Jan 182017
 
Justin Vernon

Last year, in preparing to release his experimental new album 22, A Million, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon held a one-time-only festival/art performance in Berlin. He brought a number of his favorite musicians to hang out and collaborate, performing new music in the round. The festival just posted videos of many of the performances, including a wonderful “Folk Circle” session that features Vernon trading folk songs with Damien Rice, Sam Amidon, Erlend Øye, O, and Ragnar Kjartansson.

Norwegian composer (and half of Kings of Convenience, who released our favorite cover of 2009) Erlend Øye covers The Moore Brothers’ 2004 song “New For You,” followed by our buddy Sam Amidon leading the crowd in a singalong of Appalachian folk song “Johanna The Row​-​di.” A French singer who goes simply by O sings a traditional French song, Damien Rice breaks the covers theme by playing his own “The Professor & La Fille Danse,” and then we get to the piece de resistance. Vernon plays a song from the man he calls “my favorite songwriter,” John Prine. Continue reading »

Jan 182017
 
JojoPinecones

NYC jazz quartet Joelle & The Pinehurst Trio have been making music for a couple years now. Their 2014 debut album Take Me There blended originals with jazzy covers of The Cars and Tears for Fears. For album number two, they’ve renamed themselves JoJo & The Pinecones. Why the rebrand? Well they’ve added a few members, but more importantly, that new album Night & Day is a family record suitable for children and parents alike. It blends original songs with kid-friendly jazz standards. But there’s one odd-boy-out on the tracklist.

Throwing a bone to the adults who may soon be listening to this record on repeat on drives to school, the band covers an alt-rock lullaby: the Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness classic “Farewell and Goodnight.” True to their style, the band turns it into a lovely jazz ballad. If only all so-called “kids music” were this classy. Continue reading »

Jan 172017
 
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Toronto quartet BADBADNOTGOOD have been making waves in the jazz scene for quite some time now, but six years into their music career, they still like to blow their listeners away with new material and slick covers.

For their latest session on Triple J’s Like a Version, the band tackles The Beach Boys 1966 classic  – first giving it a beautiful prelude led by Leland Whitty on soprano sax, before the all-too-familiar “God Only Knows” bass line kicks in, with the rest of the band expertly weaving their way through the tune, giving a fantastic performance that leaves you craving for more. Continue reading »

Jan 132017
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

keith richards

Over the years, the perception of Keith Richards has changed from “He’ll die any day now” to “How has he not died yet?” to “He’s never going to die.” In 2016, a year that wiped out Bowie, Prince, and Abe Vigoda, not to mention Emerson, Lake, and (Arnold) Palmer, the soul of the Stones kept right on glimmering. A popular meme shows him reading the paper and saying, “Hey, Mick, look who I outlived this week.” In a way, it’s self-fulfilling prophecy; Keith is rock and roll, and rock and roll – especially in the form of the Rolling Stones’ songs – will never die.

Continue reading »

Jan 132017
 
Joey McGee

Earlier this week, the famously nostalgia-averse U2 announced a rare look back with a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their iconic album The Joshua Tree. To celebrate, Texas songwriter Joey McGee has released an advanced track from his new album Terlingua Taproot, a folksy Americana cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” McGee’s sincere and sparse delivery sounds like Bono in the Dust Bowl or if Woody Guthrie was covering ’80s power ballads.

“I encountered U2’s Joshua Tree at a pivotal time in my life,” McGee tells us. “Bono’s lyrics resonated with me: having already accomplished much in life, I still yearned for something richer and deeper. This cover is my attempt musically to relay that struggle – contentment with what-is vs. hope for what-can-be – with a folksy Americana vibe.” Continue reading »

Jan 122017
 
Ciaran Lavery

Irish singer Ciaran Lavery wears his influences on his sleeves. His last album had a track called “Okkervil River” about hearing that band on the radio, and his new live set features a gorgeous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.” His emotive lilt might remind you of his countryman Glen Hansard (himself no stranger to great Bruce covers) and he more than does Springsteen’s tribute to AIDS victims justice.

Despite “Streets of Philadelphia” being arguably one of Springsteen’s best-known songs – certainly from the last few decades at least – the Boss himself doesn’t play it live too much. We’re grateful Lavery and his string quartet stepped in to fill the void with this beautiful version. Listen to it below, along with equally lovely covers of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the same album. Continue reading »