The Guardian once called punk quartet the Germs “the most outrageous band on the West Coast.” Often cited as one of the first hardcore bands, their influence far outpaces their discography (a single album before frontman Darby Crash overdosed on heroin). Guitarist Pat Smear achieved greater fame in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, but the Germs’ music today sounds as aggressive and vital as it did in the late 1970s.
Well, not in Kevin Morby’s hands it doesn’t. His cover of the Germs’ “Caught in My Eye” is one of those where you have to double check the original lyrics to make sure it’s even the same song. The laid-back acoustic picker gives the hardcore punk tune a very different tone. Shimmery steel guitar and lilting female backing vocals invoke Laurel Canyon a decade before punk even came along. It’s beautiful in a way the original most assuredly is not, a radical transformation that works against all odds.