Sometimes as reviewers we can forget about a little thing called fun. In between all the jaded songwriting nitpickery, po-faced production analysis, the endless & futile search for musical perfection and general verbose pontification… fun takes a back seat.
So when the opportunity to review Fearless Records’ ‘Punk Goes ‘90s Vol 2’, a compilation of contemporary hardcore acts covering ‘90s tunes came up, I thought this could be fun! However, the press release calling the bands “hardcore” is stretching it a bit… Still, at least there’re no bands with the word “veil” in their names.
In a complete about face on my usual writing style I’m gonna dismember this one track by track.
1. Get Scared – “My Own Worst Enemy” originally performed by Lit:
-Nice crunchy guitars, fairly faithful to the original including ingratiating & snotty vocal harmonies. Not a bad start & certainly follows the “fun” motif.
2. Memphis May Fire – “Interstate Love Song” originally performed by Stone Temple Pilots:
-One of the better cuts on the disc. The song’s iconic riff is djented up and the band actually pulls it off without it sounding cheesy. Brought a smile to my face… kinda funny but weirdly impressive at the same time. Unlike a few of the other tracks, it’s stylistically very different to the original and this certainly works in its favour.
3. Asking Alexandria – “Closer” originally performed by Nine Inch Nails
-Not much deviation from the original’s electro-funk terror… until the band apparently realizes they’re being lazy at 2:10 and haphazardly launches into some misguided screamo/deathcore tactics. Fail.
4. The Color Morale – “Everlong” originally performed by Foo Fighters:
– Adding an acoustic guitar intro then Xeroxing the rest of the track, does not an impressive cover make. There’s a little bit of arbitrary double kick action, but you don’t need to worry about it… now, forget you ever heard the name
5. Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! – “All Star” originally performed by Smash Mouth:
-Starts off predictably but vocalist Bertrand Poncet impressively nails the California drawl of Steve Harwell despite the band being French. Not much deviation from the original until the breakdown which mixes some brutal riffery with a few dj scratches before heading back to familiar territory. Not bad.
6. Mayday Parade – “Comedown” originally performed by Bush:
-This is an interesting version with a disquieting intro: some nice lead guitar work happening, but annoyingly heartfelt vocal delivery. No worse than the whitewashed post-grunge of the original… but that ain’t saying a great deal.
7. Motionless In White – “Du Hast” originally performed by Rammstein:
-Meh. Going through the motions in white. Besides some slightly more aggressive vocals and a hastily cobbled together breakdown towards the end, this is barely different to the original… except it’s shit.
8. Yellowcard – “Today” originally performed by The Smashing Pumpkins:
-Replacing the guitar intro of the original with a violin is a nice touch and suggests that Yellowcard have put more thought into their cover than most: A really nice version, a little smoother and lighter than its predecessor while still conveying its emotional content. Pick of the bunch.
9. Hands Like Houses – “Torn” originally performed by Natalie Imbruglia:
-Aw, what the hell is this crap? The miserable original was no good to start with, let alone with some simpering and horribly autotuned dude crowing it at us. Next.
10. The Ghost Inside – “Southtown” originally performed by P.O.D
– Surprisingly the only attempt at a Nu-metal cover on the compilation… and it’s pretty decent. It’s a bit chunkier and heavier than P.O.D.’s version and is certainly nothing to complain about. Not bad at all.
11. Falling In Reverse – “Gangsta’s Paradise” originally performed by Coolio:
-On paper this isn’t as stupid as it sounds given the band’s recent merging of hip-hop into their emo-core style. However in reality it IS as stupid as it sounds and then some: It’s terrible yet unintentionally hilarious, much like the rest of their catalogue. Click here to read Audiocracy’s critical mutilation of their most recent album.
12. Ice Nine Kills – “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” originally performed by Green Day
-Starts off a little blue grassy! Nice. Acoustic guitars, violins, bit of a stomp along beat… then it becomes almost what Green Day themselves might have done if they’d decided to make a “plugged in” version. Pretty decent way to end the disc: a cover of one of the biggest songs of the ‘90s with a bit of artistic license thrown in.
To sum it all up: like most covers comps, the strength of the compositions themselves is what carries the album and the interpretations are pretty shrug-worthy for the most part. It’s got enough energy and familiarity to it to be a decent party starter, but the novelty is likely to wear off after one spin, if not before.
Is it fun? Yeah, I guess… but it’s back to verbose pontification for this reviewer.
Punk Goes 90s Vol. 2 out now on Fearless Records… available in digital download, cd, white vinyl and even cassette tape!
Fearless on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fearlessrecords