The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” has always stood apart from the standard Christmas songs playing on the radio and in stores around this time of year. The song feels very loose and raw, a sharp contrast to the typical seasonal fare. It’s also completely free of sleigh bells or gimmicks, instead driven by all the same musical elements found in most of The Band’s best songs. Claiming “Christmas Must Be Tonight” as your favorite Christmas song is like claiming Die Hard as your favorite Christmas movie: yes, it’s technically Christmas-related, but really it’s just a great standalone product.
Irish singer Ciaran Lavery wears his influences on his sleeves. His last album had a track called “Okkervil River” about hearing that band on the radio, and his new live set features a gorgeous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.” His emotive lilt might remind you of his countryman Glen Hansard (himself no stranger to great Bruce covers) and he more than does Springsteen’s tribute to AIDS victims justice.
Despite “Streets of Philadelphia” being arguably one of Springsteen’s best-known songs – certainly from the last few decades at least – the Boss himself doesn’t play it live too much. We’re grateful Lavery and his string quartet stepped in to fill the void with this beautiful version. Listen to it below, along with equally lovely covers of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the same album.
We’ve already posted a couple bigger-name covers from this past weekend’s Northside Festival: Kacey Musgraves and Conor Oberst covering “Hey Good Lookin'” and Frankie Cosmos and Ava Luna covering Liz Phair and Serge Gainsbourg, respectively. But, like SXSW and CMJ, this Brooklyn festival is all about discovering the up-and-comers, the next generation of Kaceys or Conors. So we picked the five best bands we saw who we’ve never posted about, with a killer cover from each. Hear great takes on Billy Idol, the Beatles, a Christmas classic, and more below.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on the always quirky rockers The Flaming Lips, you’ll discover a not-so-hidden trend: they like covering the Beatles. Last month they released their track-for-track cover of the classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (titled With a Little Help from My Fwends), but a quick search of Cover Me will bring up 5 other Beatles/John Lennon songs they’ve covered, going all the way back to 2010. You can’t really argue with the formula, though, because it seems to be working.
Kelis is best remembered in the States for her 2003 hit “Milkshake,” but overseas she’s had a string of Top 10 hits. One such song is “Millionaire,” her 2004 song with André 3000, which hit #3 in Britain yet didn’t even dip a toe in the American charts. Though they hail from Miami, Awesome New Republik aka. ANR seem a bit more hip to Kelis’ work outside of double entendres. Their label Neon Gold (home to Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding) filmed the duo performing their spaced-out cover of the song last month and it’s a joy to watch.
Christmas covers hit the blogosphere by the dozen this time of year, but even though we can’t post on ’em all, we’ve been trying to keep track of our favorites. Here, in the third installment of our holiday sorta-series, are a bunch of great new Christmas covers, jumbled together like last year’s tree lights.