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Wednesday, July 20 2011 00:00

SPIN presents NEWERMIND: A TRIBUTE TO NIRVANA (Album Review)

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newermindOn the eve of the 20th Anniversary of NIRVANA's landmark NEVERMIND, the folks over at SPIN have put together NEWERMIND: A TRIBUTE TO NIRVANA. Offered as a FREE DOWNLOAD to visitors to the SPIN website and Facebook page, this collection re-imagines the 1991 classic to results that are beautiful, bizaare, and blasphemous.

With frequently covered-by-NIRVANA (and later collaborators) MEAT PUPPETS kicking off the record with a folky, indie rock take on Smells Like Teen Spirit, it's easy to see the context in which this strange reversal of appreciation can be held. In many ways the vocals of the 'Brothers Meat.' echo the late Kurt Cobain in their crackly, slightly off-key delivery. The end result is something charming and curious.

BUTCH WALKER AND THE BLACK WIDOWS use In Bloom to exemplify taking a track and making it your own. The band reworks the familiar into a song that sounds lived-in by the new performers. If you didn't know better, it would be easy to assume that Walker and Co. wrote this one themselves. On the flipside, Melbourne's MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS provide the perfect example of how not to pay tribute to a legendary artist. Their electro-version of Come as You Are is a heaping pile of offensive and unlistenable trash. The vocals are so grating that I really wanted to hop a plane to 'Oz and punch someone in the face. I'm fairly confident that if Cobain hadn't already pulled the trigger, the Midnight Juggernauts might've put another bullet in the chamber.

THE VASELINES found themselves frequently covered by NIRVANA two decades ago, and here they return the favor on Lithium, by delivering a performance that sounds like they're on a heavy dose of the drug. Possibly intentional, this is a track I wanted to love but couldn't get into - much like AMANDA PALMER's take on Polly that sounds like she's trying just a little too hard to put her own dark spin onto an already dark song.

Along the way into the album's latter half, you've got a couple real standouts like FOXY SHAZAM's Queen-esque take on Drain You and TELEKINESIS' youthful take version of On A Plain, but the rest is just bland and not very well-done at all.

Bottom Line: Not as much a "tribute" as a musical oddity. But hey, at least no one is charging money for this, right?

Rating: 2/5

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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