Album: Mister Blank – No Ages, All Covers

Seattle, Washington’s Mister Blank just put out a 7 track cover song album. Having spent most of the last decade living near Seattle, I’ve been fortunate to see Mister Blank several times as they host most of the national ska bands that tour the area. The idea of Mister Blank putting out a cover song album caught me off guard since they typically perform original material, but I have seen them perform “My Own Worst Enemy” once live, and they absolutely owned the floor that night as they were opening for Matamoska!, Mustard Plug, and Big D and the Kids Table, the crowd was larger than normal and was older than your typical crowd, full of people my age, who were very alive for extensive radio play of the original.

That cover of “My Own Worst Enemy” is the intro song and was the first single from the album, and replacing the iconic intro guitar riff with the horns from an 8 piece ska band feels like it’s the way it was supposed to be written. The performance here is amazing.

When I found that Mister Blank was releasing a cover song album, I was a little confused, so I talked to a few members from the band about the decision. They aren’t well known outside of Western Washington and I was wondering why they would release a cover album as their most high profile release when the band is all about their original material. It turns out that they have released most of these songs on various “Rudy Reboots” compilation albums, and they had written a few other cover songs that they just enjoyed playing. The decided, as a band, that it would be easy to record a cover song album and it might help get the band a little more exposure, and possibly help with the recording of their new upcoming all original songs album. 

While the most exciting song from this album is probably “My Own Worst Enemy”, the cover of “I’m Only Ken” from the Barbie movie is every bit as entertaining and fun to sing along with. After listening to the cover a few dozen times, I can’t imagine how this was ever performed in its original genre. 

The thing that makes a cover song stand out is when you do something to really make the track your own or change it significantly from the original. This is exactly what makes the cover of Dolly Parton’s “9-5” so special. I’ve heard plenty of covers of “9-5”. The sped up pace was pretty good, but the seamless transition into the chorus of “Ballroom Blitz” before sliding back into “9-5” was unexpected and undeniably great. They made the song their own and in doing so made it impossible to not sing along.

When covering Ben Folds “Rockin’ the Suburbs” they switch some lyrics to give shout outs to fellow Seattle band Simple Minded Symphony, as well as the maestro of ska cover tracks in Skatune Network, and Streetlight Manifesto.

Overall, this album is 7 fun, entertaining, and masterfully put together cover songs that are absolutely worth listening to. It’s a great album to go stream to discover who Mister Blank is and familiarize yourself with their sound. But for me, I’m more excited for this to be an excuse to announce that Mister Blank is working on a full album of new original music that they hope to release next year, and they plan to release their first single and music video from that album before the end of 2024. So do yourself a favor, go listen to some fun music, and stay tuned.

Written by Gimpleg