Listen: Lower Dens’ Cover of Mayo Thompson’s “Dear Betty Baby”
In last week’s paper, Michael Byrne wrote about â€śBatman,â€ť the A-side of the new 7-inch from Lower Dens, out today. Though this isn’t a case of â€śB-side wins againâ€ť–â€śBatmanâ€ť is too crunchy and buoyant to concede to a cover of an old psych-folk song–Lower Dens’ take on Mayo Thompson’s â€śDear Betty Babyâ€ť (from his incredible 1970 solo album Corky’s Debt to His Father) is also worth a closer look.
Mayo Thompson, a member of the Red Krayola and, for a while, a guitarist for Pere Ubu–that combination of bands isn’t a bad way to begin unpacking Lower Dens’ sound–and a Houston-based freak-folk weirdo before that was even a term, is something of a kindred spirit to former Houstonian Jana Hunter. But rather than follow the spare but trippy approach of the original, Hunter and her group formally Lower Dens-ize â€śDear Betty Babyâ€ť and turn it into a quiet, slow-growing, rock ‘n’ roll in a dungeon-sounding epic. There’s even a piano intro.