Reviews of Son Little’s music tend to note all the genres he covers. He’s been compared to Marvin Gaye and to Tom Waits – in the same article. Though he certainly has a soulful voice, there’s a lot more to this former Roots collaborator than the limiting label “neo-soul” might encompass. And his wide tastes is showcased in the songs he’s picked to cover recently, from Drake to Led Zeppelin to, most recently, Bruce Springsteen.
Many musicians have covered David Bowie this year, but few are more qualified to do so than saxophonist Donny McCaslin. His avant-garde jazz band backed Bowie on Blackstar, and they were getting rave reviews even before anyone knew it would be Bowie’s last album. Now, McCaslin and his band have paid tribute to their late mentor by covering two of his earlier tracks on their new album Beyond Now.
They first started playing Bowie’s Low instrumental “Warszawa” in their live shows shortly after his passing. “Warszawa” would be a very surprising song choice for most bands, but it is right in these guys’ wheelhouse. They also cover Bowie’s 1995 Outside cut “A Small Plot of Land,” bringing in singer Jeff Taylor on vocals.
Earlier this summer, we got an email from a band we’d never heard of: 48 Cameras. They sent very little information, just short clips of some cover songs on Facebook. But those clips were amazing. We’ve been bugging us ever since for full versions, and they’ve finally obliged with an upcoming covers album, Songs Our Mothers Taught Us. It’s easily one of the strangest and most fascinating covers album of the year, Tom Waits meets Serge Gainsbourg meets Twin Peaks. They cover a whole bunch of classic songs on the album – “My Funny Valentine,” “By the Time We Get to Phoenix,” “Famous Blue Raincoat” – but none sounds like any version we’ve ever heard.
Despite having worked together for thirty years, the band members have never met. They live all over Europe and work remotely, with different people in the ever-changing lineup contributing to different tracks. “Our music could be a music written in a foreign language which we would not totally like to master,” says frontman (for lack of a better term) Jean M. Mathoul.
Eurythmics haven’t released an album or toured since 1999, but for whatever reason this summer has seen a surge of covers. And not even just more versions of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” but other singles and deeper cuts. It’s probably just coincidence (unless Dave Stewart releasing his memoir earlier this year was a catalyst), but whatever the reason, we’re always happy to get new interpretations of their catchy-but-slightly-odd dance classics.
First up was Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop. Earlier this year, they teamed up for a duets album Love Letter For Fire, and this summer they added an outtake: a cover of “Love Is a Stranger.” If you know even the tiniest thing about Beam or Hoop, it will not surprise you one iota to learn they take the pop song in a radically different direction. Their voices blend beautifully on the delicate acoustic cover.
Since Prince died, My Morning Jacket has worked a number of his songs into regular setlist rotation: “Raspberry Beret,” “Sign ‘O’ The Times,” “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” “Take Me With U,” and “Purple Rain.” But they have only covered David Bowie once, a “Young Americans” hometown encore in May. This weekend though, they made up for lost time with a knockout new cover of “Rebel Rebel” at Virginia’s Lockn’ festival. Watch it below.
They also debuted another new cover, of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic “What the World Needs Now.” It’s a song that can sound trite and cheesy in the wrong hands, but Jim James and co. brought the beauty back to it, complete with some fantastic guitar work by James. Watch that below too, as well as the other two covers they played: Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” (for only the second time ever) and, yes, “Purple Rain.”
Working at an elementary school fundamentally changes the way you listen to and critique music. After only a year of working with children, I have become something of a pop music – dare I say it – enthusiast. I have listened to (and danced) the Nae Nae more times than my angsty-and-holier-than-thou-17-year-old-self would have ever though possible. I know all the words to even the Bieber songs that aren’t on a continuous radio loop.
I’m not even mad about it though. Pop music is fun as hell, and artist JLiNE knows this, too. His club-ready originals have a genuineness about them; he unabashedly calls on the listener to get in on the good times he is clearly having in his videos. Cover Me has an exclusive of his cover mash-up of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and Justin Bieber‘ “Where R U Now?” and I dare you not to bob your head along.