1994. A brilliant year for music. In my native UK, we heard the first rumblings of Britpop with the release of Oasis’s ‘Live Forever’, ‘Parklife’ by Blur and Primal Scream’s ‘Rocks’. Stateside, Green Day released their classic ‘Dookie’, Johnny Cash had his his renaissance with his first Rick-Rubin produced album, and Outkast unleashed their debut.
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!
At this writing, Glen Campbell is taking his Farewell Tour. This is not one of those concert tours by a celebrity announcing retirement yet again; rather, it’s Campbell taking a valedictory lap around the country before the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease rob him entirely of his gifts. Reviews of these shows note the occasional stumbles, but also make mention of the standing ovations, Campbell’s still-unerring guitar work, and the fact that this is a man who doesn’t need to make new fans – he needs to say good-bye in style, and he’s doing exactly that.
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.
After last spring’s double-disc tribute offering, you might think we’d be done with Guided By Voices covers for a while. Not so. Miami metalheads Torche are releasing three of their own covers on an upcoming split EP with tourmates Part Chimp. They chose “Postal Blowfish” and two Propellers cuts: “Unleashed! The Largehearted Boy” and “Exit Flagger,” which you can listen to below.
Guided by Voices are a truly influential band in the indie music sphere. Their 20+ year run provided the sonic groundwork for the lo-fi, DIY aesthetic so prevalent in today’s indie music scene. So it comes as no surprise that so many artists would be willing to provide covers from all eras of Guided by Voices work for the tribute album, Sing For Your Meat. Ranging from veterans such as The Flaming Lips, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame), and Lou Barlow, to artists more recently making names for themselves like La Sera and Blitzen Trapper, the bands on this 23-track tribute pay loving homage to a band without whom they might not exist.
Things kick off with a slightly sped up, straight forward rock cover of “Scalding Creek” by Kelly Deal and Buffalo Killers. The vocals keep the simple two part harmony. When they take a break, the lead guitar comes wailing through for a simple, yet effective solo, until the song pulls back on the reigns a little and comes to an abrupt halt. Things keep moving along quite swiftly, since, keeping true to the spirit of Guided by Voices, most songs clock in around two minutes or so, and indie star power like Thurston Moore and Lou Barlow is nicely mixed in with lesser known artists like Western Civ.
As you probably heard, Saturday was Record Store Day. In fact, you probably heard that here. Many, many times. Yes, we’ve already done plenty of RSD cover coverage. In brief:
• Of Montreal Record Buffalo Springfield Cover for Record Store Day
• Listen: LCD Soundsystem Covers Franz Ferdinand’s “Live Alone”
• Listen: The Decemberists Sing the Louvin Brothers for Record Store Day
• Listen: Foo Fighters Release Two New Covers on ‘Medium Rare’
• Peaches, ESG, and Stephin Merritt Cover Franz Ferdinand for Record Store Day
• LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great” Receives a Folk Makeover by the Toadies
• Green Day Celebrates Record Store Day with “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely”
Well, believe it or not, there’s more. Lots more. So below we round up our favorite Record Store Day covers we haven’t posted yet. They include new covers by the Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, Steve Earle, The Twilight Sad, Clinic, and Ty Segall. Check ‘em out below!
The Guided by Voices tribute album comes out this weekend, and as we approach its Record Store Day release, we’re hearing more and more of what we can look forward to. We’ve already played you covers by Thurston Moore, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Mass Solo Revolt, and now it’s time to draw your attention to another.
Few artists can claim to be as prolific as Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard. Ignore the GBV catalogue and look at his solo output over the last five years alone – 12 full-length albums people! He built his status as a lo-fi icon with that seminal band, however, and must find living that legacy down as difficult as the solo Beatles did.