Our official list of the Best Cover Songs of 2017 comes next week. But first, we’re continuing the tradition we started last year by rounding up some of the songs it most killed us to cut in a grab-bag post. No ranking, no writing, just a bunch of knockout covers.
Many musicians cover Bob Dylan songs, but few pick “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” It’s easy to see why. The song has one chord, very little melody, and a whole lot of dense lyrics (even by Dylan standards). As a result, most of the few covers out there tend to be a slog.
So all credit due to The Lumineers and Andrew Bird, who manage to make it their own on a new cover for Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary. The “Ho Hey” bass drum propels the track forward and Bird’s violin breaks give the tune a slight Middle Eastern feel.
It’s no secret at this point that in addition to being a comedian, actor, and confused scientist, John C. Reilly is a more than credible folksinger. He recently joined Andrew Bird and Tom Brosseau on Bird’s living room couch for just about the best use of Facebook Live we’ve seen. The trio performed a bunch of folk covers, songs you might know from the Carter Family, Delmore Brothers, and more. They also do a more recent tune, “Cathedrals” by the Handsome Family, a band Reilly has opened for.
Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
Back when we redesigned the site in 2010, we created basic star icons to represent the ratings we’d give an album when we reviewed it. 2 stars, 3.5 stars, etc. When we posted an album review, we’d find the corresponding icon where we last uploaded it. However, earlier this year we couldn’t find one of the icons we were looking for. Why? It turns out we’d never used it. We’d never before given an album a perfect five stars.
This year, for the first time, we did. Which should suffice to say it’s been an excellent year for cover albums. True, a few of the marquee tributes we most eagerly anticipated fell flat, either too formulaic (The Art of McCartney) or too out-there (that Flaming Lips’ Sgt. Peppers tribute we’ll never speak of again). But in the cracks and under the radar, cover and tribute albums thrived.
In our list of the twenty best, we’ve got everything from big names on major labels to DIY projects thrown up on Bandcamp. We’ve got New Orleans jazz, Parisian dub reggae, and songs that were popular when your great-great-great-great grandfather was calling town dances. Something for everyone, I guess. Something for all our fwends (sorry, that was the last time, promise).
Start the countdown on Page 2…
Back in March, it was announced that several indie acts were teaming up with Yellow Bird Project, an organization that works with musicians to raise money for charities. Yellow Bird Project has released a cover album, called Good People Rock, which is comprised of “friends covering friends and strangers covering strangers.” One of these covers is Andrew Bird‘s crisp take on The New Pornographers “Fake Headlines.”
Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
In “Pot of Gold,” Irish foreign exchange student Rory Flanagan (Damian McGinty) makes his way to McKinley High just in time to see the glee club falling apart — Shelby’s (Idina Menzel) rival group continues to steal members from New Directions, while Sue (Jane Lynch) works tirelessly to end funding for arts programs once and for all. But all Rory really cares about is making a couple friends, and maybe convincing Brittany (Heather Morrison) to share her own pot of gold.
We can avoid the subject no longer – it’s time to talk about The Glee Project. Other than runner-up Lindsay Pearce’s appearance in Glee‘s season premiere, the influence of that summer reality show has so far been nonexistent on its parent program. However, in “Pot of Gold” that all changes as Project winner Damian McGinty begins his seven-episode guest arc as Irish exchange student Rory Flanagan. This episode makes it clear that Damian won more than just a bit part; he gets two of the show’s five songs tonight, making a big splash in an introductory episode which I’d guess will endear him to many a viewer.