Aug 142020
 

tanya donellyjenn champion the blue albumTanya Donelly has a long history, as both singer-songwriter of Belly and solo artist, of interweaving emotionally charged originals with covers similarly forged from despair, heartbreak, and loneliness. The results have frequently been sublime, as when she complemented “Gepetto” with a heartfelt version of Gram Parsons’ “Hot Burrito #1” on the Gepetto EP of 1992, or when she accompanied “New England” and “Days of Grace” with an equally fervent rendition of the Beatles’ “Long, Long, Long” on 2006’s This Hungry Life. The covers have usually taken the backseat as B-sides and deep cuts, or as contributions to tribute albums to the likes of The Smiths or Elliott Smith. Yet now, in this topsy-turvy year of 2020, they are the main event; Donelly has not only released a series of quarantine covers for charity (featuring Labi Siffre’s “Bless the Telephone,” and the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man”), but has also polished off a covers album in collaboration with the Parkington Sisters, Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters.

It’s Donelly’s first all-covers album, therefore, that stands before us, but it’s clearly no ordinary covers album. The Belly, Breeders, and Throwing Muses star initiated it out of a desire to do something different with the format in the wake of Juliana Hatfield’s recent successes with Sings Olivia Newton-John (2018), and Sings The Police (2019). She might well have followed in the steps of her sometime collaborator and fellow doyen of New England alt-rock by making, effectively, a tribute album to one of her musical heroes: Kate Bush, say, or Echo and the Bunnymen. But instead, Donelly has attempted to bring a sense of unity to nine reinterpretations of songs that have been hugely meaningful to her, by way of the moody string arrangements and somber vocal harmonies that the classically trained, Massachusetts-based Parkington Sisters are known for.
Continue reading »

Aug 142020
 

Blonde on the Tracksjenn champion the blue albumPutting together a cohesive, flowing covers album has always been no small feat – even more so in the age of streaming and playlists – but it can be done. Proof of this has recently been provided by Bob Dylan, who spent the mid-to-late 2010s releasing a series of Great American Songbook cover albums that, once he had finished with them, sounded like he could have written them himself. Now, Nashville-based singer songwriter Emma Swift has taken on a similar challenge with eight of Dylan’s own songs, for her new album Blonde on the Tracks.

The title references two of Dylan’s most famous records, 1966’s Blonde On Blonde and 1975’s Blood on the Tracks, but it’s the spirit of the latter album that comes through the strongest. Like Blood on the Tracks, Swift’s Blonde on the Tracks seems to be a snapshot of the end of a relationship. Also like Blood on the Tracks, there is sense that the story is being told out of sequence, with past, present and future melding into one.
Continue reading »

Aug 132020
 
swimwear department

Like 3-D movies, 360-degree YouTube videos briefly seemed like a revolution before quickly fading. But on their new cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ timely “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Houston quartet Swimwear Department put the format to good use.

If you don’t realize it’s a 360-degree video, you just watch frontman Matt Graham going stir-crazy in his kitchen. He’s entertaining enough that you could just stick there. But zoom around, via the left-right arrows up top, and you’ll find more cartoon houses with more band members. Each, true to the title, more or less alone (give or take a baby). Continue reading »

Aug 122020
 
i'm your fan

Hi! Ray Padgett here, founder of Cover Me. Excuse the self-promotional interruption from our usual flow of content, but I imagine it’s a self-promotional interruption that anyone reading a site about covers might actually be interested in.

Some of you may have read my first book, Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time. This new one is a successor of sorts. Not a sequel, exactly. More like a distant blood relative you only see on holidays.

It’s about tribute albums.

It’s part of the 33 1/3 series of short books on classic albums. I used one tribute album, 1991’s I’m Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, as an entry point to talk about the strange history of tribute albums more broadly.

Why pick I’m Your Fan out of all the possible tribute albums? Well, for one, you wouldn’t know the song “Hallelujah” without it. It’s one of only a couple tribute albums that has had that concrete an effect on music history (here’s the very brief overview). The entire album has a fascinating story, too: Two French fanzine editors with zero industry connections somehow convinced R.E.M., Pixies, John Cale, and more to record Leonard Cohen songs at a time when Leonard was at his most uncool. In doing so, they resuscitated a fading legend’s career.

I’m Your Fan also serves as a perfect example of the tribute album phenomenon more broadly. If you have a favorite tribute album, chances are it comes up in this book. If you have a least favorite, it probably does too. I interviewed the artists and creators of dozens of tributes, including the late, great Hal Willner, who basically invented the format single-handedly. (His first words when I called him up: “Is it all my fault?”)

The book comes out September 3. If it sounds of interest, pre-ordering it would really help, especially because no one’s going to be stumbling across it on bookstore shelves next month. Here are some links:

PRE-ORDER ‘I’M YOUR FAN’: 
Bloomsbury 
 Amazon 
 IndieBound 
 Barnes and Noble 
 Bookshop

A bonus for Cover Me readers: if you pre-order the book and email me some sort of proof, I will send you a private mixtape I made of my favorite other cover of every Cohen song on I’m Your Fan, all newer versions that came out after this album. Think of it like a bonus track to the book. Or, in this case, many bonus tracks.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our Best Leonard Cohen Covers Ever countdown coming in a few weeks.

Aug 072020
 
anohni covers

There’s no mistaking an ANOHNI cover. Since back when she was performing as Antony and the Johnsons, her imitable voice was instantly recognizable whether covering Beyoncé or the Velvet Underground. She hasn’t done as many covers since adopting the name ANOHNI – the most memorable, “Black Peter,” appeared on the sprawling Grateful Dead tribute Day of the Dead. But she begins to expand her covers repertoire with a new 7″ of Bob Dylan and Nina Simone covers. Continue reading »

Aug 062020
 

Intronaut are an American progressive metal band who’ve been putting out albums for about 14 years. They are known for a sound that incorporates, among other things, stoner metal, jazz and math rock. They might be one of the last bands you’d think of to cover a band as rootsy as CCR. Continue reading »