Oct 052009
 

The first post of the month always features a look at songs covering every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


There was never really any question which album Pitchfork would pick as its #1 of the 2000s. However, a predictable conclusion to their countdown shouldn’t distract from the merits of the winner, Radiohead’s Kid A. As the follow-up to their massively successful OK Computer, Kid A’s glitchy electro beats and spacey reverb washes elicited mixed reaction at best. Suffice to say, fans and critics have come around in the ensuing nine years, these ten artists in particular.<

Sonos – Everything In Its Right Place


I’m sure a cappella Radiohead has been tried many, many times. I’m sure it has failed just about every one of them. This is the rare exception. If Thom Yorke produced a cappella himself, it would probably sound like this. [Buy]

John Mayer – Kid A


The guy responsible for “Your Body Is a Wonderland” taking on the man who gave us “Karma Police”? Surely a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that it isn’t furthers my theory that Mayer may actually be a talented musician hiding it well. [Buy]

paradigm – The National Anthem

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The Louisville four-piece did an almost exclusively Radiohead covers set in ’06, all instrumental, all ass-kicking. This one comes out of a lengthier medley with the Beatles’ “Come Together” (hence the abrupt ending). Click the link to get the whole show: [Buy]

Eliza Lumley – How to Disappear Completely


Many Radiohead fans claim this as their favorite song. It’s one of my least favorites. Eliza’s quiet piano lament may make me reconsider though. [Buy]

Vitamin String Quartet – Treefingers


I’ll be honest here: I tried hard to find a cover of this not churned out by the ubiquitous string quartet. I failed. This anonymous group has literally hundreds of tribute albums out (here’s a partial list), so their street cred in the cover community is below even Richard Cheese’s. Still, the original here is instrumental, so their approach works. They cover the whole album. [Buy]

Hanson – Optimistic


Going from the Vitamin String Quartet to Hanson? If this is my last blog post, it’s because I was chased off the internet. I won’t push my luck by saying the “MMMBop” boys do a good job here. But I’m not saying they don’t either… [Buy]

Sa-Ra – In Limbo


Techno, dance, crunk. Sa-Ra combines just about every genre Radiohead isn’t and inexcusably makes it work. [Buy]

We Versus the Shark – Idioteque

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The slow grind of We separates this from the many folksy covers out there, giving it a hefty call-and-response churn that ably substitutes for the schizo drum pattern of the original. [Buy]

Flash Hawk Parlor Ensemble – Amnesiac / Morning Bell


Technically this pairing is off the Amnesiac album, but the “Morning Bell” portion first appeared on Kid A. This twee-folk ditty from the Decemberists’ Chris Funk may make you forget that either album exists. [Buy]

Christopher O’Riley – Motion Picture Soundtrack


It seems fitting to close out with O’Riley, the solo piano cover artist extraordinaire. He’s got two discs of Radiohead covers out, both worth getting. [Buy]

Nov 062008
 

With one year of this blog behind me, I decided to take on my most ambitious full album post yet. My general rule of thumb with these has been the album has to be at least ten years old. I broke this once already, with Tom Wait’s Mule Variations, but it’s still nine years. Today I give you an album that’s one year old. For most albums that wouldn’t be enough time to amass one cover, much less all. But most albums are not In Rainbows. And so as the world celebrates the one-year anniversary of the disc with the news that Radiohead’s pioneering pay-what-you-want was a huge financial success (read about it here), here are the tunes reimagined. As you will see, I had to stretch the definition of “cover” several times to get ‘em all, but I hope you’ll agree the ambitious result was worth it.

David Porteous – 15 Step
The first song on the album I predicted would be the most challenging to find. How can you make a song so reliant on a wild drum machine pattern your own? Easily, Porteous shows us, miraculously pulling off the most unlikely of feats: a credible acoustic version. [Buy]

The Matches – Bodysnatchers
Another acoustic take here, this time a double-axe duel shows this Oakland punk duo recreating the basics of the original while giving the vocals and guitars room to breathe. You can finally understand the lyrics, but the wordless moaned harmonies are the true star here. [Buy]

James Houston – Nude
We’ve got the weirdest one of the bunch here, by a long shot. It was made with a series of vintage computer equipment and, though it takes a while to get recognizable, the incredibly bizarre sounds that emit from these machines are worth the wait. I wouldn’t say it’s altogether pleasant, but it’s damn interesting. Houston created it for a graduation project and, though he’s not a musician, soon got an offer from a record label in the frenzy it spawned. Read all the details here. [Buy]

J-OS – Weird Fishes
This drum-and-bass raver starts off just putting a staccato snare beat over a similar voice/guitar part, before veering completely away from the original, adding instruments and effects to a cacophony of funky house. [Buy]

Christopher O’Riley – All I Need
O’Riley has a series of instrumental piano Radiohead covers that are uniformly excellent, many available for free download. I strongly urge you to check them out here. [Buy]

Keith Petrower – Faust Arp
Keith mixes it up a nice amount here. It’s got a mesh of instruments that neither blend nor clash, keeping it lively as it pushes towards its quick conclusion. [Buy]

Gnarls Barkley – Reckoner
From “Gone Daddy Gone” to this, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse clearly know their way around a well-chosen cover. The soaring melody seems tailor-made for Cee, who attacks it with relish while the band rocks out behind. [Buy]

Radiohead – House of Cards (Solarstone Remix)
That’s right, this is not technically a cover, but a remix. A trance remix though, so dramatically different than the original it might as well be a cover. Who knew Radiohead was so danceable? [Buy]

OK Rainbow Thief – Jigsaw Falling Into Place
This starts off sounding pretty similar to the original, except the vocals never come in. Though it never drastic departs the original mold, this obvious cover band (look at the name again) highlights a bass line I never noticed before and gives the tune a little flair of their own. [Buy]

AmpLive ft. Del That Funky Homosapien – Videotape
Another remix technically, this just serves to use those haunting piano chords as a background for Del to spit mad rhymes over. To this day I can’t hear the original without expecting him to come in. “Flashlights report the lies…” [Buy]