Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

It’s late July and summer’s hitting with a vengeance. It’s hot, it’s sticky, and some days the last thing you want to do is move. Well, today’s featured band will get you off your ass no matter what the thermostat reads. It’s Mexican salsa-dance cover duo Tropikal Forever, who bring a wild south-of-the-border sound perfect for embracing the sweatiest side of the season. Continue reading »

In a preview of what is to come at this year’s Sonisphere Festival, British comedian Bill Bailey has a message for Metallica. Filmed at his rehearsals for his headlining spot on the Saturn Stage at the Sonisphere UK at Knebworth in July ’11, Bailey and his band are ready to take on the legendary heavy metal rockers. Continue reading »

Apr 142011

YouTube is filled with amateur cover “artists.” Most stink. On the ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.

YouTube often tests the faith of even the most loyal champion. Why do so many teenage girls think webcam a cappella versions of Rihanna hits make them worthy of our time? Millions do, apparently. Just when you feel ready to give up on the whole endeavor, you come across a wild looking Ukrainian piano maestro playing Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and you breathe a sigh of relief.

Vika Yermolyeva, who goes by the moniker vkgoeswild on YouTube, trained classically and has received numerous awards for her playing. Now based in Iceland, she also harbors a not-so-secret love of metal, which she expresses by showcasing her solo piano arrangements of songs by bands such as MetallicaNine Inch Nails and System of a Down. Her stunning results illustrate the beauty of the piano as a musical instrument in the right hands: an instrument that combines percussion and melody better than all others, allowing for an incredible range of expression. Continue reading »

America’s obsession with choirs covering popular hits has been growing with intensity over the last several years. Just look at the television sensation Glee, the Academy Award/Hollywood darlings of PS22 Chorus, and even those crappy group song nights on American Idol.  However, last year audiences were introduced to a different kind of choir in a haunting trailer for the movie, The Social Network. Sung by an all-female Belgian group, the Scala and Kolacny Brothers’ ethereal cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” played over the montage.  Their unique take on this oft-covered tune became an overnight sensation.

The United States may just be catching on, but the Scala choir has been creating chilling cover songs since 1996. With five studio albums under their belts in Europe, Scala is finally reaching across the pond. In addition to their North American tour that begins next month, the group finally released their album in the U.S. Boasting thirteen tracks from their previous overseas albums, Scala and Kolacny Brothers is a great introduction to some of their best material.  Continue reading »

It’s a bit difficult at times to see the distinctions between all of Richie Follin’s projects. While Guards is not a solo project, per se, Follin is the only regular member. He is a part of Cults and the Willowz and has recorded solo under his full name, Richie James Follin. Loren Shane Humphrey, another member of the Willowz, occasionally joins him in Guards, as does his sister and co-Cults rocker Madeline Follin. The man has done a remarkable job of managing his Internet presence, and very little information can be gathered about him or his projects. His music, on the other hand, is far more expressive. Continue reading »

Download This! scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.


Bonnaroo Music Festival has worked hard to build up its reputation as a haven for experimentation of all types. Many attendees would consider it a disappointment to travel all the way to Manchester, TN on a hot June weekend and not experience something totally weird and trippy. Musically, this philosophy finds its realization in the yearly tradition of the Bonnaroo SuperJam, which brings together odd pairings of artists just for the hell of it.

For lovers of covers, the 2008 SuperJam is especially noteworthy. New York City Gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello joined Primus bass-master Les Claypool for a set consisting entirely of songs by the peerless Tom Waits. But wait, there’s more! Metal-head Kirk Hammett of Metallica fame joined this already-crazy pairing for three songs. Continue reading »

Could the breakout cover star of 2010 be…Shakira? Seems like a stretch, but so far she’s two for two. Back in May she unleashed her popped-up version of the xx’s indie breakout “Islands.” Now on her fall tour she takes on metal! Is this really the same woman who once sang, “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble / So you don’t confuse them with mountains”?

Her The Sun Comes Out tour began in Montreal a couple nights ago and with it came some Metallica. “Nothing Else Matters,” to be specific, from the band’s 1992 self-titled effort. Shaki’ strips it down to an acoustic trio of mandolin, violin, and south-of-the-border drumming. Shakira being Shakira, she even throws in a Spanish verse halfway through. Only one question remains: Who’s the better dancer, her or James Hetfield? Continue reading »

Music bloggers get hundreds of emails a day from bands. An obscure artist trying to get their original material heard fights an uphill battle, but there’s a shortcut that more and more artists are discovering: covers. A disc of originals may never get unwrapped, but do a semi-professional Lady Gaga cover and the blog love starts rolling in.

Illinois songwriter Lissie has figured this out. She first appeared on the horizon for many with her cover of “Bad Romance” (below). She followed up with an about face on Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” (also below). Now she’s back a third time going for real Internet cred with a cover of Pitchfork/Kanye West fav Kid Cudi. Quite disparate sources of inspiration. What’s next, Rachmaninoff?
Continue reading »

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