This will probably be divisive here at The Typescript, but it really is one of my favorite covers (prediction: Matthew hates it). If you don’t know Deadsy (which, being honest, you probably don’t), they’re the late 90s-mid 2000s project of Elijah Blue Allman (son of Gregg Allman and Cher, who had the double distinction of being raised by Cher and having his awkward teen years coincide with his mom’s least clothed and most controversy-strewn years. Seriously, he’s in the band for the video where she’s basically naked on a navy vessel… at like 15…). They had an almost-hit (“Key to Grammercy Park”), unfortunate associations with nu-metal people, and a quick dive to obscurity (though supposedly a new record for 2021).
What I like so much about this version is that it really fills out the song without twisting it a ton. It’s a good example of making a song sound like it’s played by radically different musicians but not deconstructing it so much that what’s really left is lyrics and maybe a touch of melody*. Sebadoh is primarily a low-fi project, especially on the early records – part of the original recording’s charm is how thin the production is on it. Deadsy’s version is anything but thin; it’s a pretty straight arrangement but filled out with a ton of synth and one fuck of a low-pass filter, making a wide but dense sound that more than fills your headphones. The added bottom end helps Allman’s lower vocal range still hang in the center of the mix while pushing the choruses – which are big dynamic shifts in the original – to wall-of-thunder level (well, they need to be beefy in order to have the verses keep a smaller feel). I will grant that Deadsy do come off as being more detached; Allman simply doesn’t have the emotive range that Lou Barlow does. In this case I’ll accept that as trade-off for the overloaded richness of the total sound.
Speaking of Lou Barlow, as much as I love both the Deadsy and Sebadoh recordings, the definitive version of “Brand New Love” is the one he played solo acoustic at the 2006 Bennicassim festival in Spain. It’s the complete inverse of the Deadsy take, stripped down to just the suggestion if its Sebadoh form (granted, it looked a lot like this as Barlow was writing it**). That it’s this good in this format shows me that “Brand New Love” is a great song, possibly career-defining for Barlow as a writer – and that’s a pretty big pile to sit atop. Simply sparkling.
* Deconstructed covers aren’t inherently bad, see The Cardigans’ version of Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.
** While writing this piece I became aware of a version that Barlow recorded under his home recording moniker Sentridoh that pre-dates the Sebadoh recording (I came to Barlow’s work late, my ear more naturally tracked the J Mascis side of Dinosaur Jr at the time). I’m keeping reference to Sebadoh as the “original” because it’s obviously the one Deadsy are working from (specifically the Sebadoh vs Helmet recording) and that version is essentially Barlow re-working it with a full band.