May 222018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

stars cover songs

Last year, we said Stars’ version of “This Charming Man” was the best cover of the song ever. You know who agreed with us? Smiths drummer Mike Joyce (he called it the best Smiths cover period). You know who else? Prince.

Stars frontman Torquil Campbell (he’s on the right in that photo) tells the full story below in his Pick Five entry. And he’s a man who knows his covers. In 2016, Stars launched a monthly covers series, tackling everyone from Bob Dylan to a pre-MAGA Kanye West. Not only were the covers great individually, but the disparate source material fit together perfectly under the Canadian collective’s signature indie-pop umbrella. Here are some highlights: Continue reading »

Apr 262018
 

In Pick Five, great artists tell us about five cover songs that matter to them.

speedy ortiz cover songs

Speedy Ortiz’s third album Twerp Verse doesn’t come out until tomorrow, but it’s already making noise. NPR Music calls it “both musically expansive and [frontwoman Sadie] Dupuis’ most accessible work yet, a blend of catchy pop hooks and dexterous guitar playing,” while the New York Times praises the band’s “signature acerbic wit.” And it almost didn’t exist.

In late 2016, the band – that’s Dupuis plus guitarist Andy Molholt, bassist Darl Ferm, and drummer Mike Falcone – planned to record a new album full of peppy love songs. Then November 8th happened, and all of a sudden a bunch of chipper “lovey-dovey” tunes didn’t feel appropriate. That batch of songs “just didn’t mean anything to me anymore,” Dupuis wrote in the press release. “Social politics and protest have been a part of our music from day one, and I didn’t want to stop doing that on this album.” Continue reading »

Oct 032017
 
cover me playlist

Today is the day! At long last, Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time is in stores and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s, and many other places (including, hopefully, your local independent bookstore!).

A lot has happened since I first announced the book back in May. The New Yorker published an excerpt about Devo’s meeting with Mick Jagger. I was interviewed on SiriusXM about the Hendrix, Cash, Aretha, Pet Shop Boys, Elvis, and Creedence Clearwater Revival chapters. And most importantly for you reading this, I put together an exclusive bonus mix that blog fans can get when they buy the book (it says “pre-order,” but we’ll say “week-of-release order” counts too).

And I wanted to share one more thing, another blog exclusive: An audio companion to the book. Continue reading »

Feb 152017
 
alison krauss covers

Windy City is Alison Krauss’s first solo album in 17 years, but that tagline is a little misleading. Krauss has kept busy, recording recent albums with her band Union Station, one with Robert Plant (which won the Album of the Year Grammy no less), and dueting with Willie Nelson and John Prine on their recent albums. But in the midst of all that, she found time to record a new album of country covers and standards. It’s out Friday, but she’s released three tracks already, covers of Roger Miller, Brenda Lee, and the Osborne Brothers

Krauss digs deep for the songs she covers. “River in the Rain” hails from from Miller’s 1980s Broadway musical about Huckleberry Finn (the performance at the 1985 Tony Awards is worth watching). “Losing You” is one of two songs she covers by Lee (along with “All Alone Am I”), with whom she’s dueted in the past. The title track, most famous from bluegrass pioneers the Osborne Brothers, is perhaps the most obvious pick for Krauss, but she de-twangifies it significantly into a tender country-pop ballad. Continue reading »

Oct 162012
 

LP, who delivered that amazing “Halo,” covers the Mars Volta on ukulele. As if that wasn’t weird enough…it was performed in a bat cave (quietly, I would imagine).
Continue reading »