Last November, VH1 reported--good Lord, how silly that phrase looks--that Polyphonic Spree had gone into the studio with producer and pal Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Kanye West, Rhett Miller) earlier in 2005 to record a handful of songs for an all-covers EP. Among the selections the band recorded: the Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way," Nirvana's "Lithium," Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" and the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." But the band scrapped the disc, and frontman Tim DeLaughter said in the fall that most of the songs would eventually wind up on soundtracks or B-sides to future singles; no way the band--which is prepping its third disc, The Fragile Army, for release--would waste the long green it takes to get the entourage out to Los Angeles to work with Brion, who don't come cheap these days.
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Well, a live, giddy trip-out version of "Sgt. Pepper's" made its way onto the Web some time back; listening to it at this very moment (or am I?). But this weekend, the Brion-produced take of "Lithium" snuck onto one MP3 blog, and it's available for download at this very moment. Snatch it while you can; these things tend not to stay up for very long. Lemme just say this about the song, which clocks in at just under five and a half minutes: Never has such a downer punk anthem ever sounds more joyous and uplifting, though one would expect nothing less from the Up with People people. As Kurt Cobain sang, till Tim D. took over lead vocals, "I like it." Really. And speaking of the Spree and likin' it, I cannot get enough of Spree'er Annie Clark's new project, St. Vincent; her songs, three of which are available from her MySpace page, sound like they were recorded in a Manhattan studio in 1953 and released day after tomorrow. Our pal Chris Cantalini has the one track from her forthcoming disc, "Paris is Burning," available for download from his stellar MP3 blog Gorilla vs. Bear. Three words: As. Toun. Ding. The single of the summer, if you're into moody, ethereal, quasi-orchestral pop that sounds like Nina Simone singing Burt Bacharach songs. Or something. --Robert Wilonsky