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Finally: the “Britney Spears takes over culture” thing is pretty much over, but even after both an All Folked Up feature and a (Re)Covered revisit, her songs continue to crop up everywhere that indie hipsters crave irony…


Today’s evidence comes from The Portland Cello Project, which finally hit stores this week after months of slow-burning hype. I’m by no means the first to notice The Portland Cello Project, and technically, they’re not folk, either — critics are calling the guest-vocalist-with-multiple-cello sound chamber pop; their myspace page lists them as indie/classical/rock. Listen through their whole self-titled debut, though, and you may think you’ve discovered yet another new folk, akin to the experimentation of, say, Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet project (which also features cellist Ben Sollee).

The album tracks each feature collaboration from the Pacific Northwest indiefolk crowd, including star turns from Loch Lomond’s Ritchie Young and indiefolk darling Laura Gibson; I especially like the delicate indietune Under Glass, and Stay, a wonderful, plucked-sting acoustic waltz with guest Anna Fritz. Captain Obvious gets cred for picking the Gibson and Under Glass for sampling. And PCP gets TOTAL bonus points here for a secret, hidden covertrack, which sets the Mario Brothers theme song to a classical ensemble sound, and then slowly buries it in a faux-military drumroll — that no other blogger has mentioned that says what it needs to about how most critics listen to label freebies, sadly.

Whatever you call it, this is surprisingly solid, listenable music, covering a huge range of pleasurable soundscape; though it’s among the more upbeat and fun songs on the album, their version of Toxic still comes across as authentic, not just some marching band cover. And since the Britney covers always bring a smile, and given the increasing prevalence of cello in folk music, I’ll allow it just this once. With a few other recent Britney covers scavenged from the webs that fall on the edge of folk: Sia‘s delicate acoustic version of Gimme More, and French-Israeli singer-songwriter Yael Naim‘s ubiquitous pop-folktronic Toxic, just in case you haven’t heard it. And so the trend continues.

CLICK the songs to download.

    * Portland Cello Project: Toxic (orig. Britney Spears)
    * Yael Naim: Toxic (orig. Britney Spears)
    * Sia: Gimme More (orig. Britney Spears)

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