Various Artists – Big Bonky Tones

Various Artists
Big Bonky Tones
Tone Bonk
Toronto, ON
RIYL: radical covers; CanCon nostalgia; watching MuchMusic when they used to play videos

To sarcastically celebrate the 25th anniversary of MuchMusic’s best-selling Big Shiny Tunes compilation, Tone Bonk Records add fresh flavours to the pop hits forced down our throats. Throughout 26 songs spanning selections from the first five BST comps, members of Toronto’s backing band and their extended musical family travel back to the era when Rick the Temp reigned supreme. 

Though the songs chosen by each artist are largely approached from a place of sincerity, it’s easy to hear just how much fun was had. Vibrant Matter rewires the Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats” into pointillist glitch, while Ko T.C. transforms Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” into pitch-shifted hyperpop. Omeed Goodarzi’s cover of Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” is freak-folk at its wooziest, as multiple voices collide like a five-Munster pile-up. Bram Gielen’s take on Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” is the compilation’s joyful peak, capturing the communal spirit of its original video with a gentle chorus of voices drifting through mellow waves of synthesized boogie funk.

Elsewhere, the most impressive moments on Big Bonky Tones transcend ironic appreciation to create something entirely new. Thom Gill’s “Sour Girl” turns Stone Temple Pilots’ alt-rock weeper into lush electronic pop. Robin Gill renders “My Hero” into something much more closely resembling her band Bernice than the Foo Fighters’ bro-rock anthem. Ben Gunning reboots Big Wreck with a sputtering videogame jazz fusion approach to “That Song.” Yet nothing here is as glorious as Christine Bougie’s “Tahitian Moon” guitar instrumental—it might be the first time the word “tasteful” has been used in connection to Porno For Pyros.

Jesse Locke