Dec 112019
 

Follow all our Best of 2019 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best tribute albums 2019

With their surprise success “Africa,” Weezer easily delivered the biggest cover-song news of 2018. And they similarly seemed poised to dominate this year’s cover-album news when they dropped a full set of similar songs in January (that album’s not on our list, because it is – and I say this as a fan for going on 20 years – terrible).

Thankfully, that album got forgotten about five minutes after its release. A slate of other high-profile cover albums took its place, and delivered more staying power. Angelique Kidjo, Morrissey, and Juliana Hatfield all released covers albums, and a host more stars contributed in one way or other to tribute compilations, from Norah Jones and Margo Price covering Bobby Gentry to Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile tackling Wilco. Some of the aforementioned made our list and some just missed it, but all are worth investigating.

That’s to say nothing of the many lesser-known artists who came out of nowhere, amazing covers records by bands and singers I’d never heard of before. Covers albums can offer a wonderful entry point for discovery, and I’ve now got a lot of new favorite bands to dig deeper into. Hopefully you’ll find a few here too.

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

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Dec 092019
 
frozen ii soundtrack covers

For the last few weeks, Frozen II has been the number one movie in the world. So popular, in fact, that it prompted an antitrust lawsuit in South Korea for taking up too many screens in the country. The film follows the continuing adventures of Elsa, Anna and the gang as they go on a quest to unlock … Don’t worry, no spoilers here. Continue reading »

Dec 062019
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Love Angel Music Baby covers

Last week Gwen Stefani’s first solo album, Love Angel Music Baby, turned fifteen. In celebration, the album was remastered and reissued. Gwen Stefani even performed a medley of the album’s greatest hits on The Voice, her latest venture, complete with an appearance from Eve for her iconic rap in “Rich Girl.”

The album has plenty of haters (Pitchfork’s review was especially brutal), and the Harajuku girl motif had cultural appropriation written all over it. However, I tend to agree with the take from Hazel Cills of Vice:

What keeps me going back to Love. Angel. Music. Baby. time and time again is how, in all of its racism and spliced-up electronica madness, Stefani inadvertently made a classic. You can call it silly, you can call it bad, but you can’t deny that Stefani aced her retro hodgepodge. It’s a “problematic fav,” but it’s difficult to not sing along to Stefani’s kitschy new wave homage.

Whether you unabashedly love these tunes or love to hate them, these covers will take you back to your early-aughts self.

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Dec 042019
 

Andrew Bird is not a man known for simplicity. Pushing the boundaries of songwriting and production seems to be his normal operating mode, with choices like recording an album standing in a river and writing and recording an entire film score all by himself. Amongst all that complexity, his recent cover of Neil Young’s iconic Harvest Moon is surprisingly simple. Continue reading »

Dec 022019
 
Angie McMahon Silver Springs

As far as pop music history goes, the exclusion of “Silver Springs” from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album is something of a travesty. It’s the quintessential “one that got away,” the woulda/coulda/shoulda-been classic in the band’s catalog. Its last-minute exclusion from the best-selling album came simply because they had one track too many, according to Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat. And, as an added bonus, apparently Lindsey Buckingham wasn’t too crazy about the sentiments expressed in the song. Its ultimate resting place was on the B-Side of the “Go Your Own Way” single. Continue reading »

Nov 292019
 

MOSE-ALLISON-IF-YOURE-GOING-TO-THE-CITYMose Allison is possibly best known these days through his association with Van Morrison, who released Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison in 1996. Morrison probably gave Allison’s career a late boost, presenting him as a somewhat kindred spirit, albeit having a few more years on him, and hopefully a more benign presence than Van the Man, if even harder to classify.

I had always filed Allison under jazz, though blues was probably closer to his idiom, yet here we have If You’re Going to the City: A Tribute to Mose Allison, which sees him being covered by a slew of largely rock music gentry from the past few decades. Listening to this selection, it becomes easier to see that blues is at least the template to Allison’s songs. Not necessarily a version familiar to the backstreet bars of Chicago, this is a more polished version of the blues, with echoes of both supper club and Tin Pan Alley – though in Allison’s hands and voice, they sound perhaps a shade less archaic. These are fine songs and, if these covers succeed in pointing attention back to the originals, then at least part of the work of this collection has been done.
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