“As heavy and gnarly as it sounds at times, it is unmistakably a pop masterpiece.” So explains Australian folk-pop-alterna-rock act Ben Lee as to why he covered Against Me!‘s recent release, New Wave.
The title track starts off with lyrics that are insanely appropriate for what Ben Lee set out to do – “we can control the medium/we can control the context of presentation” – and succeeded in doing by stripping down the rough guitars and gravelly vocals of Against Me! and delivering the songs in his own, softer way.
On “Stop!”, Lee delivers the vocals in a laid-back, conversational manner that fits the disco-folk instrumentation. Where Against Me!’s version of “Americans Abroad” has a bit of a righteous punk slant, Lee gives it a country feel and puts an interesting spin on the lyrics and achieves a slight feeling of alienation – “while I hope I’m not like them, I’m not so sure”.
With its propulsive melody and sing-along-worthy “bah dah”s, “Thrash Unreal” naturally lends itself to the project, its melancholic pop perfectly suited for Ben Lee’s style.
On “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart” Lee’s lush acoustic sound melded with piano bests Against Me!, coming so naturally to Lee that he could have easily penned it during his darker early years.
The only complaint on the record comes with “The Ocean”. Though it starts strong with cavernous vocals and an ominous opening, it goes out with Lee doubling up on vocals – one singing, one screaming. The screaming sounds strained and the song would have been better served had he gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and done a haunting whisper instead.
You can download Ben Lee Sings Against Me! New Wave in its entirety here.
Curious as to what the original sounds like? Check out four tracks from the album at Against Me!’s MySpace page.
Here is a new mixtape for your listening pleasure. It’s kind of a cheat as it’s 1.25 years old, but most of you have never heard it before. It’s called Fall Asleep With Your Headphones On and I made it for my friend Tim (though it is about someone else entirely). It is an excellent breakup playlist.
Fall Asleep With Your Headphones On 01| Death Cab for Cutie – Marching Bands of Manhattan
02| The Postal Service – Brand New Colony
03| Frou Frou – Let Go
04| Brand New – Jaws Theme Swimming
05| Matt Pond PA – The Summer Is Coming
06| Between the Buried and Me – Colorblind
07| The Honorary Title – Everything I Once Had
08| Dashboard Confessional – Remember to Breathe
09| Rocky Votolato – Suicide Medicine
10| Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think That I’ll Ever Get Over You
11| Motion City Soundtrack – My Favorite Accident (acoustic)
12| Fall Out Boy – Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner (acoustic)
13| Saves the Day – Take Our Cars Now
14| Ted Leo – Since U Been Gone
15| Rhett Miller – Your Nervous Heart
16| Ben Lee – How To Survive A Broken Heart
17| The Beatles – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
18| Jamie Cullum – High & Dry
19| The Format – A Mess to Be Made
20| Dog’s Eye View – Umbrella
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