Dec 122014

Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

Back when we redesigned the site in 2010, we created basic star icons to represent the ratings we’d give an album when we reviewed it. 2 stars, 3.5 stars, etc. When we posted an album review, we’d find the corresponding icon where we last uploaded it. However, earlier this year we couldn’t find one of the icons we were looking for. Why? It turns out we’d never used it. We’d never before given an album a perfect five stars.

This year, for the first time, we did. Which should suffice to say it’s been an excellent year for cover albums. True, a few of the marquee tributes we most eagerly anticipated fell flat, either too formulaic (The Art of McCartney) or too out-there (that Flaming Lips’ Sgt. Peppers tribute we’ll never speak of again). But in the cracks and under the radar, cover and tribute albums thrived.

In our list of the twenty best, we’ve got everything from big names on major labels to DIY projects thrown up on Bandcamp. We’ve got New Orleans jazz, Parisian dub reggae, and songs that were popular when your great-great-great-great grandfather was calling town dances. Something for everyone, I guess. Something for all our fwends (sorry, that was the last time, promise).

Start the countdown on Page 2…

English new-wavers Tears For Fears are in the midst of their first North American tour in three years. The band has released a slew of fantastic covers over the past year or so – including covers of Hot Chip and Arcade Fire – and just a couple of days ago, they surprised fans in Portland with a live rendition of Radiohead‘s iconic “Creep.”

The Pablo Honey smash has been covered ad nauseum and the band doesn’t stray far from the original. Still, they do bring an energy to the 21-year-old song that the audience feeds off of. Go ahead, plug in your headphones and singalong while listening to the cover below:

Check out more Tears for Fears on the band’s official website.

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!

Gillian Welch is a yankee. There, it’s said. One would have a hard time discerning it from her mix of folk and bluegrass arrangements, but there’s a Big Apple right there on her birth certificate. So let it be noted that, when compared to some “legitimate” country music popularized and sung by those born and bred in the South, with their auto-tuned cartoonish absence of substance, an overabundance of shiny objects and pyrotechnics, and some ghastly redneck rap thrown in, it’s obvious that birthplace alone has little influence on how traditional or great country music is.
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It’s not every day that a musician who is barely 20 gets permission from Thom Yorke to include a cover of Radiohead‘s “Karma Police” on an EP. The Santa Cruz native, who flew to London just to record bits of this cover, recently released a bizarre video for his take on the 90s alternative classic. Continue reading »

Tackling a beloved band like Radiohead for a cover is a big enough challenge. Add in that the cover is from an influential and esteemed album like OK Computer and it becomes downright treacherous. Sometimes, attempting to cover an old favorite in a new way is an especially daunting task. But sometimes, these unexpected covers are the best kind. Continue reading »

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

In 2008, Melissa Rich Mulcahy died, leaving behind two-year-old twin girls and her husband Mark. That would be Mark Mulcahy, leader of the ’80s college radio favorites Miracle Legion and Polaris (Adventures of Pete & Pete – ’nuff said) and a solo artist who was suddenly not just a widower, but one who was unable to record or tour because he needed to be there for the kids. What he didn’t know was that plans had been set in motion to put together a tribute album whose proceeds would assist him in his hour of need – plans which evolved into what Big Takeover called “a sort of indie-rock equivalent to the final scene of It’s a Wonderful Life.”
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Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question: Which artist/band does the best covers? That’s a lot to bite off, no doubt about it, but many mouths make less chewing, and the many mouths at Cover Me are very good at raising their voices. As always, our answers are not the only answers; feel free to leave yours in the comments section… Continue reading »

Last week, Pitchfork posted their People’s List poll results and, not surprisingly, Radiohead’s OK Computer took the top slot (Kid A came in second). Though the poll has generated some controversy-in-the-form-of-thinkpieces since then, few take issue with the winner.

Following our similar collections of Kid A and In Rainbows covers, we celebrate the victor with covers of every song on the classic album. As the Pitchfork poll yet again attests, no one does Radiohead like Radiohead and the best way to cover is to not compete. From big brass bands to bluegrass jams, these twelve artists find ways to do it different. Continue reading »

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