Jun 122017
 
lower dens abba

Last year, 33 1/3 – the music book series that dissects classic albums – hosted a tribute to three of those albums at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival: Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville (covered by Frankie Cosmos), Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson (covered by Ava Luna), and Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality (covered by Deradoorian). And this past weekend, they repeated the trick, with three new bands covering three new albums.

Lower Dens headlined the event, covering ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits (not quite the same as covering a full album, but since ABBA were basically a singles band we’ll let it slide). This sort of cheesy pop is right in the band’s wheelhouse, as heard a few years back in their cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.” For the ABBA set, they performed the tracks as karaoke-plus-live-drumming, with singer Jana Hunter belting in a way she doesn’t often get to in Lower Dens. The karaoke format would be a little disappointing to fans who might want to see more Lower Dens-esq rearrangements of these hits, but her pipes do the songs justice. This “S.O.S.” cover follows Portishead’s last year, our #1 cover of 2016. Continue reading »

Jun 122017
 
phantogram hole cover

Phantogram has yet again crafted a super chill cover of an inherently frantic song. Their recent cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” features a down tempodrum beat and Sarah Barthel’s silky smooth vocals which combined, result in a hypnotic haze. They adopt a similar approach to Hole’s “Violet”.

Gone is the angst ridden scream singing of the original. Courtney Love’s passionate, off-key, and messy delivery is replaced by Barthel’s similarly passionate, but beautifully precise and ethereal take on the song. The band sits at polar opposites as well. Love’s band is all in with as much rock angst as can be mustered, whereas Barthel’s band adopts a decidedly relaxed accompaniment with easy guitars and mallets on the drums. Continue reading »

Jun 092017
 

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

Back in 1988, the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa got a few nice reviews, but didn’t even make the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll; today, it’s recognized as a highly influential classic. “Where Is My Mind?” gets most of the attention, but save some big big love for “Gigantic,” the album’s sole single, featuring co-writer Kim Deal on a rare (for the Pixies) lead vocal. It’s a song about the joys of sex, which instantly makes it edgier than any love song of the day (but not so edgy that it didn’t wind up in an iPhone commercial), and the exhilaration of the lyrics is matched by the quiet-loud performance that would inspire Kurt Cobain and a grungy cast of thousands.

Continue reading »

Jun 082017
 
jeffrey foucault covers

When we posted covers of every song off Bob Dylan’s 1978 album Street Legal, we discovered many tracks had rarely been covered. “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” was not among them. Even on a divisive album, Street Legal haters or agnostics can agree that “Señor” is solid. We included Calexico’s gorgeous flamenco-inflected cover in that post, but singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault’s beautiful new acoustic version gives that a run for its money.

Foucault, like me, is an ardent Street Legal defender. And for those who can’t get beyond Dylan’s big band and backing singers, his tender and emotive delivery should help drive the point home that “Señor” is one of Bob’s all-time great songs.

We asked him to tell us how he came to cover this song. Here’s what he told us. Continue reading »

Jun 062017
 
asgeir covers

When I first drove around Iceland in 2013, one album was in every record store window, in every coffee shop: Ásgeir Trausti’s 2012 debut Dýrð í dauðaþögn. My experience was no fluke; supposedly one out of every ten Icelandic households owned a copy. Even the biggest pop star in America wouldn’t have that kind of reach (Beyonce’s Lemonade didn’t even reach one out of every one hundred households).

Suffice to say, Trausti became massive back home. And he has since worked tirelessly to expand his reach, to become the next in the lineage of Björk and Sigur Rós. His debut was re-released internationally as In the Silence, with lyrics translated into English by John Grant. And last month he released his follow-up, Afterglow. No Icelandic-language version this time. Continue reading »

Jun 052017
 
carla bruni enjoy the silence

Carla Bruni, the former model, actress, and first lady of France, has released a beautiful rendition of Depeche Mode’s oft-covered “Enjoy the Silence” as the first single off her upcoming English-language covers album, French Touch (out in October).

The song remains one of the legendary British band’s most recognized and beloved contributions to the beautiful soundscape they have created in the four decades they have been active. There have been tons of covers of “Enjoy The Silence” since its release in 1990, but Bruni’s version is sure to be independently admired, as she has treated this piece like an original, stripping it down to a very intimate level.
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