Back in 2011, we named Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis one of our favorite finds at the CMJ festival. Four years later, he’s cut his long locks, signed to a hip Americana record label, and earned a ton of accolades for his 2014 album The Lights from the Chemical Plant. It was so successful, in fact, that today he releases a deluxe version of it, complete with a bunch of demos and a live cover of Richard Thompson‘s classic “Tear-Stained Letter.”
Earlier this summer, Nick Cave’s 15-year old son tragically died after a fall. To pay tribute, Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon has begun putting a cover of Cave’s “The Weeping Song” into his set. In context, the song’s lyrics – a conversation between a father and son about how miserable life is – are even more brutal than they were already.
A few years back, Ezra Furman dumped his band the Harpoons to go solo. Anyone familiar with the Ezra Furman and the Harpoons records – and you should be, Mysterious Power is one of the best rock and roll records of the decade – would have a hard time thinking they were holding him bach. They were pretty all over the place sonically, after all. But perhaps they were, as his latest album Perpetural Motion swings about even more wildly. Twisted doo-wop, lo-fi garage, twirly synth-pop, brash soul: the style changes from one song to the next, following his restless interests. And clearly he’s stayed restless, as he now has a five-song bonus EP too, a covers set available when you purchase the album at Rough Trade.
Last year, Deer Tick played a triumphant main stage set at Newport Folk Festival. This year they didn’t have a proper fest show, but made up for it with four nights of sweaty afterparties at the town’s Blues Cafe. As has become a tradition, the shows featured a ton of guests, costumes, rarities, and covers. The last song of Friday night was a cover of the Grateful Dead‘s “Touch of Grey.”
This year the Newport Folk Festival featured a lot of two things: surprise sit-ins and covers. Roger Waters played with My Morning Jacket, and they covered John Prine. Iron and Wine and Band of Horse’s Ben Bridwell formed a band, and they covered Talking Heads. Most notably, Dawes, Hozier, First Aid Kit, Gillian Welch, Deer Tick, and many more all formed a supergroup to cover a bunch of Bob Dylan songs (for the 50th anniversary of his legendary going-electric performance there).
Titus Andronicus‘s highly-anticipated new double album The Most Lamentable Tragedy clocks in at 29 songs. Amidst killer singles like “Dimed Out” and “Fatal Flow” are 10-minute epics, short hardcore blasts, and a pair of covers: the Pogues‘ “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and Daniel Johnston‘s “I Had Lost My Mind” (they also riff on this one on original track “I Lost My Mind (+@)”. Now you can hear both covers.
For thirteen years, siblings Sara and Sean Watkins – best known as two-thirds of Nickel Creek – have been hosting a monthly “Watkins Family Hour” concert in L.A. Frequent collaborators include Fiona Apple and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench, and they and more have finally recorded a debut album due out next week. It’s all covers, and the closing track is especially timely with the Grateful Dead just wrapping things up last week: the Dead’s American Beauty classic “Brokedown Palace.”
For the past couple years, Bob Dylan has stuck to a pretty standard setlist on tour – kind of a bummer from an artist famous for switching it up night to night. And when he kicked off his new European tour over the weekend, he finally did just that. He’s brought in more songs from his terrific new Frank Sinatra cover album, and in Germany he debuted a cover of Willie Nelson‘s 1973 classic “Sad Songs and Waltzes.”