Dec 182014
 

Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.

It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.

We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ’em.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

Sep 252013
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question comes from Cover Me writer Jordan Becker: What cover song made you reevaluate your feelings about the original?
Continue reading »

Oct 132010
 

It’s Pink Floyd month here at Cover Me! Only a few weeks ago we posted a two-part series covering every song on The Wall (click for parts 1 and 2). Now we turn to Dark Side of the Moon for a Cover Me premiere. And what a premiere it is! Prepare to have your face melted (and not because you took too much acid).

Chicago grunge stalwarts Local H drop their Awesome Mix Tape #1 covers album next week. One song stands out amidst the Concrete Blonde and Agent Orange tunes: “Time.” Not only is Pink Floyd the least obvious choice for this hard-rocking duo, but this particular track comes off of Pink Floyd’s psychedelic opus, making the selection even less likely. Would the pair really sell out their full-throttle assault for some spacey meandering? Not bloody likely. No matter how many times you spun Dark Side in your dorm room, you might not even recognize the track at first. Brian St. Clair’s pummeling drums push the song into overdrive while Scott Lucas unleashes a one-man guitar storm. Continue reading »

Jun 022009
 

Some Pixies fans will tell you this album invented alternative rock. Others will say it invented indie. Regardless, what remains clear is that Doolittle helped is still revered by musicians today. Every indie band seems to have a Pixies cover up their sleeve, if their original songs don’t already sound like Pixies covers in the first place. From the opening riff of “Debaser” through the loud-soft “Gouge Away,” it’s a classic for anyone who wants to understand the past twenty years of music.

Rogue Wave – Debaser
The guys substitute a riff of their own in the intro and continue reworking things throughout, from the tune to the harmonies. It takes a bit of getting used to if you know the original, but they manage to make it a completely new song valid in its own right. [Buy]

Local H – Tame
Scott Lucas talk-sings over a thumping bass line until the primal freak-out over the chorus, showing these guys to be anything but tame. [Buy]

The Arcade Fire – Wave of Mutilation
A little mini-song here, Win and the gang got a little audience sing-along going on this tune last year. It sounds spontaneous until the instruments quietly come in and you realize the band knows this song backwards and forwards. [Buy]

PC Munez – I Bleed
If you think you can’t dance to Doolittle, you’d be wrong. Electro blips and thumps ignite the singing duet, threatening to explode but barely staying bottled. The air raid siren sound seems apocalypticly appropriate. [Buy]

Lerkruka – Here Comes Your Man
For some reason I think Frank Black would approve of a Swedish-language cover, reasonably close to the original if you ignore the lyrics. [Buy]

Radio Active – Dead
Off of a Japanese tribute to Pixies, the lyrics are in…oh, I guess that’s English. Strong accent, but the roaring guitars come so close to drowning out the lyrics it doesn’t matter. These cries of agony cross continents. [Buy]

Far – Monkey Gone To Heaven
Making the verses sound like radio-transmitted chatter about seems a perfectly nonsensical way to approach this one matter-of-factly talking about “ten million pounds of sludge” and burning the ground. Next to that, the chorus almost makes sense. [Buy]

TV on the Radio – Mr. Grieves
I have yet to discover the story behind this a cappela gem, but thank god for Tunde nd the boys. It’s rich and beautifully world, making me think these guys should have auditioned for Ben Folds recent CD. [Buy]

Venus Imperium – Crackity Jones
With so many bizarre and processed covers, sometimes a simple acoustic take is refreshing. It’s light, bringing out both the lyrics and melody as simply as possible. [Buy]

Weston – La La Love You
“Shake your butt.” “Not too hard.” Has there ever been a better intro to a song ever? Add in some whistling and you’ve got gold. [Buy]

Elk City – No. 13 Baby
The recent Dig For Fire Pixies tribute album is worth a listen or ten, not least for this falsetto-swoon that almost makes it sound like a bluesy Tom Waits cover. [Buy]

Asterid – There Goes My Gun
Frank Black’s website forum facilitate a fan-based tribute album that the band’s manager said had as good covers as he’d ever heard. The toy piano tinkles an intro for a tune that gets louder fast with horns and yells. [Buy]

Eskimo Joe – Hey
A little acoustic jive here, bumping along slowly like a funkier Ben Harper. [Buy]

Bluebottle Kiss – Silver
Quiet brushed drums provide all the rhythm this slow-burn needs to stay focus as it inches forward, molasses-slow but keeping you along for the whole ride. [Buy]

Andrew McCubbin – Gouge Away
Absurd number of covers of this one, but Andrew’s voice does it for me. Organ, bass and guitar is all the backing this singing needs. [Buy]