New Release Rack: John Brodeur’s “The Last Hour”

Former Nippertonian singer-songwriter John Brodeur released his new album Little Hopes in August, and now, just two months later, he’s back with a another new album, The Last Hour, in homage to one of his musical inspirations, Elliott Smith.

“Nearly every one of Elliott Smith’s songs speaks to me on a personal level, whether lyrically or musically or (usually) both,” says Brodeur. “I’ve yet to come across another songwriter with that kind of track record.”

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Smith’s untimely death, and Brodeur has issued a loving tribute, The Last Hour: A Lo​-​Fi Tribute to Elliott Smith, which features his interpretations of 15 songs of Smith’s music. “I knew I wanted to do something to mark the 10th anniversary of his passing, to salute his wonderful music,” Brodeur says.

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In the tradition of Smith’s early solo recordings, Brodeur’s album was recorded earlier this month on a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder, and the track listing follows the set list of Smith’s final public performance in September, 2003, just a month before his death – including selections from each of the late songwriter’s full-length albums, as well as a few rarities and choice cuts from Smith’s early band, Heatmiser. As Brodeur explains, it’s “kind of like a dream mix tape as crafted by the music’s creator. As a recorded album, this collection of songs is both perfectly strange and strangely perfect.

“These versions are generally faithful to the originals but with some extra added noise to personalize them. The rapid nature of both the learning and recording process — particularly the one-take nature of four-tracking—made for some ragged performances, but it’s all in the name of good fun and beautiful music. I think Elliott would have appreciated my butchering his songs for those reasons.”

The album is currently available for download on a donate-what-you-wish basis. All proceeds from The Last Hour will benefit New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth in New York City.

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