New Sounds: Abbie Barrett sets off an ‘Atom Bomb’ from the lab of Broken Toys


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New Sounds: Abbie Barrett sets off an ‘Atom Bomb’ from the lab of Broken Toys

Boston bands covering other Boston bands is certainly nothing new. Over the years we’ve had cover shows, cover fundraisers, and even cover compilations rallying against our current president. But venerable music scene supporter John Doherty has found a new way for homegrown bands to intertwine their styles and sounds with one another, and that’s by putting his money where his mouth is.

Doherty chipped in financially for two recent Pledge album campaigns, one from guitar-rock quartet Abbie Barrett Band and another from musical misfits Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. Both campaigns offered a cover song opportunity as a backer reward, so Doherty asked the two bands to cover each other’s work.

As we await the Broken Toys’ take on Barrett’s track “Kingdoms & Castles”, today we’re greeted with Barrett’s take on the Toys, offering up a reimagined rendition of their 2013 track “Atom Bomb.” The song comes with a video edited by Barrett that utilizes public domain footage from a 1950s General Motors extended advertisement. Watch it below.

“This was really the first chance I had to dig in to their music, and that first moment when you hear Walter’s voice, you can’t help but be hooked,” Barrett tells Vanyaland. “The music is dark and thick, and has a primal, dreamy quality to it. ‘Atom Bomb’ pulled me in immediately with that juxtaposition of the light, waltzing melody against the devastating lyrics. I wanted the make the song our own but still honor the message. I changed the chords up a little, but I think (I hope) the sentiment from the original is still there.”

Of course, there’s a subliminal message in the visuals as well. Barrett tells us the film used in the video is “this 1950s version of the ‘ideal’ future, where the leading lady is wowed by new kitchen appliances, the shiny cars, and this mystery man who will show her a new life. The audience looks on, almost goading her into her new future. But the song’s lyrics tell the real story, at least as I interpret it, and that’s what I liked about it. It’s kind of like The Jetsons meets dystopia.”

Kind of like our modern times, without the long-promised jetpacks.

The track was recorded at Klub Kent, and mixed by Pat DiCenso at Q Division. Meanwhile, the Abbie Barrett Band is putting the finishing touches on their upcoming AB Series, where they’re releasing a single and b-side every few months. And you can catch Barrett singing as part of the Lizard Lounge’s tribute to Traffic on September 5.