Dec 092011
 

When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.

Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.

Continue to page 2 to read the list…

Jun 062011
 

Duncan Sheik had one of the 1990s’ more enduring songs in “Barely Breathing,” which hung around the Billboard Top 100 charts for a full year. As they say in (what used to be) the radio business, it tested well. Six additional albums have followed, but Sheik has spent much of the past five years composing scores for Broadway productions and winning both Tony and Grammy awards in the process. Long before he was halfway to an EGOT, though, Sheik spent his teenage years in the 1980s. On Covers 80s he reflects the influence that a wide range of synthpop bands and tracks had on his formative years.

This is no John Hughes soundtrack compilation and if you’re looking for a “Walking On Sunshine” feel-good nostalgia trip, you’ll likely be disappointed. While a few big hits are represented, Sheik offers a deeper and somewhat darker journey back into his past. Although he grew up in New Jersey, Sheik does not include any American bands on Covers 80’s. He says that the litmus test for inclusion was “did I really, really care about it when I was 15 or 16?” Apparently what Sheik really, really cared about back then was the electronic, indie and New Romantic pop of the second British Invasion and Covers 80s benefits greatly from Sheik’s choice of source material. Continue reading »