The image above, with the swimming lads and the tambourine headed lady is the cover for Neutral Milk Hotel's 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, probably my favorite album of all time. It is beautifully strange yet completely accessible and melodic. I have played every song on my guitar so many times that the chord imprints are permanently emboldened on my fingers. The lyrics and melodies have permeated so far into my consciousness that they regularly bleed into memories and thoughts they have no business existing in. I can extrapolate the origin of most complex emotions back to a verse in one of the songs. If it sounds like I'm gushing, it's because I am. I'll save a complete review for a day when I have a firmer grasp on what makes these eleven songs tick. What this blog post is about is the audacious 17-year-old Madeline Ava, who had the gall to cover the entire album on a ukulele. This is the indie equivalent to remaking Mona Lisa with burger grease. Or Cups of Coffee. Or Legos. The sacrilege is just too much to bear.
All kidding aside, it's pretty neat. Ava completely strips the songs of the orchestration and minutiae we are familiar with, leaving only the lyrics, her wispy voice and some gentle plucking. Its a worthy cover, and from someone who has heard several renditions of these songs, that is not an easy compliment to bestow.
Download it here.