In a recent interview about her newest La Sera record, Music For Listening To Music To, Katy Goodman (formerly of Vivian Girls) said, “My friend told me once, ‘A song is a song and then it can wear a lot of different outfits.’ Production is the outfit you put onto the song.” Her latest project with Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore, Take It, It’s Yours, dresses 10 classic punk songs from artists like Wipers, the Gun Club, and Blondie in gorgeous, shimmering hues that sparkle and wink with double entendre.
This is not just a collection of covers. Goodman and Morgan have stripped these songs bare, repositioning them such that even the slightest change in vocal affectation yields a tremendous rush of new meaning. Opener “Over the Edge” finds the duo channelling Wipers through layers of dreamy guitar pop. It doesn’t lose any of the original’s biting rebelliousness, though here the stillness surrounding the phrase “push me over the edge” feels less like a dare and more like a lament. “Don’t do the things you do/ Don’t have to oblige you/ Make choices on my own/ Don’t buy their trite and drone,” they sing. Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum” burns slow against droning organ as Goodman croons, “And so it’s now we choose to fight/ To stick up for our bloody right/ The right to sing, the right to dance/ The right is ours … We’ll take the chance.” Intentional or not, verses like these play like a big ol’ “fuck you” to any who would foolishly assert that these musicians aren’t “punk” enough.
Their rendition of the Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” laces the immediacy of a pulsing desire to “move and burn” with hollow longing for a long-gone romance, while Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love” swells with the ghostly trepidation of knowing the end is nigh. Morgan shines through each moment of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” — the opening line (“So messed up I want you here”), the point where her voice falters over the words “Now I’m ready to feel your hand/ And lose my heart on the burning sands,” to her howl of “Now I wanna be your dog.” Goodman and Morgan identify and amplify whatever vein of sadness runs through the deflecting agitation of these originals.
On the duo’s standout cover of Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare”, Goodman sings in an unusually low register before rising to meet Morgan’s sweet, stinging repetitions of “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch/ You better think about it baby.” Compared to the rest of the songs, their interpretations of the Jam’s “In the City” and Blondie’s “Dreaming” are noticeably less deconstructed and rebuilt, but the record closes strong with a piano dirge that contrasts against the loud brashness required of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”. Their take on the anthemic classic reconfigures one key line: Idol screamed “With a rebel yell she cried more, more, more,” while Goodman and Morgan leave out “she cried.” This omission might seem like a minor detail, but it’s resoundingly bold as they assume the original song’s female voice and demand “more” themselves.
That’s the magic of Take It, It’s Yours: Goodman and Morgan play up feminine sounds, and in doing so challenge listeners to say they’re not punk. The choice to comb soft textures through these hard songs is itself radical; it’s a direct affront to the notion that punk has to be macho, or that punk and femininity are mutually exclusive. Their album’s title comes from the repeated coda “take it, it’s yours” from the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young”. But Goodman and Morgan do not reclaim punk on this record — it was already theirs.
Essential Tracks: “Over the Edge,” “Bastards of Young,” and “Where Eagles Dare”