Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove
Under The Covers
“My enduring memory of what it was like to work with Lydia — and remember I was a long time fan of hers and continue to be one –is that her approach to getting the work done was as hardcore as actually getting the work done. There were no false steps. No hesitation. With an approach like that you either end up Custer or Alexander the Great. OR Lydia Lunch.” – Eugene Robinson (Oxbow)
The working relationship between Lydia Lunch and English guitarist, Cypress Grove, began in 2010 with Lunch appearing on a tribute series of recordings Grove curated and dedicated toward his old writing partner [Los Angeles punk icon], Jeffrey Lee Pierce. That collaboration exposed a compatible musical chemistry between the two and stemmed into further releases, the latest being a covers record entitled Under The Covers, available through Italian imprint, Rustblade. Dating back to their first project as a duo [2014’s A Fistful Of Desert Blues & Twin Horses], you can sense a degree of intimacy between the two in their recordings with how Lunch’s voice organically carries over the playing styles of Grove. This could be just a natural reaction between two musicians who parallel each other’s genres [punk, noise, alternative] and with a set of skills that greatly complement each other’s roles. Under The Covers continues in the same vein as their previous two releases with an acid-laden blend of psychedelic country, blues and alternative rock composing a set of eclectic and unconventional covers by established commercial artists, obscure acts and newbies.
The two approach each track with a degree of care and respect but also chop and twist each slightly to give their unique touch and effect on the listener and how worlds of Lunch and Grove world mesh with the original composition. Bobby Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe”, the Southern Gothic tale about a young man’s unexplained suicide has a darker edge with Lunch’s sinister croon of the lyrics over the Grove’s arpeggiations accompanying a set of beat keys effects. The standouts on Under The Covers belong to a melancholic rendition of the contemporary Depression experience with Bocephus’s [Hank Wiliams Jr] “Red, White & Pink Slip Blues” along with a sped up version of Elvis Costello’s “I Want You” which features Grove’s guitar howling over the Lunch’s seductive delivery of the vocals. Remember that 90’s group Cracker? Their mega-hit, “Low”, was inescapable back in 1993! Lunch and Grove revisit the piece, speed up the tempo and layer it with more guitars to make a slightly more aggressive and emotional song out of it.
How the hell a Bon Jovi tune made it on here is something they only know, the rest of us won’t and in the end, it doesn’t even matter .The duo’s take on the 90’s ballad “Blaze Of Glory” is pretty uninspiring and bland but maybe it’s meant to be that way, hard to tell if Lunch is mocking the tune with the way she’s singing it too. Dual harmonies between Lunch and Grove appear for a tribute to the late Gregg Allman penned, “Midnight Rider” and both Tom Petty’s first US single “Breakdown” and The Door’s “I’m A Spy” gets lounge-on-acid treatment. Not ignoring the obscure, the two cover “1,000 Miles Of Bad Road” by singer/songwriter, Aaron Lee Tasjan, an emerging indie folk artist from Nashville who did time in the recent incarnation of The New York Dolls. Another out of left field track is their cover of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again”. Lunch takes an opportunity to rework the Big Sexy Noise [Avant Garde jazz/noise rock project she fronts] track “Won’t Leave You Alone” into an eerie sounding folk track, which includes Grove on accompanying vocals.
Eleven tracks of strange associations but worth checking into, if you like your Jim Morrison cover song infused with extra nihilism.