Oct 182018
 

It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever heard a blues song that the narrator of “Baby, Scratch My Back” isn’t really talking about itchy shoulder blades. And if the metaphor is still too subtle, Whitehorse’s slinky, sultry new cover will get the message across.

The Canadian husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are preparing to release The Northern South Vol. 2, their latest blues-covers LP, in January (we spoke to them about their own favorite cover songs last month). Their cover of “Baby, Scratch My Back” is a highlight, slower and groovier than some of the more upbeat jams. McClelland’s trademark telephone-mic brings an era-appropriate distortion as Doucet’s fiery guitar leads channel vintage Chess Records. They use pots for percussion, which sounds like something an old bluesman might do, and blow some melodica, which doesn’t. Continue reading »

Oct 172018
 
the values this must be the place

Hot off the heels of our The Best Talking Heads Covers Ever countdown a few months ago, there’s already another contender: The Values’ new version of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” premiering here. On their upcoming EP Imposter, the Brooklyn duo of Mason Taub and Evan Zwisler give the song a modern electropop sheen, without losing some of the Afrobeat touches of the original. Continue reading »

Oct 112018
 
belle mare

In 1991, a mysterious singer calling herself Q Lazzarus made the sort of massive cultural imprint most musicians only dream of: having her song “Goodbye Horses” soundtrack the iconic Buffalo Bill mirror scene in Silence of the Lambts. And then, at the moment most musicians would capitalize on early success – she vanished. Continue reading »

Aug 282018
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

devo covers

Devo released their brilliantly-titled debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! forty years ago today. Though later albums would yield bigger hits (we’re still a few years from “Whip It”), their debut remains their most iconic record. Blending their poppiest hooks with their artiest quirks, it works wonderfully as a statement of purpose.

As Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale told me when I wrote about their “Satisfaction” cover for my book (you can still read an excerpt of that chapter at The New Yorker), even completing the album became a monumental pain. Having Brian Eno produce your debut record would seem a coup, but sessions quickly became fractious. Devo wanted to record the album with zero studio experimentation. They’d honed the songs over several years of concerts and rehearsals, and saw no reason to change them. Eno did not go for that approach, sneaking into the studio with his pal David Bowie after the band left and adding new instruments at least once. The next morning, Devo caught on and wiped them. Devo’s instincts have rarely led them astray, but boy I’d be curious to hear what Bowie was trying to add to the tracks. Continue reading »

Aug 202018
 
josh t pearson cover

The last time I saw Josh T. Pearson live, he pulled a knife on an unruly audience member. Or at least he threatened to – my memory’s fuzzy, it was almost a decade ago. The former Lift to Experience frontman certainly looked like a man who might pull a knife on someone, clad in a jetblack bad-cowboy outfit, hat and long beard and all, under the scorching Austin sun.

It was a rare show promoting a rare album: Pearson’s solo debut Last Of the Country Gentlemen, one of those albums that got passed around like a secret by those in the know. Over half of the seven tracks topped ten minutes, harrowing fingerpicked ballads with titles like “Sweetheart, I Ain’t Your Christ” and “Honeymoon’s Great! Wish You Were Her.” It was my favorite album of 2011, and those of us who grew obsessed with it couldn’t wait for a follow-up.

The wait took seven years. Finally, a few months ago, album number two – cheekily titled The Straight Hits! – finally came out. A genre mashup of country and rock and soul, it sounds nothing like the first album. Written quickly to break out of writer’s block, every song was written according to Pearson’s self-imposed “Five Pillars”:
1) All songs must have a verse, a chorus and a bridge.
2) The lyrics must run 16 lines or less.
3) They must have the word ‘straight’ in the title.
4) That title must be four words or less.
5) They must submit to song above all else.

The album is a lot of fun – fun is the last word one would apply to the previous album – and it’s been a thrill to see Pearson re-emerge from hibernation. Not least because with every rare album cycle he delivers some knockout covers. Last time around it was “Rivers of Babylon” and a stunning Christmas EP. Continue reading »

Aug 162018
 
the legendary tigerman tom waits

Not only does one-man blues punk The Legendary Tigerman regularly get compared to Tom Waits; he gets compared to the artists Tom Waits himself once got compared to: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. A long line of gruff and gritty bluesmen. This one just comes with a Portuguese accent. So it’s only fitting that on his new EP Misfit Ballads – a companion to new album Misfit, about to be released in the US and UK – the Legendary Tigerman tackled Waits himself. Continue reading »