Sean Balkwill

Sean Balkwill grew up around the world as an army brat, then spent his young adulthood enjoying the Renaissance of college music in the South. He has been rumored to eat old Trouser Press magazines just for the fiber, and wash it down with a home brewed imperial stout made from melted I.R.S. vinyl records. Sean has previously written a music column, produced a radio show, and co-hosted another. He works as an illustrator and designer in North Carolina, and enjoys its craft beer scene, beautiful weather, and outdoor music venues. Follow him on Twitter for instant enlightenment or Instagram for beer porn.

Feb 132015
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Gorillaz, the superband partnership between Blur’s Damon Albarn and Tank Girl comic artist Jamie Hewlett, mixed up indy rock and trip-hop and became the best-known cartoon band since Jem and the Holograms. Albarn and Hewlett would keep the revolving door on Gorillaz open, working with Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, and De la Soul, among others; Albans insists that despite rumors of a falling out with Hewlett, Gorillaz is still swinging after more than a decade. They remain best known for “Clint Eastwood,” their first single from their first album. Let’s take a look at some of the better covers of this college classic.
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Aug 222014
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

The rock and roll bands that slammed on the brakes and took the turnoff at country music are numerous. Gram Parsons got high with Keith Richards and “Dead Flowers” was born. The number of times Elvis Costello has cheated on rock and roll with country’s graces is too numerous to count. Jack White turned the knobs for Loretta Lynn. And so on.

The postpunk and indiepop bands that have segued into a Ryman act are no less numerous. X gave birth to the Knitters. The New Pornographers cut loose chanteuse Neko Case. And the Archers of Loaf’s Eric Bachmann disbanded all notions of his indie rock band and spread out into numerous directions, including the roots rock band Crooked Fingers.
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Jun 272014
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Bob Dylan recorded “Simple Twist of Fate” for one of his most popular albums, 1975’s Blood On the Tracks. Overanalyzed by critics and Bob fans everywhere, Tracks was dismissed by Dylan for having been influenced by the drama of a failing marriage, but there’s no denying how much pain comes through on the album’s songs, particularly this one.
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Jun 042014
 

Jolie Holland’s sixth studio album, Dark Wine Sea, has been getting notice, partly due to a soulful cover of Joe Tex’s 1967 hit “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own),” a song that gained new life a few years ago when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. As Tex sings about his experience with brutal racism and the injustice of sundown towns, it’s impossible to ignore his message as he pleads with whoever will listen to mend their rocky relationships in the name of love. Continue reading »

Feb 262014
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

In the 1980s, there was one artist that Minneapolis became known for. And that was Prince.

But if you took the bus to the bad part of town, watching the blight and the snowy misery go by through fogged up windows, you would eventually spot a burned-out, abandoned, and graffiti-tagged little red Corvette: perched up on blocks, stuffed with liquor bottles in the back seat, and harboring a coffee can in the front filled to the brim with cigarette butts. If you opened the door, you would find a floor littered with cassettes. K-Tel. Kiss. Big Star. And if you ran the VIN number, you’d find the owner to be the Replacements.
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Nov 272013
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Arcade Fire has a new album out. Reception: a trifle mixed, shall we say. But don’t let that stop you from engaging in a little cover love.

Their songs can be sweeping, epic, with almost a cinematic quality about them. Indeed, “Wake Up” was heavily featured in the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are (which was arguably the best thing about that film). We thought we’d invent some movie and television synopses to go with the covers below, both widely featured on the internets and by some newer unknown artists. Coming soon to a delusional theater in your mind…
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