Category: Trespassers William

Last Minute Discoveries: Lotte Kestner Covers
Vic Chesnutt, Billy Idol, Beyonce, Split Enz, Elvis Costello & more!

December 29th, 2011 — 03:43 pm

We follow over a hundred blogs, and listen to everything that’s sent to us, but we can’t claim to be completists here at Cover Lay Down. The world of folk is too big, and the borders fluid and everchanging; even if we had the luxury of listening full-time, we’d surely miss some of the good stuff.

But 2011 was a year which found us particularly removed from the outside world. New teaching assignments at the desperately struggling inner-city school where I teach had my head down for weeks on end, developing and adapting curriculum on the fly. A renewed commitment to theater and a race to cram enough into my head to pass the state English teaching test this summer meant less time for music; in the end, I attended just one folk festival this year, and only made it out to hear live music six or seven times. And several weather-related disasters in our besieged hometown pulled us off the grid for weeks at a time, causing us to miss a number of radar blips in our struggle to merely survive.

As a consequence, my awareness of the artist’s marketplace was generally weak throughout the late summer and fall, and pretty much anything released in either June or the end of October slipped through the cracks entirely. And the results of this lack of attention are still sparking in my consciousness as I wander the quiet wasteland that is the end-of-year web, taking advantage of a relative silence on the music blogs to sift through the feedreader, and finally catch up on what I missed.

Case in point: Lotte Kestner – the solo project of Anna-Lynne Williams, the female half of shoegaze duo Trespassers William – released a covers album and a companion covers EP in June, and a second EP of equal merit in the waning days of December. And though the collected works involved surely would have merited mention in our year’s end review posts, we’re embarrassed to admit that we wouldn’t have found any of them, were it not for recent mention of the last at Slowcoustic this morning, and a dogged determination to follow songs back to artists pages for source notes.

But these three project pieces are well worth whispering about from the rooftops, even at year’s end. The tracks are sparse, wholly fragile dreamfolk, with guitars used like chimes and light washes of synthesized sound under Kestner’s syrupy, echoey alto creating a haunting atmosphere and, overall, a chillingly potent set. And, other than a few familiar song names – Bon Iver’s Flume; a haunting Eyes Without A Face, a skeletal, melodically-turned Beyonce cover – the set list is sourced largely from obscurities, too, from Elvis Costello and Yaz b-sides and Trashcan Sinatras strip-downs to tracks from indie go-tos such as Vic Chesnutt, Kings of Convenience, Fleet Foxes, The National, and Ghosts I’ve Met, making the set a folk-loving hipster’s dream.

The end result reveals depths unplumbed in a wide-ranging set of songs many will have to track down for comparison, not hardly because the lists are maddeningly untagged, with no reference to original artist names, leaving us googling lyrics all morning to keep up. Given Williams’ tendency towards the sparse and the mystical in both her solo work and with Trespassers William, it’s tempting to ascribe deliberation to this lack of labeling, too, as befits a covers album which so carefully reclaims its source material, strips it down to its ghosts, and calls it Stolen. No matter: here’s the stuff, plus a few older recordings, and a pair of tracks from recent American Laundromat Records covers projects – a lovely Rainbow Connection from indie lullaby dreampop compilation Sing Me To Sleep, and an utterly dreamy cover from last year’s Smiths tribute Please Please Please that features Anna-Lynne Williams in rare form – with more to stream and buy via Lotte Kestner’s Bandcamp page.

Cover Lay Down thrives throughout the year thanks to the support of artists, labels, promoters, and YOU. So do your part: listen, love, spread the word, and above all, purchase the music, the better to keep it alive.

And if, in the end, you’ve got goodwill to spare, and want to help keep the music flowing? Please, consider a year’s end contribution to Cover Lay Down. All gifts will go directly to bandwidth and server costs; all giftees will receive undying praise, and a special 12-song set of favorite 2011 Holiday Covers in easy-to-digest mp3 format.

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