SPIN has released a (relatively) all-star tribute to Nevermind to mark the record’s twentieth anniversary. Tribute albums are a difficult thing to parse: is it a bigger tribute to a group to cover their song in your own way, thus demonstrating the versatility of the original song as well as the original group’s ability to reach well beyond their own boundaries, or is it better to second the author’s intent? Not surprisingly, most of Newermind falls into the latter camp, and is at-turns interesting and obtuse (the Meat Puppets can get away with that version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” only because they’re the Meat Puppets).
Fortunately, Titus Andronicus are able to answer “yes” to both of the above options and turn in a killer cover of “Breed”. Patrick Stickles sings more clearly and with more inflection than he does on any of Titus’ own songs, and the group’s energy proves that Nevermind’s songs can still be crushers on their own terms.