Jan 252017
 
leonard cohen tribute

Last night, Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg held an epic Leonard Cohen tribute show, bringing together Cohen’s peers and younger admirers for a 22-song blowout of tribute covers. From a killer instrumental opener of “Hallelujah” by Delicate Steve – a smart move, getting that out of the way up front with a left-field guitar version that doesn’t attempt to compete with Jeff Buckley – the sold-out crowd sang along to Cohen many profound lyrics, and a few of his profound ones too (Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group led a rousing holler through Cohen’s dumbest song, “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On”).

Many of performers had personal Cohen stories to share. “I met Leonard Cohen at a BBC session in 1967 – but I can’t remember anything about it,” Richard Thompson quipped, while Josh Ritter told a yarn about chasing Cohen down an alley backstage only to run headfirst into a truck and miss his once chance. Richard’s son Teddy Thompson recalled Cohen once asking him what he was working on. When he replied that he was making a country album, Cohen said cryptically, “I went country myself, once…” Thompson then covered one of Cohen’s most country songs, “Ballad of the Absent Mare.” Continue reading »

Jan 242017
 
KristinaEsfandiari

The final track from Nirvana’s breakthrough classic Nevermind doesn’t get as much cover love as the rest of outstanding tracks on that album. “Something in the Way” is almost a fragment of a song; you have to strain your ears to interpret Kurt Cobain’s whispered lyrics (second verse, same as the first) and in the end you are left with only a piece of a haunted tale. The refrain feels loud in comparison, but the most prominent contributor there is a cello. It’s a beautiful and chilling song, but tough to make it your own with so little content, already done so well. Continue reading »

Jan 232017
 
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Banjo Guy Ollie is a multi-talented musician from Ireland.  He spends most of his time recording covers of video game music using acoustic instruments.  I first heard of him a couple of years ago when my friend, Dave, sent me the Double Dragon theme song.  (Dave and I spent most of our time in high school at the arcade trying to save Marian from the Black Warriors.)

Ollie admitted to me, though, that occasionally he likes to cover the odd rock/pop tune. His most recent in this category is Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam.”  For the song, he uses a mandolin, an Irish bouzouki and a five-string tenor banjo.  (I love his creative drumming, as well.) Continue reading »

Jan 202017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

gnr

One could make the argument that ’80s rock ‘n’ roll changed the moment W. Axl Rose stepped off a bus with a piece of hay between his teeth. That was the indelible image that opened the video for “Welcome to the Jungle,” a song that opened with a great “SundaySundaySUNDAYYYY!!” riff from Slash and took the listener on a ride – no, a careen through the worst that the big city had to offer. It opened the best-selling debut album of all time, 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, with as big a bang as one could ask for, and to this day it intimidates visiting teams at sporting events nationwide.
Continue reading »

Jan 182017
 
Justin Vernon

Last year, in preparing to release his experimental new album 22, A Million, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon held a one-time-only festival/art performance in Berlin. He brought a number of his favorite musicians to hang out and collaborate, performing new music in the round. The festival just posted videos of many of the performances, including a wonderful “Folk Circle” session that features Vernon trading folk songs with Damien Rice, Sam Amidon, Erlend Øye, O, and Ragnar Kjartansson.

Norwegian composer (and half of Kings of Convenience, who released our favorite cover of 2009) Erlend Øye covers The Moore Brothers’ 2004 song “New For You,” followed by our buddy Sam Amidon leading the crowd in a singalong of Appalachian folk song “Johanna The Row​-​di.” A French singer who goes simply by O sings a traditional French song, Damien Rice breaks the covers theme by playing his own “The Professor & La Fille Danse,” and then we get to the piece de resistance. Vernon plays a song from the man he calls “my favorite songwriter,” John Prine. Continue reading »

Jan 182017
 
JojoPinecones

NYC jazz quartet Joelle & The Pinehurst Trio have been making music for a couple years now. Their 2014 debut album Take Me There blended originals with jazzy covers of The Cars and Tears for Fears. For album number two, they’ve renamed themselves JoJo & The Pinecones. Why the rebrand? Well they’ve added a few members, but more importantly, that new album Night & Day is a family record suitable for children and parents alike. It blends original songs with kid-friendly jazz standards. But there’s one odd-boy-out on the tracklist.

Throwing a bone to the adults who may soon be listening to this record on repeat on drives to school, the band covers an alt-rock lullaby: the Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness classic “Farewell and Goodnight.” True to their style, the band turns it into a lovely jazz ballad. If only all so-called “kids music” were this classy. Continue reading »