Aug 282015

YouTube is filled with amateur cover artists. Most stink. On The ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.


Ethan Gold’s got smarts – he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Ethan Gold’s got genes – his father Herbert is a novelist, and his twin brother Ari is a student-Oscar-winning director who plays ukulele in their band, the Gold Brothers. Ethan Gold’s got serious music credentials – aside from scoring his brother’s films, he’s released 2011’s Songs from a Toxic Apartment (Gold’s residence had enough mold and asbestos that when the Department of Public Health condemned it, he needed a gas mask to get his possessions), which won high praise from Pitchfork and others, and his new album Beings features fan favorite “Our Love is Beautiful.”

And Ethan Gold’s got a bedroom closet, where he sometimes goes to record some amazing covers.
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Apr 292014

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

“Come Back Jonee” may not be the most memorable song from Devo’s 1978 debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, but even on an album with no weak cuts, it’s a standout track, headlong and hummable, and deservedly got released as a single. Sort of a new generation’s “Johnny B. Goode” crossed with JFK, it tells the tragic tale of a musician who died too young, but if Johnny’s life passed him by like a warm summer’s day in Bad Company’s “Shooting Star,” Jonee’s life passed him by like an out-of-control roller coaster.
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Mar 142014

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

In the early ’70s, two sets of brothers and their friends, art students at Kent State University, developed a theory. It began as a kind of joke based on a religious pamphlet that alluded to the D-evolution of the unenlightened man. As artists tend to do, they created some performance art and music around this theme for their own amusement. Then the terrible tragedy of the Kent State shootings happened. Four of their classmates were killed by those who were supposed to be protecting them. Suddenly the de-evolution of man and of society in general seemed more than just a joke. The band Devo was born.
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Jul 312013

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

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question: What’s a song you hated until you heard it covered?

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Jan 272012

The second season of IFC’s sketch series Portlandia premiered earlier this month. For all the comedic acclaim stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein receive, they garner equal acclaim for their musicianship. We recently covered the duo playing “Push It” on their Portlandia tour, and now they have covered Devo’s “Beautiful World” during a Rolling Stone interview that turned into an informal session. Continue reading »

Dec 162011

When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.

There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.

Oct 272011

You probably know Fred Armisen best from Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, but he was in fact a musician long before he was a famous comedian. He started out playing drums in Chicago band Trenchmouth and still occasionally displays his chops. He most recently did so at the monthly Heart of Darkness comedy/variety show in Brooklyn, jamming on a Devo cover with costumed band the Forgiveness. Continue reading »