Elliott Smith’s self-titled debut album will be reissued for its 25th anniversary in August. And with it, comes not only a remastered version and a previously unreleased live album, but an imaginative cover from Portland’s MAITA.
The DIY-inspired act, which dropped their debut album in April, has a soothing sound that mirrors that of Smith, and gives the track some additional punchy harmonies toward the end. With Maria Maita-Keppeler on vocals, MAITA gives fans of Smith — who lived in Portland for much of his life — something to be proud of.
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“Elliott Smith’s music has been a part of both [guitarist] Matthew [Zeltzer]’s and my life for years — our connection to Elliott’s music was one of the first musical commonalities we found, and continues to be a touchstone,” she says of the release. “It felt as if his music was following me since I was a kid, or perhaps I was following it, unwittingly stumbling upon his old stomping grounds — drinking in the same bars, living in neighborhoods where Elliott used to record in the basements, old friendships, old teachers. I discovered his music before I learned about his connection to Portland, the city that I always knew would be my home, and within those pirated Limewire tracks (I’m sorry Slim, I didn’t have an allowance) I found a singular solace in his music, at once so gentle and so visceral.”
The singer says she chose to cover “Coming Up Roses,” because of the “tension of how it’s almost a pop song, but the chords just fuck you up in a way that doesn’t let that happen.”
“The lyrics oscillate between the sugary sweet hook and much darker, complex imagery. We wanted to honor the nuanced, yet straight-forward production of the self-titled album — doubled vocals and rhythm guitars with no reverb and to the point guitar solos, but we wanted to do it in a louder way, with a bit of a nod to Heatmiser (we’re both suckers for that version of Christian Brothers).”
We spoke with MAITA about her Kill Rock Stars debut earlier this year. The release is so strong that it managed to get legendary label boss Slim Moon out of retirement.
Check out the group’s cover below. Smith’s reissue is due on Aug. 28 via Kill Rock Stars.
To see our running list of the top 100 greatest guitarists of all time, click here.