Sons of Anarchy is a show that has always been subtly marked by its music. The soundtrack is always there, an active presence, to the extent that it’s become a trope of the show in how subdued music is so often juxtaposed against montages of deviance and brutality. (That presence was most poignantly felt in the most recent episode, which was devoid of soundtrack altogether.) Lucky for us, even when its effect within the show can be inconsistent, the music is reliably beautiful and is predominated by covers.
These days, it seems that every band or artist puts out tracks before new albums come out, and it’s easy to understand why – at $1.29 on iTunes, an individual song purchase costs more than it would in relation to the album, or, if you get the tracks by pre-ordering, you’re locked in for the whole shebang. Most, however, will release a track or two in anticipation. That, apparently, is not She & Him‘s style. In the last few weeks, the easy-listening power-duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have already released four tracks (out of thirteen total) from their upcoming collection of standards, Classics, which comes out on December 2.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Bent Knee here at Cover Me. Their covers somehow manage to simultaneously be both nuanced and almost overwhelmingly powerful, and to work with their source material instead of feeling like they’re working on it. While their covers don’t come around as often as we’d like, they’re an absolute treat every time they do.
Herb Alpert has always been known for his jazz covers taking some detours from their source material, but, even keeping that in mind, one would hardly expect to find elements of electropop in his repertoire. That’s exactly what we get, though, in his cover of “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” first recorded and popularized by big band legend Glenn Miller in 1941. Jarring as the concept may seem, Alpert executes it brilliantly.
Bruce Springsteen is famous for many things, chief among which is the sheer epic-ness of his live shows with the E Street Band (and, now, new addition Tom Morello). “Epic” may be a massively overused word, but it applies to Bruce. One of the best things, especially for cover fans, is that he seems to love performing other artists’ music as much as his own. And that’s what has landed us with this latest news – the Boss adding the classic INXS single “Don’t Change” to his live repertoire for the first time ever.
There are a number of ways that indie artists cover pop hits – most of them involve paring the song down and bringing in a piano or an acoustic guitar and resting on the laurels of simplicity and a powerful voice. What, then, is an artist to do with a song that’s already characterized by its sadness, by a slow and steady piano and an undefeatable voice, a song like Rihanna‘s “Stay”?
These days, it seems that you can’t have a discussion of Miley Cyrus without getting into her public persona – the twerking, the outfits, the drug references, Liam Hemsworth, and so on and so forth. If there’s any discussion of artistry, it’s from the perspective of performance art, of people wondering whether her antics are just a part of the brand she’s trying to sell. But the fact of the matter is that she’s mastered a degree of artistry beyond that, and the attention surrounding her persona only serves to add a layer of depth to any sincere performance she might give.
There are two distinct elements to the Twin Peaks theme song, elements that are difficult for any artist to balance and for any listener to approach. There’s the theme song as a theme song, as Angelo Badalamenti’s mellow, dreamlike instrumentals that play over shots of Northwestern industrialism and waterfalls as the opening credits roll. Alternately, there’s “Falling” – it’s the same song, but it becomes entirely different when Julee Cruise‘s vocals and David Lynch‘s lyrics are introduced. Understandably, most (if not all) covers of the song opt for the latter. And yet, the listener is still somehow presented with the two different versions. Sometimes, like with last year’s Field Mouse cover, we get covers that are evocative of the opening – covers where the vocals are as ethereal as the instrumentals and the whole thing flows together as one ambient whole.