Los Angeles jazz singer Samantha Sidley titled the first single from her upcoming record “I Like Girls,” but on the song we’re premiering today, she covers some Boys. And she digs deep for this Beach Boys tribute, eschewing the oft-covered classics for a true deep cut: “Busy Doin’ Nothing,” from 1968’s Friends, a relatively obscure album without any big hits but with a few passionate defenders. One is Sidley herself.
More than 35 years after its original release, Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” is having a renaissance as of late. In 2018, Hailey Tuck’s rendition of the song earned a spot on our list of top cover songs for the year. This spring, Kari Kimmel recorded a version for the trailer and final episode of Cobra Kai season two (a Karate Kid reboot). Today, the first day of summer, Prima Donna is releasing a guitar-powered rock cover as its new single.
Like any great songwriter, Warren Zevon wrote songs whose words resonate well beyond their release date. Los Angeles singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman picked up on one such connection in Zevon’s classic “Lawyers, Guns, & Money,” find overtones of the various Trump family investigations, from the NRA-boosting Russian spy to Donald Trump, Jr. Bhiman writes of his new cover:
For a cellist who frequently covers new wave, goth, and art-rock songs, David Bowie’s “Heroes” would seem one of the more obvious song selections. But San Francisco’s Erica Mulkey, who performs as Unwoman and appears regularly at sci-fi and steampunk conventions, says she resisted “Heroes” for years. Though one of her favorite songs, it seemed too obvious, and too often covered. Hard to find a fresh way to do it, especially after his passing. But backers on her Patreon pushed her to do it, and she ended up happy they did.
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.
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.