Album Review: The Kilgores & “Under Covers #1”

The Kilgores Under Covers #1[Under] Covers #1 is the new EP from The Kilgores, music afficionados and self-described political-punk absurdists. The Kilgores specialise in making other people’s songs better, darker and more cynical – the most interesting way to take on a cover of a song.

We have covers of some familiar names: Queens of the Stone Age, Placebo, Lush and Manic Street Preachers. All known for being moody or a bit counter-culture – excluding QotSA. “Nostalgic Pushead” (Manic Street Preachers) has a sarcastic edge, its multi-layered vocals creating a faceless group surrounding you, laughing. It has a completely different tone to the original which saw the Manics still wrapped up in their “glam sleaze” Guns N’ Roses stylings that did not age too well (ironic considering the lyrics about ageing musicians and hardrock nostalgia here). The Kilgores have done away with the self-worshipping guitar solo and kept things simple- a perfectly great way to start an EP and an ideal introduction to their music.

As with all covers, I struggle with deciding whether it matters if you know the original song first. Feelings such as sentimentality can get in the way and affect how you view a song, and I thought that would be the case here with The Kilgores’ version of Queens of the Stone Age‘s “Go With the Flow” (a song I have known and enjoyed since I was 12). Sometimes you get this idea that there are songs that are intrinsically one band’s and that’s how it is forever. Their signature song, if you will. And other musicians coming along and putting their own stamp on things throws a gallon of warm water on the painting of the sound you’ve grown familiar with, sometimes destroying the picture completely, other times exposing things you’ve never noticed before. The Kilgores’ version falls in the latter category for me. Their Go With the Flow is intangible, bare, distant – something akin to Billy Idol’s “Sweet Sixteen”. The atmosphere of this song captures the “cruelest joke to play” aspect of the lyrics in a completely different way to the original, which now seems a bit hammered out and out of breath. The Kilgores have put their version together incredibly well, even a bit of uneasy vocals here and there add to the atmosphere of the music, like a sudden and private exposure of sensitivity. Longer pauses in the chorus’ title-line hold your attention and the second vocal line adds a ghostly feel to the song, making this throwaway pop-rock song something more serious once again.

“This Picture” (Placebo) is probably the ‘nice sounding’ song of the collection. Again, I’m going to compare it to the original song: The Kilgores have pulled this Placebo song out of its radio-rock territory by giving it a bit of character with echoey vocals, subtle string accents and a more prominent bass line. “Last Night” (Lush) ends the EP on a sentimental note, so very far away from the weird keyboard sounds of the original, a guitar solo drawing out the song’s end and really bringing out that minor key. It’s ghostly, fragile.

The Kilgores’ [Under] Covers #1 EP is available through Bandcamp, here.

The Kilgores can be found on Facebook here