Cover me Punk!
The Pop/Punkers, Four Year Strong, from Worchester, Massachusetts have followed in the footsteps of a few of their peers by releasing a covers album. Having been asked to contribute to the fantastic Pop Goes Punk series, the band found it hard to choose only one song, hence why they put together this album.
There are some great choices of songs here, and whilst in the Pop Goes Punk series you get exactly what is suggested, Pop songs re-done as Punk songs, here for the most part the songs are Rock songs, albeit different genres. Starting off we have a cover of Everclear’s ‘So Much For The Afterglow’, which when the sugary sweet harmonies end things speed up with heavier guitars than the original sounding great. There is a nice version of Alanis Morrisette’s huge hit, ‘Ironic’ that although starts off slow and mellow soon kicks in for the chorus, and this makes for the most Punk’d up cover on the album.
Other huge hits include Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ which is given more balls than the original, and arguably if the Pumpkins sounded more like this then I might have been more of a fan. There is then the sing-along track of Third Eye Blind’s ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ and a version of Del Amitri’s ‘Roll To Me’ that is ten times better than the original! Then there is Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ which sounds pretty identical to the original which is either good or bad, depending on your feelings towards carbon copies. The band prove that they can play well, but how could you change this without doing the opposite and slowing it down, which personally I don’t think would work.
One of my favourites here is a cover of No Doubt’s ‘Spiderwebs’ which was always a favourite of mine even with the huge songs, ‘Don’t Speak’ and ‘Just A Girl’ over shadowing it in the band’s history, and on the 22 million selling ‘Tragic Kingdom’ album. ‘Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)’ is also a great song, and there is a good version of Sugar Ray’s 1997 track, ‘Fly’ that features Gym Class Heroes main man Travis.
I’ve always been a fan of the quirky cover albums by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, however it is inevitable that a couple of songs won’t be as good as the others, or that you hated the originals so much that it doesn’t matter what a band does with it, it can never be good. This is where this album is so strong as all of the songs flow well, and have been chosen well. Even in the likes of ‘Roll On Me’ that annoys me when I hear the original, it is now tolerable, as is ‘Bullet With Butterfly…’ that doesn’t have Billy Corgan’s nails-down-a-blackboard vocals on.
Yes, the last two songs, I wasn’t aware of the originals, but apart from that I was able to recognise the others, which is another sign of a good covers album. This is by far the best covers album I’ve heard for along time, if not forever!