Dec 172014

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

A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.

It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.

We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ‘em.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

- Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

A relic of the early ’80s, alternative rock band R.E.M. powered through the rough and tumble of more than three decades before finally disbanding in September of last year. While many of the band’s songs are memorable, none evoke as strong a feeling of nostalgia as ”Nightswimming” does. The song recalls earlier, simpler times and serves as the perfect tribute for this much-accomplished, long-time-running rock band. Indie-pop singer Ingrid Michaelson did the honors by performing a quiet a cappella version of the well-known track on SiriusXM radio. Continue reading »

Milan metalheads Lacuna Coil achieved international recognition with their covers of “Enjoy the Silence” and Dubstar’s “Stars,” so the inclusion of another cover on their new album is not surprising. The source material, however, is: R.E.M., one of the least hardcore bands around. Lacuna Coil, however, amps up the riffage on new album Dark Adrenaline with a cover of “Losing My Religion.” Continue reading »

R.E.M. may have broken up a few months ago, but there are always more bootlegs to listen to. Consequence of Sound points to a recording on YouTube of the quartet covering ABBA’s “Does Your Mother Know” back in 1984. It’s an obscure recording from a Buffalo bar show now available for widespread enjoyment for the first time. Continue reading »

Setting out to cover some of the world’s most praised and well-known musicians isn’t an easy feat, but singer-songwriter Jon Bilbrough, better known as musical act Wilderthorn, does just that on his personal website. In an attempt to connect with his audience, Wilderthorn asked fans to send in song requests, and he would be covering the best ones to post online. The result, thus far, is four impressive short films in which Wilderthorn covers “Someday” by The Strokes, “The One I Love” by R.E.M., “Reckoner” by Radiohead and “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire. Continue reading »

As the frontman for alt-rock heroes Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba has been capturing ladies’ hearts with his angsty, swoon-worthy voice since 2000. Now it seems that the Connecticut-born singer is ready for something new. This winter he’s embarking on an acoustic tour, but this time around he’ll be flying solo – just a man and his trusty guitar. And Covered in the Flood, Carrabba’s first solo album featuring nothing but covers, will be available at his shows. He generously gave the public a little taste of what’s coming by sharing five of the ten tracks. Continue reading »

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

Halloween is over and, according to some retailers at least, that means the Christmas season is upon us! Celebrate with one of the first new carols of the 2011 holiday season (after She & Him). Electropoppers Class Actress play it uncharacteristically straight on this oft-covered staple. They even include sleigh bells!
MP3: Class Actress – Silent Night Continue reading »

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

You probably know Kele better as Kele Okereke, lead singer of Bloc Party. While the band takes a break/resolves reported internal tensions, Kele is releasing a solo EP called The Hunter. It includes this bangin’ cover.
MP3: Kele – Goodbye Horses (Q Lazzarus cover) Continue reading »

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