Music Reviews

Smoking Popes Tribute

Various Artists

Double Zero/Suburban Home

What could be better than a bunch decent bands covering the long-lost Smoking Popes! This is a fun tribute, featuring the likes of Grade and The Ataris, put out by Double Zero Records (the same folks who recently released Smoking Popes’ final studio album The Party’s Over). With thirteen tracks of entertaining cover versions, this one is a keeper.

Bad Astronaut does an interesting mathed-up version of “Megan,” and I must admit that I like Bad Astronaut’s version a little better; it just rocks more. Retro Morning does ample justice to the song that got things going for the Popes, “Need You Around.” These guys take the liberty of inserting a few hardcore breakdowns and other little tricks here and there, but they essentially stay true to the song. The lead singer for Retro Morning has a really great voice, too! Death By Wednesday covers “Let Them Die,” and they seriously sound just like Smoking Popes! To be honest, Blue Shade Witness’s version of “Mrs. You and Me” sounds a lot like the original, as well.

Notaword covers “Off My Mind,” and they really take this song to new heights. I had never heard Notaword before, but they totally rock out, offering an exciting, energized version of this song. I’d say that this is probably my favorite song on the record. Duvall, which actually features a couple of members of the Smoking Popes, cover “Do Something,” a Smoking Popes song I had never heard before; it sounds just like classic Smoking Popes. Tom Daily’s version of “Waiting Around” sounds like Oasis with Moogs.

I wanted this disc mainly so I could hear Grade’s cover of “Days Just Wave Goodbye.” You don’t have to tell me that Grade aren’t what they used to be, I already know, but their version of this song totally rocked me off of my seat! Grade sounding poppy while simultaneously freaking out = perfect! Saturday Supercade’s cover of “I Love You Paul” sounds like a bad Matchbox 20 b-side, and I hate it. The Red Hot Valentines’ cover of “Rubella” is really awesome, and sounds different enough that they could pass it off as their own song. Junction 18’s cover of “End of Your Time” sounds like the Smoking Popes with a different singer, and is forgettable. Smoking Popes’ drummer Mike Felumlee takes it upon himself to cover “Don’t Be Afraid,” and while it sounds pretty solid, the guitars have way too much high end on them, and they hurt my ears!

The final cover on this tribute is from the uber-popular The Ataris, and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why everyone is freaking out about these guys. Their take on “Pretty Pathetic” is very “emo” (as one would expect), featuring their singer and a piano; cornballs! At the end of the disc are two extra songs, following a few minutes of space. They’re a bit boring, but worth checking out.

All in all, this is a solid tribute. It is really sad that Smoking Popes broke up, but tributes like these make it all a little better, as it reminds us just how good a band they were. This one is totally worth picking up.

Suburban Home Records:

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