We continue our 2 part series with a review of “Explosions: Lansing Salutes Devo”.

The same disclaimers apply as with the Kiss tribute review: I have not heard the originals. I also not heard much material from a lot of the bands on this compilation. I will review the songs here on their own merits and not how they compared to the originals.

Now that that is out of the way, here we go…

This CD is all together a different animal than the Kiss tribute. Now, that may seem obvious. Kiss is a rock and roll band and Devo is a new-wave band. Their sounds are completely different. But in terms of how the songs sound here, the sonic qualities like the audio quality trump the Kiss tribute tenfold. This is not a bad thing however. It actually suits the two respective bands styles: Kiss is gritty, balls-to-the-walls rock and roll and the overall sound suited that philosophy. Devo, on the other hand, is methodical, calculating and cold when it comes to their style and delivery. This side is represented here beautifully. Each band, it seems, took their time to dissect their respective songs (barring a few punkish, DIY covers like Gates Of Steel’s “Gates Of Steel” and MK Ultra Culkin’s “Fountain of Filth”).

Not only did the bands dissect their respective songs, but some outright reinvented what it means to “play like Devo” (or not play like Devo at all). An example of this is BerT’s take on “Blockhead”. Accompanied by a drumbeat that sounds like it was lifted from samples of real factory machinery, he sings the lyrics over and over again, albeit from a distance. It feels eerie, droning and has an “I’m trapped here, and I can’t get out” kind of feel. Very claustrophobic. Again, it represents the cold and calculating world of Devo.

Other off-the-wall takes include the drum and bass-hardcore punk fusion of Dr. Device on the “Smart Patrol/Mr.DNA” . You might think that those two styles don’t mesh, but they do. Blast beats as well as the bass guitar are moved up in the mix. The slower, quieter breakdown showcases the band’s vocal abilities. Very cool and inventive.

Not all of this is gloom and doom though. There are some very inspiring takes like Johnny Unicorn’s “Patterns” as well as “Beautiful World” by Drinking Mercury. “Patterns” has the Johnny Unicorn musical stamp of approval. Synths, the saxaphone solo and keyboard interludes are all thrown in. “Beautiful World” feels very brittle. Michael Boyes’ vocal sounds akin to a sheet of glass that might break at any moment. Very heartbreaking and sad. Excellent take.

Still going down the alternative rock route, Frank and Earnest’s “Whip It” cover is pretty straightforward (for the record, I did say earlier that I have not heard the originals, but in the case of “Whip It”, I have). That does not mean it isn’t good. Everything about it is solid. A fun listen. The Plurals’ medley of “Too Much Paranoias/Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy” takes their noisy side and the poppy side and combines the two perfectly. Nicholas Richard’s vocal on the second song “Gut Feeling” is throaty and punchy. It is almost to the point of unlistenability…almost. As with BerT’s “Blockhead”, an uneasy feeling comes into play. But instead of hiding it like BerT does, The Plurals take that uncertainty and unleash it through the music into a rage of noise and absurdity.

There are songs by bands here that I did not cover. Unfortunately, if I covered all of them, this review would be 1000 words…and no one wants to spend a ton of time reading a long review. Everything on this compilation gels. From the crazy weird takes of BerT and Dr. Device to the straight covers like Frank and Earnest and everything in between, it all makes sense. Unlike the Kiss album where only a few tracks are on repeat, this whole record will be on my repeat list for a long time.