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

Of all the songs inextricably linked to moments in movies, few pairings initially appear more incongruous than the closing minutes of Real Genius that follow Lazlo driving away in his mobile home after a house has exploded due to a space laser and a giant tin of Jiffy Pop. As Roland Orzbal sings about hating “this indecision / married with a lack of vision,” neighborhood children fill wagons with edible detritus and Val Kilmer laughs in slow motion, biting popcorn snowflakes out of the air.

Though illogical, the scene is far more successful than the song’s on-the-face-of-it-more-fitting incarnation as a spooky Lorde cover on the soundtrack for the second installation of The Hunger Games. The reason children playing in popcorn works better than children forced to kill children is simple: the song isn’t about the fact that “everybody wants to rule the world” so much as it is about the more heartening notion that “when they do / I’ll be right behind you” and that we’ll be “holding hands as the walls come tumbling down.”
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In recognition and support of the world’s first Piano Day, Portland-based composer Keith Kenniff releases a stunningly beautiful rendition of Michael Nyman‘s “Molly.”

Piano Day – the first holiday to celebrate the instrument – is the initiative of highly acclaimed German composer Nils Frahm, who has declared the 88th day of the year to be a worldwide celebration of our favorite 88-key instrument. This 29th of March marked the first celebration in what will hopefully be a long history of piano-related festivities.

With several musicians having contributed to celebrating the holiday’s premiere (among them esteemed neo-classical composers such as Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and Lucy Claire), Kenniff follows in their steps, pitching in with a soothing piano cover of Nyman’s “Molly” – taken from the sublime score of Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland (1999).

Operating under the post-classical minimalist moniker Goldmund, the Berklee College of Music honors graduate transforms the already gentle piece into a serene and touching instrumental experience. By far the most haunting piece I’ll hear all week, Goldmund’s “Molly” drips with bittersweet melancholy pangs and a quiet calm reminiscent of Sigur Rós, Efterklang, and a dash of Yann Tiersen.

While mildly disappointed to have missed the first celebration, I definitely know what date I’ll be looking forward to in 2016.

Happy (somewhat belated) Piano Day, folks. Be sure to mark your calendars for March 29th of next year, and in the meantime – enjoy Goldmund’s breathtaking cover down below.

Listen to Keith Kenniff here. Also, visit pianoday.org to learn more about the holiday. 

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

Indeed, who knows, it being all of 45 years since this song first graced any an ear. For many, their first encounter with “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” happened thanks to the Judy Collins version; many others were introduced via the Fairport Convention version, which of course included Sandy Denny as lead vocalist. But she actually first recorded the song with her earlier group, the Strawbs. (I’m choosing to ignore the lyrical shift from morning sky to evening sky to purple sky.) Folk will vie with each other as to which is the true “original”, and Sandy is no longer, these thirty-odd years, able to adjudicate. I dare say there is even an as-yet-discovered demo knocking around, Sandy solo, but so much of her vault has been plundered that maybe I’m wrong. (And, of course, I am! And it is definitely purple!)
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In what serves as an agonizing teaser to their upcoming release, Secret Admirer lets loose a haunting ambient cover of Tears For Fears‘ “Pale Shelter.” Continue reading »

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

Lemmy has admitted to being more of a slot machine man than a poker one, but the Motorhead bassist knew which topic would make a better lyric (“when it comes to that sort of thing… you can’t really sing about spinning fruit”). “Ace of Spades,” his paean to gambling that sure sounds like it’s about more than your typical deck of cards, is his band’s signature work and the proto-speed metal song. Anyone can perform it and sound dynamic – even a bunch of plastic dolls.
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Graduate of Chapman University’s Conservatory of Music and producer to such acts as SZE (TDE), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) and Kail (Hellfyre Club), Kate Ellwanger treats us to three strikingly chill covers via her About Us EP. Continue reading »

Almost exactly two decades ago, English quintet Radiohead released their iconic sophomore album The Bends – an album sprawling with angst-laden instrumentation, haunted melodies and a sound that cemented them as one of Britain’s undisputed Greats. Continue reading »

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!

When you consider their longevity, the sheer number and variety of their live performances, and influences as diverse as bluegrass, country, soul, rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz, it is likely that the Grateful Dead may have recorded and/or performed more covers than any other band that is best known for its original songs. (There’s probably a wedding band out there that has a bigger songbook, but that’s not really the point.) Grateful Dead fans have been trading and cataloging their favorite band’s performances since long before the idea of digital music and the Internet even existed, and now there are numerous databases available online — one of which shows 343 separate covers performed by the band (and solo projects and offshoots), including soundchecks and performances with guests.

Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Cover Me has never turned its lovelight directly on the Grateful Dead. We have written numerous times about covers of Dead songs, but a quick review of the archives indicates that only three covers by the band have been featured—Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried.” So, that leaves us a mere 340 to choose from today. To make this project (inspired in part by Phil Lesh’s 75th birthday this Sunday and by the recent announcement of the band’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer) somewhat less insane, we will limit ourselves only to recordings or performances by the Grateful Dead, proper — no solo projects or anything from after the death of Jerry Garcia.
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