Jul 08, 2021
By Mark Redfern
Photography by Dana Trippe
Angel Olsen, who has been quite prolific over the last couple of years, has announced a new EP, Aisles, featuring covers of five 1980s songs, and has shared its first single, an impassioned and slowed down take on Laura Branigan’s 1982 disco classic “Gloria.” Like all best cover versions, Olsen completely transforms the original song and brilliantly makes it her own. Aisles also features covers of songs by OMD, Billy Idol, Men Without Hats, and Alphaville and is due out digitally on August 20 via Olsen’s new Jagjaguwar imprint somethingscosmic (with a physical release on September 24). Check out the “Gloria” cover below, followed by the EP’s tracklist and the original version of “Gloria.” Above is its cover art.
“I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it,” says Olsen in a press release, “but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!”
Olsen recorded the EP in the winter of 2020 with co-producer and engineer Adam McDaniel at Asheville’s Drop of Sun Studios.
“I told Adam I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players. I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general,” says Olsen. “I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out. I’d come over to find Adam had set up five or so synthesizers, and we’d get lost on a part for a while messing with some obscure pedal I knew nothing about. We’d spend a good amount of time going through sounds before finding one or two, sometimes we’d get real weird and decide to just go with it. ”
McDaniel had previously helped Olsen perfect the audio of live-stream at-home performances during the pandemic.
“I’d heard ‘Gloria’ for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance. I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way,” says Olsen of the EP’s first single.
Branigan’s version of “Gloria” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 but was itself a cover of an Italian song by Umberto Tozzi, originally released in 1979.
In May, Olsen teamed up with Sharon Van Etten for a brand new collaborative song, “Like I Used To.” “Like I Used To” was shared via a Kimberly Stuckwisch-directed video. The duet easily landed at #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then the super-duo performed the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Also in May, Olsen released a new box set, Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories, via Jagjaguwar. The set features Olsen’s albums All Mirrors and Whole New Mess, along with a bonus LP titled Far Memory and a 40-page book. All Mirrors came out in 2019 and made it to the top spot on our Top 100 Albums of 2019 list. Whole New Mess came out the following year and was #39 for our Top 100 Albums of 2020.
Aisles EP Tracklist
1. Gloria (Laura Branigan Cover)
2. Eyes Without a Face (Billy Idol Cover)
3. Safety Dance (Men Without Hats Cover)
4. If You Leave (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Cover)
5. Forever Young (Alphaville Cover)
Angel Olsen Tour Dates:
Sat. Sept. 11 – Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Music Festival
Sat. Oct. 30 – San Francisco, CA @ Outside Lands