The short version: I can’t believe I’m reviewing a covers album, but Whiskey Shivers deliver what might be one of the funnest albums of 2019 with ‘Smothered and Covered.’
- Favorite tracks: “Sandstorm,” “Lithium,” “Goodbye Earl,” “The Trooper,” “Losing My Religion”
- Least favorite track: … “Rainbow Connection” I guess?
The long version: Forget the fact that Weezer have a new covers album. This is the covers album we should all be giving the spotlight.
I’ve debated whether or not to cover this. For those who don’t know, Whiskey Shivers are a bluegrass group who bring a surprising punk edge to their music. Yet at the same time, they’re also know for their humorous shenanigans both in their music and outside as a band (check out some of their YouTube videos to get what I mean).
As such, when they released a covers album right out of the blue that covered everything from Katy Perry to Nirvana to well, Weezer themselves, it certainly didn’t look to be a worthless listen.
And it’s not. Everything you could ever love about the band is on full display here. The old cliché at this point is to point out how the band makes these songs their own when it’s good, but they really don’t. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that the material is so eclectic and diverse that there’s no way anyone could make it sound their like own.
But on the other hand, the songs certainly do fit into the band’s wheelhouse well, and that’s an important difference. Aside from “The Rainbow Connection,” none of the tracks here are the most serious songs in the world. They were huge hits for their memorable hooks, choruses, riffs and, if they were remembered for their lyrics, they were bizarre lyrics. As such, this album allows the band to stretch their wings, have fun and be their goofball selves. The original electric guitars are essentially replaced with fiddles and banjos, and the group harmonies are incredibly stellar here.
Another important point when considering the selection of these songs is that they’re either uptempo or feature a point where things heat up. The ending of the chorus on the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” the bridge (or whatever you want to call it) on Nirvana’s “Lithium,” or just the overall pace as Darude’s “Sandstorm” continues on – I know I keep saying this, but it’s just fun to listen to. It’s even more fun to rock out to “The Trooper” where they’re purposely stretching their vocal limits.
At eight tracks, Smothered and Covered is the kind of album that’s easy to try and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Beyond the impressive technical ability present on this album, the band pushes the boundaries of what bluegrass can be while still delivering an album that’s uniformly unique to the genre. It’s an album that’s right on par with the band’s best original material and showcases why the Whiskey Shivers are the punk-rocking bluegrass group we didn’t know we needed.