Nov 182016
 

Let All The Children BoogieAny collection of a popular artist’s songs presented as children’s music should always be approached with some level of trepidation. And with good reason, given the glut of inanely saccharine covers delivered either by children and twee instrumentation or adults pandering to the younger demographics. The latter case is perhaps the most egregious, as these adults seem to believe that the only way in which to create music kids will understand is to severely dumb down the content and up the intolerably cartoonish elements of the worst of so-called children’s music performers. The question often becomes, Why subject your children to these atrociously subpar re-imaginings of popular songs when the originals are vastly superior and just as accessible?

Thankfully, the folks at Spare the Rock Records seem to have felt the same with regard to the world of children’s music and, rather than adding to the pap currently clogging the marketplace, have ventured to release music aimed at children but ideally suited for the whole family. And there is perhaps no better artist, save perhaps the Beatles, for whom this approach is ideally suited than David Bowie. With his passing in January of 2016, he left a gaping void in the musical landscape, one artists across myriad genres have, in the months since, sought to fill in the form of countless tributes, think pieces, and heartfelt expressions of admiration.

And while we may have lost the man himself, we will always have his music. His is a catalog so vast and stylistically diverse as to perfectly warrant the stylistically diverse assemblage of artists and styles gather here on the newly-issued Let All the Children Boogie. Stripped to their barest elements and rebuilt in individually idiosyncratic ways, the work of David Bowie presented here remains wholly recognizable, yet affords listeners an entirely new way of hearing these well-known songs. Continue reading »

Apr 172015
 

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

Of all the songs inextricably linked to moments in movies, few pairings initially appear more incongruous than the closing minutes of Real Genius that follow Lazlo driving away in his mobile home after a house has exploded due to a space laser and a giant tin of Jiffy Pop. As Roland Orzbal sings about hating “this indecision / married with a lack of vision,” neighborhood children fill wagons with edible detritus and Val Kilmer laughs in slow motion, biting popcorn snowflakes out of the air.

Though illogical, the scene is far more successful than the song’s on-the-face-of-it-more-fitting incarnation as a spooky Lorde cover on the soundtrack for the second installation of The Hunger Games. The reason children playing in popcorn works better than children forced to kill children is simple: the song isn’t about the fact that “everybody wants to rule the world” so much as it is about the more heartening notion that “when they do / I’ll be right behind you” and that we’ll be “holding hands as the walls come tumbling down.”
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Aug 242011
 

This week’s A.V. Undercover episode brings Canadian singer-songwriter and autoharp enthusiast Basia Bulat into the round room to perform her take on “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone” by indie-punk outfit Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Bulat trades in her usual mellow sound for an old, warm-sounding electric archtop and a silverface Fender amp — a setup that isn’t too different from what Leo plays in his solo concerts. Continue reading »

May 232011
 

Last night a slew of alt-indie heroes descended on New York’s Bowery Ballroom to pay tribute to the bands featured in Michael Azerrad’s era-defining tome Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Ted Leo covered Minor Threat, Titus Andronicus did the Replacements, and, strangest of all, Dirty Projectors played Black Flag. Continue reading »

Nov 182010
 

Many of our readers will recognize the A.V. Club as the less satirical (but just as sharp) arts and entertainment companion to The Onion. They’ve been covering all things pop culture since 1993 and this year they decided to hone in on our turf embrace the world of covers with their own series of cover commissions, the A.V. Club Undercover. Once a week for 25 weeks a chosen band or artist would come in and pick a song off a list of 25 available tracks for them to cover. Once a song was chosen, it could not be performed again; Undercover operated on a first-cover, first-serve basis. We’ve already told you about a few; take a look here. Continue reading »

Oct 192010
 

If you’re a big fan of Bad Religion, you should know this about me up front: I had no idea that they were as influential as they apparently are. I knew them simply as a decent punk band that, for reasons I didn’t fully appreciate, seemed to be on constant rotation on my hometown radio station. So you can imagine my confusion when I heard that a pretty solid lineup featuring the likes of Tegan and Sara, Switchfoot, Ted Leo, the Weakerthans, and others were covering their favorite Bad Religion songs for the tribute album Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion. “Does the world need this?” I wondered.

As it turns out, I was kind of an idiot. Bad Religion’s been around for 31 years—as in, since 1979. Their guitarist for most of that time has been Brett Gurewitz, founder and owner of Epitaph Records and affiliates ANTI-, Burning Heart Records, Fat Possum Records, and Hellcat Records. Germs of Perfection, which was released by SPIN and MySpace Music as a free download today, commemorates the 30-year anniversary of Epitaph, which is as good a reason as any for such a tribute. Continue reading »