Covering and remixing is dicey business, and tough to get just right. With that in mind, I'll admit that the new mixtape from Memphis hip-hop act FreeSol, centered thematically on remixes or reinterpretations of 1990s alterna-rock, is a bold production, and includes some catchy, clubby successes as well as a few grating failures and plenty in between.
Oddly, the successes succeed for the same reason the failures fail: The "reinterpretation" of a chosen song often hangs on borrowing the chorus. It's not a new device, but it's not one of my favorites, often sounding clunky, failing to put an appealing enough spin on the source to justify the large-scale appropriation. This is the case on "Cannonball," where guest artist MoneyPenny does a fair Deal twin impression, but a song this is not. It's more like listening to somebody sing along with the Breeders in the middle of a crowded party. When this strategy does work, I'm less than willing to give credit to the semi-cover artist for the hook that makes the hit—I'm looking at you, Black Eyed Peas—but I'm happy to say that "What's Goin' On" transforms one of the 1990's most annoying choruses into a slick hook for a fine number.
FreeSol plays the Top Hat Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 9 PM. $5.