Nov 262010

Happy Black Friday! Naw, I’m just kidding. If you’re “celebrating” Black Friday, it’s going to be anything but happy. While you’re beating off parents for the toy store’s last pet rock (that’s what the kids are playing with, right?), maybe you’d like to grab some new holiday music for you and yours. No genre has a higher chaff-to-wheat ratio than holiday music. Every year the Bing Crosby-wannabe list seems to grow. Amidst all the schlock, though, some gems emerge. It just takes a little searching to dig them out.

This year we’re helping you out by rounding up the new holiday (really, Christmas) cover albums. We tried to be thorough, but not exhaustive. Instead, we picked out all the releases we consider noteworthy. Some take unusual approaches. Some dig up obscure tunes. Others are simply by big names. And that’s fine too. Buy the Jessica Simpson for your niece; buy the Pink Martini for yourself.

Below, find this year’s hottest and most interesting holiday releases listed by release date. Each lists the artist, album, record label, and a brief blurb, usually extracted from the press release. Happy shopping! Continue reading »

Nov 242010

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

In “Furt,” Burt Hummel and Carole Hudson decide to tie the knot. Meanwhile, Sue Sylvester realizes the only person good enough for her to marry is herself, and Kurt deals with his intensifying bully issue at school. Oh, and Carol Burnett shows up.

Superficially, this week’s episode of Glee has a lot in common with last week’s. Once again it’s got a celebrity guest star, a fairly outlandish plot (two weddings in one episode!) and only four musical numbers. Yet tonally the two shows feel vastly different. Last week’s “Substitute” showcased Gwyneth Paltrow as some kind of madwoman with an unbelievable fear of commitment; it only touched on any kind of grounded emotion towards the end when viewers got a glimpse of a real person hidden underneath Paltrow’s persona. Mostly, though, the episode revolved around giving her excuses to sing popular songs. Continue reading »

Nov 232010

Seeing the name Britney Spears appear anywhere in relation to cover songs should strike fear into your heart. The infamous pop music icon has a storied history of disastrous covers, made all the more notorious by the popularity and elitist appeal of the classics she has mangled. Any listing of all-time worst cover songs is all but certain to include either her 2000 mauling of “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” (which even this Spears apologist admits is truly dreadful) or the 2002 reincarnation of “I Love Rock N Roll” that got one bewildered journalist noting that “Joan Jett would be rolling in her grave if she were dead.”

Fortunately, it appears that the pop superstar may have grown wise to the ire her cover songs inspire and withdrew from a game she clearly hadn’t the skills to play. Meanwhile, Britney effect has continued to pervade the world of cover songs on the flip side of the coin: not as one who covers but rather as one who is covered – arguably a weightier assessment of artistic importance than a knack for musical reinterpretation of another’s work. Some of the covers out there of Britney Spears tunes are excellent – and even most of the rest turn out more interesting than your average remake. Continue reading »

Nov 232010

Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

Tegan and Sara covering any holiday song would likely be adorable, but hearing them do “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” is the auditory equivalent of a thousand kittens.
Continue reading »

Nov 232010

Atlas Sound is Bradford Cox (of Deerhunter)’s solo project. In it, he doesn’t stray too far from the fuzzed-out sound of his main band, but he does take some detours. Yesterday on his Deerhunter blog, he released two new sets of recordings, Bedroom Data Bank Vols. I and II.  Vol. I contains two covers, one of Kurt Vile and one of Bob Dylan. Continue reading »

Nov 232010

For some, Christmas music brings back memories of simpler times, of family gathered happily around a warm fire on a cold winter’s night. Others find it annoying at best, like Halloween candy. Sweet and satisfying for the first few bites, it soon leaves you feeling bloated, short-tempered, and just waiting for the pain to recede. Anyone who has rushed around the mall trying to find last-minute gifts the week before Christmas while being subjected to “Feliz Navidad” for the 500th time probably falls in the latter category.

Even in this relatively hostile environment, lounge-jazz-indie-pop combo Pink Martini decided to wade into the ocean of holiday albums with their fifth release, Joy to the World. In typical Pink Martini fashion, they tackle the 14 tracks using a variety of different musical genres and singing in several languages. Yet, through it all, despite the eclecticism, the album does not sound like a compilation; it sounds like one band. Continue reading »