Uke-Hunt is the latest musical endeavor from Spike Slawson (whose past gigs include slinging bass for Swingin’ Utters and providing lead vocals for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes). What started as Spike simply learning and arranging some of his favorite classic songs for the ukulele on his own, eventually evolved into added musicians and a layered patchwork of ukulele, saxophone, glockenspiel, stylophone, organ, standup bass, and all manner of percussive elements. Obviously, due in no small part to the instrumentation, this most recent foray into the world of breathing new life into shopworn classics displays a decidedly different slant than the breakneck tempo of the GIMMES.
With a debut album containing ten cover songs spanning many genres and generations, it would be easy to peg this project as a takeoff on Slawson’s esteemed all-star tribute band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, but it would also be a pretty damn lazy assumption. Whereas Me First is a punk rock cover band, Uke-Hunt treats its source material more tenderly, with more individual panache, and with more emotional depth than anything you’ve heard from Slawson to date. He holds these songs close to his heart, and through his delivery, he invites you to also make a deeper connection with them—and him.
From standards like “Green, Green Grass of Home” to modern new wave classics like Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” there’s a notable lack of wink-wink nudge-nudge in these interpretations, even if some of them have risible connotations. When asked about tracks with particular emotional resonance, Spike brings up Barry Manilow’s “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” which he notes “…adds considerable emotional depth to the opening sequence of the [1978 Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn] movie Foul Play (“You get what you get when you go for it.” So true!).” He’s quick to note, though, that “the somewhat swarthier ballad, “Fascination” is no slouch in the emotions department, either.”
Of course, the centerpiece of the entire UKE-HUNT experience is Spike’s enchanting vocal ability, which is on full display in all of its silky splendor from start to finish. So pour yourself a cocktail and set course for the captivating sounds of UKE-HUNT.