Sep 302016
 
Fugees

They say nostalgia works in 20-year cycles, and this year the music of 1996 has been in the media a lot. And if you believe the music blogs, it turns out 1996 was a truly groundbreaking year for every possible genre. Over at SPIN: “The 96 Best Alternative Rock Songs Of 1996.” Complex: “Best Rap Songs of 1996.” Junkee: “Ten reasons 1996 was a great year for dance music”. Loudwire: “10 Best Metal Albums of 1996.” Red Bull Music: “1996: Why it was a great year for pop”. Suck it, 1995! (Kidding; similar articles were of course written last year too.)

We’ll be honest: 1996 was not some magical, pioneering year for cover songs. It was also not a terrible year. It was just, you know, another year. There’s no overarching theorem of 1996’s cover songs that wasn’t true in ’95 or ’97. But even so, Cover Me wasn’t around in 1996, so we never made a Best Cover Songs of 1996 list (our first year-end list came in 2009, with the Kings of Convenience’s “It’s My Party” topping it, and you can catch up on all the lists here). So we decided, before the year ends and we take our look at the best covers songs this year, why not take a nostalgic rewind and do 1996 just for fun, twenty years too late. Continue reading »

Sep 282016
 
Lou_Barlow-by_Rachel_Enneking-5-cropped

Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh)’s new cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” has a number of knocks against it. His description doesn’t exactly sell it: “i was asked to record a version of this tune awhile back..nothing came of it..thought i’d put up here.” It’s accompanied by shaky iPhone video of his kids. And instead of being played on John Cusack’s boombox, it sounds like it was recorded into that boombox.

But despite all that, Barlow delivers a beautiful acoustic version that rescues the song from the cliche it has sometimes become. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with maybe a mandolin accompanying him (hard to tell given the audio), what at first appears to be a tossed-off lark actually turns into a moving and compellingly beautiful performance. And his kid’s cute too. Listen below. Continue reading »

Sep 272016
 
Dwight-Yoakam-emily-joyce-press-2016-billboard-1548

Dwight Yoakam is no stranger to covers.  He has successfully covered Cheap Trick, Queen, Elvis Presley and even The Clash.  (To name a few.)  But I have to be honest, I never thought I would ever post something like this here: “Man, I dig Dwight Yoakam covering Prince.

While in the studio recording his latest album, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…, he learned of the death of Prince. In People magazine he explained, “We were all lamenting (his death), and I said, ‘It just feels like we should record ‘Purple Rain.’ I had always loved the simplistic beauty of that melody and refrain. I always loved the song.” Continue reading »

Sep 272016
 
TheJoyFormidable

It’s been a while since we got a great cover from the Joy Formidable (their older covers of Roy Orbison and Passion Pit are worth catching up on), but on their just-released EP Sleep Is Day they deliver a new one, of David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes.” They also cover the Misfits and their current tourmates, South African band KONGOS. Continue reading »

Sep 242016
 

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

Weezer_Pinkerton

Earlier this week, we posted Wavves’ cover of the Weezer deep cut “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly,” and I went looking for our full-album tribute to Pinkerton to link to. Turns out I was misremembering and we hadn’t done one (we did do the their blue debut album many years ago). So today, for Pinkerton’s 20th birthday, we right that wrong.

At this point, the story of Pinkerton is almost as famous as the music on it. After a huge college radio hit with their debut, Rivers Cuomo and co. followed it up with this “difficult” second album. It’s more personal, confessional, weird, and divisive. Cuomo was so hurt by the album’s initial rejection by fans and critics that, to some interpretations, he turned to attempting radio-friendly crowd-pleasers and, as a result, has never made another masterpiece (though if you stopped following Weezer in their “featuring Lil Wayne” era, know that their two most recent LPs are a major return to form). Continue reading »

Sep 232016
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

alexvissia

From the prairie town of Stony Plain, just outside of Edmonton, Alex Vissia found stardom in Canada performing with her two younger sisters, in venues up to and including the Olympics. After graduating from college, she turned solo; since then, she’s released two records and is working on her third, writing songs described as “grown from folksy prairie roots, distilled until clear, and carefully Rock-filtered to let just the right amount of dirt back in.”
Continue reading »