Bills & Aches & Blues (LP)

Bills & Aches & Blues (LP) cover
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Various Artists
Bills & Aches & Blues (LP)

[ 4AD / 2 LP ]

Release Date: Friday 23 July 2021

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In 1980, a newly launched UK independent record label, christened Axis, suddenly discovered after its first batch of releases that another Axis already existed, so a new name was required.

A flyer designed to promote the label's launch worked on the concept of a new decade and a new mission. In descending order down the page was written:

1980 FWD
1984 AD

41 years after its inception, 4AD continues to look forward. But a record label's catalogue of releases is essentially timeless. So, the idea grew to ask current artists to cover a song of their choosing from 4AD past: a creative experiment rooted in the spirit of collaboration and a snapshot of 4AD today.

Bills & Aches & Blues' 18 recordings contain fascinating connections between artist and track. The earliest song chosen (by U.S. Girls) is The Birthday Party's 'Junkyard', from 1981; the most recent are the two Grimes covers ('Genesis' and 'Oblivion', respectively by Spencer. and Dry Cleaning) from 2012. Suitably, for the one band that bridges 4AD past and present, The Breeders are all over Bills & Aches & Blues. They're covered three times - 'Cannonball' by Tune-Yards, 'Mountain Battles' by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and 'Off You' by Big Thief, whilst The Breeders cover 'The Dirt Eaters' by their '90s contemporaries His Name Is Alive.

Landmark songs such as 'Cannonball', 'Song To The Siren' and Pixies' 'Where is My Mind?', will feel comfortable to casual fans, however by contrast, much joy can be found in the album's surprise choices, such as Air Miami's 'Seabird' and the Lush B-side 'Sunbathing', covered respectively by new signings Maria Somerville and Jenny Hval.

Bills & Aches & Blues is named, arguably (as Elizabeth Fraser never published the lyrics) after the opening line of Cocteau Twins 'Cherry-Coloured Funk'. Perhaps too unique and uncoverable in their own right, their legendary take on Tim Buckley's 'Song To The Siren', under the name This Mortal Coil (along with Buckley's pre-Starsailor acoustic version) informs SOHN's cover.


1. Tkay Maidza - 'Where Is My Mind?' (Pixies)
2. U.S. Girls - 'Junkyard' (The Birthday Party)
3. Aldous Harding - 'Revival' (Deerhunter)
4. The Breeders - 'The Dirt Eaters' (His Name Is Alive)
5. Maria Somerville- 'Seabird' (Air Miami)
6. Tune-Yards - 'Cannonball' (The Breeders)
7. Spencer. - 'Genesis' (Grimes)
8. Helado Negro - 'Futurism' (Deerhunter)
9. Efterklang - 'Postal' (Piano Magic)
10. Bing and Ruth - 'Gigantic' (Pixies)
11. Future Islands - 'The Moon Is Blue' (Colourbox)
12. Jenny Hval - 'Sunbathing' (Lush)
13. Dry Cleaning - 'Oblivion' (Grimes)
14. Bradford Cox - 'Mountain Battles' (The Breeders)
15. SOHN - 'Song To The Siren' (Tim Buckley)
16. Becky and The Birds - 'The Wolves Act I and II' (Bon Iver)
17. Ex:Re - 'Misery Is a Butterfly' (Blonde Redhead)
18. Big Thief - 'Off You' (The Breeders)

US Girls - Junkyard