For thirteen years, siblings Sara and Sean Watkins – best known as two-thirds of Nickel Creek – have been hosting a monthly “Watkins Family Hour” concert in L.A. Frequent collaborators include Fiona Apple and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench, and they and more have finally recorded a debut album due out next week. It’s all covers, and the closing track is especially timely with the Grateful Dead just wrapping things up last week: the Dead’s American Beauty classic “Brokedown Palace.”
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Tusk‘s reputation as an infamous failure is pretty much cemented at this point. But it didn’t actually fail at all.
When Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs recorded their first Under the Covers collaboration, they were surprised that it was released with the subtitle “Vol. 1.” Whatever genius at the Shout! Factory label chose to do that deserves a raise and a promotion, as it led Sweet and Hoffs to record two more volumes. Where Volume 1 consisted of songs based in the ’60s, and Volume 2 was made up of ’70s songs, Volume 3, released this week, is all about the ’80s, the decade when Hoffs came of age as a musician and Sweet wasn’t far behind.
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.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Lindsey Buckingham turns 62 today. At an age where most people are looking forward to getting their first Social Security check, he’s in the middle of a 31-city tour, supporting his fourth album in the last six years, Seeds We Sow, featuring a fantastic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “She Smiled Sweetly”. Buckingham holds a special place in rock history, not just for his years as the crux of Fleetwood Mac, but for his willingness to embrace an off-kilter alternative sound even as he anchored a band that was guaranteed a top-ten placing with any album they released. Only Buckingham could ride the white stripe between the fast lane and the ditch with such confidence, due in no small part to his poppy but dark songwriting, his arranging skills, and his always-underrated guitar playing.
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• The Wooden Birds’ new single Two Matchsticks contains a couple bonus covers. They take two very disparate sources – Hall & Oates and Kenny Rogers – to an indie-folk-pop middle ground. Download “Maneater” below, then get “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” here.
MP3: The Wooden Birds – Maneater (Hall & Oates cover)