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Ben Gibbard's New Album Is Teenage Fanclub's 'Bandwagonesque,' Covered Song For Song

Ben Gibbard.
Rachel Demy
Courtesy of the artist
Ben Gibbard.

Last month, Mutual Benefit released an album-length cover of Vashti Bunyan's 1970 classic Just Another Diamond Day — an act of tribute initiated as part of an ambitious series by the website Turntable Kitchen. Now, the site is prepping a major sequel, in which Death Cab For Cutie singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard remakes Teenage Fanclub's career-making 1991 album Bandwagonesque song for song. In "The Concept," Gibbard stretches Teenage Fanclub's work from six minutes to a whopping eight.

Otherwise, these aren't radical reinventions; the central statement behind Gibbard's take on Bandwagonesque seems to be that he loves the record a lot. But his new version does function as a charming showcase for everyone involved: The singer's approachable warmth dovetails nicely with the idiosyncratic yet still airtight songcraft at the heart of the Big Star-loving Scottish power-pop band. Gibbard makes the case that the album he's tackling is a modern classic, and he's got a point.

"Bandwagonesque is my favorite record by my favorite band of all time," Gibbard writes via email. "It came along at a pivotal time in my musical life, and I've loved it for over 25 years. It's been such a blast taking these songs apart to see how they work and then putting them back together again."

For his part, Teenage Fanclub singer-songwriter Norman Blake writes that he's both honored and impressed with the new take on his best-known album. "I was thrilled and extremely flattered when I heard that Ben Gibbard had decided to cover Bandwagonesque in its entirety. Needless to say, the re-imagining of the album by this very talented fella is both inventive and deftly executed."

Ben Gibbard's Bandwagonesque comes out July 28 via Canvasback Music/Turntable Kitchen. It's also available via Turntable Kitchen's monthly "Sounds Delicious" vinyl subscription series.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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