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Polaris' Like A Version cover 'Black Fingernails, Red Wine' | REVIEW

Shoutout to Perth’s Eskimo Joe as Sydney’s Polaris put a heavy metalcore twist on the Eskies hit ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ last Friday on their triple j’s Like A Version cover. I don’t know what brings more joy, 1. The fact that this cover represents both the west and east coast of Australian music, or 2. The nostalgia of hearing this song be revitalised from 2006 to a head banger in 2020.

First off… Nice job Polaris! Honestly, I thought the boys were going to cover a Linkin Park track. Even though I’m a hardcore LP fan and Chester Bennington is an irreplaceable legend, Jamie Hails would have had my blessings to cover a Linkin Park song. But they didn’t, and that’s all good, so let’s move on to what they did do, and that was cover an iconic Eskimo Joe track.

For those of you who don’t know, Eskimo Joe is an alternative rock trio from Perth. The ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ album which features the titled track and includes the most powerful Eskies songs such as ‘London Bombs’, ‘Comfort You’, ‘New York’ and ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ which all clearly have those soft lyrics and piano present in the tracks, and just a side note that ‘Sarah’ is probably the most “rockiest” song off that album.

“I remember Black Fingernails and Sarah just rotating on radio and I just loved those songs”,

Polaris’ drummer Dan said during the behind the scenes interview of Polaris’ Like A Version session. While listening to Polaris’ cover, if you are familiar with Eskimo Joe, I’m sure you would have had the same thought that the song ‘Sarah’ would have been really cool to have Polaris cover as well. You could just imagine the song title being screamed into the mic so satisfyingly by Jamie Hails.

“We wanted people to recognise it by hearing it, and to sound like Polaris”,

said Polaris’ guitarist Jake. It was an instant slap of nostalgia to the face, particularly if you grew up listening to Eskimo Joe, or just grew up in that indie alt rock genre of Powderfinger, Silverchair and Jet’s music period on mainstream radio.

Dan said that “If we had taken a song that was already quite heavy and just tried to translate it. I feel like honestly that we wouldn’t really had been able to get as creative with it. But it does come with its own challenges, you know, just with taking something that someone has sung softly and deciding to scream it in some parts and stuff haha I know that some people won’t like it, I know that kind of stuff isn’t for everyone, but it’s what we do”,

and they did it well might I add! Eskimo Joe are not a heavy metal band unlike Polaris, it was surprising to hear this contrast of what was originally a song performed by a soft alt rock trio to a heavy metal five-piece band’s cover featuring a breakdown and screams. Unfortunately, not all Polaris band members were present due to COVID-19 restrictions on cold & flu symptoms. Luckily, the band enlisted the help of guitarist Plini.

The fact that Dan and Jake said during that behind the scenes interview that they remember listening to Eskimo Joe on radio while they were growing up, personally, this was completely relatable. I’m sure it would be for lots of other Polaris fans too, who, over the years their music tastes have gotten heavier as they’ve grown up, and it was nice to have that reflection and reminiscence, there was just something about this cover that makes you feel so comforted, like you are coming home to your old music tastes that hold a special place in your heart. This cover also confirms that your music tastes is still as kickass as it was 14 years ago.

Okay, I need to add one more thing about Polaris cover which is just the mention of Kav Temperley’s (Lead Singer of Eskimo Joe) Instagram Story post of him head banging and car dancing to Polaris’ ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ cover on triple j. This just summed up the absolute mood of the whole day when this cover came out, I’m pretty sure that was visual approval from the Eskies haha.


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