Sep 042019
 

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!

L7 cover songs

L7 formed in Los Angeles, outside of the riot grrrl hub of the Pacific Northwest, in 1985 with just two members. Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner both provided guitar and vocals. Jennifer Finch on bass and Anne Anderson on drums joined shortly after. The bass and drum spots changed throughout the band’s career, but Sparks and Gardner have been through it all. L7 may not formally identify as a riot grrrl band, fitting more into the grunge scene, but their timing and musical content make them relevant to the broader movement. 

L7’s politics are no secret. Early in their career, the band organized the Rock for Choice benefit concert to raise money for abortion access. This benefit, started in 1991, continued every year until 2001, when the band started their “indefinite hiatus.” The venue featured both fellow riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and allies like the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. L7’s activism is still strong. Their first new song after the conclusion of their 18-year hiatus, “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago” was released in 2017. They followed this with “I Came Back to Bitch” in 2018, with lines like “throw some bloody rags of fun” referring to their earlier days when Donita Sparks took out her tampon on stage and threw it into a mud-throwing crowd. (Forget bra burning, tampon throwing is the riot grrrl way.) Their latest album, this year’s Alfa Y Omega, even includes the line “make no mistake – lock us up, lock us up” in the song “Burn Baby.”

Outside of their original work, you can find hints of L7’s feminism in their covers. Hear/see for yourself…

Continue reading »

Dec 172015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

CoverMeBestSongs2015

I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.

Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.

How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.

So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

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Jan 282015
 

When John Fahey-esq acoustic guitar virtuoso William Tyler delivered a covers session for Aquarium Drunkard, most of the choices were understandable ones for a fingerpicker: Ry Cooder, Blaze Floley, and a track from a compilation of rare solo guitar performances. The final one was a left-turn though: Blue Ösyter Cult. Specifically, an obscure track called “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” from their relatively unsuccessful debut LP. Continue reading »

Apr 012013
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

D. Boon was the energetic front man and guitarist for the highly influential Southern California punk band The Minutemen. If you watch videos of any of the Minutemen’s live shows, you’ll immediately notice the amount of energy that D. Boon exhibits as he bounces around the stage while belting out his politically infused lyrics. His funk- and blues-inspired guitar playing really opened up boundaries in an era of punk rock that was focused on two- and three-chord progressions. Unfortunately, he passed away at the too-young age of 27 in a tragic automobile accident, and the Minutemen called it quits immediately afterward. Continue reading »

Dec 022011
 

This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.

After taking last week off for Thanksgiving, we’re back with a double helping of new Bandcamp covers! Download 10 new covers below for your post-gluttony workout mix. Continue reading »

Sep 082011
 

Sea of Bees is the musical project of Julie Ann Bee, or Jules as everyone calls her. She sings, writes the songs, and plays lots of musical instruments. In the short time she has been recording she has come  a very long way from how she learned to play music. She tells Spinner: “I went to church every Sunday morning to watch the kid there play guitar and watched how he would play open chords. I didn’t know what they were called, so I just did it. I wanted to conquer that f—ing guitar, you know?” Continue reading »