Jan 142009
 

–Edit: Reposted, with the offending link removed.–

Didn’t best of 2008 lists get played out in, oh, 2008? Yes. I even already had a post on the best covers of the year. So what is this? Well, I get a kick out of year-end lists, so I really enjoyed seeing the Hype Machine compile hundreds of them into one master list of the fifty most highly-rated albums on the blogosphere. You can read it most easily here, though there aren’t too many surprises. Regardless, I though I’d throw up all the covers I had of songs from these albums. In true year-end list fashion, they’re in descending order.

Laura Barrett – Gamma Ray (Beck, Modern Guilt)
I’ll be honest: I like Beck, loathed this album. I only even made it throw once, it just seemed like experimental mush that took me nowhere. Luckily, Barrett heard something I didn’t, as her twee karimba (wikipedia it) cover gives it a fuzzy cuteness that the grunge-synth of the original obliterated. [Buy]

Friendly Fires – I’m Good I’m Gone (Lykke Li, Youth Novels)
Count me out of the Lykke Li obsession too. From the first time I saw her spastically gyrating on Conan, I knew this strange Swede was not for me. Friendly Fires strips away the irritating production enough to make it more tolerable, though it sneaks in towards the end. [Buy]

Holy Fuck – Balloons (Foals, Antidotes)
I haven’t actually heard the original here, but this unfortunately-named band’s electronica take slowly draws you in, taking it sweet time to add layer to layer. [Buy]

Mason Proper – Get Innocuous/Love Lockdown (LCD Soundsystem/Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreak)
Brilliant. Mason Proper takes the bass line and lyrics from the Kanye hit and throws in some LCD production for a take that may just eclipse the slow-burn original. A point in Proper’s favor: no AutoTune. [Buy]

Ola Podrida – Calling and Not Calling My Ex (Okkervil River, The Stand Ins)
Having a go at another album that passed me by, Podrida brings out a sweet indie melody that stands on its own so well I’m having trouble imagining the original. [Buy]

Noah23 – Canadian Dollars (A Milli) (Lil’ Wayne, Tha Carter III)
Though not as blog-worthy as when ?uestlove held down the a milli’s with Jimmy-Fallon-houseband The Roots (video), Noah23 challenges Weezy by throwing down his own verses instead of Wayne’s. It’s a hip-hop cover of a hip-hop song, but one completely different. [Buy]

The Kooks – Violet Hill (Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends)
A live acoustic take for the BBC, this cover-loving indie group strips back the Brian Eno production to focus on the herky-jerky melody and falsetto-swoon chorus. A song everyone got sick of long ago gets some welcome new life. [Buy]

Roommate – Lights Out (Santogold, Santogold)
The slow pulse oozes sex on this come-on cover that makes you want to be more than just Roommates. [Buy]

Radiohead – The Rip (Portishead, Third)
Frankly, I didn’t see the hype about this album, but Thom Yorke’s plucking makes this one sound like an acoustic In Rainbows outtake. The original ‘Head gets good…head…from another ‘Head. Now if only Motörhead gets on board, the trinity will be complete. [Buy]

David Porteous – Electric Feel (MGMT, Oracular Spectacular)
David makes a bold stance here, replacing the psych-techno throb of MGMT with some crunchy blues guitar. Crunchy solo blues guitar. There’s no way this should work, but it’s fantastic. [Buy]

Hot Chip and Peter Gabriel – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend)
It’s clear Gabriel hasn’t lost his sense of humor, choosing to be involved in this cover presumably for the sole reason that it name checks him. A lot. Sure, it’s an excellent cover in its own right, but nothing can top the moment where he sings, “And it feels so unnatural to sing your own name.” Tell that to Lil’ Wayne. [Buy]

First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes)
The Kit accomplishes the shocking feat of stripping a Fleet Foxes song back even more than the original, leaving little more that a delicately strummed guitar to contend with the female duet that adds a vocal oomph to the proceedings. [Buy]

Dec 022008
 

I’ve got a confession: I think Justin Timberlake has talent. Lots of it. That isn’t to say I actually listen to him very much, but he seems to be able to make popular culture work for him, rather than just being swept along like so many other hitmakers. The guy’s got charisma to spare, and with the inevitable Dick in a Box spin-off season coming up soon, why not celebrate his many hits?

Shawn Lee’s Ping-Pong Orchestra – Rock Your Body
Bossa nova horn disco reggae lounge funk…it’s an interesting mix, and mostly instrumental. [Buy]

David Porteous – My Love
He’s got six covers up for free on his site, and they’re all great! [Buy]

Maximo Park – Like I Love You
Bouncy and fun, this comes from the great Radio 1 compilation, celebrating the BBC show’s 40th anniversary with forty covers, one song from each year. Well worth snagging. [Buy]

Glen Hansard – Cry Me a River
A radio broadcast with an obnoxious host, this one takes a while to really get going, but once that violin comes in to join the Once singer’s voices it’s smooth sailing. [Buy]
Update: Version without the host added. Thanks Ayla!

Boyce Avenue – Lovestoned
These guys are masters of the pop cover, having dozens of great acoustic ones ready for download. Some nice rhythmic plucking pushes along powerful vocals that, just like JT, aren’t afraid of a little falsetto. [Buy]

Kaki King – I Think She Knows
Originally an interlude of “Lovestoned,” King extracts it and makes it its own song on the just-released Guilt By Association Vol. 2 comp. [Buy]

James Eric – Sexyback
Some more sensitive acoustic guy. It just seems to work with Justin songs; not sure why. [Buy]

Tobias Froberg – What Goes Around Comes Around
Is that accordion in a JT cover? I think I’m in love. [Buy]

Umphrey’s McGee – Dick in a Box
The jam masters rocked this one out for eight minutes in Portland ’07. It’s smooth, jazzy, and sexy as it wants to be. [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]