Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows: Hail To The Underground [Album Review]

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows
Hail To The Underground
Blues Funeral Recordings [2023]

I will fully admit that I am a very hard sell on cover albums. I have always felt that this type of record, no matter who the artist, has novelty act qualities automatically built into its creation because you can go to any bar on any night and hear covers. Hell, you can spend hours on YouTube listening to the same track if you so desired. I also feel that cover albums have a short shelf life. Once you hear them, the likelihood of you returning for another spin has a low probability. Unless, the artist really goes above and beyond on the project while bringing something new to the selected covers and really making the songs their own. That is the case with Hail To The Underground from Melbourne Australia’s Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows.

During lockdown, the psychedelic fuzz rock bands frontman, Tim Coutts-Smith, began experimenting with home recording some of his favorite old songs. This time passing activity fueled what we hear today with Hail To The Underground. The song selection is fantastic, which is why this record is so good. You should know most of the names like Bauhaus, Butthole Surfers, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, and The Melvins but you probably are not as familiar with the tracks. This was a good move as I was more surprised with each song versus knowing exactly what was coming at me each time or having a predetermined expectation. Then there is the ripping opening cover of God’s “My Pal.” God was an Australian based punk / rock band from the late 80’s and Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows add some muscle to an already memorable riff which kicks the album off with a great start. “You Made Me Realise” was always one of the more fiery tracks from My Bloody Valentine and Jack Harlon rocks it out even more. The band’s fuzz filled distortion is such a great fit for their songs. Somehow with Bauhaus’ “Dark Entries,” Jack Harlon makes the track even darker with the distorted vocals and blistering haze of guitars.

This record really surprised me how complete it is as no song feels out of place. Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows not only make these eight tracks their own but you can tell the songs have musical importance and personal meaning to them. Their 110% approach is psychedelic, heavy and damn right catchy which honors each track and artist here to the fullest. Hail To The Underground not only holds a high replay value but will also have you seeking out the originals!

“My Pal (God)” / “You Made Me Realise (MBV)” / “Dark Entries (Bauhaus)”

The Jesus Lizard / Sonic Flower / Kyuss

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Christopher Anthony
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