Kepi Ghoulie - Ramones in Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Kepi Ghoulie

Ramones in Love (2023)

Pirate's Press

Kepi’s latest covers album, Ramones in Love is exactly what you think it is- it’s Kepi covering love songs played by the Ramones in an acoustic or lo-fi style. There are a lot of ways you can bend a Ramones track: you can juice up the speed in a nod to Johnny’s love of double time tempos; you can increase the weirdness and manic-depressive angle ala Dee Dee; you can up the love classic am pop ala Tommy; or you can play on the melancholy heartbreak of Joey. The latter is the focus of Kepi’s interpretation.

On pretty much every song, Kepi pulls back the raw charge of classic Ramone and transforms the songs into quiet, or quiet-ish heartbreak tracks. Sometimes, he presents the tune as basically a folk track such as I wanna be your boyfriend.” Other times, he takes more grandiose chances. “Here today, gone tomorrow,” one of the album’s high points warps the original into an almost goth take- it has strings that at times become hissing synths, it has a distant war drum that drops in the background, and it even has banging chimes. In fact, if it wasn’t for Kepi’s earnest voice striking through in the foreground, the song could easily, easily pass for Nada era Death in June. Kepi doe shave a lot of lovey dovey stuff, but that type of material becomes much more layered when ultimate-darkness Kepi appears, like he does here.

One thing that becomes apparent as Kepi works through the love hits, is that most Ramones love songs are actually sad, which is an interesting dynamic as it is. Kepi adds a further twist on that with his cover of “She’s a sensation,” which as done by the Ramones, actually IS a happy song. But here, Kepi adds in the iconic never-quite-happy Joey twist. On “7-11,” he adds a downpour sound effect and shapes the song into a funeral dirge. What does it mean that Kepi saddens-up even the few actually positive Ramones love tracks?

The album appears to be a relatively low stakes affair, as it should be. It’s a fun tribute to the Ramones without placing too much pomposity on either the source material or Kepi himself. It’s fun, to boot. That being said, the biggest value here is that, through performance, Kepi points out some things in the source material that were previously covered by jackhammer charge. And, we probably learn a little bit about Kepi, too.