Aug 202010
 

If you’ve ever attended a music festival, you need to know Consequence of Sound. If you ever plan on attending a music festival, you need to know Consequence of Sound. If you have no interest in music festivals whatsoever, you need to wise up…and then you need to know Consequence of Sound. In addition to the site’s regular music news and features, their Festival Outlook has established itself as the premiere source for festival info. From lineup info (which they always seem to know before anyone else) to reviews, their coverage spans ‘em all, from the big boys (Bonnaroo, Coachella) to the underdogs (Ghoulsfest?).

Suffice to say: These guys know their festivals. So as fest season winds down, we checked in with some CoS writers (of whom – full disclosure – I am one) to hear the best festival covers they’ve ever witnessed. Here’s what they offered. Each has a review and a video so you can vicariously experience the insanity.

After you finish here, hop over to CoS’ Friday Mixtape! The covers were chosen by yours truly. Continue reading »

Jul 082010
 

Not much is known about Cee-Lo Green’s upcoming album Lady Killer, but count on one thing: it won’t be as huge as “Crazy.” That’s the problem with having one of the biggest hits of the last decade; nothing Cee-Lo does will ever be as big as “Crazy.” That Gnarls Barkley song crossed the line from hit single to cultural phenomenon and, listening to it again a few years later, it holds up.

A cover of indie-folk upstarts Band of Horses seems unlikely to make a similar impact. The fact that Green grooves to the flannel-and-beard set is a bit surprising, but “No One’s Gonna Love You” translates pretty well to his funkier soul sound. It even comes with a video, which debuted a few days ago but kept getting pulled by the RIAA. Now it’s out officially. It mostly features a couple being adorable on a road trip until, as tends to happen with road trips, things devolve. There’s also a dead fish. The vintage clip fits the lyrics, if not the electro-soul sound.
Continue reading »

May 102010
 

Number-one hits get all the glory, but what about the runners-up, the second-best, the popular-but-not-quite-popular-enough?  You might be surprised what classic singles stalled at #2, and what forgotten yesterhits kept them from the top.  Cover Me salutes the silver medalists as a reminder to the kids: winning isn’t everything.  As long as you come in second.

Continue reading »

Nov 062008
 

With one year of this blog behind me, I decided to take on my most ambitious full album post yet. My general rule of thumb with these has been the album has to be at least ten years old. I broke this once already, with Tom Wait’s Mule Variations, but it’s still nine years. Today I give you an album that’s one year old. For most albums that wouldn’t be enough time to amass one cover, much less all. But most albums are not In Rainbows. And so as the world celebrates the one-year anniversary of the disc with the news that Radiohead’s pioneering pay-what-you-want was a huge financial success (read about it here), here are the tunes reimagined. As you will see, I had to stretch the definition of “cover” several times to get ‘em all, but I hope you’ll agree the ambitious result was worth it.

David Porteous – 15 Step
The first song on the album I predicted would be the most challenging to find. How can you make a song so reliant on a wild drum machine pattern your own? Easily, Porteous shows us, miraculously pulling off the most unlikely of feats: a credible acoustic version. [Buy]

The Matches – Bodysnatchers
Another acoustic take here, this time a double-axe duel shows this Oakland punk duo recreating the basics of the original while giving the vocals and guitars room to breathe. You can finally understand the lyrics, but the wordless moaned harmonies are the true star here. [Buy]

James Houston – Nude
We’ve got the weirdest one of the bunch here, by a long shot. It was made with a series of vintage computer equipment and, though it takes a while to get recognizable, the incredibly bizarre sounds that emit from these machines are worth the wait. I wouldn’t say it’s altogether pleasant, but it’s damn interesting. Houston created it for a graduation project and, though he’s not a musician, soon got an offer from a record label in the frenzy it spawned. Read all the details here. [Buy]

J-OS – Weird Fishes
This drum-and-bass raver starts off just putting a staccato snare beat over a similar voice/guitar part, before veering completely away from the original, adding instruments and effects to a cacophony of funky house. [Buy]

Christopher O’Riley – All I Need
O’Riley has a series of instrumental piano Radiohead covers that are uniformly excellent, many available for free download. I strongly urge you to check them out here. [Buy]

Keith Petrower – Faust Arp
Keith mixes it up a nice amount here. It’s got a mesh of instruments that neither blend nor clash, keeping it lively as it pushes towards its quick conclusion. [Buy]

Gnarls Barkley – Reckoner
From “Gone Daddy Gone” to this, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse clearly know their way around a well-chosen cover. The soaring melody seems tailor-made for Cee, who attacks it with relish while the band rocks out behind. [Buy]

Radiohead – House of Cards (Solarstone Remix)
That’s right, this is not technically a cover, but a remix. A trance remix though, so dramatically different than the original it might as well be a cover. Who knew Radiohead was so danceable? [Buy]

OK Rainbow Thief – Jigsaw Falling Into Place
This starts off sounding pretty similar to the original, except the vocals never come in. Though it never drastic departs the original mold, this obvious cover band (look at the name again) highlights a bass line I never noticed before and gives the tune a little flair of their own. [Buy]

AmpLive ft. Del That Funky Homosapien – Videotape
Another remix technically, this just serves to use those haunting piano chords as a background for Del to spit mad rhymes over. To this day I can’t hear the original without expecting him to come in. “Flashlights report the lies…” [Buy]

Radiohead

 Posted by at 11:16 pm  No Responses »
Aug 112008
 

I’m seeing Radiohead on Wednesday night, and that seemed as good an excuse as any for this week’s theme.
EDIT: My review of the concert here.

Easy Star All-Stars – Let Down
From the people who brought you Dub Side of the Moon, it’s Radiodread! You can probably guess the musical genre, but they’re surprisingly adept at bringing the Jamaican flavor to the music, throwing in horns and a big chorus on top of the backbeat guitar.

Jorge Drexler – High and Dry
You may not know the name of this Latin guitar master, but Oscar does. In 2004 his song from The Motorcycle Diaries made him the first person from Uruguay to win an Academy Award. Throw this cover in a film, and I’d vote for a second.

Nickel Creek – Just
Fast-paced bluegrass is what Nickel Creek does, and they do it well.

John Mayer – Kid A
This is Mayer in his acoustic “Your Body Is a Wonderland” guise, not the blues guitar god, but don’t hold that against this simple power-chord ballad.

Northern Kings – Creep
Wikipedia calls them a “Finnish symphonic metal cover band,” following in the footsteps of Lordi but with less elaborate costumes. They do everyone from Lionel Ritchie to Jethro Tull on their album Reborn and here they bring their epic goth to Radiohead. You may well hate it, but for a song that’s been covered a billion times, at least it’s different.

Christopher O’Riley – Arpeggi
A classical pianist, O’Riley has a whole series of Yorke songs in his repertoire, many of which can be downloaded at his website. This is a cover of the early live version of a song that would be revised for In Rainbows as “Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.” O’Riley says he prefers the early version for “the more minimalist/tone generative aspects inherent in the song structure.” Okay.

John Vanderslice – Karma Police
A few years ago Stereogum commissioned covers of every song off OK Computer to celebrate its tenth anniversary. The whole thing is downloadable here (track-by-track notes here), but this off-beat drum machine take is a highlight, with some of the hardest-rocking acoustic guitar you’re likely to hear this side of the D coming in halfway through.

Gnarls Barkley – Reckoner
Cee-Lo’s voice is perfect for this song, which they’ve been doing in their sets as of late. A higher quality source (soundboard) than most others circulating.

KT Tunstall – Fake Plastic Trees
The introspective quiet-but-whiney female thing got real old after Vanessa Carlton and Alanis Morisette in the 90’s, but this song works well in the style.

Gillian Welch – Black Star
Country songwriter Welch makes brings sweet harmonies and guitar work to this one, avoiding any temptation to make it all Nashville honky-tonk.

Sa-Ra – In Limbo
From the electronic-ey tribute album Exit Music: Songs for Radioheads, Sa-Ra brings a funk element to all the synthesizers. More fun in one song than all of Kid A.

Calico Horse – Idioteque
I would have thought this song was uncoverable. I would have been wrong. It sounds perfectly natural in this quiet, drum machine free guise.

Dirty Pop

 Posted by at 11:40 pm  No Responses »
Nov 032007
 

Doing a 180 from the last post’s Dylan covers, today we’re gonna showcase covers of the lowest of the low, the pop song. We’re talking the song that’s written by a team of middle-aged men for some dimwit nineteen year old to auto-tune her way through. Basically, everything you hear on the radio these days. As you might imagine, take away the elaborate production and the irritating fact that someone’s making a killing with these songs, and you wind up with lots of potential for fun covers. With comps like Pop Goes Punk selling big, the pop cover is almost a genre by itself. Here it is, done right.

Jenny Owen Youngs – Hot In Herre (Nelly)
Probably my favorite of the bunch, it takes a real talent to turn a rap song into a…non rap song. But she does it, adding a cutesy tune that is fabulously inappropriate for the lyrics, complete with awkward white-dude backing vocals. Finds like this are why I follow covers.

The Mountain Goats – The Sign (Ace of Base)
A folky duet by a group that seems to be enjoying this one a little too much. The lead singer was quoted as saying this was not supposed to be a joke cover, but rather should bring out the lyrical quality of the original. Whatever.

Willie Nelson – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
If you didn’t know the original, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out this wasn’t a Willie Nelson song with a particularly catchy melody. He plays with the rhythm of the chorus in a way that throws you at first, but works.

Matt Weddle – Hey Ya! (Outkast)
A Youtube sensation, this version takes the quirky pop sensation and plays it straight, an irony-free meditation on hype and failure. When people perform pop songs as if there’s a deep meaning, 99% of the time they sound like idiots. This is the other 1%.

Jamelia – Numb (Linkin Park)
This was on pretty constant rotation for weeks after I discovered it at Copy, Right. Stripping down the heavy-handed production of the original in favor of heavily-strummed acoustic guitars (perhaps the main staple of good pop covers) reveals an incredibly catchy melody.

Shawn Colvin – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
One of today’s premier cover artists, this one floated around the blogosphere when it came out last year. It’s very tightly done, if perhaps a little precious.

The Raconteurs – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
And, on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, we have Jack White’s side project here. They performed this live a few times in ’06, including this version at Lollapalooza, thrash-rocking it out with some banshee squealing choruses.

Fountains of Wayne – Baby One More Time (Britney Spears)
Sounds about like what you would think Fountains of Wayne doing a Britney Spears song might sound like.

Nickel Creek – Toxic (Britney Spears)
More modern Britney here, this one’s a little love or hate, with fiddle, banjo, and loads of falsetto. I love it.

Dartmouth Aires – Ask the Lonely (Journey)
What pop cover set would be complete without a little Journey, the definition of guilty pleasure? And with a soloist who can belt it like just like Steve Perry, it doesn’t get better. [Note: Apparently Journey’s just good for acapella; Petra Hayden (formerly of the Decemberists) does a nice Don’t Stop Believing.]

Astrid Swan – When You Were Young (The Killers)
I feel like I’m showing all my cards in this entry, as many of these are among my favorite covers ever. The piano by itself would be pretty enough; add on top of it her gorgeous voice and you’ve got a version better than the original.

The Mooney Suzuki – Just Like Jesse James (Cher)
Just released on the album Guilt By Association, it’s another one that sounds so perfect for its context that it’s hard to remember it used to be very, very different.

Hurra Torpedo – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)
The rhythm is off, the guitar playing is out-of-tune, and the vocalist can’t sing. But it’s being played by the leading Norwegian kitchen appliance band, so really what more do you need? (Don’t believe me…to youtube!)

John West – Umbrella (Rihanna)
There are a billion cover versions of this already, by everyone from Mandy Moore to Tegan and Sara, but the cello in this one makes it better than most. It takes the über-catchy factor out of the song, making it an acoustic slow jam that rocks you to sleep.