Aug 032017
 
blink 182 cover

“Unique” is an overused word, so when a press blurb landed plugging an “incredibly unique cover album,” we were skeptical. But if ever something deserved to be called “unique,” a collection of avant-garde jazz covers of Blink-182’s massive 1999 album Enema of the State is it.

Bassist Benjamin Ryan Williams records as B.E.N. so his version is called, naturally, Benema of the State. It’s a concept as dumb and goofy as Blink-182 themselves, but Williams takes the project seriously. Despite appearances, Benema of the State is no novelty album. “The main reason I wanted to [make this record] is because I thought the composition and the melodies are really good,” he said. “It’s to try to recreate the feeling of listening to Blink-182 as a kid, but doing it as an adult playing their music.” Continue reading »

Jul 262017
 
mark bryan hootie

Mark Bryan wears many hats. Best known as the guitarist co-founder of Hootie and the Blowfish, he also runs an after-school music program for kids and just won an Emmy for producing the PBS music series Live at the Charleston Music Hall. He’s lived in South Carolina for decades, and a concert there when he was in college inspired a track on his new album. It’s a good story, so we’ll let him tell it: Continue reading »

Jul 172017
 
shawn butzin

Covering one of the greatest and most distinctive vocalists of all time is a risky proposition. Many Roy Orbison covers deconstruct the songs so the new singer can tweak the melody, under-sing, or otherwise dodge away from head-to-head comparison with Roy. But on his beautiful new cover of “Blue Bayou,” Michigan’s Shawn Butzin faces the challenge directly. And, against all offs, he nails it.

Butzin brings a country twang to “Blue Bayou,” sounding closer to Roy’s Sun Records roots than the original did. He’s got the expressive voice to sell the melody, crooning over harmonica and subtle backing vocals. It’s a tribute, he says, to another Butzin with a golden voice. Continue reading »

May 042017
 
levy and the oaks

Any band from Asbury Park has an obvious choice to make. You can run like hell from any Boss comparisons or embrace your city’s favorite son. Levy & the Oaks has chosen the latter, healthier option on a new cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” premiering below.

“I’m on Fire” is one of Springsteen’s most-covered songs, and the first few guitar strums might make you expect another paint-by-numbers Americana version. But the moment Lou Panico starts singing, it becomes something special. He may hail from Springsteen’s stomping grounds, but he is not too beholden to tradition, changing the song’s melody and rhythm to make it his own. Continue reading »

Apr 182017
 
BROTHERTIGER 500x500

In May, Tears for Fears will begin a three-month tour with Hall and Oates. It’s the sort of retro package tour sure to fill sheds all summer, but an exercise in nostalgia may undersell a band whose sound remains influential across all manner of electronic music. Witness Kanye West’s prominent sample of “Memories Fade” a few years back for his ballad “Coldest Winter.” Earlier this year, one of our writers cited Gary Jules cover of “Mad World” as one of the most meaningful covers of her life.

The latest artist to acknowledge a Tears for Fears influence is New York electronic music John Jagos, who performs as Brothertiger. On his new album, he covers every song off one of his favorite albums, Tears for Fears’ biggest album, 1985’s Songs From The Big Chair. We’ve got the premiere of opening track “Shout” below. Continue reading »

Mar 082017
 
Man About a Horse

Radiohead songs work surprisingly well as bluegrass. Chris Thile’s Punch Brothers alone have covered “Kid A,” “Paranoid Android,” “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box,” “2+2=5,” and, with Sarah Jorosz, “The Tourist.” Then there’s one of those The Bluegrass Tribute To… albums saluting the band. And the latest killer Radio-grass cover comes from Philadelphia quintet Man About a Horse, tackling the very timely OK Computer track “Electioneering.” It’s the first single from their debut album out in May, and we’ve got the exclusive premiere below. Continue reading »