Various Artists – Punk Goes 90s Vol. 2

March 31, 2014
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Various Artists

Punk Goes 90s Vol. 2

It's been eight years since the last Punk Goes 90s, and there are a dozen tracks to show for it. The inaugural edition had three more, and Razor & Tie's old The Buzz compilation, loaded with source material for this series, has like a CD binder full. Vol. 2 is new and improved, though, and it has consistent production throughout (read as: not a single song that sounds like it was actually recorded in the '90s). Here's the full rundown.

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! don't take themselves too seriously, so their playful cover of Smash Mouth's “All Star” is actually one of the best inclusions. They lightly personalize an otherwise true-to-form cover with turntables, pop-chugs and a quickie breakdown. It's charmingly corny.

The Color Morale tackle Foo Fighters' “Everlong” in a tasteful way that gives us a window into their next album. Garret Rapp has unhinged the full capacity of his voice, he doesn't need to scream on the cover, and it's comforting to hear him this comfortable.

The only thing that would have made the Ghost Inside's Cover of P.O.D.'s “Southtown” better is if it was “Alive.” But really, the guitarists pounce that chunky main riff like a pack of rabid dogs and frontman Jonathan Vigil spits a mean mouthful for the verses.

Hands Like Houses show their Australian pride by covering “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia, who is still a pretty big deal over there, in full-band power-ballad form. Their Aussie accent makes this one authentic.

Mayday Parade went with early Sixteen Stone-era Bush (“Comedown”). It's too much dirty grunge grit to ask of a softie like Derek Sanders, and Razorblade Suitcase-era like “Swallowed” would have been better suited for him.

You can just tell Motionless In White were stoked to cover Germany's sole contribution to nü metal (Rammstein's “Du Hast”). That's a lot of German to learn. The pounding meat-grinder riffs and paranoid electronics are in all the right places.

Memphis May Fire get too carried away on their cover of Stone Temple Pilots' “Interstate Love Song.” They make it their own, faster, more aggressive, metalcore-leaning—that's all fine. But 2:05 until 2:39 is unforgivable. They completely lose sight of the song starting with a ring-out into a breakdown we've all heard a hundred times before, and wow, get those fucking keyboards out of here.

Loving or hating Yellowcard's cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' “Today” really depends on how much you like the original. Yeah, that could be said for most covers, but Billy Corgan's piercing whine is preserved and the hazy vibe isn't what Yellowcard usually go for—a cover from the Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness double-disc would have been more fun to listen to.

Asking Alexandria's take on Nine Inch Nails' “Closer” is part faithful and part interpretation (looking at you, chugs and screams). Either way, it's six-and-a-half minutes that you'll wish you could get back.

The first and last tracks are competent but inessential. Get Scared's cover of Lit's “My Own Worst Enemy” and Ice Nine Kills' cover of Green Day's “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” would have been covered the same way by any number of bands.

We are left with the elephant in the room: Falling In Reverse. Love 'em, hate 'em or pretend not to know who they are, they are here with Coolio's “Gangsta's Paradise.” Spoiler alert: The chorus is the only thing anyone really remembers or wants to hear. Ronnie Radke makes the verses his own by rapping, singing high and giving ridiculous shout-outs to his record labels. The band blindside us with two breakdowns ala “Alone,” the latter of which just sounds like the band are fucking around in the studio. Okay, enough of that.

Vol. 2 is worth a visit, because with covers, sometimes even the trainwrecks are entertaining.


The Color Morale’s “Everlong”

Written by Brian Kraus