IfIHadAHiFi / Modern Machines – Hot Nuggets

3 out of 5

Label: Crustacean

Produced by: ?

Punk cover albums are nothing new.  When you were a young punk rocker you probably had a couple cheap comps that did the shtick: classic songs played fast n’ shouty.  Personally, since my musical experience didn’t extend much beyond those punk discoveries and whatever my parents radioed in the car, I didn’t even know half the covers’ sources, but I got the gag and sang along.

…And then you realize there are an awful lot of those types of compilations, and the shtick grows stale.  It might be around this time that you thin out your punk rock collection to only the highlights.

Ifihadahifi play a brand of punk, but it’s not standard; they would be a highlight, with their mixture of straight noise and anarchy along with the three chords.  I’m not familiar with Modern Machines beyond this release, but they seem to play a sort of 70s revival version of the genre, which is all well and good but maybe one of those “you have to hear ’em live” joints.  And “Hot Nuggets” is mostly a covers disc, with the twist that each band – besides their 4 covers – does 1 original and 1 song by the other band.

MM are second sequentially, but I’ll speak about them first.  Their cover of HiFi’s Gotta Disappear is quality, but doesn’t (to my ears) have the same energy as the original.  Their new track is punchy, but – in part thanks to a pretty lo-fi sounding recording for both bands – I feel like they come out stronger on their covers, particularly the last track, Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner.

HiFi, meanwhile, edge out slightly ahead: their opener is a bit sloppy, but the source (Fun 9) is appropriately quirky and gets thing off to a good start.  Their new song is a terrifying attack, the kind of intensity the band has been proven to regularly bring.  Their MM cover (Ay, Paisano!) would seem true to that group’s style, from what I can tell, but perhaps Machines’ bring a bit more zing to it.  The remaining covers hit a similar pitch of competent but sorta shrug-worthy; they would not, alas, be standouts on a comp.

Hot Nuggets is a fun idea, and props to both bands for choosing mostly unique covers.  However, besides some select choice performances from each act, it comes across as a fairly standard batch of tracks.