In 1995, it seemed like you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”. I know this because I was working at a Top 40 radio station at the time and nine out of every ten phone calls I answered were a request for this song. (The other one was for “anything by Boyz II Men”.)
Right now, Peter Katis’ resume reads 365 album credits. His contributions range from engineer, to producer, to mixer, to instrumentalist with well-known artists and bands such as The National. A seasoned musician, Peter recently enlisted his talented eleven-year-old nephew, Henry Katis, to sing lead vocals on a beautiful cover of Supertramp’s ’70s hit, “The Logical Song” with his band, The Philistines, Jr.
Mexico City sextet El Conjunto Nueva Ola is not your typical cumbia band. For one, they mix in new wave and disco in heavy doses; they must be the only cumbia band with a keytar player. For another, they dress up in lucha libre masks, the traditional headwear of Mexican wrestlers, and never let anyone see their faces.
If something feels vaguely familiar about the opening to Twin Danger’s cover of Queens of the Stone Age‘s “No One Knows,” there might be a good reason for it. The sultry saxophone blast that kicks off the track comes from Stuart Matthewman, cofounder of Sade, who first achieved fame in the ’80s. The vibe from the band that surrounds him and the slinking vocals from Vanessa Bley are certainly reminiscent of Matthewman’s better-known group. The source material for this track, however, is a bit rougher around the edges.
Queens of the Stone Age have been rocking since the late ’90s, lead by singer and guitarist Josh Homme. Their 2002 song “No One Knows,” featuring Dave Grohl on drums, was their breakthrough to the mainstream and remains one of their most recognizable hits. Its heavy reliance on staccato guitar riffs and blistering drum rolls doesn’t seem to lend itself to a late-night, jazz cover, but Twin Danger prove otherwise. The piano picks up the essence of the churning guitars of the original, Bley’s voice draws you in, and the horn section bursts into the foreground often enough to mix things up. The video is below, but there are so many pans and cuts that its frenetic pace feels out of sync with the music. You’ll be better off listening without the visuals, or better yet, go buy the track on iTunes or hear it on Spotify ahead of Twin Danger’s album release on April 24th. [via Speakeasy]
In what comes as a pleasant surprise to most, Ellie Goulding takes on Hozier’s Grammy-nominated hit “Take Me To Church,” opting for a slowed-down, tame and synth-saturated rework to the original’s soulful and bluesy feel.
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
When you consider their longevity, the sheer number and variety of their live performances, and influences as diverse as bluegrass, country, soul, rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz, it is likely that the Grateful Dead may have recorded and/or performed more covers than any other band that is best known for its original songs. (There’s probably a wedding band out there that has a bigger songbook, but that’s not really the point.) Grateful Dead fans have been trading and cataloging their favorite band’s performances since long before the idea of digital music and the Internet even existed, and now there are numerous databases available online — one of which shows 343 separate covers performed by the band (and solo projects and offshoots), including soundchecks and performances with guests.
Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Cover Me has never turned its lovelight directly on the Grateful Dead. We have written numerous times about covers of Dead songs, but a quick review of the archives indicates that only three covers by the band have been featured—Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried.” So, that leaves us a mere 340 to choose from today. To make this project (inspired in part by Phil Lesh’s 75th birthday this Sunday and by the recent announcement of the band’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer) somewhat less insane, we will limit ourselves only to recordings or performances by the Grateful Dead, proper — no solo projects or anything from after the death of Jerry Garcia.
Like many people, I first discovered Soko through her 2007 debut EP Not Sokute – specifically, the amazing, insane track “I’ll Kill Her.” It sounded entirely unfiltered, an irrational revenge fantasy after a breakup delivered through a meek French accent. The delivery made the lyrics entirely believable – not that she was actually going to kill anyone, but that the narrator hurt so bad she was daydreaming about it.
Few songs capture the absolute essence of melancholy quite like Radiohead‘s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” – a track easily hailed as the Oxfordshire five-piece’s darkest work, frontman Thom Yorke once having described it as “the dark tunnel without the light at the end.”
Considering Kathyrn Joseph’s own musical inclinations, the appeal isn’t hard to spot: the Scottish musician revels in all things gloomy, favouring fragile and intimate piano phrases coupled with her timid, Tori Amos-esque vocals.
In her incredibly intimate performance, Joseph relies on the raw emotion wrought from instrumentation soaked in minor arpeggios, gently pounding drums and her desperate falsetto cries. The piano quietly weeps – as do we - while Thom Yorkes heart-wrenching lyrics sweep over us, resulting in a delicate and raw emotional overhaul. “Scotland’s best-kept secret” no more – with this precious gem of a cover and her own work, Kathryn Joseph is sure to attract the international eye.
BBC Introducing, a program intent on supporting under the radar musicians, featured the Scot in her live debut on the Vic Galloway show. Watch the powerful performance down below.
Listen to Kathryn Joseph here.