Contramano Tamara Power-Drutis Theories of Everything

Beck's new album, 'Song Reader,' isn't really an album at all -- at least not in the conventional sense. Instead of recording the 20 songs,' he composed them on sheet music and issued the material solely in that format. This means anyone who wants to actually hear the album has to play it on their own. 

Another option, of course, is to listen to other people's recordings of the songs. When Beck released 'Song Reader,' he expressed his hope that other musicians would play the music, and many have done just that. Beck has set up the website songreader,netwhich features videos of various musicians — most of them amateurs — trying their hand at interpreting the songs. We've been quite impressed by the results, and below you'll find our picks for the five best 'Song Reader' interpretations.

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'Last Night You Were a Dream'

Performed by James Downes
Looking like a pretty-boy hipster captured through black-and-white Instagram effects, James Downes of New York City-based bands the End of America and Call It Arson recorded this solo acoustic take on 'Last Night You Were a Dream' a day before he performed it live at a 'Song Reader'-themed concert. The sparse, stripped-down sound brings to mind 'Sea Change'-era Beck.

'Old Shanghai'

Performed by Contramano
'Old Shanghai' is easily the most popular tune for people to record from 'Song Reader' -- two versions made it onto this list of the Best 'Song Reader' Interpretations -- and Contramano's run-through is as offbeat as any of them. Featuring cello, acoustic guitar, toy piano, drums, hand claps, three-part vocal harmonies and even a whistling solo, the instrumentation is lush but at the same time has a very organic sound, with the various layers coming together to form a coherent whole. Muy bonita!

'Eyes That Say 'I Love You''

Performed by Theories of Everything
Theories of Everything laid down their version of 'Eyes That Say 'I Love You'' as part of Full Sail University's 'Song Reader' project, which featured the for-profit college inviting 11 local bands from Winter Park, Fla., into its studio to each record a different cut from the album. The result is one of the most hi-fi takes put to tape.

'Do We, We Do' [NSFW Video]

Performed by Bradley Dean Whyte and the Perfectly Violent Dream
With hand claps and bass lines sampled from Beck's own 'Go It Alone,' Bradley Dean Whyte and the Perfectly Violent Dream approach 'Do We, We Do' as a sort of sonic art project. Snippets of fuzz guitar, piano and banjo float on top of the foundation of the looped Beck samples, creating a collage-like psych-funk jam that's perfect for cutting a rug.

'Old Shanghai'

Performed by Seattle Rock Orchestra featuring Tamara Power-Drutis
Perhaps the most elaborate 'Song Reader' video we've seen yet, this take on 'Old Shanghai' features the Seattle Rock Orchestra -- a full symphony mixed with rock instrumentation that's known for its epic takes on Arcade Fire, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins and Beatles -- with local singer Tamara Power-Drutis handling the vocals. We'll use that word once again: Epic!