Dec 312015
 
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We’ve already finished the big year-end stories – Best Cover Songs and Best Cover Albums – but here’s a little postscript to take us into the new year. Maybe there’s something here you missed: covers of every song on a classic record in our “Full Albums” series, a deep dive into unusual reinterpretations of a particular hit in our “Five Good Covers” series, or just a bunch of MP3s of Dylan covering Sinatra over forty years.

Cover Me’s Most Popular Posts of 2015
1. Full Albums: Bob Marley & the Wailers’ ‘Legend’
2. Download Four Decades of Bob Dylan’s Frank Sinatra Covers
3. Full Albums: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’
4. Five Good Covers: Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
5. Full Albums: Wilco’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’
6. Five Good Covers: The Logical Song (Supertramp)
7. Full Albums: ‘Led Zeppelin III’
8. The Best Cover Songs of 2015
9. Five Good Covers: Rocket Man (Elton John)
10. Full Albums: XTC’s ‘Skylarking’

See you in 2016!

Dec 172015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

CoverMeBestSongs2015

I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.

Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.

How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.

So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

NEXT PAGE →

Dec 112015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

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Everywhere but here, the world of cover and tribute albums tends to be a sleepy one. Most years our “Best Cover Albums” list is composed of records that either flew totally under the radar or, at best, earned a few news posts on music blogs. There’s the “all star” tribute albums that make a brief mark before being largely forgotten. And there’s the big-name artists whose cover albums get seen as a side project before their next “real” albums. That’s just the lot you sign up for when you release an album of cover songs most years.

But most years don’t have Ryan Adams. Continue reading »

Dec 092015
 
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Readers of a certain age might remember Sub Pop’s subscription service in the ’90s, which helped introduce subscribers to a cool new band ever month (the first shipment was the debut single of an unknown local band called Nirvana). Well the record label Polyvinyl has revived the concept, but their version has a catch: All the songs are recorded on a 4-track machine. In fact, they’re all recorded on the same 4-track machine, mailed from musician to musician. Continue reading »

Dec 042015
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

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This week saw the 50th anniversary airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the animated special that’s become a part of the national fabric. We all know what a Charlie Brown Christmas tree looks like; we all know how the kids dance, and we all know “Linus and Lucy,” the jazz composition by Vince Guaraldi. Originally written for a documentary on Charles Schulz, the jazz piano instrumental now serves as the unofficial Peanuts theme song, as well as being the centerpiece on the special’s soundtrack (one of the top ten bestselling holiday albums).
Continue reading »

Dec 022015
 
Photo by Joe Del Tufo

New Jersey’s Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females has made a name for herself as a whirling dervish of guitar shredding, but if you head down the Eastern seaboard a little more you’ll find someone coming up on her tail: Grace Vonderkuhn of Wilmington, Delaware. After fronting local bands for the past few years, she’s stepped out front with a psyched-out debut EP earlier this year that was hotly tipped by Pitchfork and Vice. Continue reading »