Xiu Xiu’s Nina Simone covers filed under deep novelty 

Album review: Xiu Xiu’s ‘Nina’

click to enlarge 1602196.jpg

Xiu Xiu – Nina
Graveface Records
★★ (out of 5 stars)

Jamie Stewart’s unflinching electro-pop outfit Xiu Xiu doesn’t so much push the artistic envelope as shreds it, lights it on fire and then snorts the ashes. If past song titles (“I Luv Abortion”) and album names (Dear God, I Hate Myself) don’t put Stewart’s abrasive nature on prominent enough display, there’s Nina, which contains 11 terrifyingly sparse covers of songs by legendary jazz vocalist Nina Simone. Now, as a Southern-born African-American and civil rights activist, despair was inherent in Simone’s music. But Stewart’s tortured whisper, along with the squalling free-jazz arrangements of longtime Xiu Xiu collaborator Ches Smith, put a ghastly spin on otherwise elegant songs like “Don’t Smoke in Bed.” Flourishes of melody do arise on “Just Say I Love Him” and “The Other Woman.” Put bluntly, however, if you’re not a Jamie Stewart fan, Nina might instantly repel you. File this one under deep novelty and let’s look forward to Xiu Xiu’s next album, joyously titled Angel Guts: Red Classroom.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 14, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation