Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Between the covers:: e.s.l. vs The Beastie Boys

It's been a while since I dove Between the Covers. To be honest, covers have become more and more mundane with everyone trying to prove their sincerity as they power through a Hall & Oates jam, tackle the latest pop smash in jest or rock out a synth-onthy from an obscure 80's keytar band. But last night I was priming up to watch the C's Big Three collectively shit the bed (side note: did anyone else think that weird face mash up between Larry Legend and the Magic Man on that rivalry commercial made it look like Larry Bird was stroking out a bit?), when a track from the new e.s.l. record caught my ear and sadly, I had to talk about it.

e.s.l. is a band from Vancouver and the players have all the talent in the world. Every woman in the band has a resume you'd love to see cross your desk during the interview process - Marta Jacubek-McKeever is the singer for Girl Nobody. Cris Derksen is a classically trained cellist, Diona Davies has beefed up tracks for Carolyn Mark and Be Good Tanyas with her crazy fiddle skills and drummer Joy Mullen has been a fixture in the local scene hitting the skins for acts like The People Verses, The Doers, Greg MacPherson.

As their first single - Prove Me Wrong - shows, they are on to a unique sound that combines a strangely alluring pop voice with the wrinkles and nuances of a charming gypsie act like Devotchka without trying to follow the same path. I have no doubt that e.s.l. would be enjoyable live and the record has some absolutely stunning tracks, like the opening number Secretariat.

But, without a doubt, their take on the Beastie Boys classic Girls should have been left on the shelf. I'm one of the biggest Beastie Boys fans I know - driving 24 hours straight to see them, patrolling eBay like I'm one of the Transformers searching for ladiesman217. In fact, License to Ill was one of the first tapes I ever bought (along with Fat Boys Crushin') - but even I find it hard to appreciate the intent on this one.

The song itself is a misogynistic anthem that the band has tried to step away from, so to hear a gypsie fused, all-female take on it is a strange way to end a strong record. The slightly slowed drawl they use removes the energy and starts to sound like something Northern State would try live (that's a guess of course, as I would never let myself be within 500 yards of those girls) and when Marta utters, "jocking Mike D to my dismay" I think I actually shuddered.

So, this version is a first round knockout. Without question, even the worst Beastie's track from my least favorite record sounds infinitely better than e.s.l.'s reworking. Don't hold this against the band, as Eye Contact is an enjoyable listen, but get ready to hit a little "shift + delete" after hearing this once.

Posted at 1:25 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 2:38 AM, Anonymous Ronatron did sayeth:

I have to agree with you on this one. I'm a huge Beastie Boy's fan myself and this has got to be one of the weakest covers I've heard. Yuca, another local Vancouver band, does a very nice Sabotage cover and everytime I've seen them play, they've always ended their set with it. With that said, I think if you heard esl play girls live, you might have a different impression. I have a feeling this would be a crowd pleaser for sure.


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

I saw these lovely ladies at the Dawson City Musicfest and was blown away. Their live version of Girls was one of the high spots of the set-everyone was up and dancing while Marta and Joy were having a great time on stage.
I am looking forward to the time they come my way again.


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