Various Artists

Punk Goes 90s

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We all knew it was coming. Thanks to Fearless, punk had already gone metal, '80s, acoustic, and pop, so it was only a matter of time until the '90s also came under attack. And being that this is the decade most bandmembers on the album were likely starting to whet their musical palates, an album full of tributes to their favorites would no doubt be fun, right? Wrong. Let some advice be imparted: the point of a cover song is not for a band to simply try their best at sounding like the original band. The point (usually) is to take a song and, injecting one's identity into the original version, come up with a song reassuringly familiar yet altogether fresh and invigorating. Unfortunately though, with the exception of a handful of bands, Punk Goes '90s is pretty much karaoke night at the local pop-punk watering hole. So, sorry Copeland, but as much as your normal indie rock is enjoyable, hearing you replicate Soundgarden is utterly unbearable. And Plain White T's, hoping for a sugar-infused, pop/rockin' version of Blur's "Song 2," well, attitude was sorely missing and you just sounded bored. It's not that all the versions sound horrible, it's just not that exhilarating to listen to competent bands simply regurgitating songs they like. C'mon guys -- even the requisite punk trick of merely speeding up a track tenfold is mostly ignored. There are a few highlights, however. Props to Mae for covering a Nine Inch Nails song (who would have thought?) and managing to sound like Ben Folds during the song's two breakpoints. Gym Class Heroes donate one of the best tracks on the record with their funky, smooth, hip-hop take on the Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," while Bedlight for Blue Eyes strips themselves down to acoustic means for a rather well-done rendition of Third Eye Blind's "Jumper." Scary Kids Scaring Kids rock out rather hard to R.E.M., and though the lyrics don't exactly transfer to being sung by adolescent boys, at least some recognition has to go the Killing Moon's way just for the sheer energy they bring to their version of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." Punk covers are usually fun, but disappointingly, most of these songs just sound like flannel shirt imposters.

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