Funny thing: I was eating at the Divisadero outpost of Herbivore recently, and a friendly waiter started chatting with my table about music. The conversation lead eventually to his band, which, he said, had just completed a cover of Britney Spear's “Toxic,” a song he admitted the group was recording to stoke a little attention, but also a pop song he seems to enjoy on its own merits.
Turned out this dude is in Or, The Whale, and our restaurant chit-chat wasn't all for naught. The band just released its rendition of “Toxic,” and I have to say he was talking it up for good reason. The local alt-country group's version completely recontexualizes the song, making it sound like something Ryan Adams would write. The pop hit becomes a twangy lament from a lust-struck lover chasing after a dangerous catch. Rather than just throw together a quick Internet meme, Or, the Whale has given the song a richness and intimacy the radio hit didn't have.