Mar 242017
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

emm gryner

In Canada, and among elite musicians, it seems foolish to claim that the work of Emm Gryner flies under the radar. She has a dozen and a half releases to her name, not counting the ones with the folk trio Trent Severn (where she sings and plays bass) and the hard rockers Trapper. She’s played with David Bowie’s band and opened for Def Leppard. Nelly Furtado named her album Science Fair as a desert island disc. Bono was once asked what songs of the previous 20 years he wished he’d written; Gryner’s “Almighty Love” was one of the half-dozen or so he named.
Continue reading »

Nov 222011
 

This week, Cover Me celebrates Freddie Mercury 20 years after his passing. Read Part 1 here.

On April 20, 1992, one of the most impressive collections of musicians ever assembled for one show gathered together to pay tribute to Farrokh Bulsara, better known to the world as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who had passed away due to complications from AIDS some six months before. Today, as we approach the 20th anniversary of his passing, Cover Me looks back at this monumental concert event, a celebration of covers and of one of the most unique talents ever to grace the performing arts. Continue reading »

Nov 152011
 

When presented with a series of cover albums called Guilt by Association, one might imagine them to be filled with ironic takes on cheesy pop songs; that threat’s only increased by a volume that promises to present only songs that fall under the classification of “hair metal,” perhaps the most mocked of all genres. Fortunately, Guilt by Association Vol. 3 betrays no sign of hipster bands mocking songs that some people (this reviewer) legitimately love. Instead, it finds a collection of young, talented acts embracing some admittedly overwrought material from the 1980s and truly making it their own. By any metric, Guilt by Association can be considered a success. Continue reading »

Jun 212011
 

Ohio indie rockers Lovedrug have recently released a slew of cover songs to preface their new album Best of I AM LOVEDRUG. The album will feature a wide range of covers of the likes of Third Eye Blind, Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard and then some. Check out a few preview tracks.

A band has to be either quite confident in their credibility or have an uncanny ability to laugh at themselves  to take on a song by Darren Hayes, Savage Garden frontman. When it comes to a Savage Garden cover there’s only one direction a band can take it: up, and that is where Lovedrug goes with it. They take it up into the clouds and far beyond what one might consider the realm of possibility when it came to this song. Lovedrug unmasked the potential in “Insatiable” and managed to distort it into a techno-indie song with ironic panache. Continue reading »

Hair Metal

 Posted by at 2:00 pm  4 Responses »
Mar 152010
 

When The Darkness hit the scene in the 2003, critics began braying about the “hair metal revival.” Well, as it turned out that “revival” was pretty much confined to one band and, really, to one song. Once college kids got sick of shredding their vocal chords trying to hit the “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” high notes, hair metal slunk back to 1984. This is probably a good thing, though it did produce some memorable songs the first time around.


Bran Van 3000 – Cum on Feel the Noize (Slade / Quiet Riot)
[Buy]
Slade had a hit in the U.K. with this rock and roll tribute to poor spelling, but it took Quiet Riot’s glammed-up cover to bring it stateside. Sadly, the subdued dance version by Montreal electronica collective Bran Van 3000 (best known for “Drinking in L.A.) didn’t have the same impact.

My Morning Jacket – Home Sweet Home (Mötley Crüe) [Buy]
After three hours of heavy rain, it was 3 a.m. and all but the most devoted fans had left My Morning Jacket’s epic Bonnaroo 2008 set. Those who remained were treated to this one-time-only Crüe cöver, with a special appearance by Zach Galfianakis (dressed as Little Orphan Annie).

The Swirling Eddies – Sing Along Song (Stryper) [Buy]
When Christian music apes a popular trend, it tends to be accused (fairly) of presenting a watered-down version of the real thing. Not Stryper. If anything, they made hair metal more outrageous with yellow and black spandex, extra makeup, and songs about Jesus. [more Christian rock covers]

The Diamond Family Archive – Here I Go Again (Whitesnake) [Buy]
DFA’s Laurence Collyer says a friend described this song as the soundtrack of his life. A lingerie-clad model splayed across a Jaguar? I wish this was what my life sounded like! [more Diamond Family Archive covers]

The Breeders – Lord of the Thighs (Aerosmith) [Buy]
In their “60 Cover Versions That Rattle the State of Song” article, The Wire wrote, “As sung by Josephine Wiggs, The Breeders’ version of Aerosmith’s ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ did as much to upend 1970s and 80s cock rock as anything in the grunge era.” A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but still, good song.

Reel Big Fish – Nothin’ But a Good Time (Poison) [Buy]
Reel Big Fish’s 2009 covers album Fame, Fortune and Fornication took on not one, but two Poison songs (the other was “Talk Dirty to Me”). The horn part reminds me of “Disco Inferno.” [more Poison covers]

Emm Gryner – Pour Some Sugar on Me (Def Leppard) [Buy]
Girl Versions finds Gryner putting here piano chick-pop spin on songs by male songwriters from Ozzy to Fugazi. Somehow even the most unlikely choices sound like lite radio staples. [more Def Leppard covers]

Pernilla Andersson – Don’t Let Me Down (Twisted Sister) [Buy]
White taking hair metal to its natural transgendered extreme, Twisted Sister created two of the most enduring headbangers in “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” (each featuring a fantastic Animal House-spoofing music video). Sweden’s Pernilla Andersson makes the quiet case for one of their lesser-known tunes.

Toy Dolls – The Final Countdown (Europe) [Buy]
Someday someone will find a way to cover this song that isn’t fantastic. From Laibach’s heavy industrial to these guys’ kazoos though, I haven’t heard it yet.

The Lost Fingers – You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi) [Buy]
In 2008 the Lost Fingers gave the world Lost in the 80s, a fantastic cover album that brought everyone from AC/DC to Technotronic to a funky bluegrass hoedown. The fact that the lead singer sounds like he’s losing his voice here only adds authenticity.

Nov 092009
 

No one has ever accused musicians of being too well-adjusted. There’s a fine line that keeps a love song from crossing from romantic to creepy and it’s a line musicians frequently cross. Sometimes the sketchball factor is intention (The Police), other times it clearly is not (The Turtles). So get ready to write some restraining orders, cause it’s StalkerFest ’09.


Allred – Every Breath You Take (The Police)
We’ll kick it off with the stalker song to beat all stalker songs, the tune that goes beyond obsessed-rejected to psychotic-deranged. People using this for their wedding song might want to think twice. [Buy]

Plectrum – Across the Sea (Weezer)
Rivers Cuomo wrote this as a response to a girl sending him fan mail from Japan. “When I got the letter, I fell in love with her,” he said. “I was very lonely at the time, but at the same time I was very depressed that I would never meet her. Even if I did see her, she was probably some fourteen-year-old girl, who didn’t speak English.” This is the response from Japan, off the all-Japanese tribute comp of the same name. [Buy]

Spiers & Boden – Run For Your Life (The Beatles)
In 1973, John Lennon said this was his “least favorite Beatles song,” the one he most regretted writing. The catchy melody does hide the incredibly bitter, aggressive lyrics. The “I’d rather see you dead, little girl” line though came not from Lennon’s pen, but from Elvis Presley’s “Baby, Let’s Play House.” [Buy]

Rachelle Ann Go – Two Steps Behind (Def Leppard)
This Filipino-Chinese singer named her 2007 album Obsession, so her stalking creds are song. “You can run, but you can never hide / From the shadow that’ creeping up beside you.” Yikes. [Buy]

Lee Rocker – One Way or Another (Blondie)
It’s not just guys doing the stalking though. Debbie Harry plays predator here, driving past the guy’s house in the dead of night to see what’s going on. One way she’ll get him may be with charm, but you get the impression other involves tying him to a basement radiator. [Buy]

Leningrad Cowboys – Happy Together (The Turtles)
This song seems sweet until you read the actual lyrics. They take the romance one step too far, since there’s no indication the girl in question hasn’t gone into the Witness Protection Program to avoid being “happy together” with this creep. The Russian choir singing this version adds an extra notch of “Eeeee…” [Buy]

Kevin Doyle – Escape (Enrique Iglesias)
“You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love”? Enrique, your love sounds like a sexual predator. [Buy]

Four Year Strong – Spiderwebs (No Doubt)
While song from the point of view of the stalker are everywhere, here’s one from the flip side of the coin. Poor Gwen Stefani has to screen her phone calls. This comes of Four Year’s recent cover album Explains It All. [Buy]

Scala and Kolansky Brothers – Walking After You (Foo Fighters)
Where “Run for Your Life” implies a brief and terrifying chase, Dave Grohl seems more like a slow prowler. This gal may be looking over her shoulder the rest of her life. [Buy]

WAZ – I Will Follow (U2)
Similar sentiment to the Foo Fighters. “If you walk away, I will follow.” Ladies, bear this in mind when entertaining your Bono fantasies. [Buy]