How to think outside the 40-plus-years box you’ve grown yourself into.
It’s easy to treat a song with a “hands off” territory-ialistic attitude, but even though the original artist may have nailed perfection, there are no songs that are off-limits. Get over it and you might appreciate what’s going on here. First of all, this is not punk rock. If it were, these would be irreverent renditions that deconstructed the songs and failed to put them back together – on purpose. These are screamo/emo/scene bands that play a melodic rock with few variations between their peers. Some have a screaming/dirty vocalist that counters a singing/clean vocalist. Most of them sport two guitar players that can play, along with a keyboardist to counter the distortion in the low end. It’s a successful formula that works, partly because it’s a new variation on an old theme and partly because it marries aggression and melody. If you haven’t been paying attention during the last decade and a half, tribute albums have become a genre unto themselves. It’s not a get-as-close-to-the-original-as-you-can effort. It’s a re-interpretation with the performing artist’s imprint on it. For the most part, the performances turned in work. It’s kind of like cheating, because the band is starting with a proven melody. Some of the song selections are scary, like “More Than A Feeling” and “Separate Ways,” because the original versions have such proficient and distinct vocalists; but a little urgency and a lot of energy by Hit the Lights and A Skylit Drive, respectively, help carry the tune past the awkward parts. I have to admit, though, it’s hard to listen to The Summer Set’s aggressive-less version of “Rock ‘n Roll All Nite.” Forever The Sickest Kids probably tackled the biggest challenge with “Crazy Train” (and came up short), while Blessthefall tried another one with fairly straight-up cover of “Dream On,” (which works). The Almost turns in one of the better performances with “Free Fallin’” and, thanks to the previous adaptation by Jimi Hendrix of the Bob Dylan song, Envy on the Coast rocks “All Along The Watchtower” with prowess. If you’re old and still can’t get past these renditions of “sacred” melodies, then just hate this album. Call it the worst waste of plastic ever in the history of music – just don’t get mad at a lot of the rest of us who will enjoy it all summer long.