Feb 222017
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

joshi

Jaime Joshi lives in South Florida amidst geckos, 24-hour Cuban coffee and soup-like humidity. She has been writing for Cover Me since 2013; of all her pieces, she is particularly proud of her pieces on Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. (She’s the one on the right.)
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Feb 032017
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Rutles+Highway+Revisited

Until such time as a record company can be persuaded to put together a Spinal Tap tribute album (and really, how did that never happen?), the award for Best Tribute Album To A Fictional Band has to go to Rutles Highway Revisited. The Rutles were a takeoff on the Beatles with songs written by Neil Innes that were SO close to the originals that Innes now has to share royalties with Lennon and McCartney. They had a brilliant (and little-seen at the time) TV special with many Saturday Night Live members and a few quality musicians (including a heavily disguised George Harrison). The Shimmy Disc label saluted the band in 1990 with an album designed mostly to promote the label’s frequently eccentric artists, but with such cheerful pastiches to work with, the hits-to-misses ratio was pretty darn good.
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Feb 032016
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

MatesofStateCrushesCoversMixtape

When Mates of State‘s Crushes (The Covers Mixtape) came out in 2010, we ranked it the sixth best cover album of the year. If I were redoing that list today, I’d make it #1 (or, at worst, #2 – I do still love that Peter Gabriel album). The reason Crushes holds up so well is the same reason a lot of people might hate it: Its almost gleeful irreverence to its source material.

On Crushes, the husband-wife indiepop duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel draw their song selections equally from indie hits of the past decade and classic singer-songwriters. But they are beholden to neither group. Americana laments become dance celebrations. Outsider indie-prog becomes glossy toy-store pop. Electronic beats and gorgeous harmonies coexist in worlds far different than the ones the original artists envisioned. 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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Jul 202015
 
titusandronicus

Titus Andronicus‘s highly-anticipated new double album The Most Lamentable Tragedy clocks in at 29 songs. Amidst killer singles like “Dimed Out” and “Fatal Flow” are 10-minute epics, short hardcore blasts, and a pair of covers: the Pogues‘ “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and Daniel Johnston‘s “I Had Lost My Mind” (they also riff on this one on original track “I Lost My Mind (+@)”. Now you can hear both covers. Continue reading »

Aug 112014
 

I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad cover of a Daniel Johnston song. His music just works so well for cover versions. It might be the sparse nature of most of his songs, leaving other artists able to interpret the source material however they want.

The latest band covering one of the songs from Daniel’s vast back catalogue is recently reformed Canadian indie-rock band The Unicorns. Recently seen supporting fellow countrymen Arcade Fire, the band are re-issuing their lost indie classic ‘Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?’ and will be including this cover of ‘Rocketship’ as a bonus track.

There is definitely a Daniel sound retained with this, with the repetitive single note so common with some of his early songs present. In fact, it sounds more like Daniel than most other covers of his songs you’ll hear (although this TV On The Radio cover sounded great using the repetitive note thing too).

This is a great addition to the many covers of the cult hero that are out there and if you listen carefully there’s even a sample of the great man himself at one minute and 50 seconds in.

Check it out below and keep your eyes peeled for the Unicorns re-issue due soon.