More Miss than Hit
Owen’s latest album, Other People’s Songs, is exactly that, a collection of covers of other artist’s songs. The cover album is great in concept: an artist takes songs that have influenced them and their craft, puts their own spin on them, and then releases them out into the wild. The confluence of inspiration and creativity are supposed to, in some way, shape, form, illuminate a deeper meaning, or give further insight into the song or the artist.
This is a hard trick to pull off. Blues Brothers’ Briefcase Full of Blues is an example of an all-cover record being pulled off well, but there are dozens of examples where the result completely misses the mark. Think Duran Duran’s Thank You or Puddle of Mudd’s 2011 monstrosity Re:(disc)overed. While Other People’s Songs isn’t as far down the scale as Re:(disc)overed, it is definitely more of a miss than a hit.
The biggest miss on this record is the cover of “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart” by Against Me! The original recording of this song was taut with tension, with barely controlled raw emotion. Owen’s cover of it filters that “doomed summer love” energy through an emo lens; the result is a languid acoustic track that delves into the worst kind of arch-emo self serving, heart on your sleeve, dorm room moping.
There are two decent tracks on this record. The cover of Blake Babies’ “Girl in a Box” stays close to the original while managing to punch up the intensity. Owen’s take on All’s “Just Like Them” takes the punk edge off of the original, leaving it sonically somewhere around Smashing Pumpkin’s “Disarm.”
The rest of the cuts are ultimately uninteresting, if overly emo. If you’re a fan of Mike Kinsella or are into his other projects, you will probably be able to find something to like on this record. For those who are not, this is a record you don’t have to fret over missing.