Nov 202020

Dizzy's "Basement Covers"

Dizzy is a band from Ontario made up of singer Katie Munshaw and three brothers: Alex, Charlie, and Mack Spencer. You could call them alternative pop, indie pop, dream pop, maybe even Ontario indie. Munshaw and Charlie Spencer met in high school, and their debut album Baby Teeth chronicled the roller coaster that is being a teenager. This album won them the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year in 2019 and gave them a wider audience. Earlier this year they released their second album The Sun and Her Scorch, this time with inspiration from being 20-somethings. The pandemic cut their tour for this album short, but during quarantine Dizzy has been keeping busy posting covers to YouTube. Basement Covers is an EP meant to collect their favorites.

You might be wondering how these seemingly unrelated songs fit together to form a solid work rather than an ad-hoc covers EP. Old school Britney Spears + Talking Heads… is this really the place? Maybe I’m reading into it, but there is some serious symbolism in the choice of songs and layout of the production. Hear me out.

The EP starts with a crackly noise that makes us feel like we are watching a home video. The scene presumably takes place outside; we hear someone call for a dog and hear that dog bark back (foreshadowing “And I’m walking the dog back”). This gives me “remember when we weren’t afraid of going outside” vibes, and I can already picture someone in their basement watching their pre-pandemic memories unfold on a screen.

The Sylvan Esso cover “Slack Jaw” then starts off with vocals matching the original, just as if we were singing along in our own basements. Little extras fall into line, from the little trill after the first “harmonies” to the laid-back drum, to the subtle harmonica. These all contrast with the original song, which is much sparser, not “so many rhythms and harmonies.”

We then move into an opening of video game or space/future-techno sounds, coupled with an acoustic guitar. Perhaps we’ve moved into the video game black hole part of quarantine. This cover of The National’s “Light Years” is much more upbeat than the original, and the kick drum that begins in the first chorus really helps the song move. The chorus now is repurposed as an ode to taking the ability to see friends and family for granted. (Check it out, this is my favorite cover on the EP.)

The third song maintains a futuristic opening, but this time we have a Talking Heads cover that is sadder than the original. Certain lines from “This Must Be The Place” just hit us differently these days.

  • “The less we say about it the better / Make it up as we go along”
  • “Home, is where I want to be / But I guess I’m already there”
  • “Share the same space for a minute or two”

But now that we’re a little low, the last song at least gives us a little hope, bringing us back to nature with bird sounds in the intro. A simple piano and a hint of guitar join in to leave us on a reflective moment. Do we feel “lucky”? If there’s nothing missing in our lives, then why do these tears come at night?

Overall, Basement Covers is a quarantine creation that is self-aware of the conditions that inspired it, yet it doesn’t hit us over the head with our circumstances. It’s a cathartic listen.

Basement Covers Track Listing:

  1. Slack Jaw (Sylvan Esso cover)
  2. Light Years (The National cover)
  3. This Must Be the Place (Talking Heads cover)
  4. Lucky (Britney Spears cover)
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