Bronson Arroyo

Covering the Bases

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All right all you Red Sox faithful, this record can be your companion to Dropkick Murphys' Tessie EP. The direct result of Boston's 2004 curse-busting championship season, Covering the Bases (released the same day as the 2005 All-Star Game, natch) features Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo singing classic grunge and modern rock radio hits from the 1990s -- essentially the music he grew up with. If you think of that era, there are no surprises here, just Pearl Jam ("Black") and Alice in Chains ("Down in the Hole"); Goo Goo Dolls ("Slide") and Incubus ("Pardon Me"). The husky voiced Arroyo's not a professional singer by any means, but he doesn't really pretend to be, either. He's like the guy with the best voice on your beer league team that always impresses the girls at post-game karaoke. Of course, that guy will never get to put out a vanity project on Asylum, or get ace session players like drummer Kenny Aronoff and guitarist Michael Landau to back him up. Given the high-powered musicians involved, every note of Covering the Bases is the slickest of the slick, from the "Freshman" to "Hunger Strike," and that kind of robs the album of charisma. Still, the set has more character than stuff like the Drew's Famous collections (covers compilations that often feature themes like "Greatest '90s Modern Rockers"). You get the idea: Covering the Bases isn't really meant to be a real album, but it's a fun diversion for Arroyo and his fans. And to the right-hander's credit he shows some palpable Eddie Vedder worship on "Black," handles the rap-rock tension of Incubus capably, and absolutely nails the jangly Toad the Wet Sprocket hit "Something's Always Wrong." Red Sox fans will also dig the album-closing tumble through the Standells classic "Dirty Water," featuring cross-chatter and backing vocals from fellow Red Sox Johnny Damon, Lenny DiNardo, and Kevin Youkilis.

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