Various - Memoria: A Tribute to the Alternative 90's (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Memoria: A Tribute to the Alternative 90's (2009)

Yr Letter

The '90s is now a full decade behind us, so it makes something like Memoria a little less kitschy than it might have been even just a few years ago. But does that make it any more successful? Not necessarily, though this Tribute to the Alternative 90's comes up with a few bright moments amid its flatter duds.

Frank Turner kicks it off with easily one of the best songs on the whole thing, a shuffling acoustic version of Kerbdog's "Sally" with Turner's incredibly smooth voice and crisp chords. Intentional or not, it has a slight R.E.M. tinge to it where Kerbdog's version never had that similarity. Either way, it just sounds brilliant. Gâtechien does Rage Against the Machine's "Bombtrack" immediately after; the recording is kinda dusty and the execution sounds distinctly foreign, but it's not an awful rendition. It just certainly doesn't live up to RATM's inherent groove.

Another big hit that doesn't quite match the original's best qualities is Devonmiles' "Getchoo." When Weezer did it on Pinkerton, they performed it with that lovably uncomfortable angst that plagues the entire album's procedure, and that's much of why it's so lauded by their fans; it isn't always present in this version, though, as it's a little less aggressive and a little more timid in that would-be rough chorus. The tone of the guitars in the bridge lean closer to where the band should have gone, but still.

Lula Fortune treats Grant Lee Buffalo's "Fuzzy" interestingly, with some more piano and a higher overall timbre. A little of it inexplicably reminds me of a slower Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks," but otherwise it goes for the more distorted balladic feel. That kinda goes for Powell's try for Quicksand's "Head to Wall," which features Cyesm; they get less Fugazi-ish and a little more Collective Soul with it, but it's actually a pretty cool redux. (Walter Schreifels himself actually appears here doing My Bloody Valentine's "When You Sleep," but it's actually kind of innocuous.) With Lead Orphans doing Pearl Jam's "Corduroy," there's a really weird drawl to the singer's voice that kinda throws the song off. Otherwise, they've got that driving distortion down well enough.

Any remote upping of the punx occurs with Mr. Moustache taking on Babes in Toyland's rowdy "Dust Cake Boy." It's a little noisier, but otherwise pretty much spot on, and one of the compilation's most faithful representations. But being faithful to the original doesn't always end up in the band's favor, as shown by Novels doing Nirvana's "Aneurysm." It sounds an awful lot like the original, but there's just something about it missing that's unexplainable.

Jonah Matranga matches Turner at the end with a pretty captivating performance of his own. He turns Deftones' "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" into a lightly electronic-tinged, indelibly Radiohead-esque floater. Despite the certain similarities, Mantranga shows unfathomable restraint here, giving it a newly whispery and paranoid quality. Length-wise, it seems a little stunted, but it remains one of the comp's better moments.

Memoria is, thus, a mixed bag. Many tribute albums tend to be, of course, but this doesn't have quite enough winners to stand out from the pack, though you should be certain there are a few on here.

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