Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestratas The Hills Are Alive is a cult album if there ever was one.
The premise is bizarre: The awesomely acronymed BRO decided to reinterpret songs from Rodgers and Hammersteins The Sound of Music in modern music genres, like Motown, prog rock, R&B, country, funk and more. Many of these tunes are original music creations with the lyrics and occasional melodies from the source material.
But the biggest head trip here is Do-Re-Mi / ABC, which jams the lyrics and melody of the iconic song inside The Jackson Fives ABC. I cant even explain how disorienting and incredible the mash-up is, because its perfect. It sounds as if Michael Jackson wrote Do-Re-Mi and ABC as one song. (Hear it below.)
It helps that BRO is comprised of amazing musicians and vocalists who make all of the many genres here sound authentic instead of cheesy. The mad jazz skronk of I Have Confidence sounds as legitimate as the high lonesome country of Edelweiss on High. Even smooth R&B, that hardest of genres to appropriate effectively, sounds revelatory when its paired with Climb Evry Mountain. The fact that a rap about Martin Luther King Jr. is dropped in only ups the ante.
Songs familiar and unfamiliar get their due here, with Maria turned into a slow-jam duet ballad, and The Lonely Goatherd transformed into a Queen-esque classic rock track, complete with gospel choir.
I fall in the middle camp; I marvel at this release, but dont anticipate putting it in heavy rotation. But for those in love with musicals (or just The Sound of Music), re-appropriated tunes or WTF head trips, this may take up a permanent place in your heart and stereo. Get it March 8. Stephen Carradini