Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

Norwegian folkie Ane Brun releases It All Starts with One this week and she’s giving away a bonus track for free: a solo guitar Arcade Fire cover that shows her lilting Scandinavian accent hitting full force.
MP3: Ane Brun – Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) (Arcade Fire cover) Continue reading »

Dec 162011

When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.

There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.

The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.” Continue reading »

Like free stuff? Just kidding. You’re reading a music blog; of course you like free stuff. Well, if the daily MP3 trickle leaves you wanting, how about this: 27 new covers, free to download, in this one post. They come from two new online mixtapes.

Verb/Re/Verb is an indie blog run by a 15-year old from Los Angeles. Normally, her age would be irrelevant – that’s the beauty of the Internet, after all – except that it inspired her to curate a cover mixtape. YOUTH collects nine new covers by artists under 18. The set mixes songs by INXS and ‘N Sync, Sufjan Stevens and Loverboy. “Purple Rain” proves instantly recognizable, but “Get Down” is so whacked-out you could spend weeks listening and never guess the original artist (it’s the Backstreet Boys apparently). The set leans towards dubstep, with folkier breaks here and there. Continue reading »

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

Some of you might have some familiarity with Wakey!Wakey! by now. If the band’s debut studio full-length Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You, released last February on Family Records, failed to catch your ear, perhaps frontman Mike Grubbs’ recurring spot as the piano-playing bartender on TV’s One Tree Hill did. And if neither of these ring a bell, maybe you’ve stumbled upon the band on their relentless touring efforts (Currently, they’re doing shows in England both as headliners and in support of James Blunt).

But whenever you have – or will – come across the building wave that is Wakey!Wakey!, you shouldn’t miss the collection of covers that a solo Grubbs released back in 2008 as part of Wakey!Wakey! Wednesdays. Featuring songs by The Decemberists, Weezer, Alicia Keys, and more, the ten tracks were released one at a time on consecutive Wednesdays (the original G.O.O.D. Fridays?), and are all available for free download or stream over at The Family Records’ site. Continue reading »

By now you know all about the A.V. Club’s Holiday Undercover (if not, see our coverage here). The Club’s staff encouraged the artists to choose less conventional holiday songs and The Dresden Dolls’ selection certainly meets that criterion. Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two Headed Boy” contains only a passing reference to Christmas trees and snow. “Holiday song”? Eh…

Nonetheless, the strength of the performance silences any quibbles over what constitutes a seasonal song. Amanda Palmer – who can now call herself a Cover Me VIP - delivers a stunning vocal performance. She gives her all – at times teetering on the edge of going out of tune, but managing to hold on. See the video below. Next week Vampire Weekend do The Sex Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun” (we hope).

The Dresden Dolls – Two-Headed Boy (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

For more Holiday Undercover, check out the A.V. Club’s website.

Oct 142010

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

It was almost 17 years ago now that frontman Jay Farrar split ways with his alt-country group Uncle Tupelo due to differences with bassist Jeff Tweedy, leaving Tweedy and the rest of the band in the dust. Since that time, Farrar’s career has skyrocketed, and Tweedy and the boys haven’t done anything.

Wait. I’m wrong. They formed a band called Wilco, which continues to prosper as one of the most important and influential bands in indie music.

To conclude that Wilco’s longevity is due to some sort of a constant and timeless sound would be dead wrong, however, as our latest Live Collection shows. The covers below, which include romps through the works of David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, the Ramones, and even a few half-hearted attempts at tracks by one of Farrar’s subsequent projects, Son Volt, show just how much Wilco has changed through the years. The Wilco who covers “Organ Blues” in 2000 sounds little like the one who does Tom Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart” in 1995. Sure, their 2002 cover of The Stooges’ “TV Eye” anticipates the pulsating pianos and dissonant guitars that would not truly define their albums until years later, but as a general rule, you can follow the arc of the band’s sound through the years pretty closely via the covers below. Continue reading »

Neutral Milk Hotel covers are a dime a dozen – recall the all-ukulele NMH cover band – but when Oscar-winners turn their talents to an In the Aeroplane Over the Sea cut, it’s worth taking notice. The Swell Season are Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Best known for starring in/soundtracking Once, their version of “Two-Headed Boy” is as pretty as you’d expect. The beauty of their Irish-inflected harmonies doesn’t preclude the occasional shouting crescendo and they even throw in a bonus for those paying attention: a bit of “The King of the Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three” at the end. Watch the video, the latest in the A.V. Undercover series, and download the MP3 below. Continue reading »

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