Dec 182014
 

Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.

It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.

We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ’em.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

Nov 122014
 

If you Google “David Ford,” you’ll see this description under his website: “David Ford is a brilliantly talented British musician from Eastbourne, UK. His live performances are incredible, and his songs are breathtaking.” Knowing David’s work, this is probably tongue in cheek (or written by an overzealous PR person), but it just so happens to be true. I’ve long talked friends’ ears off about Ford, calling him the best songwriter under 40 working today (Exhibit A: “State of the Union”. Exhibit B: “To Hell with the World”. Exhibit C: “Philadelphia Boy”.) Continue reading »

Feb 072011
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Here’s one of those situations where the cover is actually more widely-known than the original. The song was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964. Unlike the later covers of the song  that have been chart-climbers (like Soft Cell’s), Jones’ version nearly fell into complete obscurity until a British DJ, Richard Searling, stumbled upon her CD My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home almost ten years later. The song garnered enough underground success on the UK Northern Soul scene (the ’60s mod-twist on American soul music) to prompt Jones to re-record the single in 1976, but the tainted track once again got no love from the charts. Continue reading »

Jan 252011
 

Tonight President Barack Obama gives his second official State of the Union address to the American public. Every time I watch these, I can’t help feeling bad for the Vice President and Speaker of the House. Seated behind the Pres, the two remain on camera pretty much the entire time, despite having nothing to do. One errant nose-pick or eye-roll though and it’s all anyone will be talking about the next day. One wonders if their minds are too occupied with proper decorum to even pay attention. Continue reading »

Aug 192010
 

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

The Queen Is Dead never ages. Last September we posted covers of every song on the album, with Nada Surf turning in a faithful “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” To be sure, there are plenty of covers of the Smiths song (a candidate for a Five Good Covers feature perhaps?). The tune seems to carry itself; in all but the most incompetent hands it’s pretty. In the right hands though, it’s downright heart-stopping.

Enter David Ford. The British songwriter has flown under the radar for the past few years, churning out quality records detailing one man’s musings on a world moving ever faster. His uncompromising tunes rarely shy from the political. His Let the Hard Times Roll is one of the year’s best. Not many discs boast an anti-love song to Margaret Thatcher (“She’s Not the One”) and a tongue-in-check ode to torture (“Surfin’ Guantanamo Bay”). Continue reading »