A Strong Post-COVID Summer Soundtrack: Eldren’s “Separation Sessions”(Review)

A Strong Post-COVID Summer Soundtrack: Eldren’s “Separation Sessions”(Review)

April 26, 2021 Off By Billy Thieme

With a new set of fourteen covers, local favorites Eldren has gifted us with a hopeful backdrop as Denver continues the climb out of quarantine.

Listen to “Separation Sessions” on Spotify

I think every band should do at least one cover album. It should be a requirement – kind of like the obligatory live album that bands used to release after a few studio albums in the ’70s (by the way – is that still a thing? I feel like that practice went away as YouTube became a staple – but I could be wrong). Here’s why: Not only does the practice of covering songs give fans a glimpse into what sort of music your band was probably into that made you want to start a band in the first place, covers give you a chance to reinterpret that songs that make up your life. You can encapsulate the song that was in the background for your first kiss by reproducing it faithfully. Or you can completely reimagine that same song, infusing it with the emotions and story only you have that makes it great, and hoping that your fans will feel a small part of what you felt.

What Eldren – a Denver five-piece full of promise and sick with eclectic tastes and talent – has done with their latest musical offering is a little more of the latter, collecting fourteen songs from all over pop music and lovingly creating entire new worlds within each. The result is a collection of small droplets of hope, goodness, togetherness that will soundtrack our collective return to spending time together, outside of our hunkering hovels. Here’s to this year’s first summer mixtape.

“Separation Sessions” started as a YouTube project during the first few months of quarantine and grew into a full-fledged collection of covers, apparently lovingly chosen to drive new memories while celebrating past ones – recent and not-so-recent. While the choices of songs to cover are just brilliant, it’s their re-interpretations that make the record one that will be around for a while. Cherry-picking from bands like Ween, Soundgarden, and The Yawpers (another fantastic Denver story), and artists as diverse in style as Caroline Rose, Nico, Elliott Smith–even Eddie Murphy (for God’s sake)–Eldren shows off their impressive pop music pedigree, not to mention cojones. To a song, each shows this band’s love of the originals – in a few they seem to be actually channeling the original artists, in others not so much. But all of them present a complete story, a feeling.

Some of the best covers are the most loving

I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so I’ll only focus on a select few of these little worlds – but believe me, all of them are worth checking out.

Covering “Party All the Time,” for another, less skilled band, may have resulted in a version almost as ridiculous as Eddy Murphy’s original. (Wait – so you’re saying that Murphy wasn’t spoofing with that song? Not possible – it’s so bad it’s got to be a skit – right? Right?!) Eldren’s version opens a world of heartache, palpably depicting the oft-jilted boyfriend of this unstoppable party girl. Disco – sure – but with more weight than Murphy ever could have given it.

The trap-style version of BJ Thomas’s 1968 hit “More Than a Feeling” successfully transports the song from the bubblegum apex to the 21st century, properly–and spookily accurately–infusing their version with its own Kendrick or Cardi B. Aside from the lyrics, there’s almost nothing left of the gum–it’s all steamy, sexy, dark, and dancy.

Similarly, the cover of “These Days” is simultaneously nothing like the original Nico tune and more Nico than the first. You can feel the love Tyler Imbrogno feels for Nico and the song, his vocals are haunted by the chanteuse’s breathy style – and the song is haunted by her in the most eloquent way because of it. But it’s no longer Nico’s, for sure.

I have to mention “Black Hole Sun,” if only because the song is such a great depiction of what so many of us probably felt like in the midst of lockdown. Eldren’s version adds a Beatles-esque psychedelia to Soundgarden‘s biggest hit, making it even more desperate, scary, pleading for relief. And yet they honor the original well, memorializing Chris Cornell’s undeserved and wrenching death lovingly.

The rest of the covers on this one are equally as satisfying, and not only because if I were in a band they’d be among the hundreds of songs I would cover. They’re great because they make the originals even better than they were. Eldren does a fantastic job paying homage to the artists with these covers. They feel like we’re going to be celebrating again like we did when these songs were being played live, and we were all happy and together. They feel like hope is finally back.


  • Billy Thieme

    Aging punk rocker with a deep of all things musical and artistic, enough to remain constantly young and perpetually mystified. Billy has journalistic dreams, but of a decidedly pastoral, Scottish nature.