Speedy Ortiz, “Lost Something in the Hills” (Sibylle Baier cover)

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 07.31.14 in Listen to This

There are known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld liked to say, and bless Speedy Ortiz for somehow shining a light on both. Which is to say: The wiry Massachusetts fuzz bombers have covered a song by German folk singer Sibylle Baier, who so far is largely unrecognized beyond a cult that includes Dinosaur Jr.‘s J Mascis. And they’ve done so in a way that amplifies and distorts, somewhat literally, the original’s eerie sense of mystery. The occasion for Speedy Ortiz’s cover of “Lost Something Beyond the Hills” — recorded in the early ’70s and released on 2006′s Colour Green after Mascis brought Baier to the attention of Orange Twin Records —  is Rookie magazine’s new monthly theme, “The Great Unknown.” Aside from the gnarled, gale-force guitars, laid down with assistance from Palehound‘s Ben Scherer at a summer camp guitarist Sadie Dupuis has frequented as both a childhood attendee and a teacher, what’s most striking about the interpretation is how naturally the distant, decades-old material translates into something conversational and sharply contemporary. Unknowns, known or unknown, can be pretty great, sure enough.