Desert Sharks have long been one of NYC’s great bands, solidifying that rep with 2019’s kickass record, Baby’s Gold Death Stadium. Now a power trio, they can add brilliant interpreters of classic songs to their resume. On the heels of their thrilling cover of ‘Til Tuesday‘s “Voices Carry” (read our review) comes their version of T. Rex‘s glam rock classic, “20th Century Boy.”
Some of the glitter remains from T. Rex, but Desert Sharks give their “20th Century Boy” a more menacing edge with their distinctive veil of gloomy grunge. Guitarist Sunny Veniero enters snarling, putting extra blues swagger into the main riff. Rebecca Fruchter’s backbeat punches underneath, maintaining the original tune’s bounce but giving it significant weight. If T. Rex’s boy was ecstatic, clapping and shimmying, Desert Sharks’ subject sways dreamily to the beat, head down, long black hair hanging and moving in time—the boy is perhaps no less joyful, but he’s in his own world.
On Desert Sharks’ originals, singer/bassist Stephanie Gunther’s voice rises above the high-octane shredding and pounding to provide powerful melodies and hooks. Lots of bands can rock, some can even swing, but it’s the special ones who can do both and have you humming their tunes for days. On the band’s two cover choices thus far, Gunther does what all truly gifted singers do: makes the songs her own. You find yourself engrossed in the song itself, not necessarily the differences between their versions and the originals (that stuff is for nerdy blog writers anyway).
The two covers have been a fun treat this year, two years after their debut full length. We here at FTA are stoked to hear what’s next from a band that only gets better and better.
“20th Century Boy” cover art by Fandy Darisman
“20th Century Boy” is out now on Substitute Scene and available on all streaming platforms. They will play a release show for the singles on Friday 8/20 at The Windjammer along with Frida Kill, Ugli, and Basic Bitches.