Later this year, we’ll be posting our year-end lists. One category we don’t include is “Best New Cover Performer” – but if we did, The Land Below would be a shoe-in. We’ve already heard him beautifully cover Slipknot, Alanis Morisette, and Eagle-Eye Cherry (how’s that for a diverse source list?). Now he’s back with another unexpected pick, Moby’s “Porcelain.” Less unexpected: he does a fantastic job, once again.
They say nostalgia works in 20-year cycles, and this year the music of 1996 has been in the media a lot. And if you believe the music blogs, it turns out 1996 was a truly groundbreaking year for every possible genre. Over at SPIN: “The 96 Best Alternative Rock Songs Of 1996.” Complex: “Best Rap Songs of 1996.” Junkee: “Ten reasons 1996 was a great year for dance music”. Loudwire: “10 Best Metal Albums of 1996.” Red Bull Music: “1996: Why it was a great year for pop”. Suck it, 1995! (Kidding; similar articles were of course written last year too.)
We’ll be honest: 1996 was not some magical, pioneering year for cover songs. It was also not a terrible year. It was just, you know, another year. There’s no overarching theorem of 1996’s cover songs that wasn’t true in ’95 or ’97. But even so, Cover Me wasn’t around in 1996, so we never made a Best Cover Songs of 1996 list (our first year-end list came in 2009, with the Kings of Convenience’s “It’s My Party” topping it, and you can catch up on all the lists here). So we decided, before the year ends and we take our look at the best covers songs this year, why not take a nostalgic rewind and do 1996 just for fun, twenty years too late.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
Not much can be said about Lou Reed that hasn’t already been said. When he died on October 27 at age 71, Reed left behind an indisputable legacy of influence that dwarfs some of the biggest names in rock and roll. You can ignore him, hate his music or his voice, dislike his politics or his openness with drugs and sexuality, or downplay his role in rock and roll history — but none of that matters. If you chopped down the tree of influence that grew from the roots of Reed and the Velvet Underground, what would come crashing down would take out most of the house of rock and roll as we know it. The leaf you listen to seems to be all its own, but the branches that hold it up are massive.
Last year to celebrate Halloween, Amanda Palmer held a Dresden Dolls reunion show in New York City. This year she hit the other coast, appearing on a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She brought along Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, Moby, and husband Neil Gaiman for a cover of Rocky Horror’s “Science Fiction/Double Feature.”
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• Doom-y electropop gal Chelsea Wolfe turns everything she touches to spooky. From her music, an affinity to Nick Cave could pretty much be assumed. She makes the connection explicit in this extra-dark cover of a Bad Seeds gem.
MP3: Chelsea Wolfe – I Let Love In (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds cover)
Tokyo Police Club just began their “10 Songs, 10 Days, 10 Hours, 10 Years” series and things are off to a good start. Basically, over the next 10 days, the band will cover one song for each year from 2001 through 2010. Each gets arranged and recorded in one 10-hour session, then premiered the next day. At this very moment they’re in an L.A. studio cranking away on Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness,” with unspecified songs to follow (options for 2003, listed on sponsor Polaroid’s website, include Train, Jason Mraz, the Strokes, and Audioslave).