The dog days of summer turned out to not be so sleepy after all. With festivals promoting one-off cover collabs and tribute albums honoring unexpected subjects (the Muppets!), there’s been a lot going on. Catch up on the 20 biggest can’t-miss cover stories from the past month as you squeeze in that one last beach day and get ready for the fall.
All artists seem to have a different approach to covers. Some try to reproduce the original as faithfully as they can, while others do everything they can to make the song their own. Denmark’s Mikkel Hess – recording and performing under the name Hess Is More – has his own improvisational approach that takes this second method to its outer extremes.
Based out of a cabin in Goshen, VT, roots-rockers Chamberlin are undertaking a new project that will eventually lead to an EP of covers, and with the help of a few prize-providing sponsors they’ve turned the process of song selection into a contest for their fans. On the website devoted to the contest, fans are invited to pick four songs (out of eight choices) to be recorded in the band’s unique style for the EP. The choices skew towards the Indie rock scene, with songs by Beach House, Vampire Weekend, Neon Indian, and Peter Bjorn and John, as well as Kanye West and Bon Iver’s “Lost in The World” and Foster The People’s summer hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” Simply voting in the contest wins you a digital copy of the finished EP and a download of the band’s current single, which definitely seems worth the twenty seconds it takes to participate.
Happy birthday to Van the Man, George Ivan Morrison, who as of today has completed 66 physical trips around the sun. The number of metaphysical trips the Belfast Cowboy has taken around the sun, or led others to take, may be too high to count. Throughout a career spanning nearly half a century, he’s pulled together threads of soul, R&B, folk, jazz, blues, and more into a magic carpet that lets him follow his muse wherever she may take him, generally leaving the world behind in the process. He’s also perhaps the most incantatory singer in rock history; the words tumble from his mouth so fast they become never-quite-meaningless sounds, or they emerge bound and struggling themselves raw, or they flow out like brook water. Truly, he’s mastered what he calls “the inarticulate speech of the heart.”
When it comes to classic songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” finding fresh, unique covers can be almost impossible. Originally recorded back in 1971 by soul singer Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine” has been covered by everyone from Sting to Michael Jackson to Eva Cassidy. But even a 40-year-old cover-prone song like “Ain’t No Sunshine” can be redone in an original way with a little bit of creativity and a lot of talent. Seattle-based neo-soul musician Anomie Belle happens to have both.
In a recent Download This feature, we spotlighted one musician covering almost every Iron Maiden song on acoustic guitar. One of the few missing songs there was “Wasted Years,” from the Somewhere In Time album. Well, now we’ve got a version to add to your “Acoustic Covers of Every Iron Maiden Song” collection. Ryan Adams dropped by BBC 2 earlier today and performed his own stripped-down version.