A recent trend in the ongoing vinyl revival has been record subscription services, where every month any number of start-ups will send subscribers a few curated records. One such service, Turntable Kitchen, stands out from the pack by commissioning original music: full-length covers of classic albums by younger bands. The service has already released Yumi Zouma covering Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Jonathan Rado of Foxygen covering Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and Mutual Benefit covering Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day. Their fourth release is their biggest yet, and also their best. It’s Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service covering Teenage Fanclub’s 1991 masterpiece Bandwagonesque.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
I was fifteen years old when I was first introduced to the world of Infinity Cat Recordings. I was immediately enamored with the punk DIY aesthetic presented by a group of young Nashville punks. When I say “young,” I mean YOUNG. Like only a few years older than me at the time young. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, in their late teens at the time, formed the indie label with the guidance of their father in 2002. A host of psychedelic and grunge-tinged punk bands emerged from the label right from the get-go, leading publications like The Guardian and Billboard Magazine to name it one of the best indie labels in America. JEFF the Brotherhood, a two-piece psychedelic garage-rock band also formed by the Orrall brothers, acted as a sort of nucleus for the label, guiding the overall sound and feel of the rest of the bands that make up the collective.
In a way, the band has always been a source of centering for myself as well. Maybe they aren’t guiding my life choices, but they do have a way of bringing me back to my suburban teenage rebellion years – a time when I was determined to take the world by storm and (pardon my French) fuck shit up, Nashville punk style. JEFF The Brotherhood serves as a reminder to do what I want, and how I want to do it. Every now and then, I will go back to one of their first singles, Noo Sixties, and be reminded of that seemingly contradictory hard-working-punk ethos.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
In 1970, with the Beatles broken up, Creedence Clearwater Revival was poised to take their place on the top of the musical world. But within the band, tension was coming to a head; John Fogerty had too tight a hold on the reins, as far as the others were concerned, and John’s brother Tom decided to leave the band and pursue a solo career. John’s response was to write “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” a song that obliquely addressed Tom’s departure (“the rain coming down”) at the group’s commercial apex (“on a sunny day”). Of course, you didn’t have to know the back story to love the song, and CCR found themselves with another top ten hit and FM radio staple.
When a band hasn’t released a studio album of new music in four years, and then puts out an album made up entirely of cover songs, you might expect their fans to get restless. For Counting Crows fans, though, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is no less sweet because the band didn’t write the songs. Lead singer Adam Duritz and the gang have been doing covers, in full or sneakily added as bridges in live shows, since their inception. And, as Duritz says in the liner notes, “I’ve never stopped being a fan” of other people’s music.
Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows has long worn his influences on his sleeve, and the band often does live covers of their favorite artists. If you are an aspiring artist, head over to Indabamusic where you have until March 1st to submit your own Counting Crows cover for the chance at a signed Squier guitar, $600 to Guitar Center, and inclusion of your song on an EP. If you’re not into making music, you can head over and start listening to the submissions. Cover Me veteran Allison Crowe has already submitted a stunning version of “Raining in Baltimore.“
When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.
There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.