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  • The National's Grateful Dead Tribute Album Features Courtney Barnett, Wilco, the Flaming Lips, and an Assembly of All Stars

    Thu, 17 Mar 2016 15:24:54

    The National's Grateful Dead Tribute Album Features Courtney Barnett, Wilco, the Flaming Lips, and an Assembly of All Stars -

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    The time is right for a National-curated Grateful Dead tribute album. Long ago in 2011, the National first announced plans to record a collaborative album of Grateful Dead covers, and now they have unveiled the fruits of their labor. Day of the Dead is a meaty 59-track, six-hour-long boxed set produced to benefit the nonprofit Red Hot Organization that's dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS. The compilation is due out May 20th on 4AD.

    The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner have brought together an all star cast of contributors to cover the Grateful Dead that includes over 60 artists. Among the list of contributors are Courtney Barnett, Wilco, the Flaming Lips, Kurt Vile and J Mascis, Justin Vernon, Anhoni, War on Drugs, Sharon van Etten, Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear, Real Estate, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Jenny Lewis, Perfume Genius, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, Bill Callahan, the Walkmen, Stephen Malkmus, Phosphorescent, Angel Olsen, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, Cass McCombs, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry.

    According to 4AD's press release, the album's musical core is made up of "an all star house band," which includes the National's pair of brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and Scott and Bryan Devendorf; Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, Sam Cohen, and Walter Martin.

    Day of the Dead will be released digitally, on 5 X CD, and as a limited edition vinyl boxed set. It's the 20th album of original music produced by the Red Hot Organization, and the follow-up to 2009's Dark Was The Night, which was also produced by the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

    An all star Day of the Dead set will take place at this year's Eaux Claires festival over the weekend of August 12-13. The lineup for this performance will be made up of the National joined by Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis, Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck, Will Oldham, Sam Amidon, Richard Reed Parry, Lucius, Bruce Hornsby, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson.

    Here's Bill Callahan on the Dead's enduring appeal: "I feel like the Dead managed to show the bridge from the past to the future in a respectful way. Much more so than someone like the Stones who felt like pillagers to me. The Dead breathed life into the old songs, expanded the lungs of the old songs."

    Tunde Adebimpe on their influence: "They're one of the great, 'do everything' bands, take from whatever you want and warp it into something new. I'm sure that some of the space rock and psyche jam DNA of the band has seeped into what we do."

    Will Oldham on the Dead's utility for bringing people together around common threads in folk music: "I have worked with a few people whose minds are brilliant and complicated, musically. There's something about the Dead that allows these big-brained pickers to just chill the fuck out and feel good about it. There's basic types of song forms and melodies that I have an affinity for, and the Grateful Dead have helped other people find their ways into these musics. So it isn't as hard to establish connections with folks out there that might not otherwise share some of what I am digging into."

    For more on the Grateful Dead, check out:
    Grateful Dead Members Announce Tour With John Mayer

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff
    03.17.16

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