Jun 072012

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

The tribute band. That staple of wedding receptions and all major birthday celebrations for those over 40. It’s hard to shake those memories of inebriated uncles dancing with drunken abandon to Guns N’ Roses songs being sung by an overweight, middle-aged, behandkerchiefed man who has yet to give up on his dreams of rock stardom. Or perhaps your mom is inspired to show everyone that she’s “still got it” by getting low to the Would-Bee Gees. Or maybe aged Auntie Brenda is making use of that new hip replacement by shaking it to “Twist and Shout.” The list of humiliations goes on. In fact, it sometimes seems that the psychological trauma inflicted on us at such events is so great that you could never embrace watching a tribute band as an enjoyable experience. You could never call it “fun.”

Well, that word never is exactly where you are wrong. Continue reading »

May 182012

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Camera Obscura have carved out a reputation as standard bearers of Scottish independent music, continuing the good work of the mighty Belle & Sebastian by flying the flag for Glaswegian culture since the late ‘90s. Renowned for their trademark tuneful indiepop, mixing lo-fi vocals and a dash of melancholy with retro flavours of ‘60s Motown and the occasional splash of country, it’s unsurprising that they are a goldmine for unexpectedly brilliant covers. Continue reading »

Apr 042012

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!

The highest peak and the lowest valley in Sinead O’Connor’s professional career are linked to cover songs. In 1990, she had a worldwide number one hit with her version of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” written by Prince. Two years later, she performed a version of Bob Marley’s “War” before she ripped up a picture of the Pope; her career was never the same. Two decades have passed since that seminal moment, and in that time, O’Connor has quietly become one of the foremost musical interpreters of our time. Continue reading »

Nov 032011

The great thing about ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” is the juxtaposition of the sad and desperate lyrics begging for a man with the upbeat and undeniably catchy pop that is ABBA. Boy Friend recently covered the hit, bringing a more brooding dream pop sound that is a great match for the lonely lyrics. Continue reading »

Sep 152011

ABBA, a band that created a genre within itself, is a band that is covered frequently, and more often than not, ironically. While some musicians have deemed themselves too cool to take anything like ABBA seriously, classically trained pianist Mark Northfield takes one of ABBA’s last recorded songs, “The Day Before You Came,” and does anything but mock the Swedish pop sensations. Continue reading »