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Posts Tagged ‘covers’

Golden Smog – On Golden Smog EP

May 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Crackpot Records, 1992

Clearly, the cover art grabbed me not only in design but band name representation.  I actually own a Golden Smog record already (“Down By the Old Mainstream”) so it was easy to just scoop this one up as well for a listen.  I was more shocked that I even had the opportunity, for how often does one find a Golden Smog EP from 1992 at the Salvation Army.  Digging around some more, it was apparent that someone (or someplace) had given up nearly their entire nineties indie band collection for my perusal.  Oh, it was a fun time looking through indeed, but I had to take a couple of guesses.  The word “indie” meant something else back then in those nineties.  As in, unknown.  Golden Smog, however, did not entirely fit that label.

In 1992, Golden Smog included members from the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and even the Replacements.  Apparently they wanted to get away from their usual rock acts and spin a few low key covers for this EP, which could read as a good or bad thing.  It always is a curiosity about how side projects will sound involving members of one’s favorite bands, but usually side projects also mean a change in tone.  It wouldn’t be likely to expect the same sound of Soul Asylum’s “Want Somebody to Shove” or the Replacements’ tunes from “Let It Be” or “Tim”, especially the latter since Paul Westerburg isn’t involved in this project (Chris Mars is).  However, for five songs I imagine this was a nice release for these guys so it’s worth a listen to hear what they’ve got.

What they’ve got, apparently, is some real low key music.  The first song, “Son”, is a Michaelangelo cover that sounds like a … well, a nineties bar band.  Not impressive, but still gets you to order another Narragansett from the bar because you want to stick around for the next song.  “Easy to Be Hard” is a tune from the musical “Hair”.  “Hair”!  I suppose this is exactly the kind of cover song that Gary Louris (who sings) and the rest of the band thought had to be a Golden Smog cover and only a Golden Smog cover.  Could you imagine the Replacements covering this?  Or Soul Asylum?  It’s like that guilty karaoke fix where you hide yourself in a room and sing your brains out to songs no one knows you secretly enjoy.  Louris pulls it off pretty well, though I wonder if he sang it naked.

Dave Pirner shows up on the Bad Company tune “Shooting Star” that is on classic rock radio on steady rotation.  Yet another nineties bar band reference here, but I imagine that comparison just doesn’t matter to Golden Smog.  Who cares?  Crackpot Records from Minnesota were letting these guys throw some songs down and, I imagine, the group had a good time.  Same goes for “Backstreet Girl” (Rolling Stones) and “Cowboy Song” (Thin Lizzy), which are respectable towards the originals.  Turns out that “Cowboy Song” was sung by a roadie, who sings like he knows this is some kind of opportunity to sing a Thin Lizzy song with an actual band behind him.

Golden Smog still exist in various forms and can be heard on MySpace, Last.fm,and at Lost Highway Records (their current label).

I like this EP fine enough, but it mainly serves as an introduction to a band of friends who have continued their cover dabbling up to recent years.  It’s not the strongest set of covers, but none of them seem like a waste of time to listen to.  This is probably not a disc to spend too much money on just to hear five songs, but if you’re a fan of one of the band’s covered there might be a tune or two to download or rip just to have handy.  As mentioned before, Golden Smog still exists with members of the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum, and they last released a covers album in 2007.  Actually, that record “Blood On the Slacks” contains David Bowie and Dinosaur Jr covers.  Sheesh, guess I better keep an eye out for it in the bins…

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The Sirens – Self-Titled

December 8, 2009 2 comments

Get Hip Recordings, 2004

Four women dressed in vinyl clothing and boots posing rather nonchalantly on the cover.  Big explosion graphics are blaring behind them.  One of them is wearing a bright red outfit that has a devil on it with the line “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide”.  You’re going to leave this in the dollar bin?!  I certainly didn’t, because even if it turned out to be one loud, overhyped production of feeble swill I was certainly impressed with the visual introduction.

The Detroit-based Sirens turn out to be a fiery, heavy-hitting rock band that turns up the amps on some classic, and not so classic, glam rock songs.  The first one off the disc was the perfect tune to rival the pop of the cover art.  The Sirens’ version of Gary Glitter’s “I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll)” is one of the heaviest, powerful songs I’ve ever heard blare out from a female-led rock band.  I’ve heard harder and louder, but none that matches up to actually being any good.  This cover really encapsulates what the Sirens bring, which is loud power riffs, in your face attitude, and the harsh rock chick vocals of a lead singer named Muffy (the one in red, as it so turns out).  Through some research it sounds like a much beefier Glitter version, but is very very similar to a Rock Goddess version.  Either way, I love the song as it just kills.

Other covers on the record are nearly just as fist pumping if not certainly fist tapping.  The cover of “Chez Maximes”, originally done by the Hollywood Brats, is a great, energized version of a tune not very well known.  The Sirens also do a strong rendition of Suzi Quatro’s “Glycerine Queen”, which is only fitting for them since they pick out Quatro as one of their influences on their website.  The group sometimes doesn’t stick with the glam, as they cover an oldie by Joy Byers entitled “Ain’t Gonna Cry No More” which sounds like it probably had a poppier sound originally but now has a lot more edge.  Truth is, none of these tracks lays down and dies as a piece of unlistenable filler.  If one ignores the fact that the Sirens merely a cover band, one could certainly think that this was a record from a band that was an exciting godsend of an all-girl quartet not seen since the Runaways.  In 2004, if I had heard of these ladies then, I’d have moved immediately to (a nice, plushy suburb of) Detroit!

Check them out on Myspace:  The Sirens

Unfortunately, it appears that the Sirens are no more given the fact that they haven’t updated their MySpace page and their main band address is shot.  They did manage to put out another record and never got away from doing covers.  This fact, along with the heavy rotation of group members, may have been the reason for the end of the Sirens.  It’s a pity, for this debut record really invoked a powerful combination of heavy glam rock that there doesn’t seem to be much of these days.  Perhaps Detroit will think of something else.

Categories: Bargain Tags: , , , ,

Replicants – Self-Titled

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: TheRest Tags: , , ,