Andre Mistier formed The Adversary after a trip to Burning Man, so for their first cover what better artist to choose than the Flaming Lips – basically the Burning Man of bands? Mistier, formerly of alt-rock quartet Ism, chose “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” The narrative of the song overlaps with the dark post-apocalyptic dreamscape the group explore on their debut EP Chapter 1: The Ruins.
Another year, another long weekend of sweaty clubs and frantic cab sprints across the east river for CMJ. A few of our past picks have broken out a little bit since we wrote about them – Lord Huron, Widowspeak, Houndmouth – so once again, we’d like to give some small boost to our five favorite bands from CMJ, along with a cover from each.
Well, our five favorite bands who had a cover that is. To the rest of our knockout discoveries (like EULA, Reuben and the Dark, GEMS, Pete Bauer) – hurry up and cover something so we can write about you too!
As usual with We Are Scientists, they explain things better than we ever could. Here’s the statement they gave…
“The path to covering Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” was for We Are Scientists a long and twisted one, spanning at least two generations.
“We had Top Gun on VHS when I was a kid — we’d watch it three or four times a week. My dad would always play tasteful pedal steel whenever Kelly McGillis was on-screen. That’s kind of where the idea for it started,” says Chris.
Keith continues: “Chris and I first watched Top Gun together on the tour bus a few years ago, and I remember Chris kept singing these really lovely ambling pedal steel parts under his breath when Kelly McGillis was on-screen — well, I thought he was doing a trumpet at the time.”
Later, in the spring of 2013, the band decided to record a cover along with several other tracks that would ultimately land on the forthcoming Business Casual EP (Oct. 14). Chris volunteered that he had always wanted to do a version of “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton.
“Man, that song’s a total piece of shit,” Keith told him.
“Ha. I guess you’re right,” said Chris. Then, as was his habit during moments of tension, he began quietly humming an improvised pedal steel part for “Take My Breath Away.”
“Wait, you realize that’s pretty much the same chord structure as Wonderful Tonight, right?” Keith said.
“That Top Gun sex song — it’s pretty much just Wonderful Tonight without awful Eric Clapton. Let’s just cover that.”
They had found a solution that would let everybody win except Eric Clapton. The next day, they brought in multi-instrumentalist and occasional Scientist Max Hart, whose extemporized pedal steel part — both lilting and playfully reminiscent of Top Gun’s brazen sensuality — outdid even Chris’s gilded memory of those childhood recitals. When Andy Burrows’s pounding drums drop into the mix, the evocation of blasting jet engines and throbbing adult desire is unmistakeable and timeless.
“Everybody wins except Eric Clapton,” says Keith, “which of course is what everybody except Eric Clapton wanted.”
“Take My Breath Away” comes off the band’s new ‘Business Casual’ EP.
Next week, Reimagine Music releases Esperanza: Songs From Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa, an album of songs inspired by the Beat icon’s lesser-known 1960 novella. The Low Anthem, Marissa Nadler, Lee Ranaldo, and more contributed, with Gregory Alan Isakov donating a track he wrote using lyrics from the book – one he liked so much he decided to put it on his own album The Weatherman as well.
Peter Gabriel has orchestra-fied them. Bruce Springsteen has sang with them. For the past few years, it seems older musicians have been tripping over themselves to pass the torch to Arcade Fire. Now Tears for Fears add them name to that list with a fantastically synth-ed out cover of “Ready to Start.”
“Samm Bennett is the kind of musical genius we see only once every 100 years.”
That’s how Samm Bennett suggested I start this post. And while it’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, it’s true that he delivers something different and unexpected with every cover he does (see these). On this “Suffragette City” cover – recorded as part of a MetaFilter project – he continues a long tradition of wresting music from unusual and obscure instruments. Witness the instrumentation difference:
David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”: Guitar, piano, bass, drums, synthesizer.
Samm Bennett’s “Suffragette City”: Cigar box guitar with only one string, late ’70s Roland synthesizer, a children’s marching drum, a mini tambourine.
Best (So Far) finds the finest first-round covers of the latest pop hits.
After Saturday Night Live ad teasers, cell phone captures of Coachella videos, and endless interviews with the album’s collaborators – including the pizza guy – Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories has finally arrived. An with it, hundreds of covers of the album’s first single “Get Lucky.”
We already heard Daughter’s mesmerizing take. Now here are our five other favorites to date.