By Avery Dawson
Label: Greeen Records
Release Date: January 13, 2018
What could artists like John Lennon, The Ramones, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Buffett all have in common with an artichoke? Surprisingly enough, Artichoke, the band (not the delicious vegetable), covers all of these musicians on their latest record Echoes, producing some of the most unconventional and intriguing versions of classics we all know and love. Along with the unique covers are four originals, which are equally as interesting in sound and lyrics. The fun-loving nature this album reflects perfectly the type of band Artichoke is.
The official title of the album, Echoes, is also referred to on the band’s website as Echoes from the Century Next Door, clearly referencing the band’s use of songs from the previous decades. The particular use of the word echoes alludes to their innovative take on each of their covers, not being an exact replica of the original, but rather a loose rendition.
At first listen, the first track of the album, titled “The Devil’s Song”, sounds like it would be an ode to Satan himself, but after listening it’s pretty obvious that the song is fairly innocent. This original, written by Timothy Sellers, talks about having a tune stuck in your head for days and days, becoming old and burned into your brain. This song itself has an infectious beat that easily gets caught in your head.
A large influential factor that can be heard in covers like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Margaritaville” is the almost psychedelic rock sound most often heard in the late 60s to early 70s. This may seem unfitting for these songs, given their prior sound has been classified as country and tropical rock, respectively. The heavy and lo-fi guitar solos throughout “Folsom Prison Blues” paired with the layered, echoey vocals create a dream-like trip unlike anything one would expect to hear. Unlike Cash’s melodic, folksy version, Artichoke adds a certain lightness and haze to the song that works incredibly well. “Margaritaville” opens up with the strum of a sitar (an originally Indian instrument), almost immediately giving hints to the later work of The Beatles. The creativity and originality within these two specific songs really cause them to stand out among the others.
However impressively different their covers are though, they do have a very distinctive sound that remains very much the same throughout the entire album. With the slightly warped, low-quality vocals and deep electric guitar mixed with some electronic sounds, most songs are extremely similar. While this may be very compelling in hearing their covers of more popular songs, such as “Imagine” originally by John Lennon, it gets a bit old hearing every song done in the same manner.
Taking into account the flaws of this album, it still stands out very much in the musical world we live in today. The bizarre mix of songs the band covers combined with their unmistakable sound make for an album that anyone any age can listen and relate to. Artichoke used their inventiveness to their advantage while creating this record, giving anyone who listens a chance to personally connect to it.