Nina Simone was a bold and original artist. She drew on jazz, gospel and popular music influences, developing a distinctive style and singing voice. Beginning in the late 1950s, Simone released a series of successful albums, but stayed indifferent to the music industry. Her songs were often political, addressing civil rights and feminist issues.
30 years ago the Violent Femmes released their self-titled debut. If you grew up in the ’90s hearing “Blister in the Sun” on alternative radio and Middle School dances alike, you might be shocked to learn that song came out in 1983. Although much music from the ’80s hasn’t aged well, Violent Femmes still holds up pretty nicely.
There are a number of ways that indie artists cover pop hits – most of them involve paring the song down and bringing in a piano or an acoustic guitar and resting on the laurels of simplicity and a powerful voice. What, then, is an artist to do with a song that’s already characterized by its sadness, by a slow and steady piano and an undefeatable voice, a song like Rihanna‘s “Stay”?
Andre Mistier formed The Adversary after a trip to Burning Man, so for their first cover what better artist to choose than the Flaming Lips – basically the Burning Man of bands? Mistier, formerly of alt-rock quartet Ism, chose “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” The narrative of the song overlaps with the dark post-apocalyptic dreamscape the group explore on their debut EP Chapter 1: The Ruins.