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WDBM-FM 88.9 East Lansing, MI

Student Radio at Michigan State University

Album Review: Levi’s 2010 Pioneers

Levi’s, in a project called “Pioneer Sessions,” has released 13 covers since May in an attempt to, in effect, celebrate the endurance of truly great songs (and to generate music for new commercials, no doubt).

And maybe I’m reading too much into this, but there’s probably some intentional parallel between the endurance of classic tunes and classic blue jeans, you know, because “We are all workers.” Indie fans/hipsters like their music the way they like their skinny jeans, rougher around the edges than anything they’ve actually had to endure. Naturally She & Him was there. It just wouldn’t be Indie or bitingly cliche without them.

This gimmick doesn’t detract from the musical merit of the tracks themselves, though. Artists like Nas, The Dirty Projectors and Raphael Saadiq — “pioneers” of the music industry — were asked to record a song that had special significance. Levi’s did a good job of finding flannel-wearing, mostly NYLON-featured individuals that all happened to choose amazing songs. I loved Passion Pit’s take on Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Jason Mraz managed to not be annoying while performing Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”

I don’t know how Colbie Caillat covering Blondie qualifies as pioneer-y, but this song caught me on a girlie day so I’ll let it fly.

As a whole, the project has a gritty, soulful and optimistic American feel with blues, folk, hip-hop and rock coming together seamlessly (with Bomba Estereo reppin Colombia because, why not?) for some great advertising power. And really, what’s more American than trying to sell something?

Courtney Morra

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