Before Mikal Cronin was a garage rock guitar wiz, he was a sine wave-diddling closet recorder using the name Pony Soldier. (The moniker came from “a hotel off the freeway I saw in Portland,” Cronin said.) In fact, the first song he ever recorded, “Mango (in my) Backpack”, was made using a program that tapped into a Gamboy’s 4-channel sequencer. Now, he’s shared with Aquarium Drunkard a pair of wonderfully 8-Bit covers he made during that era.
First comes a take on The Walkmen’s “Tenley Town” from 2006’s A Hundred Miles Off. Recorded sometime during 2007 or 2008, Cronin explained that he used his parents’ “crappy keyboard” and a friend’s MicoKorg for the vocoder-filtered vocals. “I remember always being in awe of their production and how distinctly roomy and live sounding their records were,” he said. “I don’t remember why I decided to ruin that vibe with an electronic vocoder led cover. I didn’t know how to program drum machines (still don’t) so this was a combo of playing the drum sounds live on a keyboard, and then going back and painstakingly fixing it. I had nothing but time in those days.”
Around the same time, Cronin tackled the instrumental nigh-title track from Neutral Milk Hotel’s On Avery Island. “This is just on the same shitty keyboard with the sine wave setting. Neutral Milk Hotel changed my life musically and always thought this was a beautiful instrumental off their first record On Avery Island. Again, not sure why I decided to ruin that beauty with a keyboard cover … maybe because I could see it in a classic video game soundtrack in this incarnation … but either way it happened, and here it is!”