Band: Kevin Devine
Release: Nevermind (Nirvana Tribute)
Label: Razor & Tie/Favorite Gentlemen
1.Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come As You Are
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On a Plain
12. Something in the Way
I have never been a hardcore fan of Nirvana or the Grunge genre, but I acknowledge that Nevermind is an iconic album. Kurt Cobain was not the most virtuosic guitar player, but he is respected for his ability to write catchy songs that could really tug at the heart-strings of America’s apathetic youth in the 90’s and make them actually feel emotions that went beyond the tingly buzz of a nice joint and the exciting warmth that could only come from jailbait.
Kevin Devine recently did a tribute cover of Nevermind to celebrate the albums twentieth anniversary, and if Kurt Cobain were still alive to listen to Kevin’s lackluster rendition then Kurt would definitely be pulling out the shotgun now.
I will reiterate once again that I never was all that into Nirvana; I liked Nevermind as an album, but few songs in Nirvana’s repertoire really ever stood out to me, but even for being a casual listener of Nirvana I still feel a great sense of antipathy for this particular covering of it.
The first thing that hit me when I pressed play was the guitar tone, or lack thereof. The clean tones sounded too clean, the effects were too heavy, and the distortion was muddier and murkier than the clamtraps found in the brothels of the Deep South. I don’t know how this album was produced, but every tone sounds like a stock Nirvana setting found on a cheap recording unit made in Taiwan by deaf children with missing fingers and synthetic souls. The guitar isn’t the only thing with a lackluster tone; the bass sounds much undefined throughout much of the album, and the drums are extremely uninspiring with little to no dynamic range (I am still hosting an internal debate over whether or not they are programmed very well or played horribly).
The singing on the album is probably its best aspect, but considering how simple the melodies are in Cobain’s entire catalog, I just quite simply don’t see how anyone that isn’t tone-deaf could ever fuck it up. While the pitch was as on as one could expect for a tribute to Nirvana, I still think Kevin sounded very uninspired and lacked a lot of the emotional depth that made this album such an important part of the Grunge movement. If it weren’t for Cobain’s ability to convey the anger and depression he felt through his music, the album wouldn’t have sold more than a few copies; it was a success because Cobain had the ability to instantly connect with listeners on such a deep level within his limited range.
Now if I was on a desert island with Kevin and there was only a single fetus to consume for food on this island, and I had to use this album as my basis of judgement for how much of said fetus he should be able to consume, I would spare no more than a single fetal chunk out of five with him…and it’d be a particularly small chunk…probably an underdeveloped hand or foot…definitely not an entire limb.