Various Artists

Nearvana "San Francisco"

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Tributes are tricky, especially when the band being covered is as formidable as Nirvana. The tribute to Radiohead, Anyone Can Play Radiohead, works because it is interesting to see how other bands interpret the band's songs, and the Joy Division tribute, A Means to an End, is brilliant because of the inclusion of heavy-hitters like Low, Codeine, Girls Against Boys, Moby, and Tortoise. But the Nearvana "San Francisco" project is too scattered to consistently provide either of these elements. The covers tend towards the deconstructed, like Storm, Inc.'s "Rape Me," and the derivative, like JoJo's "Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle." There are strong tracks on the album, including Birdsaw's atmospheric, Cure-covering-Nirvana version of "Something in the Way," El Destroyo's moody "Dumb," Binky's entirely inspired mariachi band-meets-hardcore "Pennyroyal Tea," and Jeff Halford's sublime "All Apologies." But for the most part, the engaging versions are the most ridiculous -- the Crosstops' cowpunk "In Bloom" and the Hellworms' gothic, Dracula rock on "Milk It" -- and these seem more novelty than tribute. Nearvana "San Francisco" is certainly worth one listen, but even for the incurably curious or devoted, that should be enough.

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