This year Petty Fest made the leap to a bi-coastal event. On November 14 & 15 at the El Rey in Los Angeles, the Tom Petty tribute brought the stars out in force to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. Special guests included Johnny Depp, Sarah Silverman, Har Mar Superstar, Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes, Peter Ericsson Stakee of Alberta Cross, bassist from Kings of Leon, Ke$ha, Eagles of Death Metal, Karen Elson, Nicole Atkins, Patrick Carney from The Black Keys, Cory Chisel, Butch Walker, the lead singer from Guster, the drummer from Guns-n-Roses and more. All proceeds went to the victims of the storm via Sweet Relief Musicians Fund which provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
The Black Keys‘ 2002 debut, The Big Come Up, was fuzzy, bluesy, and lo-fi. While much of the Keys’ blues attack has remained, one clear evolution is the soulfulness added to their repertoire over the years. Danger Mouse produced 2008′s Attack & Release and co-wrote 2011′s El Camino, and can be at least partially credited for the addition of choirs, organs, and some of the funkiness that has developed in the duo’s albums. 2010′s Brothers, though, produced some soulful pieces as well, without Danger Mouse’s input.
The Black Keys have been around since 2001 despite being thrust into the spotlight just a couple years ago. All the same, calling them “veterans” would seem a bit lofty when compared to, say, Iggy Pop or drummer Ginger Baker (of Cream). So you’d think the Black Keys (accomplished cover artists themselves) would be covering those guys, but a new tribute album to the Keys, Black on Blues, has it the other way around.
Since its release a last fall, the Black Keys‘ “Lonely Boy” has become the duo’s biggest hit and gotten some covers attention from Australian musician Matt Corby. A new cover of the track debuted on BBC Radio 1′s Live Lounge this week, courtesy of British indie rockers The Maccabees. Live Lounge usually inspires high-quality covers, but the Brighton-based quintet offer an especially polished and creative take on “Lonely Boy.”
Australian radio station Triple J might have to consider renaming their popular “Like A Version” segment “The Black Keys Cover Sessions.” Two tracks from the Akron, Ohio duo have been covered during “Like A Version” sessions in the last few months. Aussie rapper Phrase gave us his take on “Tighten Up” in October, and this week former Australian Idol contestant Matt Corby covered El Camino’s lead single, “Lonely Boy.”
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.
Covering the Black Keys is no easy task. Their 2010 album Brothers was massively well-received by fans and critics all over the world, and Rolling Stone put their single “Everlasting Light” at number 11 on their best singles of 2010 list. To even venture into the realm of the Keys grunge rock sound you’ve got to be pretty comfortable in your cover song skin. Comfortable might be an understatement when describing cover song veteran Alex Winston, though, whose Basement Covers EP featured covers of Mumford & Sons and The Rolling Stones. She just released her cover of the Keys song “Everlasting Light” in honor of both the release of the Keys’ newest CD El Camino, and to celebrate the recent announcement that her first album will be dropping in March of 2012.
At first glance, The Black Keys‘ garage rock is an unlikely match for Australian rapper Phrase, but the Melbourne-based MC chose a track from the Keys’ breakout album Brothers for his session on Triple J‘s Like A Version. With the help of his band, Phrase maintains the Keys’ soulful groove on “Tighten Up” while infusing his own style with the addition of some rap verses.