Kweller, Lips Play Undead

"Stubbs the Zombie" soundtrack features new oldies

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Ben Kweller, the Flaming Lips, the Raveonettes, Death Cab for Cutie, Cake and the Dandy Warhols lead the list of bands covering oldies for Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack. Due out March 15th, the compilation provides the audio backdrop for a video game set in 1959 in fictional Punchbowl, Pennsylvania. The game pits wealthy industrialist Andrew Monday against Stubbs the Zombie, after Monday builds his tech-happy "City of the Future" on a burial ground. War between humans and corpses ensues.

The Lips tackle the Wizard of Oz classic "If I Only Had a Brain," Death Cab for Cutie cover the Penguins' doo-wop smash "Earth Angel" and the Raveonettes do "My Boyfriend's Back," co-written by their producer Richard Gottehrer for Sixties girl group the Angels.

"I just computerized it," says Raveonettes guitarist Sune Rose Wagner of the band's synth-heavy "Boyfriend." Bassist Sharin Foo sings lead, and one of Gottehrer's Orchard Records employees gets her chance to shine on the song's intro. "Stella walked in and I said, 'Stella, do the spoken word.' And that was it.'"

Kweller takes on another girl-group favorite, "Lollipop," a Number Two hit for the Chordettes in 1958."I thought it would be such a good juxtaposition to be in this happy town in Pennsylvania singing 'Lollipop' while you're a zombie killing people," Kweller says. "'Lollipop, lollipop,' and everything's good and happy except you're all going to die."

Beyond the basic changing of pronouns in the song from he to she, Kweller's version stays faithful to the original, with band members competing to sing the song's more distinctive vocal accents. "We went around the room to see who had the lowest vocal and John [drummer Kent] won, so he did the [bass] 'doo do do do' part," Kweller says. "The owner of the studio happened to be the one with the best lollipop [popping] sound. It's one of those songs that has such stigma to it that you can't really remove any of those parts and try to make it your own. It was really fun though . . . I'm really excited to play the game."

Stubbs the Zombie track listing:

"Lollipop," Ben Kweller
"My Boyfriend's Back," the Raveonettes
"Earth Angel" Death Cab for Cutie
"Everyday," Rogue Wave
"Strangers in the Night," Cake
"There Goes My Baby," the Walkmen
"All I Have to Do Is Dream, the Dandy Warhols
"Mr. Sandman," Oranger
"If I Only Had a Brain," the Flaming Lips
"Tears on My Pillow," Clem Snide
"Shakin' All Over," Rose Hill Drive
"Lonesome Town," Milton Mapes
"The Living Dead," Phantom Planet