If you don’t live in Australia, the name Hoodoo Gurus might not mean much to you, but in the ’80s and early ’90s they were one of the nation’s preeminent college rock bands (think R.E.M. or The Feelies). Though they never found equally huge acclaim stateside, since reuniting they’ve been crowned veritable national treasures back home, being inducted into the Australian music hall of fame a few years ago, and having a song adopted as the official theme song of the National Rugby League (speaking of things that never made it big in the states…). And now, on their current tour of Australia, The Decemberists have begun performing a cover of one of the band’s biggest hits, “Death Defying.”
“Jimmy Mack” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas is a Motown classic, upbeat and insanely catchy. Not that you’d know it from the new cover by Animal Collective, who, it will not surprise anyone who knows them to learn, have changed the song radically. They’ve been performing it on their current tour, and finally laid down a studio version a few days ago at the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic session.
When last we heard from Alyson Greenfield, she was using her glockenspiel to record one of the best covers EPs of 2011. Now she’s finally back with a new cover, and while there’s no glockenspiel, there is a plethora of other unlikely instruments: omnichord, casiotone, and chord organ. She’s also left behind the hip-hop sources on that first EP, instead taking on the Cranberries deep cut “Dreaming My Dreams” (not to be confused with the ‘berries similarly-titled megahit “Dreams”). The swirling textures of her oddball keyboard arsenal bring an appropriately dreamy backing to the lilting melody.
For the first time since 808s and Heartbreaks, a new Kanye West album has been met with decidedly mixed reviews, from the ecstatic to the underwhelmed. Maybe in a few years it, like 808s will be hailed as a pioneering work that changed music. But, failing that, at least it inspired this amazing new cover – a Life of Pablo song done in the spaced-out style of 808s.
Despite being revered by musicians of all stripes, Patti Smith songs don’t get covered as often as they should. So it’s a treat any time one comes across our desk – especially when it’s one as good as herMajesty’s new take on “Dancing Barefoot,” premiering below. Like Galaxie 500 meets The Doors, the cover’s dreamy swirl is punctuated by some serious throwback ’60s organ.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
Merle Haggard died on April 6th, his 79th birthday. On another April 6th, eleven years earlier, he celebrated his birthday in Chicago, opening the spring run of Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour.”
I don’t know what he did for most of that 66th birthday, but I do know how five minutes or so was spent. He was standing outside his tour bus, listening to a handful of Dylan obsessives sing “Happy Birthday” to him. I was one of them.