Dec 172010

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 »

Aug 102010

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 »

Aug 062010

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

Is Neutral Uke Hotel a gimmick? Sort of. The name gives the game away. Shawn Fogel, slightly better known as Golden Bloom, goes around performing Neutral Milk Hotel’s seminal In the Aeroplane over the Sea on ukulele. That’s it.

Fogel must know he’s playing with fire. In the Aeroplane emotionally resonates with kids the way The Catcher in the Rye did/does (one reason I compared singer Jeff Mangum to J.D. Salinger). As the hostile comments at BrooklynVegan show, fans don’t have much of a sense of humor about this album. Their loss. The results break free of the self-imposed constraints when melodica and trumpet color the barebones recordings. Check out the video and download the MP3 of opening track “The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One” below. Continue reading »

Jul 082010

Phish’s live shows can be polarizing. Fans (ahem, “phans”) adore every moment while those of us less noodle-prone get lost around minute 57 of “You Enjoy Myself.” Everyone agrees they do a mean cover though. Know for their Halloween full-album sets – most recently Exile on Main St. – the band spent the first leg of their summer tour debuting tons of new covers, almost a new one with every stop.

The jaunt wrapped up on Sunday so we’ve rounded up these first-time covers. Lots of classic rock (Led Zeppelin, John Lennon) with a few curveballs thrown in (Neutral Milk Hotel, Rage Against the Machine). Stream and download them all below.
Continue reading »

May 232010

Each week Shuffle Sundays features a cover chosen at random. The songs will usually be good, occasionally be bad, always be interesting. All downloads will only be available for one week, so get them while you can.

Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum is indie rock’s J.D. Salinger.  His album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea resonated with young people on a deeply personal level, leading to the high school “It changed my life” claims usually reserved for Catcher in the Rye.
Continue reading »