Bulaong introduced me to this lady and her band. I feel kind of bad talking about a cover when their album, “Secret Evil,” is so good. At the same time, I rarely feature a cover, and this one slays.
First of all, it’s brave of a band to take on such a beloved song. In Austin, there’s this thing called Karaoke Underground run by my friend Kaleb Asplund. It’s karaoke but with the type of songs you won’t find at your local Applebee’s. All the songs are from artists like Fugazi, The Misfits, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, and tons more. I’ve gone a few times, and every time I’ve been, someone chooses the original version of “Deceptacon,” recorded and released by Le Tigre. When people in the crowd hear those first unmistakable lyrics—“Who took the bomp?”—they freak out and then scream out the entire song with whoever selected it. So yeah, pretty beloved song. (Even Kaleb admits that this one is one of the most popular songs.)
When you decide to take on a song like this with a cover, there’s a trick to keeping the heart of the song intact while also putting your own spin on it. Because when it comes to covers, the worst thing you can do is create something that sounds exactly like the original. Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas have done a commendable job in finding this balance.
Hernandez’s vocals are guttural and raw. She brings a lot of power to the lyrics. “Wanna disco? Wanna see me disco? Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme.” But the way she sings doesn’t take anything away from the screamy vocal melody in the original version (sung by Kathleen Hanna). She’s screaming but she’s also singing. Somehow, Hernandez makes that work.
One of my favorite things about this cover is the horn section. In the original, the main riff is played by a guitar and augmented by a synth. But the horns take over in this cover, and they are so sassy! They give the song a brassy playfulness, which isn’t really present in the original.
My recommendation is that you listen to the cover version and the original, and then listen to Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas’ entire album, “Secret Evil.”
If you like their cover of “Deceptacon,” some of my favorites from their album are “Dead Brains” and “Downtown Man.”