For their latest release, Baldy Longhair has looked way outside of Jersey to release Girls by So Cal punks Vultures United, and it's actually an analog realization of a very digital approach taken by the band.
A collection of covers originally performed by girl bands or female vocalists, Girls was funded entirely by a Kickstarter project from July of 2011, where the band raised $2200 in order to fund the project as a 7". It's a smaller result than the million dollar plus campaign that launched Amanda Palmer's Theatre Is Evil album, but it stands tall professing Kickstarter's ability to help talented artists bring their ideas to fruition.
Girls is now seeing release in three different formats, a CD and a 7" self-released by the band, and the Baldy Longhair release on cassette. But before you go leaning one way or another on formats, you may want to lean in all three directions at once. The Girls sessions resulted in 13 tracks, 11 of which are on the Baldy Longhair cassette release, but in order to get all the tracks, you'd need to lay your hands on all the formats, as the cassette has two exclusive tracks, while each of the others has one. And while Vultures United's cover of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" only appears on the CD version (with the 7" exclusive track being the Cranberries' "Salvation, if you were curious), I have to hide my disappointment and pretend that it doesn't exist, focusing on the content of what is on the cassette/download format.
Which is really great stuff.
The album opens with "Mary Jo Lisa," a soothing instrumental that does absolutely nothing to set you up for what is to come, as it drops into an oustandingly catchy cover of the Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name," a track that was oustandingly catchy in the original, and is truly improved by the raw male vocals and instrumentation that are crunchier and grittier, while retaining the great beat of the original as well as the sweet female backup vocals. Up next is Best Coast's "Summer Mood," where surf pop-inspired vocals remain on top of a more aggressive approach that continues to retains the fun of the garagey girl duo.
Retaining fun seems to be what the record is all about, as VU sounds like they're really enjoying what they're doing. Along with the covers are a handful of instrumental originals that are soft, soothing and uncharacteristic of the band or the rest of the record, and while many of the tracks are punk in their origins, like the first two tracks and a fast, pure cover of Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex's classic "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!," it's the bands covers of surprisingly nontraditional tunes like the in your face rendition of "He Needs Me" from the 1980 film Popeye (which I'll date myself by saying I saw in the theater), Bjork's "Army Of Me," which has been turned into a pure hardcore track with a reeling intensity, and the band's melodic take on Nico's elaborate track "These Days," which wraps up side two of the cassette that catch you off guard and come across as truly inspired.
There are so many approaches to cover tunes in the punk realm, from bands doing fun formulaic assaults like Me First and The Gimme Gimmes, to Bayside's reverential take, to whatever that is that the Punk Goes... releases are trying to do, but when a band like Vultures United takes songs from traditional and nontraditional sources and slaps them into something completely there own, this is where the truly inspired and fun nature of a punk cover comes about.
Release date: December 12, 2012
Tracklisting for Cassette Tape/Download:
1. Mary Jo Lisa
2. That's Not My Name (Originally performed by Ting Tings)
3. Summer Mood (Originally performed by Best Coast)
5. He Needs Me (Originally performed by Shelley Duvall)
6. Army Of Me (Originally performed by Björk)
8. Turn Into (Originally performed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
9. Oh Bondage, Up Yours! (Originally performed by X-Ray Spex)
11. These Days (Originally performed by Nico)