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Saint Bernadette

Cover Thy Neighbor

(Exotic Recordings; US: 2 Mar 2010; UK: Import)

On their fourth album and second full-length disc, Saint Bernadette releases a disc of cover songs.  The thing is, you wouldn’t know any of the songs on the album are covers.  It’s not that Saint Bernadette makes them so brilliant or memorable, but rather that even in the glorious age of being able to Google anything, none of the uber-obscure originals covered can be found anywhere accessible—or at least outside the group’s Connecticut stomping grounds.

Wielding an interesting mix of acoustic indie-rock melded with avant garde jazz and slide-fueled bluegrass (courtesy of the disc’s saving grace, Joe Novelli) and Meredith DiMenna’s torch-song vocals, Saint Bernadette has a lot of different sounds in their tightly-wrapped packaging. The musicianship is good and their experimental approach is admirable… but it’s just not truly outstanding or memorable. There’s too much going on to really carve out a distinct sound or make an impression.

Without being able to fairly compare the trio’s reworked offerings to the originals, Cover Thy Neighbor can only be judged on the basis of Saint Bernadette’s interpretations.  Frankly, it seems like an easy out for a relatively unknown band to hash out an entire disc of covers from other unknown bands, particularly when it’s on the heels of two EPs.  (Saint Bernadette’s sole LP was their debut disc, In the Ballroom. Aside from a smidge of bubbling-over sensuality on “Used” and the pluck n’ puck of the Zamboni’s hockey-themed, “Play to Win,” much of the album feels pretty phoned in.


Lana Cooper has written various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2006. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. In 2013, she wrote her first novel, Bad Taste In Men, described as one part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, and avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transportation. A graduate of Temple University, Cooper doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio.

Saint Bernadette - Play to Win
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