In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Tomorrow, veteran rock band Local H releases its ninth album, the Steve Albini-produced LIFERS. It is a weird time to be releasing an album. Many major artists have postponed releases, with no way to properly promote them. One of the best live rock bands out there, Local H can’t play any shows to support it. So tonight they’re doing a live streaming show on their Facebook page tonight. Guarantee it will rock a little harder than the acoustic guitar’d singer-songwriters dominating the quarantinestreams.
LIFERS doesn’t include any covers, but frontman Scott Lucas has been covering a new song every day on that same Facebook page. He has a different cocktail for each one, and even dresses up for some of the performances, from yacht-rock leisure to the Tiger King. It’s a long way from the self-serious stereotype of the ’90s grunge band. But even when Local H was a ’90s grunge band, they always had a sense of humor (see “Eddie Vedder,”“All the Kids Are Right”). And they’ve outlasted most of their peers, continuing to record killer albums to an extremely passionate fanbase. LIFERS is the perfect album title.
So we decided to ask Scott about his own favorite covers, which he ranked from number five to number one. Here’s what he said:Continue reading »
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“Friday I’m In Love” is a dumb pop song, but it’s quite excellent actually, just because it’s so absurd…. It’s so out of character – very optimistic and really out there in happy land. It’s nice to get that counterbalance. People think we’re supposed to be leaders of some sort of “gloom movement.” I could sit and write gloomy songs all day long, but I just don’t see the point. – Robert Smith
For a mopey band, the Cure sure knew their way around a good pop song. Any number of sunshine ‘n’ rainbow combos would give their proverbial eyeteeth for the skills to write, record, and release songs like “In Between Days” or “Boys Don’t Cry.” But of all their songs, none seem so counter to Robert Smith & Co’s image as “Friday I’m In Love.” It’s so exuberant, so euphoric, you almost don’t know what to do with it. Picture someone skipping down the sidewalk, hands up high, beaming at the sunshine, people turning to stare at his wake – that’s “Friday I’m In Love.”
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Memphis rock-and-roll lifers Lucero celebrate 20 years together, and they’ve never been better. Their last album, 2015’s All a Man Should Do, was low-key the best of their career – just listen to the fiery horn blast “Can’t You Hear Them Howl” if you’re not convinced. This Friday they will return with the follow-up, Among the Ghosts. Early signs point to another classic; I mean, how can you go wrong with a song titled “Cover Me”?
“Cover Me” is an original Lucero song, but the band does record actual covers regularly. Their last album’s Big Star cover even earned a spot on our Best of 2015 list. So in honor of their covers, and their “Cover Me,” we spoke with founding member John C. Stubblefield about his five favorite cover songs. He takes on a musical and personal tour of growing up in Memphis, a punk-rock kid discovering his city’s musical heritage.Continue reading »
A clear theme emerged in this week’s set: electronics. Not straight dubstep, 8-bit, or dance music though, but electronics blended with other genres. Electronic folk, electronic grunge, and electronic Latin soul all come into play in these covers. Plus, since we took last week off for CMJ, its an embarrassment of riches that gives us some bonus tunes at the bottom.Continue reading »
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
The recent release of Easy Wonderful has given Guster fans reason to fall in love with them all over again. As their album title insinuates, they have an agreeable sound that resonates with you and has aged well over the past (almost) 20 years. If the Beach Boys went to college in the 90’s, added some bongos, and stayed out of the sun, Guster is what they would sound like.
Featured on soundtracks like Life as a House and Wedding Crashers, their songs can pull at the heartstrings as you croon along with them. On the other hand, they are better known for their laid-back, wisecracking personalities that beam from the stage and infect their fans. During their years of touring, they have taken on many cover songs with both their sensitive and playful dispositions (but mostly the latter). Typically at the end of a show, Guster will rile up the crowd with a number from Madonna, Talking Heads, or whoever sings the “Cheers” theme song (Portnoy) and get everyone involved. Most of the time, it’s just an excuse to get drummer Brian Rosenworcel out in front showing off his questionable vocals, calling in the crowd for backup. It’s just like being at a karaoke bar.Continue reading »
The first post of the month always features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
The thing most surprising about the music on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is its accessibility. Just imagine someone hearing the concept behind this album for the first time. “So it’s about a transsexual alien who tells the world it only has five years to survive. This news makes the transsexual alien sad, so he writes some songs and forms a hit band. Then he becomes Jesus for awhile, until other aliens come along and rip him into little bits to absorb his essence.” Good God, the person would think, what could music about that possibly sound like? Well, it turns out it sounds like good old-fashioned rock and roll with a sprinkle of glam. No one (including Bowie) really understands the plotline, but everyone can get on board with the incredible music.
Arcade Fire – Five Years
In 2005 Wynn Butler and the Arcade Fire crew performed this with Bowie himself at a iTunes-released Fashion Rocks concert (great video here). This comes from around that time, a Bowie-less concert performance that features all the bombast we’ve come to expect from the Fire. [Buy]
Tim Reynolds – Soul Love
Longtime Dave Matthews sideman Tim Reynolds may be one of the best acoustic guitar players around today. He’s got dozens of concerts available for free download at archive.org, most featuring a wide selection of instrumental covers like this one. [Buy]
L.A. Guns – Moonage Daydream
One of the best opening couplets in rock: “I’m an alligator / I’m a mama-papa coming for you!” The Whites Stripes do a raw version of this live (video), but stay tuned for some more polished Jack White. [Buy]
Nena – Starman
You probably know Nena from her hit “99 Luftballoons,” unless you live in Germany where she’s a legitimate artist with an actual career and everything. Wherever you’re from, her album Cover Me (dumb name, huh) is worth snagging, if only for the phenomenal two-sentence Wikipedia description: “Cover Me is a cover album by German pop star Nena, released in 2007. It contains songs that she likes.” Apparently one song she likes is a German-language version of “Heroes.” [Buy]
The Raconteurs – It Ain’t Easy (Ron Davies)
I used to exclude albums with non-original songs from Full Albums consideration until the irony of excluding artists who did covers from a cover songs blog became too great. Plus, we know Jack White’s a fan of the album (see above), so his shrieking guitar work is surely tribute to original Ziggy player Mick Ronson. [Buy]
Seu Jorge – Lady Stardust
Wes Anderson is a weird director. There’s no other explanation to explain why he scored his The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with singer/actor Jorge’s Portugese-language versions of Bowie classics. Anderson even put videos of Jorge performing the songs in the movie! Here’s the clip for “Lady Stardust.” [Buy]
Techno Cowboy – Star
One fine day singer-songwriter Brad Stubbs decided to strap in some weird 80s instruments under pseudonym Techno Cowboy and record The Ziggy Stardust Omnichord Album. The world was never the same. [Buy]
David Bowie loved Mott the Hoople so much he offered them this song if they agreed not to break up. They declined, so Bowie came back with a second offer: “All the Young Dudes.” They recorded it, had a massive hit…then broke up anyway. [Buy]
Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
The original plays while “the infinites” tear a washed-up old Ziggy to bits onstage. This cover would be better suited to soundtrack the last dance at prom. Until the unexpected ending. [Buy]