daniel Johnston)
10 “Brand New Love” (Sebadoh)
11 “Ingrown” (Smudge)
12 “My Noise” (Superchunk)
13 “Godsend” (Beat Happening)