Devinyl Splits No. 6 – Kevin Devine, Jesse Lacey
The Devinyl Splits, put out by Bad Timing Records, is a series of 7” vinyl split singles featuring Kevin Devine and assorted musician friends. The records consist of a single on each side, one song from each artist. So far, Devine has paired up with artists like Meredith Graves, Tigers Jaw, and Cymbals Eat Guitars. Now, for the sixth release in the series, Kevin Devine has teamed up with his friend and Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey to cover two different R.E.M. songs, “Bad Day” (Lacey), and “Imitation of Life” (Devine).
A SIDE: “Bad Day” – Jesse Lacey
The original R.E.M. song “Bad Day” was a previously unreleased song, later being released on In Time: The Best of R.E.M. The band performed an early version of the song in 1985 in Albany, NY, and it is often considered to be a predecessor to “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” as it is similar in message and style.
Lacey’s version of “Bad Day” is a very cool acoustic cover, starting out with some hectic guitar feedback before kicking into the first verse. His pained delivery fits the anti-media message of the song. Providing harmonies and background vocals for himself, the Brand New singer doesn’t just copy Michael Stipe’s original vocal performance, but makes it his own while still honoring the original. Lacey’s voice is a good fit for this cover of “Bad Day.”
B SIDE: “Imitation of Life” – Kevin Devine
Kevin Devine is an artist that, to me, can do no wrong. His cover of R.E.M.’s 2001 song “Imitation of Life” is a much mellower version than the original. With just voice, acoustic guitar, and a subtle-yet-effective string arrangement, it is much more intimate than R.E.M.’s bigger sounding original.
During the chorus, it sounds like Devine’s voice is double tracked, giving the chorus a little more weight than during the verses. The wobbly way Devine sings the “no one can see you cry” line sounds very genuine and sincere. The strings provide an old-timey, dreamy vibe that the original lacks, giving credence to the song being an “Imitation of Life.”
I’m not sure if these two songs are “the greatest thing since bread came sliced,” but I think they are the best two covers in the Devinyl Series. Keep doing what you do, K-Dev.
By Evan Frye