Aug 112019
 

Karine Polwart is a not a folk singer. Yes, she performs, arguably, in the folk tradition, but by and large, she sings her own material, covering weighty topics such as sex trafficking and depression, somehow contriving an upbeat mood to these often gloomy subjects. Fiercely intelligent, she is fit to stand alongside other Scottish songwriters, such as Dick Gaughan and Michael Marra. Apart from her own material, it has been from the canon of trad.arr. that she has drawn most inspiration, as well as a hefty number of the songs of Rabbie Burns. So I would say that Polwart’s new album Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook has come as a bit of a surprise to most. And it is the modern Scottish songbook she applies herself to, not broadsheets and bothy ballads. Indeed, apart from John Martyn’s 1973 song “Don’t Want to Know,” the earliest song on the album, Songbook draws nothing from any conspicuously folkie background. The catholic selection ranges through the Waterboys and the Blue Nile to current electro-poppers Chvrches and the eccentric oddball poet Ivor Cutler. No Rod Stewart, some may be pleased to recognize.
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Mar 052018
 
lucius covers

For many, the starting point for a good cover is the quality of the original song itself. And, Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line” teaches a masterclass in how to write a killer pop song. Released in the summer of 1978 and included on Rafferty’s first post-Stealer’s Wheel release Baker Street , the song reached number 12 on the Billboard chart and was generally considered to be the less-cool younger brother to the massive hit that was the title track.

In my opinion, there have only been a few covers of the song worthy of consideration, most notably the Bonnie Raitt version of the song on Slipstream. The relative paucity of great versions only makes Lucius’s new acoustic rendition of the tune on their latest release, NUDES, all the more special. The Brooklyn duo is no stranger to highly eclectic cover songs having included Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” on the deluxe edition of their 2017 release Good Grief, and crooned their way through “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on their freshman release, Wildewoman. Continue reading »

Jul 012014
 

Holy Shits! I’ll hope you’ll pardon my French y’all, for this was just the name the Foo Fighters recently gave themselves when returning to the stage after a recent gig in Delaware. For their encore performance they thought they would do something different and perform as a bar band (and introduced themselves under the aforementioned name) bashing out some rock classics. Continue reading »

Aug 142013
 

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.

Are you looking to discover a dream-poppy, trip-hoppy kind of singer? Do you want to learn about someone who invests her emotions in electronica? Have you been waiting far too long for the chance to learn about a singer-songwriter who can’t help but obliterate the way you think about famous songs with her covers? Boy, have we got an artist for you, and her name is Mimi Page.
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Jan 272012
 

“Right Down the Line” is one of those radio hits from the ’70s that if someone hummed a few bars you would recognize it instantly, but might not know the artist or song title. It was Scottish singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty’s second single from the 1978 album City to City, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary charts. Since his death a little more than a year ago there has been a renewed interest in his music. Continue reading »

Jan 182011
 

The world of somewhat under-the-radar pioneers has suffered devastating losses this past month. First the legendary Captain Beefheart passed in December. A few weeks later, Gerry Rafferty of “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle with You” fame left us. Finally, just four days ago Trish Keenan, lead singer of indie electro-poppers Broadcast, died of pneumonia. Oof. Continue reading »