To be honest, before I heard this EP, I never listened to The Venetia Fair. So, eager to learn about a band, I did a little reading, and found out that earlier this year, they’d put out an album that was completely funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and this EP was actually a result of that; one of the incentives for donations was that six of the donors each got to pick out a song for the band to cover. After learning that little tidbit of information, I was definitely interested. I was also completely skeptical, but that’s just my nature. Before I actually gave the EP a listen, I decided to take a look at the track list… and actually had to do a double take. Honestly, I’m just going to put it here, so you, too, can be wowed and amazed by the leaps and bounds the band had to make across space, time, and genres to make this EP actually happen. Go ahead and take a minute to look at it. I’ll wait.
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
2. Come on Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runner
3. Rock Lobster – The B52s
4. Jesus of Suburbia – Green Day
5. Camouflage, Camouflage – The Blood Brothers
6. The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth – Coheed and Cambria
“But Alexx,” you might say, ready to take to your blogs and your Facebook walls and slay, in writing, the heathens who would dare defile the glory that is Coheed and Cambria or, heaven forbid, Queen, “There’s no way another band could make those songs work! It just won’t be the same! I’ll bet it totally sucks!”
Well, fear not, easily-angered reader. All is not as it seems. According to the band members themselves, they didn’t even attempt to play the songs the way they were originally written. Instead, they did their best to make the tracks their own. That being the case, I still had absolutely no clue what to expect when I put my headphones on and hit play.
I wasn’t aware that Bohemian Rhapsody makes a great dance song. The Venetia Fair taught me otherwise. Coming out of the gate swinging with phenomenal harmonies, rock-solid drums, bass, and guitar, and some fantastic embellishments from the piano, the song takes an unexpected turn into a double-time, key heavy jazzy swing, and does nothing short of be absolutely fun from then on.
The rest of the songs on the album take that fun energy and turn it up to eleven. From the heavy alternative intro to Rock Lobster, to the drum and horn breakdown in Jesus of Suburbia, to the distinctly pop-punk (in that weird branch of pop punk where My Chemical Romance lived) take on The Willing Well, the hits just keep on coming. Each song on The Venetia Fair… Basically Just Does Karaoke has its own unique spice and flair as it keeps bits and pieces of the original tune. Despite this, they all have the band’s signature flavor, which I think is somewhere between the musical styles of The Dear Hunter and the dark theatricality of Panic! At the Disco, with a generous dollop of Queen’s sheer hutzpah thrown in for good measure.
At the beginning of this review, I said that I’d never listened to The Venetia Fair. After hearing this EP, I deeply regret that.