Individually, Katy Goodman of La Sera and Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore are known for sterling, melancholic pop. On their new collaborative album, Take It, It’s Yours, they combine their voices around spectral arrangements of punk and new wave classics by the Wipers, the Misfits, Bad Brains, the Replacements, Blondie, the Buzzcocks, the Jam, the Stooges, Gun Club, and Billy Idol. It’s an intimate document of their close friendship and dedication to creative deconstruction, taking apart and piecing back together classic songs in spooky and thrilling new ways.
The strident blast of “Where Eagles Dare” and the apocalyptically erotic “Sex Beat” are brought full circle, evoking the girl group and ‘50s rock & roll that initially inspired songwriters Glenn Danzig and Jeffrey Lee Pierce whereas others are transformed wholesale: Iggy Pop’s proto-punk anthem “I Wanna Be Your Dog” takes on a haunting, gothic romance; Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” becomes a mournful folk ballad; hardcore pioneers Bad Brains’ “Pay To Cum” becomes a spectral western ballad. “We’ll take the chance,” the couple harmonizes over shuffling drums.
“On the surface a song like ‘Pay to Cum’ is really masculine, but the lyrics are really more about freedom,” Goodman says. “You have the right to sing, you have the right to dance. When you have two girls harmonizing on these songs, they take on a new meaning, because you’re listening in a different way.”
Working at Comp-NY Recording, the duo handled the recording themselves, Morgan on assorted guitars, keys, drums, and marimba, Goodman on bass, both singers harmonizing together throughout. Recontextualizing and disassembling the songs, they found inventive ways to twist them to their will, from the sparklingly post-punk guitar solo in “Bastards of Young” to their shimmering girl group take on Blondie’s “Dreaming.”
The resulting album sounds like the soundtrack to some lost grindhouse noir film – “What would Quentin Tarantino Want” was a repeated mantra during the recording process – or a static-laden AM station picked up on the dial during a late night desert drive.
Often, scrubbing back the fuzz and grime of the originals revealed “hidden messages that might be obscured by the tempos or the distortion,” Morgan says, her point particularly poignant concerning on the group’s version of the Buzzcock’s “Ever Fallen In Love,” their take destined for brokenhearted teenager mixtapes.
“It’s almost a test of the durability of the songs,” Morgan says. “If we can re-imagine them as much as we did, it just shows how solid the skeletons of those songs are.”
Take It, It’s Yours draws its name from the end of the original version of “Bastards of Young,” an ad-libbed aside from Paul Westerberg the duo felt summed up the project in a way.
“We sort of imagined that the artists handed us these songs in a way,” Morgan says.
“They gave us these songs, and now we can give them back,” Goodman says.