After being hit by a car in February, Elijah Von Cramon was placed on a variety of painkillers, a barrage of opiates and other chemicals that seriously altered his perception. He's largely weaned himself from them, but the 18 covers of songs by his band, Paint Fumes, on the fundraising compilation Waste of Time: A Tribute to Paint Fumes approximate what his own music must have sounded like in that altered state.
These are bizarre mutations, one-off experiments of fuzz and fury that seep into your brain and twist without mercy. Take with water; mix with alcohol (and whatever else) at your discretion.
The third cut—Flesh Wounds' vicious ride through "Surf Party Apocalypse"—is one of few selections that match the Charlotte trio's original ragged momentum. Last Year's Men rollick through their closing rendition of the title track, escalating the Fumes' walloping intensity with an arsenal of searing solos. The result is a powerful climax, earning the over-the-top, heavy-breathing sample in the outro.
The songs that stick closest to the Fumes' playbook are also the least thrilling; the superlative tunes favor reinvention over reverence. Gross Ghost, for instance, sound like neither themselves nor Paint Fumes on "Uck Life," transforming the tangled psych-rock epic with an industrial throb and dominating walls of distortion. Think Nine Inch Nails as covered by Thee Oh Sees. Montreal's Bloodshot Bill takes "Walking Song" for a demented reverb jaunt. A breezy shuffle clashes with his growls and snarls, as Bill retools Paint Fumes' ever-present tension without diminishing it.
But the best—and most brutal—offering comes from Winston-Salem's Burglar Fucker. Their "Egyptian Rats" beefs up the song's sauntering groove with concussive static, layering in aggressively distorted howls and sheets of otherworldly saxophone.
As with any binge, Waste of Time isn't without its rough patches—moments when the fuzz outweighs the hooks, or Paint Fumes' kinetic reality feels alarmingly far away. But the highs are legendary, much like Von Cramon's recent tumble itself.