Ray Padgett

Ray Padgett founded the blog Cover Me in 2007 and has run it ever since, growing it into the largest blog devoted to cover songs on the web. His music writing has appeared in SPIN, MTV, Vice, Consequence of Sound, and more and he’s been interviewed as an expert on cover songs by the Wall Street Journal and the BBC. He lives in New York City and also works as a senior music publicist for Shore Fire Media, where his clients have included Ben Harper, Lana Del Rey, and Maxwell. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

Jan 252017
 
leonard cohen tribute

Last night, Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg held an epic Leonard Cohen tribute show, bringing together Cohen’s peers and younger admirers for a 22-song blowout of tribute covers. From a killer instrumental opener of “Hallelujah” by Delicate Steve – a smart move, getting that out of the way up front with a left-field guitar version that doesn’t attempt to compete with Jeff Buckley – the sold-out crowd sang along to Cohen many profound lyrics, and a few of his profound ones too (Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group led a rousing holler through Cohen’s dumbest song, “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On”).

Many of performers had personal Cohen stories to share. “I met Leonard Cohen at a BBC session in 1967 – but I can’t remember anything about it,” Richard Thompson quipped, while Josh Ritter told a yarn about chasing Cohen down an alley backstage only to run headfirst into a truck and miss his once chance. Richard’s son Teddy Thompson recalled Cohen once asking him what he was working on. When he replied that he was making a country album, Cohen said cryptically, “I went country myself, once…” Thompson then covered one of Cohen’s most country songs, “Ballad of the Absent Mare.” Continue reading »

Jan 252017
 
protest cover songs

Well, it has been quite a week in politics. President Trump got sworn in Friday, then on Saturday hundreds of thousands of protesters marched across the country. We don’t need to go into the many (many) controversies and debates the first few days of the Trump administration have already brought us. You know them, and that’s not really our beat anyway.

What is our beat is cover songs, and a whole lot of politically-minded covers came out in the past week. Some are explicitly covers of songs with political lyrics, like Neko Case, kd lang, and Laura Veirs covering Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” and OK Go covering Morrissey’s “Interesting Drug” (opening lines: “There are some bad people on the rise / They’re saving their own skins by ruining other people’s lives”).

Other covers are only political in the sense that they were released to raise money for groups like the American Civil Liberties Union or Planned Parenthood. Barsuk Records put out a covers comp featuring Nada Surf, David Bazan, Mates of State, The Long Winters (wonderfully titled Sad!). Members of the Philadelphia punk scene came together for a 35-song set of covers by the likes of Laura Stevenson and Jeff Rosenstock, which range from the covers of political artists like Against Me! and Bikini Kill to a cover of the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” which would be difficult to find a political take on. Continue reading »

Jan 192017
 

Download This scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.

SummerofSheryl

Yesterday, a tweet from Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield caught our eye. It was a photo of Sheryl Crow holding up a nightmare-clown drawing of her own face. When we Googled to find out more, we stumbled upon an insane tribute album we’d missed, apparently meant to accompany the zine she’s holding up. The zine was forgotten as we burrowed deeper into the weird, weird world of the free Bandcamp tribute album Summer of Sheryl.

Crow’s hits are all high-gloss productions, and these 17 covers are anything but. Basic keyboard beats and cheap guitar sounds abound, with many tracks sounding like they were taped into a $10 cassette recorder. Summer of Sheryl also violates the cardinal rule of tribute albums – only one version of each song – by doubling up on hits “Every Day Is A Winding Road,” “Soak Up the Sun,” and “If It Makes You Happy.” There’s three separate covers of “Strong Enough,” plus a cover of the song Crow apparently wrote for a Katie Couric talk show. Continue reading »

Jan 182017
 
JojoPinecones

NYC jazz quartet Joelle & The Pinehurst Trio have been making music for a couple years now. Their 2014 debut album Take Me There blended originals with jazzy covers of The Cars and Tears for Fears. For album number two, they’ve renamed themselves JoJo & The Pinecones. Why the rebrand? Well they’ve added a few members, but more importantly, that new album Night & Day is a family record suitable for children and parents alike. It blends original songs with kid-friendly jazz standards. But there’s one odd-boy-out on the tracklist.

Throwing a bone to the adults who may soon be listening to this record on repeat on drives to school, the band covers an alt-rock lullaby: the Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness classic “Farewell and Goodnight.” True to their style, the band turns it into a lovely jazz ballad. If only all so-called “kids music” were this classy. Continue reading »

Jan 132017
 
Joey McGee

Earlier this week, the famously nostalgia-averse U2 announced a rare look back with a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their iconic album The Joshua Tree. To celebrate, Texas songwriter Joey McGee has released an advanced track from his new album Terlingua Taproot, a folksy Americana cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” McGee’s sincere and sparse delivery sounds like Bono in the Dust Bowl or if Woody Guthrie was covering ’80s power ballads.

“I encountered U2’s Joshua Tree at a pivotal time in my life,” McGee tells us. “Bono’s lyrics resonated with me: having already accomplished much in life, I still yearned for something richer and deeper. This cover is my attempt musically to relay that struggle – contentment with what-is vs. hope for what-can-be – with a folksy Americana vibe.” Continue reading »

Jan 052017
 
Sondre Lerche

Every year, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche covers one of the year’s biggest pop songs. He’s tackled Drake, Beyoncé, and a half dozen more. They tend to be slowed-down, beautiful and mellow covers of huge radio bangers. This year, he turned the choice over to readers of one of our favorite music blog’s, Stereogum. They voted for Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and, sure enough, Lerche delivered. Continue reading »