Monday, January 30, 2017

New, Notable Noms from Mint 400 Records, Davey Jones, and Waiting On Mongo

Lost Boy ?'s Davey Jones at a recent gig with The So So Glos
Covers and Jams

My email and messages and social media feeds have been lighting up with interesting stuff lately. All of that, on top of the list of things I have written down (in the virtual notepad of my mind), makes me think I should just be putting a post up every hour to let you know what's going on. I'm way too lazy for that, though. Instead, I'll do it in little bursts like this.

Various Artists, Mint 400 Records Presents: Nirvana 'In Utero'

A few years ago, New Jersey label, Mint 400, did a full-album cover of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds as interpreted by the bands on their roster. The label is back this month with their take on Nirvana's controversial swan song, In Utero. Despite rumors that Nirvana's label may not even release the album, which was a significant departure from NevermindIn Utero went on to do pretty ok, selling a few million copies.

And, despite his image as the counter-cultural voice of a generation, Kurt Cobain also happened to be a really good commercial pop songwriter. What we get here are some reinterpretations of the originals that show these songs holding up under some pretty significant alterations. The Duke Of Norfolk transform "Heart-shaped Box" into soothing electro-pop; while the other huge single, "All Apologies," gets the psychedelic treatment from The Maravines. Chris Bobbins and Paul Vanderwal deliver an instrumental "Rape Me" on piano and strings. A. Bird gives us his first official recording following the break-up of Those Mockingbirds with an eerie version of "Very Ape." And we get not one, but two instrumental covers of "Tourettes" -- a version from Defend The Rhino that sounds like a throwback to that Pet Sounds release and a full-on surf instrumental from dollys.

I always find covers fun whether they're faithful or way out there. Mint 400 Records Presents: Nirvana 'In Utero' falls, mostly, into the latter category. It simultaneously showcases the pop sensibility of Cobain and some excellent Tri-State Area bands. The comp is available for free over at the Mint 400 Bandcamp page.

Lost Boy ?, "Grinding Halt (The Cure)"

Our prolific friend Davey Jones of Lost Boy ? takes a break from his own material to delve deep into the dawn of post-punk with his version of The Cure's "Grinding Halt." The song made its first appearance nearly 40 years ago on The Cure's 1979 debut, Three Imaginary Boys / Boys Don't Cry.

I'm gonna place this one in the "pretty faithful" box when it comes to covers. The driving bass is still there; but Jones lets his voice sink further back into the mix than Robert Smith's, adding a hint of swirly psychedelia to the angular post-punk.

Waiting On Mongo, Just a Taste

Listen. I'm going to be the first person to tell you that I am no expert on jam / funk music. I've always been much more of the two- and three-minute pop song, or even 1-minute punk song, kinda guy. That said, I think I can recognize when a hard-working band has talent and a commitment to their craft.

Waiting On Mongo are relentless. I write the show listings every week; and these guys are playing two, three, four shows every time. From what I saw at the most recent Asbury Music Awards, Waiting On Mongo have managed to cultivate a devoted and rabid fanbase.

Just a Taste is a relentless EP, too. None of the songs here clock in at under 5 minutes and 45 seconds. Everyone is on point, especially the super-tight horn section. From the bouncing funk of the title track to the smooth and slinky "Let's Ride," Just a Taste shows a band with some serious chops doling out positive vibes. The production, handled by Jeff "Mudd" Mahajan, is pristine.

Waiting On Mongo promise that Just a Taste is exactly what its title says, so look for more from these guys soon. Just a Taste is available now wherever you like to get your digital music, but you can also grab it direct from Waiting On Mongo's Bandcamp page.

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