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Replicants – Self-Titled

Zoo Entertainment, 1996

One doesn’t run into too many records that consist entirely of cover songs, yet the Replicants join groups like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Golden Smog in reinterpreting perfectly good songs.  I knew of these guys because I remembered I had enjoyed their cover of the Cars’ “Just What I Needed” back in 1996.  Yeah, my song memory latches on to some random stuff even if I have to sometimes grapple with other important info like, say, my current age.  The wife remembers the where and the when of our first, second and third dates together, yet I vaguely remember anything beyond giving her winks across a table.  However, after 10+ years, I remember the Replicants.  The sentimentality part of my brain is clearly shut off.

Part of the reason I remember these guys is the eye-catching simplicity of the album cover.  The box is at a fine angle immersed in a fetching hue of green.  Alright, beyond that, the Replicants deal out some rather heavy covers that vary in quality.  This may be partially due to the influence of this group’s founder, Paul D’Amour, who was an early member of Tool.  As mentioned before, the Replicants’ cover of “Just What I Needed” is pretty good if you’ve always wanted the song to sound a little heavier with thudding guitars and louder chorus.  The cover of Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” sounds nothing like the light, fluffy original and instead lays it on unrecognizably heavy with the help of a Maynard James Keenan cameo.  Whether it is more enjoyable than the original is not the point, as covers could take on a tack of just being different for the sake of being different.  In my opinion, I couldn’t really take much of the seven minute plus cover as it unfluffily killed my ears.

Some of the more enjoyable covers closely resemble the originals, like T. Rex’s “Life’s a Gas” and Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”.  The daunting version of John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” also comes across well as D’Amour sings as if he’s actually going to bring on the repercussions that Lennon peaceably waved off.  The album loses a little steam in the middle of the record with some unmemorable covers, even if the light-hearted Steely Dan cover of “Dirty Work” is rather unexpected.  What could be the most unique cover choice is the little known “Ibiza Bar” by Pink Floyd, which combines a soft tone with screeching noise to conclude the record.

Listen to a few of the tunes on their still up-and-running MySpace page:  Replicants on MySpace

I don’t really know what to make of half of this record, but needless to say the Replicants aren’t predictable in their approach.  One can certainly hear the Tool influence on some tracks but the Replicants certainly try to approach these songs their own way with a more chaotic, if not aloof, style.  It was the only record that this group released, as D’Amour moved onto Lusk and other projects.  It would have been interesting if the Replicants had another go at some of the more modern songs heard these days, for the music industry needs a good injection of heavy interpretation.  However, I’m sure that would just end up frightening the kiddies.

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