It’s been a few weeks since we’ve checked in with the covers popping up on Bandcamp, but from the looks of it, the good material didn’t stop over the holiday break. So in lieu of the bedroom acoustic songs we often hear, we cherry-picked out some more thoughtful, complex productions from the surplus. Download ’em all below.Continue reading »
Last month, we posted our Best Cover EPs of 2011. Getting an early start on next year’s list, two artists, both from Cali, posted knockout EPs in the past week and they’re both free to download.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.
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!
Joni Mitchell turns 68 today and, in terms of influence, her star burns as bright as ever. As folk stages its umpteenth popular revival, a whole new generation of folkies, freak-folkies, neofolkies, and indie folkies have taken lessons from decades of her simple, heart-wrenching songs. Dozen of hip, Pitchfork-approved artists namecheck Mitchell in interviews and display an obvious debt in their songs. On Joni’s birthday, we pay tribute to her through some of their tributes.Continue reading »
This week’s set washes over you like a half-remembered dream. Ambient-croon folk, gentle-breeze rock, and sexy-trumpet funk combine for one of the most pleasantly mellow collections in recent memory.Continue reading »
Indie star Sufjan Stevens’ “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” is probably the most complex song ever written about a serial killer. The song, from Stevens’ Illinois album, presents the Chicago killer as a multidimensional character and, while not openly sympathetic, definitely plays in shades of gray rather than black and white. In the end, Stevens’ confession that, with the secrets in his own closet, “I am really just like him,” is creepy enough to produce goosebumps.Continue reading »