On his sophomore outing, Plays the Hits!, Portland, Oregon’s Josh Hodges, who hides behind the poet-inspired nom de plume Sexton Blake, twists familiar material from the past 30 years in off kilter ways. Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” is twirled into Pet Shop Boys styled electro-pop. Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” is stripped to psychological essentials, depending on quiet desperation, acoustic guitar and piano.
Sexton applies the same trick with Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True,” turning the pap-pop single into a plaintive plea. The highlight is a post-punk version of the Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town,” which throws in some Sonic Youth-ish guitar drone and squawk. Springsteen, Paula Abdul and ELO are also transmogrified on one of the more distinct balancing acts released this year.
Plays the Hits! is currently available.