John Vanderslice has been cranking out solid indie rock for over a decade, but always seems to lurk just under the radar. His latest album, out today, features a special treat we hope will win him a new fan or two: a cover of Atlas Sound’s “Walkabout.” The tune comes from the exclusive Amazon package for White Wilderness (on sale there for $3.99).
Cover News is a weekly feature keeping you up to date on the goings-on in the world of cover tunes, tribute albums, etc. Plus, at the bottom we post our array of cover tunes we’ve been sent in the past week. Have you recorded a cool cover? Send an mp3 to the email address on the right!
This Week’s News
Thanksgiving’s coming up in a few weeks and Cover Me’s very thankful for its readers! So out post on Thanksgiving will be requests. Request any cover, from the particular (Do you have Lightspeed Champion’s cover of ‘When You Were Young’ by the Killers?) to the general (Know any good covers of ‘Bat Out Of Hell’? or Has My Morning Jacket done any cover songs?) and I’ll try to get it for ya! Submit requests in the comments here, via the email address on the right, or at our Twitter page. You’ve got a week and a half. All requests (or as many as I can find) will go up the Monday before Thanksgiving.
A few weeks late for our Halloween post, Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft” has been covered by seven different artists in a new Cover Song Throwdown. Vote for your favorite! [Acoustaclaw Records]
A little late on the boat here, but this Brazilian blog is counting down 1001 Covers You Need to Hear Before You Die. He’s only at #75, so there’s plenty of time to catch up. [1001 Covers]
A hardcore Umphrey’s McGee fan and friend of the band passed over the summer. In tribute to him, Umphrey’s has officially released Cover It, a two-disc st of live covers he had put together. They take on The Beatles, Guns n Roses, Pink Floyd and more in this two-disc set. [Live Downloads]
Beck has finished up his covers of Songs of Leonard Cohen (download them all here) and now is off on covers of Skip Spence’s Oar. Along for the ride this time to take on the Jefferson Airplane/Moby Grape man: Wilco! [Record Club]
Solange Knowles (aka. Beyoncé’s sister) takes on the Dirty Projector’s “Stillness Is the Move.” Universal Records is apparently having a fit despite officially liscencing it, but you can still download it here. [Stereogum]
Weezer decided to cover Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” recently. “It’s one of those rare songs I can listen to over and over again without getting sick of it,” lead singer Rivers Cuomo says. If only the rest of the world agreed. [I Heart Radio]
I prefer Coldplay covering Michael Jackson, a week earlier, for the same program. [YouTube]
Gavin Rossdale (aka. Mr. Gwen Stefani) covers a Joy Division song for the Criminal Minds TV show. While dressed up as a vampire. Some obscure tune too, called “Love Will Rip Us Asunder” or something. [Videogum]
We mentioned Peter Gabriel’s upcoming covers a while back for his work with Radiohead. Well now the full tracklist has been released of Scratch My Back (clever name) and it’s got Lou Reed, David Bowie, The Killers and more! [Pitchfork]
New Muppets tribute album with Andrew Bird and Weezer! That says it all. [Exclaim]
This Week’s Submissions
It’s the last day of August – time to look back at the songs that defined Summer ’09. Admittedly, the “song of the summer” thing always seems to become clearer in retrospect, but in terms of sheer ubiquity it’s hard to beat the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” In fact, the only group that can really challenge them is…the Black Eyes Peas, for the grammatical nightmare “I Gotta Feeling.” Guys, “gotta” is short for “got to,” not “got a.”
Regardless, here are the contenders. My song of the summer is number two. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, except I am proud to walk down the street singing “pa-pa-pa poker face, pa-pa poker face!” If I was singing “I Love College”…well, that’d be a different story.
The Maccabees – Boom Boom Pow (Black Eyed Peas)
This one would be the indisputed song of the summer if the Peas hadn’t challenged their own legacy by providing another contender. In my eyes, they’re both somewhat generic AutoTune pop that, unlike most of these other songs, never get stuck in my head. Perhaps that’s why hearing a version with actual singing is so refreshing. [Buy]
Ruby Weapon – Two Weeks (Grizzly Bear)
As “indie kids” slowly take over, offbeat left-of-the-mainstream artists like Grizzly Bear can finally begin challenging the Fergies of the world for summer-song glory. They’re not they’re yet, but the gauntlet has been laid. Your move, Katy Perry. [Buy]
Donna, Anna & Ruby – Best I Ever Had (Drake)
Three girls, an acoustic guitar and some beatboxing are all you need to make the summer’s stupidest love song drop the “guilty” from “guilty pleasure.” Plus the new raps – complete with Erykah Badu reference – ups the ante, [Buy]
Run Toto Run – Sleepyhead (Passion Pit)
“Sleepyhead” seems like the perfect title for a summer song. Maybe “Sleepyhead at the Beach with a Margarita” would have been better, but give Passion Pit a break; they’re new. [Buy]
The Gaslight Anthem – I Do Not Hook Up (Kelly Clarkson)
As a huge Gaslight fan, I thought they were above novelty covers. Then I listened to this…and realized I was right. Somehow, against every odd in the book, Brian Fallon needs only an acoustic guitar and his Jersey sincerity to make this one sound like another Springsteen cover. You’ll never hear the original the same way again. For that matter, you’ll never want to hear it again. [Buy]
Matt Toka – I Love College (Asher Roth)
I realize summer songs (like summer movies) are supposed to be stupid, but this one really lowers the bar. I’ve noticed only high schoolers seem to enjoy it. I think that’s because college kids are just embarrassed by it. Asher exploits every stereotype of higher education with the lyrical dexterity of an eight year-old. Then at the end it takes a left turn into some unexpected proselytizing about safe sex. [Buy]
CHAINGANG – Day ‘N’ Night (Kid Cudi)
Well this one’s hard to describe. It’s like shoegaze guitar, metal-dance drums, and a Joan Jett vocalist. But you know what’s truly indescribable? How well it works. [Buy]
Ruby Isle – My Girls (Animal Collective)
I’m one of the few blogger who loathes Animal Collective. Take out all the pretentious blips though and there’s a decent tune underneath this one. Ruby Isle scores the ultimate zinger at the end though: “All I’m trying to say is, social status isn’t really a material thing.” [Buy]
Fightstar – Battlefield (Jordin Sparks)
It was a good summer for American Idol winners. Expect Taylor Hicks’ #1 smash any day now. [Buy]
Sorry this post is a couple of days late. The good news, though, is that I’m starting a new series. On the first Monday of every month, I’ll be posting covers of every song from an album. I’ve already done Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man, and today we go to a very different genre than the singer-songwriter, Nirvana, the creators of grunge. Hearing how people reinterpret his work, though, it’s clear Kurt Cobain has more in common with the previous generation of songwriters than the noise in his work might originally suggest. So here it is, Nevermind from beginning to end.
-Update 3/10/07: New download link at bottom.
-Update 9/23/11: And we’re back, for the 20th anniversary of Nevermind!
Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit
One of the best new covers of ’07, she infused banjo, brushed drums, and an unprecedented attention to lyrical clarity in her singing that makes it seem like a singer-songwriter number instead of a grunge rave-up.
Gringo Floyd – In Bloom
Off one of those lame “The [Insert Random Musical Genre] Tribute to [Insert Band of a Very Different Genre]” albums, this cocktail instrumental mixes horns with some weird synthesizer riffs and the occasional breathy sigh to get your head bobbing.
Caetano Veloso – Come As You Are
Keeping the sassy swing going, Brazil’s Veloso infuses a smooth latin feel into this one, slowing it down a bit and bringing out a new guitar line only implied in the original.
Steve Earle – Breed
Recorded for the B-Sides album Side Tracks, he keeps the same general feel using his own gruff snarl.
The Polyphonic Spree – Lithium
A bouncy, pretty version that keeps the levity going even through the loud chorus, aided by the girl’s backing vocals halfway through each verse. The happiest song ever with lyrics like “I’m so lonely” and “Maybe I’m to blame for all I’ve heard”.
Animal Collective – Polly
Fast strumming behind molasses-slow vocals, this is a radio version of a vinyl-only cover that’s been making the blog circuit. Good by itself, better on acid.
Ill Nino – Territorial Pissings
Similar to the original, but even harder, with a metal voice yelling the “Gotta run away” but keeping the tune for the rest. Nothing revelatory, but decent. If anyone has a better cover of this one, let me know.
Coco – Drain You
Thought I’d never find an interesting cover of this, until a discovered this Asian electro-pop version on their myspace page. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it genre, but I enjoy it in small doses.
The Retroliners – Lounge Act
A surf instrumental of this one, these vocal-free takes show just how good Cobain was at crafting a tune…which he could then all-but bury under waves of distortion.
UK Subs – Stay Away
If the Sex Pistols had covered Nirvana.
Rogue Wave – On a Plain
A strummed indie version, it sounds both wistful and hopeful at the same time.
Tricky – Something In the Way
Taking samples from here and there, underground DJ Tricky does a funky hip-hop sort of cover using Hawkman on vocals. Very interesting, very cool, and almost unrecognizable from the original.
Download the full set: