Jul 182014
 

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!

Matthew Sweet’s career is a textbook example of what happens if you are exceedingly good at something that is not considered to be cool. In this case, that thing is the musical genre of “power pop.” Sweet is almost universally considered to be a master of the genre (usually defined as being a cross between hard rock and pop, with serious Beatles influences), and his best album, 1991’s Girlfriend, is generally considered to be a masterpiece, even by people who generally look down their noses at “power pop.”

As a result, Sweet is a cult hero to some critics and fans who appreciate the tight, hook-filled yet intelligent songwriting that typifies the genre, while remaining unknown to the masses who may – may – have heard one of the two or three Sweet songs that occasionally sneak into a radio or streaming playlist. Of course, the music geeks who write for Cover Me are Sweet fans; we’ve featured his cover work repeatedly, even giving him a birthday tribute featuring covers of his songs by other artists. But never before has he received the sort of career-affirming fawning adulation that can only be found in an “In the Spotlight” feature.
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Jul 092014
 

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 didn’t know was a cover song?
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Dec 192013
 

I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.

What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s. Continue reading »

May 182011
 

Mayer Hawthorne didn’t crash onto the scene the way other soul revivalists did in 2008. Sharon Jones and Raphael Saadiq cast big shadows that year that proved difficult for other soul revivalists to get out from under. Still, Hawthorne managed to get his voice out there and people tuned in to listen found themselves impressed. “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” became a stylish indie hit, shepherding many nerdy white kids into the enticing world of soul music. Hawthorne’s debut album A Strange Arrangement managed to propel him onto the scene, but this new covers EP will give Mayer Hawthorne the sticking power he needs to become an indie powerhouse. If nothing else, it will carry fans over until the long-awaited release of his follow up album How Do You Do this fall. Continue reading »

May 122011
 

A couple days ago we told you about Mayer Hawthorne’s new covers EP and now he’s dropped the whole set for free. It’s called Impressions (though, ironically, they’re not one of the R&B groups he covers). Over six tracks, the Detroit producer-turned-singer positions himself as an archivist par excellence, digging up forgotten cuts from yesteryear (The Festivals’ “You’ve Got the Makings of a Lover”) and nodding to peer funk revivalists (Chromeo’s “Don’t Turn the Lights On”). Continue reading »

May 102011
 

Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

• Later this week, Detroit soul revivalist Mayer Hawthorne will be dropping a free covers EP on Twitter. The first glimpse is an official recording – finally – of a song he’s been covering live for months. Recorded with his band The County, it’s ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.”
MP3: Mayer Hawthorne – Mr. Blue Sky (ELO cover)

• Raleigh quintet The Young Sinclairs just dropped their new collection Don’t Believe In Demos Vol. 1 today, and the first track off side two is a particular treat. It’s a jingle-jangly Byrds-esque cover of Merle Haggard’s outlaw country classic “Running Kind.” You can practically hear Roger McGuinn on 12-string.
MP3: The Young Sinclairs – Running Kind (Merle Haggard cover)

• Atlanta prog-metal band From Exile just dropped a free Nine Inch Nails covers EP on their website. It trades out the glitchy synths for guitars on songs like “Ruiner,” but the most dramatic reinvention is instrumental “A Warm Place,” which positively aches with a slow-melting guitar line.
MP3: From Exile – A Warm Place (Nine Inch Nails cover)

• Electro-rock duo The City Music Project recently dropped this free dance jam on Pink Floyd’s The Wall classic. Would have fit right in with our Full Album Wall doublefeature.
MP3: The City Music Project – The Thin Ice (Pink Floyd cover)

• Chicago shoegazer Vehicle Blues create a swirling soundscape on “Sleeping with Tallboy.” Originally East River Pipe, one of the more obscure artists on the Merge Records roster, “Sleeping with Tallboy” now sounds more like “Sleeping with Shrooms.”
MP3: Vehicle Blues – Sleeping with Tallboy (East River Pipe cover)

Check out more Quickies here.