Surprising twists on recognizable covers
Dokken/Lynch Mob guitarist George Lynch has lived by the “quantity over quality” mantra the last 5 or so years – seems like every other month there is an announcement of a new project. Some are good, some are okay, many are forgettable. The tracklisting of a recently-released covers album, Heavy Hitters, with Dokken bandmate Jeff Pilson didn’t inspire confidence – “One of Us” (Joan Osbourne), “Music” (Madonna), and “KISS” (Prince) were among the songs that I wasn’t sure I wanted (or needed) to hear. But, much to my surprise, outside of the nearly note-for-note covers of “Ordinary World” (Duran Duran) and “Apologize” (OneRepublic) (thumbs up for the D2 cover, love the original, love the cover; thumbs down for the sappy pop radio hit “Apologize”), the hard rock spin on these tracks make them sort of fun to listen to.
The album kicks off with “One of Us” and had it been true to the original, I don’t know that I would have even explored the rest of the tracks but Lynch & Pilson put a dark twist on song.
And, come on, I didn’t expect Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” to rip the way this version does.
This won’t be in heavy rotation but it earned a few spins this past weekend.
Mastodon’s Troy Sanders is the shared band member between Killer or Be Killed and Gone is Gone, both hard rock super groups in their own rights. My 2020 tastes seem to have been leaning heavily towards Americana so as the year comes to an end, I knew I needed something heavier to balance it out. I started with the new solo album by ex-Dillinger Escape Plan Greg Puciato (Child Soldier: Creator of God), which brings to mind everybody from Nine Inch Nails to Faith No More to the Deftones.
It was a pretty consistent listen the first half of October and though I certainly am not done with Puciato’s solo album, I gravitated to the Killer Be Killed album, Reluctant Hero, which came out at the end of November. Killer Be Killed features Puciato, Sanders, Sepultura/Soulfly’s Max Cavalera and Converge’s Ben Koller. Good, old-fashioned, aggressive hard rock that, were we not in the midst of a pandemic, would be fun to see in a packed club with a bunch of other sweaty, middle-aged dudes in black t-shirts.
BUT, wait, there’s more. Sanders also is part of Gone is Gone which features Queens of the Stone Age/Failure’s Troy Van Leeuwen, At the Drive-In/Sparta’s Tony Hajjar and Mike Zarin. Their new album, If Everything Happens for a Reason… Then Nothing Really Matters at All, came out in early December and Van Leeuwen’s influence can’t be understated – there’s some industrial/space rock vibes though it’s got this subdued heaviness that sneaks up on you. Three killer hard rock albums that – if I get around to a “Favorites of 2020” list – will likely earn a few spots.