May 062016
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

jeffdig

I was fifteen years old when I was first introduced to the world of Infinity Cat Recordings. I was immediately enamored with the punk DIY aesthetic presented by a group of young Nashville punks. When I say “young,” I mean YOUNG. Like only a few years older than me at the time young. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, in their late teens at the time, formed the indie label with the guidance of their father in 2002. A host of psychedelic and grunge-tinged punk bands emerged from the label right from the get-go, leading publications like The Guardian and Billboard Magazine to name it one of the best indie labels in America. JEFF the Brotherhood, a two-piece psychedelic garage-rock band also formed by the Orrall brothers, acted as a sort of nucleus for the label, guiding the overall sound and feel of the rest of the bands that make up the collective.

In a way, the band has always been a source of centering for myself as well. Maybe they aren’t guiding my life choices, but they do have a way of bringing me back to my suburban teenage rebellion years – a time when I was determined to take the world by storm and (pardon my French) fuck shit up, Nashville punk style. JEFF The Brotherhood serves as a reminder to do what I want, and how I want to do it. Every now and then, I will go back to one of their first singles, Noo Sixties, and be reminded of that seemingly contradictory hard-working-punk ethos.
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May 032016
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds H&M Photo Shoot at SXSW in Austin, TX

“Our music is loud, fun, and it’s supposed to make you feel good.”

That’s straight from the mouth of Arleigh Kincheloe, the lead singer and Sister Sparrow to the collection of Dirty Birds that backs her up in this amazing rock/soul/funk band. Arleigh and her brother Jackson, who plays the prominently-featured harmonica for the ensemble, came from the Catskills to the band’s base of operations, Brooklyn. They formed in 2008, and by 2010 they had their self-titled debut album available. Since then, they’ve been road warriors, hitting venues and festivals all over the country. They’ve won listeners over the old-fashioned way: putting on the best damn shows they can and bringing to music to every pair of ears they can find.
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Apr 292016
 

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

korgis

The Korgis really were an extraordinary group. With a name derived from the name of ubiquitous ’80s synthesizer makers Korg, they evolved out of the eccentric and often unclassifiable ’70s UK band Stackridge, at a time when fashion demanded shorter and hookier songs, shorter hair, skinny ties, and shiny suits, i.e. the ’80s. Stackridge were resolutely unfashionable and nominally prog, although their music could be an odd amalgam of twiddly instrumentals, folk, psychedelia and music hall. Their instrumentation could include anything from flutes and fiddles to dustbin lids, and bear tribute to the days when record companies had money to invest in the sometimes vainglorious pursuit of a hit, allowing a band to mature over several albums, rather than today’s one strike and you’re out.
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Apr 272016
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

As you know, Prince unexpectedly passed away last week. As you may also know, in the last decade or so before he passed, he had a contentious relationship with cover songs. He was famously litigious about getting covers of his songs pulled off blogs and YouTube, and regularly questioned in interviews whether an artist should be allowed to cover another artist’s song without getting the original artist’s permissions. We even wrote a defense of covers to Prince five years to the day before his death (spooky). We loved Prince, but Prince didn’t necessarily love us – or anyone else who recorded or shared covers of his songs.

So today’s staff/reader question arises from that same debate, what specific cover might be the one to convince Prince that covers of his songs were a good thing. Our picks are below, add your own in the comments.

Today’s Question: If you could have introduced Prince to a Prince cover, what would it be?

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Apr 222016
 

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

mia

“Paper Planes” was the penultimate track on M.I.A.’s second album Kala; it took thirteen months from the album’s release for the song to peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Guaranteed no other paper planes have flown so high and so far for so long. Riding a sample from “Straight to Hell” by the Clash (who are rightfully credited) and a chorus borrowed from “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect (who aren’t), the song had as great an impact on 2008 as the gunfire in its chorus. Critics fell over themselves praising the record’s sound, somehow both chaotic and serene, and its message, a sort of “Money (That’s What I Want)” gone global for the 21st century.

Now that the dust “Paper Planes” stirred up has settled back down again, let’s take a look at some of the covers it inspired…
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Apr 152016
 

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!

Kelly Clarkson - Piece by Piece 2015 Press Art

Kelly Clarkson is a genuine pop idol – idol is the key word there. She found fame as the original winner of American Idol back in 2002, mostly on the strength of her amazing voice. Not content to simply rest on those laurels, she quickly put her TV show winner past behind her and sought out a bigger, different sound. Her second album, Breakaway, accomplished that; she netted the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album and sold over fifteen million copies. That’s not bad for an album used as a statement piece about taking control of her own career.

Clarkson has continued refining her sound. At times she’s flirted with rock, as she did with the My December album. She’s indulged in country music as well, duetting with Reba McEntire on several occasions, finally leading to their co-headlining 2 Worlds 2 Voices tour in 2008. No matter what she chooses to sing, Kelly brings that amazing voice. Rolling Stone‘s Arion Berger said that “her high notes are sweet and pillowy, her growl is bone-shaking and sexy, and her midrange is amazingly confident.” With that kind of instrument at her command, any song she chooses to sing is worth listening to.
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