12.12.2015 — “Fine Friend”, as covered by vhs dream

vhs dream

If you only listen to one cover song tonight, make it “Fine Friend”, as covered by vhs dream (2015, from the The Language of Flowers: A Tribute To Pale Saints compilation tribute). The song was originally done by Pale Saints on their third and final album Slow Buildings (1994).

vhs dream is a dream pop/shoegaze duo from Melbourne. I’ve written before about a different band called VHS Dream. That band is Norwegian, and they’re also very good. The Norwegian band definitely took their name from the title of a Deerhunter song, and I’m guessing that the Australian band did too.

I really don’t know anything about this band. They are Matthew Hosking (vocals/guitar) and Mayzie Wallen (vocals/guitar). It began as a solo project for Hosking with some help from Gabriel Lewis, out of Lowtide. He released an EP called Wonderfully Hopeless in February of last year, and Wallen joined the band in late 2014. The good folks at The Blog That Celebrates Itself asked them to contribute to the latest tribute album. The Sao Paulo-based TBTCI started a little label, and they’ve released some great stuff. They’re known mostly for their beautifully curated tributes to some of the giants of shoegaze, dream pop, and indie rock. Take time to peruse these:
A Tribute to Cocteau Twins
The Brian Jonestown Massacre in Other Voices
covers of songs by 60s girl groups
Leave Them All Behind: A Tribute to Ride
A Dreaded Sunny Day: A Tribute to The Smiths
Got That Feeling: A Tribute to Skywave
Kill Your Idols: A Brazilian Tribute to Sonic Youth
Psychocandy Revisited

This tribute to Pale Saints has been eagerly anticipated, and it finally came out on December 8. As usual, the compilation features some deeply underground bands from all over the globe, and only a couple that I’ve ever heard of. I’ve listened to at least a preview of every song, and I like most of them very much.

As much as I love Pale Saints, I never really loved Slow Buildings even half as much as the older stuff. The band just wasn’t the same without Ian Masters. The original version of this song never really excited me very much, compared to the back catalog.

“Fine Friend” is about the agony of being trapped in the “friend zone”. The original version is made extra sad by the slow, jangly acoustic guitar and the slow, dark bass. It’s devastatingly sad, but somehow sexy. That’s why we listen to Mazzy Star, but that’s not why we listen to Pale Saints. We want the sadness in Pale Saints songs to be overshadowed by a wall of sound. Instead of bright illumination, we want clouds and haze to hide some of the sadness. That’s sort of what vhs dream has done here. They put tons of effects on the guitars and made it murkier. It changes the tone a little bit, and I love that.

“Fine Friend” as covered by vhs dream

You can get the Language of Flowers compilation via Bandcamp by naming your price here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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