For all their sprawling diversity, you can always tell a Xiu Xiu song. Part of that distinct character lies in Jamie Stewart's frayed-nerve vocals, but there's also an innate confrontational quality, a dynamic contrast and nakedness that gives his band's songs their core Xiu Xiu-ness. So it's curious to hear Stewart's output deconstructed and reworked by esoteric artists in this two-disc comp. The covers half is more successful, if only because it's intriguing to hear both complete overhauls (Devendra Banhart's psych-folk ballad treatment of the stark Support Our Troops, Her Space Holiday's jaunty cabaret bounce through I Luv The Valley, OH!, Marissa Nadler's purring take on Clowne Towne) and tracks that can't quite shake off their original personalities. The remixes are intriguing but weird. Xiu Xiu's arty atmospherics don't really lend themselves to the dance floor, and hearing a sledgehammer beat decimate Caralee McElroy's earnest vocals makes one a bit seasick.
Xiu Xiu roll into Lee's Palace tonight (Thursday, April 12).