Apr 222011
 

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!

A few weeks ago, the music world and 20,000 lucky fans in Madison Square Garden said a bittersweet goodbye to LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy is probably better known for who has taken on his music than for covers he’s done, with everyone from Franz Ferdinand to the Muppets reimagining LCD songs. However, he’s recorded some excellent covers as well (including this week’s take on Franz’s “Live Alone” for Record Store Day). At first, it’s hard to imagine how covers could live up to LCD’s best original moments: the songs that capture the complexities of lost youth, fading love, or hipster culture with a few deft electronic tweaks. But Murphy successfully brings his signature sound to a surprising number of genres, draping sharp, lush electronics over a diverse assortment of other musicians’ work. Here’s a look at five of his best studio covers, along with a bonus live track. Continue reading »

Apr 212011
 

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!

Iggy Pop, born James Osterberg in Muskegon, Michigan, turns a remarkable 64 years old today. Remarkable because he spent so much time living on the edge. He arguably created punk rock with his band The Stooges in 1968, uniting the D.I.Y. ethic of mid-’60s garage rock with a nihilistic attitude and Jim Morrison-inspired performance antics. After three albums, Pop’s extreme drug abuse led to the demise of the band and a stint at an L.A. mental institution. Continue reading »

Mar 232011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winners: Johnny Cash, “In My Life” and The Breeders, “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”

The winners of some of Round One’s hardest-fought battles go head-to-head today. First, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ gothic “Helter Skelter” faces Wilson Pickett’s soulful “Hey Jude.” Then, it’s all acoustic when Tenacious D’s “Abbey Road Medley” challenges Elliott Smith’s “Because.”

Listen to each pairing below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »

Mar 122011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winners: Johnny Cash, “In My Life” and Nick Cave, “Let It Be”

It’s a battle of loud versus soft, dissonant versus harmonious today. Junior Campbell’s light-hearted “Drive My Car” faces Siouxsie and the Banshees’ gothic “Helter Skelter.” Then, Deerhoof’s spastic “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” meets Elliott Smith’s smooth “Because.”

Listen to each pairing below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »

Dec 082010
 

On her second release, singer/songwriter/pianist Diane Birch unites with neo-soul outfit The Phenomenal Handclap Band for The Velveteen Age, a seven-track cover collection of dark eighties/early nineties cult hits. Album cover aside, however, little here suggests the tunes’ stygian origins. Exuberance, not melancholy, is the dominant atmosphere.

To say Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band reimagine gothic rock as pop would be misleading. Classics of the genre like the Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion” and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them for Me” were rousing pop songs from the start. Rather, Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band reimagine these songs as seventies pop, complete with Motown and doo-wop flourishes. On “This Corrosion,” Sisters’ singer Andrew Eldritch self-consciously refers to his outsider rock as “selling the don’t belong.” By giving the dark side of the eighties/early nineties a retro feel, Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band repackage that same “don’t belong” for a new audience. Continue reading »

Nov 112010
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“Helter Skelter,” one of many hit tracks from the Beatles‘ exalted 1968 White Album, has often been lauded as a progenitor of heavy metal. There was just something about the track’s discordant guitar, insistent toms, and raucous vocal that spoke to musicians who wanted to be loud. Led Zeppelin properly outlined the genre a couple years later, but with this song the Beatles alerted us to the possibly of its existence in the first place.

It makes sense, then, that metal bands of all kinds would want to take a crack at “Helter Skelter,” the granddaddy of heavy. They’re not the only ones though; dozens of covers by famous artists exist for this song, as well as countless interpretations by those less noted. Below we’ve picked out five that stand out from the crowd. Continue reading »