In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
In the early ’70s, two sets of brothers and their friends, art students at Kent State University, developed a theory. It began as a kind of joke based on a religious pamphlet that alluded to the D-evolution of the unenlightened man. As artists tend to do, they created some performance art and music around this theme for their own amusement. Then the terrible tragedy of the Kent State shootings happened. Four of their classmates were killed by those who were supposed to be protecting them. Suddenly the de-evolution of man and of society in general seemed more than just a joke. The band Devo was born. Continue reading »
I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.
What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s.Continue reading »
When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.
Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.
Mellow rockers Clem Snide aren’t exactly strangers to covering interesting songs (go find their “Heat of the Moment” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” covers if you don’t believe me), but frontman Eef Barzelay recently embarked on an ambitious covers project that puts the others to shame. Last Spring Clem Snide used Kickstarter to fund an EP of Journey covers, and, as a reward for pledging $150 or more to that project, Eef promised to record any song of the donor’s request and email the recording to them. After recording 30 or so of these covers, he decided he liked them so much that some are now being offered on Bandcamp on a free/name-your-price basis.Continue reading »
We’ve already heard Jack White, Damien Rice, and Garbage cover U2 (here, here, and here) for Q magazine’s new Achtung Baby tribute album. Now we have three more from the album, which hit newsstands today. It’s the Killers, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode, all covering favorite tracks from the 1991 classic.Continue reading »