Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question comes from Cover Me writer Jordan Becker: What cover song made you reevaluate your feelings about the original?
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The music of Mark Kozelek, whether made with his former band Red House Painters, under his own name, or as Sun Kil Moon, has been described many ways: dreamy, melancholic, and wistful come to mind. With the release of his newest covers album, Like Rats, you can add creepy to the list. The songs he’s picked to cover have lyrics that are alternately menacing and depressing, either overtly or because they’ve been stripped of their accompanying upbeat music. Kozelek has never shied away from darker themes in his music: the yearning loss in RHP’s “Michael,” death and loneliness (and maybe serial killers?) in SKM’s “Glenn Tipton,” regret and self-pity in his cover of John Denver’s “I’m Sorry.” Kozelek’s voice often soars over the intricate guitars, though, and its sweetness lends the songs a faint glimmer of hope. But on “Like Rats,” he sings a register lower than usual (more on that decision later) and piles dark song upon dark song until the listener is off-balance from the assault of negativity. The album is barely 30 minutes in length, and anything more might be too much. Continue reading »

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

When bands are so loosely organized that they’re less a group than a state of mind, they usually call themselves a collective. The Doleful Lions – sometimes Jonathan Scott with a great supporting cast, sometimes Scott alone – call themselves an experience. And they’re right.

Scott sings about topics close to his heart. For most singers, this usually means cars and girls, but in Scott’s case, the topics have ranged from Freemasonry to cheap horror movies (1999′s The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! was named after the 1972 ratsploitation classic).  He’s also sung of fearsome fringe figures (Charles Starkweather, Bobby Beausoleil) and conspiracy theories (“and don’t you know it was the government/stopped The Beach Boys from releasing Smile” – “Surfside Motel,” from his 2002 masterpiece Out Like a Lamb). Yet throughout all this, Scott’s voice is like a warm blanket, comforting even as fears swirl around it, and his way with a pop melody and his range at production – from low-fi bedroom recordings to soaring studio epics – make each song, yes, an experience. Continue reading »

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