Punk Goes 90s Vol. 2: A Less than Wonderful Ode to the 90s

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If you have ever heard of any of the Punk Goes… album compilation series, then you still may or may not be surprised to hear that they just released a second volume to their Punk Goes 90’s compilation that was first released in 2006. For those of you unfamiliar with any of the Punk Goes… albums, they are a mix of punk, rock, hardcore, etc. bands that perform covers of certain themed music (such as 90’s, pop, “crunk,” or metal). One of the series’ most successful and well-known themes are their Punk Goes Pop releases- in 2012 they released their fifth volume, and each of them have been relatively successful. Hearing punk rock bands throw down to fairly cheesy pop music is always refreshing, even if you’re not a fan of the blend of rock music the compilations feature! When the albums were first recorded, the bands were definitely more along the lines of “punk” bands, with artists such as Rufio, Slick Shoes, and Fake ID. Over the years, however, the sound has definitely morphed away from its punk roots and taken on a much more hardcore, pop punk, and even metal sound. Some of the Punk Goes… newer releases feature bands like Mayday Parade, Memphis May Fire, and The Ghost Inside.

As for their most recent release, Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2, I was honestly somewhat disappointed with it. Upon hearing about the impending release of the album and seeing the proposed track list, I was beyond ecstatic, seeing some personal favorite bands such as Mayday Parade, The Ghost Inside, Yellowcard, and The Color Morale. So in the coming days leading up to the release, I found myself stalking album leak forums waiting for a leaked link to the album, only to my ultimate dismay.

The album starts off with one of its better songs, a “My Own Worst Enemy” cover by Get Scared (originally performed by Lit). The song is a well-performed ode to everything you love about Lit’s original rendition of the song, with some extra bells and whistles that serve to amp up the energy of the song in a really cool and refreshing way.

Get Scared’s cover of “My Own Worst Enemy”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7faaKuj2RJs

Another noteworthy song off the album is The Color Morale’s rendition of “Everlong.” Originally performed by the Foo Fighters, “Everlong” is already such an incredible song — a feature that can either be detrimental or invaluable to a band attempting to cover a song. The Color Morale definitely does this 90’s gem justice, however, and their vocalist adds a nice touch to the grunge-stricken vocals of the original singer of the song. While The Color Morale does an awesome job of cranking up the second half of the second verse, it would be nice to have see a little more originality on their behalf throughout the song — at some points it’s very difficult to tell if I’m listening to The Color Morale, or The Foo Fighters.

Next up on the list of songs that are noticeably good off this album is what happens to be my definitive favorite: Mayday Parade’s cover of “Comedown,” originally performed by Bush. Bush is the quintessential band of my 90’s grunge/alternative rock childhood, and when I saw that one of my now-all-time favorite bands, Mayday Parade, was going to be covering one of their best jams, I was beyond stoked. Even with all the expectations I had for the song, continual play-throughs have gone on to exceed them. With this song, Mayday Parade finds the perfect balance of preserving and honoring enough of the band’s original performance, while still making it a Mayday Parade song. Rather than stepping into the power-ballad first chorus as Bush does in the original, Mayday Parade cuts out into a mellow, piano-driven rendition of the chorus — an awesome reflection of some of the band’s more recent work. Overall, I would say that this song instantly became my personal favorite off of the album.

Mayday Parade’s performance of “Comedown”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qhbUsODDT0

Other than those mentioned above and “Torn,” by Hands Like Houses, there wasn’t much else on the album I was really impressed with. Some songs, like “Du Hast” (originally by Rammstein) or “Closer” (original by Nine Inch Nails), are very, very difficult songs to revisit by a punk, rock, or metal band. This being said, it’s not necessarily the cover band’s fault, there are just some songs that should remain untouched.

If there was one song off the album that I was most disappointed with, it would be Yellowcard’s cover of “Today” (originally performed by the Smashing Pumpkins. I grew up a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan—let’s be real, if you weren’t then what the hell kind of 90’s kid were you? Upon hearing that Yellowcard, another one of my favorite pop-punk bands, was going to be covering their incredible hit, “Today,” I was super psyched. Unlike “Comedown,” however, this song did not come close to meeting my expectations. Yellowcard tries a little too hard to sound like Smashing Pumpkins rather than themselves, so much to the point where I find it terribly difficult to recognize that it is Yellowcard performing the song. The only sound slightly reminiscent of Yellowcard is their well-known use of violin riffs in the intro of the song. That’s about it. The rest just sounds like a poor live performance of the song by the original performers –  at best.

Overall, Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2 was definitely a significant let down for me. To be fair, I did go into the album with potentially damning expectations, but the past few releases under the Punk Goes… series have really just been that good. Take a listen for yourself, and I have no doubts that there will be a good four or five songs that you can take away from the album, but as a whole, I would never be able to listen to it all the way through by my own accord.

[Image source: Bringthenoiseuk.com]