Sunday, 29 January 2012

Pajo - Scream With Me

Like about a million other teenage weirdos, I was a huge Misfits fan in my younger years. I say that as if that's still not the case, they're still one of my favourite bands.

They're also hugely influential on a wide range of musicians, and have been covered countless times.
However, not many people strip away the distortion, the speed, and take these brilliant songs down to the bare melody and Glenn Danzig's morbid lyrics. That's what ex-Slint guitarist David Pajo has done on this collection of Misfits classics.

Side One opens with Angelfuck, a slowly plucked variation on the usually fuzzed-up intro. Tape hiss permeates the recording. Pajo's voice softly croons the words, usually yowled out, giving them a whole new dimension. Before hearing this version, I was never 100% sure what the lyrics were, hearing them in this whole new context allows you to actually appreciate that the Misfits were more than just a standard punk band. Though if you're a fan, then you know that already.

My favourite Misfits song, and one of my favourite songs of all time, Hybrid Moments. Usually beginning with a bone-shaking drumbeat, hearing it open with more warped acoustic plucking is a little weird. The driving rhythm of the original is lost, but again, the clearly sung version gives the lyrics a whole new lease of life. This version sounds almost like young lustful yearning, Danzig's words sounding downright pleading as Pajo whisper-sings "Give me a moment...".

Where Eagles Dare is up next, and the guitar is pretty basic on this one, and the verse delivery is kinda boring. It's worth hearinng just for the sweetly sung classic line "I ain't no goddamn son of a bitch!".

Assassination anthem Bullet is another song that tames the original's indecipherable yelling into a clear, plaintive croon, the second half's sexually deviant lyrics all the more unsettling for being sung so calmly. For being much more palatable to most people's ears, this is actually much more fucked up than the original.

Side One closes with Teenagers From Mars, one of my least favourite songs on this collection. He changes up the tone and chords of the song to give it a sense of foreboding that isn't present in the fun original, and I don't think it works too well. Considering it's a schlocky song about, well, teenagers from Mars, this sounds a little too serious with the weird chords progressions he chooses. I don't know, I just don't like it.

Side Two opens with one of my least favourite 'Fits songs, Devil's Whorehouse, so to be honest, no other interpretation is going to convince me of this song's merits. Thankfully the next track is Horror Business, another classic. When I talked about the sense of foreboding he gave Teenagers... and how I didnt think it worked? He does the same thing with this track initially, his whispered vocals filling you with a real sense of Hitchcock-ian dread. The simple guitar breaks out into a bright, melancholic passage about a minute-and-a-half in, his vocals reaching towards the upper registers as he intones "I'm warning you, I'll put a knife right in you!" making it sound quietly menacing.

More Mars madness next, with a jaunty folk-y take on I Turned Into A Martian, where he FINALLY brings the trademark 'whoah-oh-ohhhs' the Misfits were so known for into the mix. This is probably one of the most faithful renditions on the record.

The album closes with Attitude, a song also butchered by Guns N Roses at one point, so his competition ain't too stiff. This is another straight-up cover, albeit in the inimitable style you'll be accustomed to by this point. The album closes as it began, slowly plucked strings, soft vocals and tape hiss. Fucking great stuff.

This is still available over at Black Tent Press, and each copy comes with an awesome spraypainted and hand-screened cover. Go get one and chill out with a deceptively spooky collection of lo-fi folky ditties. If you want to try before you buy, the full album is streaming over on Pajo's site.

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