Various Release the Bats: The Birthday Party As Heard Thro

Much like its 2002 Queen tribute, Dynamite with a Laserbeam, Three One G has assembled a sick cast of noisemakers to bastardise the works of the Birthday Party. Purveyors of dark, twisted rockabilly and violent, rackety post-punk, Australia’s most notorious band get a suitable tribute, as many of the acts covering their material practice the same unhinged madness that the Party did in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Like many tribute comps, Release the Bats works two ways: as a curiosity piece for fans of the originals or as a collection of new, exclusive tracks by a roster that most likely share some of the same fans. Not too many of these covers would actually be mistaken for the originals, proving the label did their homework correctly upon recruitment. I mean really, could Melt-Banana ever pull off a faithful rendition of "Faint Heart”? Of course not. Instead, it’s the terse, spas(tas)tic aural assault we expect and want to hear. Some Girls try their damnedest with the title track and it’s actually not light years away, but an honest rendition that fits their agro-art core style. Rah Bras turn "Mr. Clarinet” into an even weirder piece of batty art rock, though it lacks the great howls of Nick Cave, which gave the tune its kick. Not every track is a winner though, as Ex Models turn "Mutiny in Heaven” into an unlistenable metallic racket and Daughters seem to sacrifice their artistic integrity and signature sound in their bid. Not without its flaws, Release the Bats is an admirable effort, but doesn’t quite match the kinda magic of its Queen-donning predecessor. (Three One G)