As we all know by now, the dream of the 90s is alive and well pretty much everywhere. The concept is nothing new in indie music; we’ve now covered almost 2 years worth of exploratory 90s sounds, ranging from the grungy to the R&B. We’ve seen it become the new normal in the modern soundscape. Currently we’re also seeing the next era bubble up with early-2000s inspired, emo-driven indie rock (my bread & butter), but I think it’s also interesting to dissect what other 90s-nostalgic innovation is left in the trend. More often than not, a cover song will tell you the sonic stories behind today’s budding sound aesthetics.
Sidenote: IndieBeat used to do a lot of coverage of covers, and I think it’s about time to revisit our fascination with them. Just as the incredible podcast that is Reasonably Sound has started their own “Ruminations” on their production mission, we’ve taken a step back lately to see how we can refocus our blog philosophy to better integrate that indie aspect of music criticism. I want to go back to my roots here at IndieBeat, by scouting music that really conveys the artistic process behind a more culturally-conscious listening. It is a sad fact that 79% of Americans do not listen to music when they have their friends over, though we certainly have more access to music with our streaming apps. We talk about music together and we occasionally go to a show to experience music with an anonymous group of like-minded fans, but I want to go back to listening to music with others on a more frequent and personal (read: person-to-person) basis. Consider this my planting a flag and embracing our next phase, more of which you’ll learn soon. For now, let’s listen to an unexpected take, truly reimagining favorites in a fun and fantastic way.
What’s more 90s than a pastiche fusion? That’s exactly what we get in this gem of a cover album. Combining reggae with some latin ornamentation and garage rock production, Argentinian group Cocornalo have collected popular alternative favorites from the past few decades, in their intriguing and textured Mar de Cobo. Veering on kitschy (though actually more quaint and intelligent upon further listening), the eclectic combination of all of these different forms actually works quite well. As reggae inspired a lot of Californian pop-punk in the 90s, the use of it here makes for fresh and fascinating reinterpretations of some now stale alt-rock classics.
I’m obsessed with how natural these songs sound in their new style, feeling very effortless and relaxing, just like a drink after a long summer’s day. The vocals complete the package, as the accent, slight snarl, and passionate delivery make the songs believable as Cocornalo’s originally stylized products–not just cover-band tracks. The album does well in commenting on 90s era music, by layering a 90s world-music writing approach to standard rock hits, most of which have been popular since that same era. Though each equally interesting, my pick for the standout track is the group’s down-tempo take on Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Retaining the original’s biting tone, the cover seems more reflective as the coastal groove adds further longing and passion in its transporting vibe.
The covers add an extra layer to these songs, by reminding listeners that music reaches across all borders, inspiring, provoking and motivating the mind of all types. That is how you get addicting and outstanding Argentinian reggae, which gives these songs further power, in going the distance and traveling to new frontiers (both physically and musically).