Mar 282019
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best radiohead cover songs

All week we’ve been running features on every artist inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s unusually strong 2019 class. But the biggest tribute goes to the band least excited about the honor. And that’s maybe as it should be.

Their unenthusiastic reaction – as I write this, it’s not even clear if any of them will show up – reminds me of when Bob Dylan first played Obama’s White House. Bob didn’t come to his own rehearsal, or to the customary photo op with the president. He turned up at the last minute, played his songs, shook the President’s hand, and immediately left the building. And as Obama told Rolling Stone: “That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.” Continue reading »

Oct 042018
 
punch brothers tame impala cover

Bluegrass giants the Punch Bothers appear to cover every genre except one: bluegrass. They’ve covered the White Stripes, Wilco, and Radiohead in recent years and continue their left-field picks with a wildly reimagined take on Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen” for Spotify.

While many niche-genre bands (bluegrass, polka, etc) seem to cover pop or indie-rock hits for novelty and crossover effect, the Punch Brothers always find songs that genuinely work in their style, well-known or not. For Radiohead, they didn’t tackle “Creep” or “Karma Police,” but “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box” – hardly the best choice for the band’s SEO. Continue reading »

Oct 012018
 
best cover songs september
Al Green – Before the Next Teardrop Falls (Freddy Fender cover)


Sorry, Beyoncé; the biggest surprise release of the year might be Al Green’s sudden return after a decade away. Well, not totally away; he still conducts weekly services at his Memphis church and, when I attended, was liberally sprinkling quotes from “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River” into his sermons. Best of all: This Freddy Fender cover sounds like Al hasn’t lost a step. It’s apparently a one-off, but hopefully recording it will whet his appetite to do more. Continue reading »

Aug 252013
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Forty-six years old. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Jeff Tweedy, the songwriting genius behind Wilco, has hit his late forties. On the other hand, think back, way back through his recorded output. When Wilco released their first album 18 years ago, Tweedy was already a groundbreaker, having co-founded Uncle Tupelo with Jay Farrar eight years earlier. Together, they practically invented the genre of alt-country before their acrimonious split, when Tweedy was just 26 years old.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Tweedy assembled Wilco out of the ashes of Tupelo’s touring band and slowly built a following. The band teetered on the edge of disaster when they presented their masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to their label, only to have it rejected. Instead of going back into the studio to record a boy-band album or whatever the hell the label wanted, they bought the master tapes back and walked. Eventually they signed to a subsidiary of the same company (go figure), and the album came out and went gold. From there on, Tweedy & Company have continued to push the sonic envelope and remain just as vital as ever.
Continue reading »

Apr 052012
 

Bluegrass mavericks Punch Brothers have been known to cover artists as diverse as The Strokes, D’Angelo, Josh Ritter and Radiohead during their live shows, so it seems logical for them to participate in the latest edition of A.V. Club’s Undercover video series, which recruits touring musical acts to cover a song selected from their occasionally quirky master list. While this format has birthed some rather silly pairings in the past, including They Might Be Giants’ raucous version of the seminal “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba, Chris Thile and co. show impressive cross-genre dexterity with their irony-free version of The Cars‘ classic “Just What I Needed.” Continue reading »

Feb 162012
 

Punch Brothers, one of the predominant groups of the recent “newgrass” acoustic revival, have always had a penchant for cross-genre experimentation, incorporating jazz song forms, Bach sonatas and rock covers into their live sets and albums. For their brand-new album Who’s Feeling Young Now?, Chris Thile, Noam Pickelny and company have finally decided to record their cover of Radiohead‘s electronic masterpiece “Kid A,” which has been the closing song of their live set since 2009. On stage they usually transition from “Kid A” into their cover of Gillian Welch’s much more traditional and upbeat “Wayside/Back In Time,” contrasting the two styles, but on the album it appears on its own, proving its worth as more than a live novelty. Continue reading »