Feb 112011
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.


Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.

The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance. Continue reading »

Jan 242011
 

Whether you think it’s about suicide or “eternal love” (as songwriter Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser asserts), there’s no denying that Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” is unnervingly haunting. The latest cover of the song to hit YouTube, by the folk-Americana outfit Bobtown, plays beautifully with the song’s Gothic sensibilities. We asked Bobtown’s Katherine Etzel about the choice. She tells us:

When we first got together, coincidentally, many of our songs were about death. Not a planned theme, but apparently, something we needed to get out of our systems… After noticing and discussing it one day at rehearsal a year or so ago, one of us jokingly launched into a verse of “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and we realized it actually lent itself nicely to the sort of vocal-heavy arrangements we lean towards. So we built our version of the song around that spontaneous moment.

Continue reading »

Jan 072011
 

You know the story. The Jews needed eight days of oil to purify the Temple in Jerusalem. There was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, though, that small amount lasted for all eight nights. And on every one of those nights Yo La Tengo played a concert.

Well, maybe they passed on that first Hanukkah, but it seems they’ve played eight crazy nights of shows every year since. Twenty-ten was no exception. As chronicled at BrooklynVegan, the nights of December 1-8 each saw a unique Yo La Tengo show go down at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. Every evening featured surprise openers and comedians, including heavy hitters like the National and Jeff Tweedy. Continue reading »

Dec 202010
 

Download This scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.

Despite their misleadingly-gendered name, The Harvey Girls are a husband and wife duo originating from Lawrence, KS. In their bio, they highlight ABBA, The Shangri-Las and Prince Paul (producer of De La Soul and Queen Latifah) as musical influences. Suffice to say, they have eclectic musical taste.

Their psych-pop eclecticism comes to the fore on their ’80s covers album Our History Is Your Kitsch. We featured album highlight “White Wedding”, in the past, but the rest of the album stands almost as tall. The song selection seems as if they took the first 8 songs that came up in an iPod shuffle and decided to cover them. Again…eclectic. Continue reading »

Nov 102010
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

The recent release of Easy Wonderful has given Guster fans reason to fall in love with them all over again. As their album title insinuates, they have an agreeable sound that resonates with you and has aged well over the past (almost) 20 years. If the Beach Boys went to college in the 90's, added some bongos, and stayed out of the sun, Guster is what they would sound like.

Featured on soundtracks like Life as a House and Wedding Crashers, their songs can pull at the heartstrings as you croon along with them. On the other hand, they are better known for their laid-back, wisecracking personalities that beam from the stage and infect their fans. During their years of touring, they have taken on many cover songs with both their sensitive and playful dispositions (but mostly the latter). Typically at the end of a show, Guster will rile up the crowd with a number from Madonna, Talking Heads, or whoever sings the “Cheers” theme song (Portnoy) and get everyone involved.  Most of the time, it's just an excuse to get drummer Brian Rosenworcel out in front showing off his questionable vocals, calling in the crowd for backup.  It's just like being at a karaoke bar. Continue reading »

Oct 142010
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

It was almost 17 years ago now that frontman Jay Farrar split ways with his alt-country group Uncle Tupelo due to differences with bassist Jeff Tweedy, leaving Tweedy and the rest of the band in the dust. Since that time, Farrar’s career has skyrocketed, and Tweedy and the boys haven’t done anything.

Wait. I’m wrong. They formed a band called Wilco, which continues to prosper as one of the most important and influential bands in indie music.

To conclude that Wilco’s longevity is due to some sort of a constant and timeless sound would be dead wrong, however, as our latest Live Collection shows. The covers below, which include romps through the works of David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, the Ramones, and even a few half-hearted attempts at tracks by one of Farrar’s subsequent projects, Son Volt, show just how much Wilco has changed through the years. The Wilco who covers “Organ Blues” in 2000 sounds little like the one who does Tom Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart” in 1995. Sure, their 2002 cover of The Stooges’ “TV Eye” anticipates the pulsating pianos and dissonant guitars that would not truly define their albums until years later, but as a general rule, you can follow the arc of the band’s sound through the years pretty closely via the covers below. Continue reading »