Sep 282016
 
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Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh)’s new cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” has a number of knocks against it. His description doesn’t exactly sell it: “i was asked to record a version of this tune awhile back..nothing came of it..thought i’d put up here.” It’s accompanied by shaky iPhone video of his kids. And instead of being played on John Cusack’s boombox, it sounds like it was recorded into that boombox.

But despite all that, Barlow delivers a beautiful acoustic version that rescues the song from the cliche it has sometimes become. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with maybe a mandolin accompanying him (hard to tell given the audio), what at first appears to be a tossed-off lark actually turns into a moving and compellingly beautiful performance. And his kid’s cute too. Listen below. Continue reading »

May 292015
 

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!

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Someday you idiots will shut up and listen to him. — Lou Barlow

Elliott Smith was an outlier. He stuck out on his label, Kill Rock Stars, home of Sleater-Kinney and The Raincoats. He stuck out at the Oscars, wearing a white suit while performing “Miss Misery,” a polar bear stranded on a floating iceberg that failed to sink the Academy’s love of all things Titanic. And he stuck out in defiance to America’s ignorance of his music by continuing to do things his own way, against the advice of those who supposedly had his best interests in mind. Unfortunately, he sometimes didn’t have his own, either.
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Apr 202011
 

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 LipsThurston 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. Continue reading »

Oct 222010
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Elliott Smith’s 1997 release, Either/Or, strikes the perfect balance between the stripped-down acoustic recordings of his early career and the more fleshed-out arrangements that he would later explore. It doesn’t hurt that the album contains some of his most memorable melodies as well.

With its near-whispered vocals and dark lyrics, Elliott Smith’s music has always had a personal, headphone-music quality to it—you don’t see many summer barbecue mixes blaring tracks like “2:45 AM.” As a result, the best covers of his songs tend not to stray far from the singer-recording-in-his-bedroom model, but we’ve also included some of the more adventurous interpretations of his work. Continue reading »

Sep 062010
 

The twenty-first century has devalued the “song of the summer” concept something fierce. With listeners increasingly fractured into obscure niches, no song unites the culture the way the Beach Boys or Four Seasons did back in the day. Even if you hated those songs, they were a part of your summer experience. After all, loathing counts as an experience.

Speaking of loathing…“California Gurls.” If there was a song that dominated summer 2010, that was it. It’s a simple formula. Katy Perry + singing about chicks = summer smash. That wasn’t the only summer ‘010 hit though. There were the indie summer jams, of which we’ve got a couple, as well as the hits blaring from car radios. Even if you consider yourself above the Top 40, odds are you’ve heard these one way or another: over the supermarket PA, at a minor-league ball game, or from the crappy iPod speakers serenading the couple next to you at the beach. So while these may or may not have defined your personal summer, they come to as close to universal as it gets these days. You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape these songs.*

*Summer Song ’02 reference. Continue reading »