Last week we heard Tokyo Police Club launch their “10 Songs, 10 Days, 10 Hours, 10 Years” covers series with their take on Moby’s “Southside.” Well it’s been four more days since, and that means four more covers. Each song comes from a year from 2002 through 2005, with the series continuing through this weekend. Several also feature guests, including Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos and Michael Jackson almost-guitarist Orianthi.
This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.
This Week on Bandcamp took a week off last week, so we come back swinging with a double-header. Instead of five tracks…ten! Download the main set first, then scroll onwards for bonus covers of Stevie Wonder, Twin Peaks, XTC, Kurt Vile, and Angus and Julia Stone.
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!
Florence + the Machine songstress Florence Welch recently capped off a breakout year with performances at the Grammys and Oscars. Considering her affinity for covers, it’s appropriate that she took on Aretha Franklin’s “Think” at the Grammys and handled Dido’s part with Best Song nominee A.R. Rahman at the Oscars. Florence + the Machine’s debut, Lungs, arrived less than two years ago, but Welch has already performed more covers than some musicians do in decades. Here are a few highlights, from Florence solo and with the help of her band the Machine.
In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist, album, or trend and asks, “Is it really as bad as all that?”
Disclaimer: This won’t be a strong defense of any particular American Idol artist. Let’s face it, the show has produced some music that’s utterly indefensible. You won’t catch me rocking out to Clay Aiken in the car anytime soon, mostly because “Invisible” is the creepiest song ever written. But a lot of music fans are quick to dismiss Idol as the lower common denominator of pop culture (an award properly given to the truly meritless Bridalplasty), when the series possesses several redeeming qualities. Chief among them: the ability to surprise audiences with the appearance of a knockout cover bobbing in a sea of dreary copycat performances.
Whether you’re a pining romantic, fading dance pioneer or violent dictator (see below), everyone deserves a second chance at love. Listening to songs pleading for another try makes you want to know the addressee’s response. Some we know – Sandy and Danny reconciled their differences at the fair; America decided yes, it was ready to twist again – but the rest leave you wondering. Was Warren reconsidered? Did she give up on Solomon? The world may never know.
Steve Earle and Reckless Kelly – Reconsider Me (Warren Zevon)
When you live a life of alcoholism, drug abuse and divorce, lines like “I’ll never make you sad again ‘cause I swear that I’ve changed since then” take on a heartbreaking sincerity. He probably said them a good deal. [Buy]
Bob Dylan and George Harrison – Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance (Henry Thomas)
Dylan re-wrote much of this 1927 blues tune for inclusion on 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. He revisited it in an impromptu 1970 Studio B jam session with Harrison, coming up with some new lyrics on the spot about “looking for a woman with some chicken knees.” [Buy]
Joe Cocker – Don’t Give Up On Me (Solomon Burke)
The title track to Solomon Burke’s Grammy-winning 2002 comeback album, “Don’t Give Up On Me” keeps its soul power even when transferred to the notoriously mush-mouthed Cocker. [Buy]
Jamie McClure – Let’s Twist Again (Chubby Checker)
Chubby ruled the summer of 1960 with his dance craze “The Twist.” Apparently without any new ideas, he asked America to recreate the magic the following summer with “Let’s Twist Again.” The country was happy to oblige. [Buy]
Robins and the Highrollers – Change Your Mind (The Killers)
Hot Fuss had its share of hit singles with “Somebody Told Me,” “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” but this album cut (not even included on the British version) holds its own next to any of them. [Buy]
Noseriders – Could We Start Again Please (Jesus Christ Superstar)
If Robert Johnson, Conway Twitty, and Jake Shimabukuro got together for an instrumental jam sesh, they probably wouldn’t go anywhere near Andrew Lloyd Webber. But if they did… [Buy]
The Oakdales – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
The genius of the Jackson 5 was how well an eleven-year old pipsqueak relayed the complexity of desire in a way people twice his age could relate to. [Free Download]
Violent Femmes – I Swear It (I Can Change) (South Park)
A homosexual appeal from a horny Saddam Hussein to an emotionally unstable Satan? Only on South Park. [Buy]
The Beautiful South – You’re the One That I Want (Grease)
What descriptors do justice to this duet? Goth-country? Brooding-romantic? How about: One of the best covers I’ve heard in a while. [Buy]
2009 will disappear into the ether in a few hours, but before it does there’s time for one last retrospective to do: The Top Covers of 2009. The Artists-to-Cover this year seemed to be Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson, though somewhat surprisingly no particularly definitive tribute to the latter has surfaced.
25. Imogen Heap – Thriller (Michael Jackson)
Any cover of this song loses something without the Vincent Price voice-over. Imogen Heap may not be the Godfather of Horror, but she’s just quirky enough to pull it off. [Buy]
24. Jason Bajada – You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son (Wolf Parade)
There’s nothing harder to pull off than an acoustic-guitar and voice cover. Anyone can try – just strum the chords – but few stand out from the pack of YouTube wannabes. Bajada is one. [Buy]
23. Thom Yorke – All for the Best (Miracle Legion)
How a semi-obscure songwriter got so many A-listers for his tribute album (Yorke, Michael Stipe, Frank Black) is a bit of a mystery, but the “Idioteque”-esq blips Yorke warbles over somehow makes perfect sense. [Buy]
22. Atlas Sound – Walk a Thin Line (Fleetwood Mac)
Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox’s other band put up this tempered falsetto cover on his blog with little fanfare earlier this year. As with most things he gets his hands on, it exploded. [Buy]
21. Florence and the Machine – Addicted to Live (Robert Palmer)
Largely known for the robo-models who jerk about in the video, “Addicted to Love” gets a much-needed upgrade from blog darling Florence and the Machine whose Lungs was one of the best albums of the year. [Buy]
20. The Dead Weather – You Just Can’t Win (Them)
This list easily could have been the twenty-five best Jack White covers of the year. On the b-side to the “Treat Me Like Your Mother” single (vinyl only, naturally), White hollers like an in-the-gutter bluesman which the band emits musical sludge around him. [Buy]
17. Joensuu 1685 – I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen covered Suicide in 2005 and this one sounds like Suicide fighting back. The feedback frenzy of an opening lasts almost three minutes until the singing begins. And this is the short version! [Buy]
16. Anya Marina – Whatever You Like (T.I.)
I despise this song with a passion, so it’s ironic that not one but two brilliant covers were some of my most-played (the other being by Joan As Police Woman). The lyrics are as profound as ever. Shorty, you the hottest. Love the way you drop it. Brain so good, could have sworn you went to college. [Buy]
14. Feist and Ben Gibbard – Train Song (Vashti Bunyan)
Indie-tastic charity comp Dark Was the Night had more new covers than many tribute albums, but was excluded for consideration from our list ‘cause it had just as many originals. However, the harmony on this semi-obscure song form 1966 cannot be ignored. [Buy]
13. John Frusciante – Song to the Siren (Tim Buckley)
Frusciante recently quit the Chili Peppers. If that enables him to make more experimental psychedelic covers like this one, thank goodness. He should have brought Flea with him. [Buy]
12. Coldplay – Fight for Your Right (Beastie Boys)
The Beastie Boys canceled a summer of high-profile festival appearance when MCA announced he had cancer. Jay-Z subbed in at All Points West, paying predictable tribute (“No Sleep Til Brooklyn”). More unexpected was Chris Martin’s brilliant minor-key piano ballad two days later. And the crowd goes wild . [Buy]
11. Town Bike – Radio Nowhere (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen closed his four-hour appearance on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle with a mashup of this and “Radio Radio.” Slamming it into “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio” works too. [Buy]
10. Ben’s Brother – Poker Face (Lady Gaga)
Everyone from Weezer to Daughtry covered “Poker Face” this year, its catchy hook a natural for ironic sing-alongs. The indie-acoustic covers seemed to work best and “beta male” Jamie Hartman sings it so enthusiastically you almost don’t hear the tongue in cheek. [Buy]
9. Chromeo – I Can’t Tell You Why (The Eagles)
Electro-funk duo Chromeo seems an unlikely duo to cover the Eagles. Their effects-laden delivery beats the odds though, taking the 1979 single straight into the twenty-first century. [Buy]
8. Dex Romweber Duo ft. Jack White – Last Kind Word Blues (Geechie Wiley)
Definitely the best Geechie Wiley cover this year. Jack White produced this one for his Third Man Records label and was nice enough to add his enviable yelp to this blues stomp. [Burn]
7. My Gold Mask – Bette Davis Eyes (Jackie DeShannon/Kim Carnes)
My Gold Mask sent this one our way a couple months ago, which just goes to show you artists out there, submissions are never ignored. [Buy]
5. The BPA ft. Iggy Pop – He’s Frank (Slight Return) (The Monochrome Set)
Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook to his mom) created the Brighten Port Authority apparently solely to produce some killer club-funk tracks with his favorite vocalists. Iggy Pop, who these days seems to have made a career out of guest appearances, sneers his way through this unearthed gem. Biggest shock of all: he managed to keep his shirt on during live performances! [Buy]
4. The Gaslight Anthem – I Do Not Hook Up (Kelly Clarkson)
The Gaslight Anthem tend to cover Bruce Springsteen, The Band, and Johnny Cash. Did the heart-on-sleeve rock revivals finally succumb to the temptation of the ironic pop cover? Not a chance. Against all odds Brian Fallon gives a Kelly Clarkson song the emotional heft of “The River.” [Buy]
2. Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers – I Only Have Eyes For You (The Flamingos)
Nick Cave recently called this his new favorite band, which is all the recommendation one needs. Their garage-punk racket turns this innocent love song into the best stalker rocker since “Every Breath You Take.” [Buy]