One of the Boys — “Pinned up”
When someone’s described to you as “Minnesota famous,” you just don’t know what you’re gonna get. So, when I delved into the works One of the Boys – Midwestern rock goddess Tina Schlieske’s new group – I was, at the very least, skeptical. That said, Pinned Up, the band’s six-song debut album, proved largely unworthy […]Dawson White
out of 10
One of the Boys
November 12, 2013
When someone’s described to you as “Minnesota famous,” you just don’t know what you’re gonna get. So, when I delved into the works One of the Boys – Midwestern rock goddess Tina Schlieske’s new group – I was, at the very least, skeptical. That said, Pinned Up, the band’s six-song debut album, proved largely unworthy of my skepticism. Constructed with covers of other Minnesota-turned-world-famous musicians (Prince, Bob Dylan, and others), Pinned Up satisfies your cover-love just enough to leave you wanting more.
I love covers. A good one identifies the shortcomings a blinded parent-musician can’t see in its song-child. Three of the album’s six songs do just that. One of the Boys simplifies The Jayhawks’ (can I get a Rock Chalk?!) “Big Star” by stripping down the punchy instrumentals and slowing the tempo. Husker Du’s “Makes No Sense at All” gets mellowed out, while The Replacements “Sixteen Blue” is made over into the mid-power ballad it probably should have been in the first place. Bob Dylan’s “Most of the Time,” Soul Asylum’s “The Game,” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” however, tell the tale of the album’s biggest shortcoming: originality.
You wouldn’t think originality would come into the cover conversation, but it’s originality that draws the fine line between cover and karaoke. A cover is successful when it does at least one of two things. First, when the artist takes ownership of the song. Johnette Napolitano’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is a perfect example. While still in the same vein, when she performs “The Scientist” it’s no longer Chris Martin’s piece of music. It’s hers to be confidently remolded and performed in a way that brands her name across the piece. Second, a cover is successful when an artist completely re-imagines the song. Take Juliet Turner’s acoustic cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” It offers a genre-busting look at a typical pop song, during which Juliet reveals a surprising artistry previously lost under a mess of sticky pink bubblegum. Tina and One of the Boys miss both marks, mistaking a fresh voice for a fresh vision. Those frustrations aired, I can only applaud Tina’s choices in alt-rock. Not only did she choose less-obvious bands to lend her beautifully raspy voice, but she opted for less-obvious songs of less-obvious bands to lend her beautifully raspy voice. So help me, if I hear one more cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” someone’s getting hurt (I know I’m not alone in this, and it’s time we speak up).
While One of the Boys’ Pinned Up lacks the creativity that would launch it beyond a respectful nod to its groundbreaking parents, it is a perfectly fine album full of perfectly fine covers. Tina’s talent is enough to make you fifty shades of green-with-jealousy, and her effortlessly-cool factor is through the roof. So, if you’re a sucker for her sultry vocals (as you should be), check out Tina’s other projects: Tina and the B-Sides, Lola and the Red Family Band, and Tina Schlieske and the Graceland Exiles at tinaschielske.com.-Dawson White, December 18, 2013