Monday, May 04, 2020

Drunk Dial Records - Stay Home

2020 will surely go down in history as the greatest shitty year for punk rock. These have been trying times for people on a personal level. But for those who love to make music (or any form of art), self-isolation has created the opportunity to do just that. I've literally had something to write about every day for months, and there seems to be no end in sight. Drunk Dial Records was already a label with a unique concept: literally get bands intoxicated and have them cut an original and cover song for 7" release. So it was not a surprise that Drunk Dial's response to a worldwide lockdown was to try something a little different. The label has assembled the compilation Stay Home - featuring 14 different artists covering the Ramones' Leave Home in its entirety. The bands who signed on were then rewarded with beer money right out of Drunk Dial's government stimulus check. Now that just about brings a tear to my eye!

No doubt, this project could have turned out terribly. When you're dealing with a sacred text like Leave Home, the potential for disappointment is very high. But many of these bands/artists turned out incredibly creative interpretations, and I find this album as a whole to be an extremely enjoyable listen. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't skip immediately to Hayley and the Crushers' version of "Suzy Is A Headbanger". And although I was expecting something good, I don't think I was fully prepared for just how amazing this cover is! The band completely transformed the song - and virtually transported me to that blissful beach vacation I can only dream of right now. Another standout for me is "You're Gonna Kill That Girl" by The Hound of Love (solo project of Andrew from Mean Jeans), which comes off like the synth-pop record I wish Phil Spector had made. Christian Blunda's version of "I Remember You" is a wonderful reminder that the Ramones wrote some of the greatest pure pop songs the world has ever known. Elsewhere, classic Leave Home tracks receive post-punk (Yuvees), garage (Spoon Benders), and indie rock (Haybaby) treatments - with truly fantastic results. Even some of the bands that opted to remain faithful to the original versions managed to put much of themselves into these songs. Dark Thoughts ("What's Your Game") and Hakan ("Swallow My Pride") are always going to sound like Dark Thoughts and Hakan. And that's a beautiful thing.

The download for Stay Home has been priced at $5 - with the intention of generating funds that will go directly to the bands or to the charities of their choosing. Drunk Dial isn't keeping a cent of the proceeds. The goal of this project was to provide a creative outlet for all of these artists who were stuck at home and in many cases facing financial strain. What came out of it, in the words of the label, is "an incredible time capsule of what is otherwise a truly scary period of our lives". I will gladly drink to that!


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