CD Review

V/A - "Nod's Tacklebox O' Fun"

By Marcus Pan

Nod's Tacklebox O' FunSee that little guy fishing? That's Nod, a character creation of Jay Stephens. Nod's an eccentric little fellow - we won't get into things other than his musical tastes, though, because I'd hate to offend your sensibilities. Nod collects things - electronic, danceable, fun things. Funny thing though - Nod also likes a lot of hit songs. So in an effort to satisfy Nod's cravings, Nod's friend Chase of Re-Constriction (now exclusively Cargo Music) went out and collected some eccentric tunes for him. Chase had some of the most weirdest and strangest industrial electro-dance ensembles of the underground re-record their own versions of hit songs of the 80s and 90s for Nod's enjoyment. And Nod's been smiling ever since.

Considered the sequel to Re-Con's 1991 release of Shut Up Kitty, the new Nod's Tacklebox O' Fun is a part dance, part industrial, part stompy, part cheezy collection of remakes of some songs that you would be hard pressed to ever find on anything resembling an underground style indie CD. Sure, there's the synth-pop remakes; you'll find Safety Dance, Policy Of Truth, When Doves Cry and You Spin Me Round. But you'll also find - and here's where Nod really gets the groove on - MMMBop, Ice Ice Baby, Waterfalls, Just A Girl, Sabotage. Nod's a strange one, you see. Seventeen tracks in all of industrial remakes of top-slot songs from the past decade and a half or so. Booya!

Of course, Nod's Tacklebox is a compilation. And that means we pull out all stops and go song by song, band by band, in detail. In all cases I did my absolute best to find the latest URL and E-Mail info for each band - unfortunately some are MIA (I hit at least three search engines in my travels to find them) so forgive me, but I could do no more than I did. So without further adieu, watch your fingers on the fishing lures as we dip into one of the weirdest and cheddar-ridden pieces of underground comp-stomp music I've ever had the pleasure to smile about.

Hook #1 - Society Burning vs Cardigans: Lovefool
A somewhat prevalent song in the 80s, the one-hit wonder Cardigans have been immortalized by three piece syth-core grinders Society Burning in the first hook of the tacklebox. Taking the original synth-pop flair of Lovefool, SB have turned it into a dance-stomp classic with aggressive riffs, sliding keyboard loops and up front drum-machine pounding. Vocals are muted with prevalence going to the instrumental mix of this remake.

Society Burning - &

Hook #2 - Purr Machine vs Hanson: MMMBop
From the get-go, MMMBop couldn't have been more than a Teletubby induced cerebral brain fart in the first place, but when Los Angeles' Purr Machine get their hands on this Bubblegum Boys' kiddie favorite they flip it upside down and rip it inside out. With similarly muted vocals like the Lovefool track, Purr Machine's Betsy lavishes us with her sweet and purry vocalizations, Kevin's fast-paced programming and Kirk's guitar strings vibrate everywhere and give us his expected noisy accompaniment. Peter provides a slap-back drum beat to which it all applies and, now, we have taken a pile of bubblegum laden bullshit and turned it into something that, if you take enough X, you might be able to dance to.

Purr Machine - &

Hook #3 - Hate Dept. vs Dead Or Alive: You Spin Me Round
Being a rather good synth-pop favorite of old from the day it hit the charts, Dead Or Alive's You Spin Me Round couldn't be made too much better than it already was. Hate Dept. takes on a helluva job with this one. After all, if you don't know the song You Spin Me Round you've been living under the proverbial rock. But although the song couldn't be made much better, in my opinion, it could be remade differently, and that's the schtick that Hate Dept. attempt. They take You Spin Me Round and move it from a synth-pop favorite to a dance-floor killing, rip-roaring slamfest. The guitars Seibold throws at us on this track are brutal, scary and would satisfy the hardest of thrashers.

Hate Dept. - &

NodHook #4 - Tinfed vs Depeche Mode: Policy Of Truth
Guitar-driven danceaholics of Tinfed give us a well-done rendition of Depeche Mode's Policy Of Truth here. The guitars are whiny, drums are loud and obnoxious and the vocals are light and poppy.

Tinfed - &

Hook #5 - DB9D9 vs Human Leagus: Don't You Want Me
Show me someone who can't sing or hum at least a few bars of the world-famous Human League tune, Don't You Want Me (Baybeee!), and I'll show you someone who couldn't tell you what a Rubik's Cube was if you fistfucked it where it didn't belong. I can't count how many synth-pop 80's nights have spun this song much to the happiness of dancefloor goths in my corner of the world alone - and I really don't get out all that much. DB9D9 keep the familiar synth line there that we all remember and the vocals are whispered and underwater. This is also DB9D9s debut CD appearance.

DB9D9 - &

Hook #6 - Hotbox vs No Doubt: Just A Girl
We jump back to the modern day now with a remake of ska band No Doubt's overly commercialized (and played) Just A Girl. Bay area punk style rockers Hotbox take this tune and give it the heavier rock and roll sound it should have had in the first goddamn place. The guitars, not the keyboards, are the prevalent sound this time along with Melissa Chapel's girly vocals - and she sounds very much like Gwen if you ask me.

Hotbox - &

Hook #7 - New Mind vs TLC: Waterfalls
Now this is a trip. Jonathan Sharp project New Mind picks up a song by one of the most overplayed, commercialized, whining bitch groups of the day and tears into it like a wolf eating rabbit flesh. Sounds like it was recorded in the back of a machine shop. Jonathan's "GET TOO CLOSE TO ME AND I'LL CHEW YOUR NOSE OFF!!!" angry vocal style turns Waterfalls into a scraping, scathing masterpiece of industrial noise. He even raps in that vox-ridden barrage!

New Mind - &

Hook #8 - Mindless Faith vs Prince and the Revolution: When Doves Cry
I've always enjoyed Prince's work - prior to his changing his name to a stupid fucking symbol that forced zine writers like me into a cerebral hemorrhage looking for its duplicate in font files just so we can say "You're a schmecklehead, x!" I never did find it - gave up. Anyway, to the track review. Mindless Faith bring a more melancholic, less flashy mood than that done by the original Revolution and add in computeresque vocal twinges and a heavier beat. Some of the other instruments aren't here giving it a minimal and ethereal feeling. I was also told by Jasin that he even had a cold at the time of recording...looking forward to hearing him without it.

Mindless Faith - &

Hook #9 - Vault.9 vs Charlie Daniels Band: The Devil Went Down To Georgia
One of the gems and highlights of Nod's collection of sounds, Vault.9 make their debut CD appearance with this awesome rendition of the famed fiddlers' Devil Went Down To Georgia. Keeping the vocals low and brooding with a bassy sound and added/heavier beats, this version of The Devil is excellently done. Unlike some of the other remakes here, Vault.9 choose to keep the vocals as a high point of their track without spending too much time drowning it out with various samples, hooks and loops. They deepen the sound and create an awesome bass-laden breakdown for Johnny's fiddling.

Vault.9 - MIA

Hook #10 - Trust Obey vs Ministry: Revenge
Somehow this Ministry remake snuck into the tacklebox - surprisingly enough, allow me to say this is the first time I can honestly tell you that Ministry doesn't fit on an industrial dance compilation. Trust Obey's John Bergin gives us a power-chord, beat-stomping remake of Ministry's Revenge track with up-front vocals and occasional bright synth melodies to complement the piece.

Trust Obey - &

Hook #11 - The WFG All-Stars vs Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby
No, I'm not kidding. Hell, if Jon Sharp can trip up TLC with his Waterfalls remake, there's NO reason why The WFG All-Stars can't take an older school rap tune and spin it back in on itself. WFG keep the bass lines, hooks and even some of the keyboard melodies of the original white boy's song in tact. What they do is mess with the vocals. They scratch them, mumble them, load them down with static. Hey, did you hear the Vanilla man made an industrial remake of this one? Goddamn sad.

The WFG All-Stars - MIA

Hook #12 - Alien Faktor vs Alanis Morissette: You Oughta Know
Back to the 90s with a super-thrash version of Canada's Queen Of Angst's You Oughta Know. Alien Faktor really mess with this one. The guitars come out of the closet and beat you in your forehead in thrash format and the noisy vocals are yelled at you with such force you cringe.

Alien Faktor - MIA

Hook #13 - SMP vs Berlin: Metro
This one seems to be a popular cover. Eye Kandy (Jersey band I recently reviewed) covered it as well. Also, I missed seeing SMP play at QXT last weekend because I was sick. Therefore seeing them here was a great find. SMP take this Berlin classic and add more static, speed it up a bit, add a little more noise. From synth-pop to industrial-dance, and there you have it.

SMP - &

Hook #14 - Pain Station vs Men Without Hats: Safety Dance
This synth-pop mid-80's classic tune is the only 45 RPM vinyl single I have ever bought in my 28 years. On the other side was Living In China - I remember it well. Scott's rendition of Safety Dance is just so good. It's got slap-back drums, sliding incoming bass lines, whispery effects applied to his intro vocals, mesmerizing synth loops - the works. He gives it a more industrial and darker touch. And yet, somehow, he keeps his creation close enough to the original that, unlike some remakes here, it's unmistakable as Safety Dance. Total respect given to the hatless boys. Awesome work!

Pain Station - &

Hook #15 - Hexedene vs Shirley Bassey: Diamonds Are Forever
Hexedene is another project that Jon Sharp of New Mind is involved in. Hexedene brings an electro feel to this old song. The vocals are still sweet, girlish and were done very well. Synth melodies prevail here adding a background mood that, while not as dark as the other songs here on Nod's, changes the original enough to make it their own.

Hexedene - &

Hook #16 - Oneiroid Psychosis vs Scorpions: Animal Magnetism
An ethereal atmosphere laid over an old heavy metal song? Lief and Lars Hansen spin moody beats and dark synthetic loops throughout this recreation by Oneiroid Psychosis. Muted guitars join the fray later in the track and the drums pound, creating a truly mesmerizing soundscape out of what once was a heavy metal stand-by. Check out their release of Garden of Remembrance also - got a high rating from Legends reviewer Rat Bastard.

Oneroid Psychosis - &

Hook #17 - Ordnance vs Beastie Boys: Sabotage
Ordnance, like DB9D9 and Vault.9, make their debut CD appearance with their remake of the annoying, one-riff wonder Sabotage by the nuisances of white rap, the Brass Monkey brewing Beastie Boys. Loud, blaring guitar/drum combinations and static-laden, barely-recognizable vocals combine to create an interesting (and noisy) combination.

Ordnance - MIA

Ok, thanks for reading. I'll see everyone at Nod's place tonight, yes? We'll have a fishing derby!