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Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division as modern gospel? Hear Diane Birch's take

November 29, 2010 |  1:55 pm


Soul newcomer Diane Birch had earlier hinted to Pop & Hiss that her next album would be "funky and dark," and apparently she wasn't kidding. Though the Brooklyn-based artist, who honed her skills working hotel bars around Los Angeles, hasn't unleashed a new original yet, her choice of covers on a seven-track EP, to be released next week (Dec. 7) by S-Curve Records, should offer a hint. 

The piano-playing young artist with an old soul tackles the likes of Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnyman and the Cure, among others, giving goth favorites a church-inspired workout. Dubbed "The Velveteen Age," the EP opens with a take on Sisters of Mercy's orchestral-synth staple "This Corrosion," remaking it as a gospel call-and-response. 

Birch was born into a conservative family with a travelling preacher for a father, and though she was surrounded by the songs of the church as a child, she went a darker route when discovering her own music.

"I really rebelled when I was a teenager," Birch told Pop & Hiss last year. "I don’t consider myself particularly rebellious anymore. I’ve been there, done that. But I have discarded a lot of the political things about the religion. I can’t help but be influenced by all the things I have rebelled against. I do use a lot of that lingo, and the way that I talk. I think about angels, even if I don’t believe in it as literally as it was taught to me. You can’t get that out of your head."

Both versions of "This Corrosion" can easily be danced to, but whereas the Sisters of Mercy went for synthesized grandeur, Birch turns it into a musical prayer. Which version, however, is scarier, will have to be decided by you. Listen here or below:

This Corrosion by dianebirch

In addition to "This Corrosion," The Velveteen Age" sees Birch tackling "Kiss Them for Me" (Siouxsie & the Banshees), "Bring on the Dancing Horses" (Echo & the Bunnymen), "Atmosphere" (Joy Division), "Primary" (The Cure), "Tarantula" (This Mortal Coil) and "A Strange Kind of Love" (Peter Murphy). The EP features backing support by New York's the Phenomenal Handclap Band.

-- Todd Martens 

Photo:  Ariel Stark-Benz