Amigo the Devil – Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood cover)
When we last heard Amigo the Devil, he was stripping down a Tom Jones song to create a haunting murder ballad. Now he does the same to another highly polished pop song – but a much more recent one. “[The original is] this very confidence-boosting, really good-feeling, power-infusing song,” Amigo’s Danny Kiranos told Rolling Stone. “I was curious what it would sound like if you took away the positive nature of it and kept the lyrics, essentially the emotions they are portraying.”
Bedouine, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Waxahatchee – Thirteen (Big Star cover)
“This all started in 2018 when I opened a three-bill tour for co-headliners Waxahatchee and Hurray for the Riff Raff,” Bedouine wrote. “We threw the idea around of doing a song together but weren’t sure what. I was backstage in Columbia, Missouri, when I realized it was the anniversary of Big Star’s ‘93 reunion show that had also taken place in Columbia. I was fiddling around with the song in my dressing room when Katie and Alynda walked in. Suddenly, I remembered there were three verses to split up. We played it as an homage that night and every night after. After the tour wrapped up, I think it was Kevin Morby that insisted we track and share it. Down the road, Katie wrote me that she would be in L.A., so I tracked the guitar and she came by to visit and put down her part. Down the road some more Alynda put down her part from New Orleans and sent it over the ether. Now, two years later, we’re finally getting to share it.”
BØRNS – Dawn Storm (T. Rex cover)
When I interviewed Hal Willner in 2019 for my new book on tribute albums, we spoke a lot about his as-yet-to-be-released Marc Bolan tribute album. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see its release; he died from complications related to COVID-19 this past spring. But the album was everything he hyped it up to be. One of the tracks he was most excited about was this cover by pop singer BØRNS. He told me Kesha, who was working on something else in an adjoining studio, heard them recording it and barged in, demanding to be on this tribute album. She is.
The Brothers Macklovitch – I Can Call You (Portrait cover)
The Brothers Macklovitch are Alain Macklovitch, a.k.a. massively successful DJ A-Trak, and David Macklovitch, a.k.a. Dave 1, the singing half of Chromeo. On their second single together, they cover Portrait’s 1995 R&B jam “I Can Call You” (which has a hilariously dated video showing off “futuristic” video phone technology), upping the tempo but keeping the groove.
B.E.N – I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover)
Bassist Benjamin Ryan Williams recorded one of our favorite covers album of 2017 with a set of wildly adventurous Blink-182 covers. Now he’s back tackling the Jackson 5, though, like that Blink set, it sounds nothing like the Jackson 5. You’ll make out the melody, to be sure, but in a strange experimental-jazz context.
Devendra Banhart – Franklin’s Tower (Grateful Dead cover)
2016’s Day of the Dead tribute album featured all sorts of clever indie-rock reimaginings of Grateful Dead songs. As you might guess from its nine-minute runtime, Devendra Banhart’s “Franklin’s Tower” sticks closer to the Dead template. But it’s a quieter sort of jam, inward-looking and spacey as hell.
Emel Mathlouthi – The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie cover)
Few can deliver a cover like Tunisian-American singer Emel Mathlouthi; witness her revelatory “All Along the Watchtower” from 2017 (performed at – full disclosure – my book party). So I am extremely excited for her double covers album The Tunis Diaries, out October 23. The first disc is covers of herself, of a sort, rerecording songs from her own back catalog. Then on the second disc she tackles Nirvana, Rammstein, The Cranberries, and more. Here’s the first taste.
First Aid Kit – Come Give Me Love (Ted Gärdestad cover)
If the name Ted Gärdestad doesn’t ring a bell, how about this one: ABBA. The sisters Söderberg explain:
Ted Gärdestad is a Swedish national treasure. Just like us he started his music career when he was only a teenager and wrote songs with his older brother Kenneth. Ted did most of the melodies and Kenneth the lyrics. ‘Come Give Me Love’ is a classic song about a relationship coming to an end. To us, it is the epitome of Swedish summer, holding both hope, longing, and a twinge of sadness.
The original track was produced by none other than Björn and Benny from ABBA, with ABBA on backing vocals. We are huge fans of the original production and wanted to stay close to that 70s folky sound. This is an homage to that time period and recording style. We recorded this with producer Daniel Bengtson at Studio Rymden in Stockholm earlier this spring. We think the added vocal harmonies brings that unique First Aid Kit touch to the song. We hope more people will discover this gem through our translated version and that it brings some feeling of hope to what has been a very dark year.
Hot Chip – Candy Says (The Velvet Underground cover)
The original Hot Chip duo met at school twenty years ago. One of the first songs they played together was a cover of “Candy Says.” All these years later, they’ve gone back to the beginning, recording it for their new Late Night Tales collection.
Kelly Lee Owens – Arpeggi (Radiohead cover)
It’s meaningful that Welsh musician Kelly Lee Owens dropped the first half of the title to Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.” “Weird Fishes” stands in for the lyrics, which are nowhere to be found on this cold and clinical instrumental cover that opens her new album. It’s In Rainbows by way of Amnesiac.
Larkin Poe – Nights in White Satin (The Moody Blues cover)
The girls in Larkin Poe have been posting killer covers on YouTube for years now – we wrote a whole feature about it. Now they’re finally coming out with a proper covers album, called Kindred Spirits. It doesn’t come out until November 20, but this Moody Blues cover is an early preview.
Lucinda Williams – Queen Jane Approximately (Bob Dylan cover)
To celebrate the 55th birthday of Highway 61 Revisited, the Bardavon music venue in Poughkeepsie pulled together a virtual tribute concert. Steve Earle tackled “Ballad of a Thin Man,” Guy Davis did “From a Buick 6,” and, the highlight, Lucinda Williams and her band covered “Queen Jane Approximately.” It hits a little after the 33 minute mark, but the whole thing is worth watching. They also tease a sequel, also featuring Lucinda, covering the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.
Real Estate – Plastic Bird (Galaxie 500 cover)
In celebration of a reissue of Galaxie 500’s album Copenhagen, a monthlong covers series found everyone from The Magnetic Fields to Thurston Moore covering their songs. Washed-out shoegazers Real Estate seemed like an obvious choice – but not as obvious as you’d expect, it turns out. Frontman Martin Courtney said everyone assumed Galaxie 500 was a big influence when they got started, but he’d never even heard them. ” I’m glad for the comparisons because it led me to actually check them out, and they became a favorite band of mine,” Courtney added. “So now I can say unequivocally that Galaxie 500 are indeed a big influence on us.”
Yo La Tengo – Wasn’t Born To Follow (Carole King/The Byrds cover)
The first single off Yo La Tengo’s mostly-covers EP Sleepless Night, due October 6. Ira Kaplan said: “I’m sure I heard the Byrds’ song for the first time when my mom took me and a bunch of my friends to see Easy Rider. One kid was forbidden by his parents from joining us, as was my younger brother. My dad took my brother to see Butch Cassidy instead, and I’m guessing my friend stayed home and did homework.”