Perpetual Groove are a jam band that was originally active from about 1997 to 2013 during which they put out five albums of southern-tinged, jammy rock, with hints of indie rock mixed in. They reunited in 2015, mostly touring and putting out live albums, with one more full length release of original material in 2019. This month they’ve released their first all covers EP C’mon. Covers? with songs from Peter Gabriel, The Cars, The Go-Go’s, and Johnny Cash. The two best tracks are the Cars and Go-Go’s covers.
“Drive” was The Cars’ biggest hit, an uncharacteristically sombre ballad with few touches from their early new wave sound. Perpetual Groove keep the vibe of the original intact; the tempo is basically the same, there’s similar gentle percussion, and loops take the place of the background synths. But they replace the very ’80s wall-of-keyboards with organic instruments. And a heavily effected guitar dances in and out of the mix, with its signal sometimes getting distorted, adding a layer of mystery or menace not present in the original. Though it’s pretty faithful, Perpetual Groove’s version of “Drive” removes any of its ’80s origins, giving it a fresh sound.
On “Our Lips are Sealed,” a cover of the Go-Go’s first hit, Perpetual Groove go a bit more off-the-beaten path, with a more laconic vocal delivery from lead singer Brock Butler. Things stay somewhat close to the original until about 2 minutes in, when an unexpected instrumental break occurs. They tackle the bridge, bringing the song back to what you expect, but then Brock repeats the song’s title over and over again as the band begins to jam out. This launches a five-minute vamp featuring loops, percussion solos, and a gentle guitar solo somewhat buried in the mix. It skews more ambient than jam band, and is decidedly not what anyone is expecting in a Go-Go’s cover.
Fleshing out the EP are covers of the ’90s Peter Gabriel hit “Digging in the Dirt” and a 19-minute version of “God is Gonna Cut You Down.” C’mon. Covers? is out now.