Dec 222010

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

“Karma Police” serves as the centerpiece of Radiohead’s 1997 classic, OK Computer. The beginning tracks of OK Computer find Radiohead at their most experimental to that point. From the shape-shifting “Paranoid Android” to the slow burn of “Exit Music (For A Film),” these otherworldly melodies embody the theme of disillusionment that runs through the album.

The opening notes of “Karma Police,” however, hit with a directness and simplicity that immediately leaps out. Thom Yorke’s voice weaves effortlessly through the chord changes, hardly rising above a whisper when he sings, “This is what you’ll get / when you mess with us.” It’s a remarkable moment when the song’s quiet intensity finally bursts in the second half, Yorke’s disdain turning into something that sounds an awful lot like optimism and warmth. Continue reading »

Dec 172010

By now you know all about the A.V. Club’s Holiday Undercover (if not, see our coverage here). The Club’s staff encouraged the artists to choose less conventional holiday songs and The Dresden Dolls’ selection certainly meets that criterion. Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two Headed Boy” contains only a passing reference to Christmas trees and snow. “Holiday song”? Eh…

Nonetheless, the strength of the performance silences any quibbles over what constitutes a seasonal song. Amanda Palmer – who can now call herself a Cover Me VIP – delivers a stunning vocal performance. She gives her all – at times teetering on the edge of going out of tune, but managing to hold on. See the video below. Next week Vampire Weekend do The Sex Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun” (we hope).

The Dresden Dolls – Two-Headed Boy (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

For more Holiday Undercover, check out the A.V. Club’s website.

Sep 172010

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

On Wednesday we gave you disc one of The Wall. Today we present disc two aka. the disc with most of the famous songs on it. Download each MP3 individually below or all together at the bottom.

Incidentally, Roger WatersWall tour opener Wednesday night earned rave reviews from SPIN, The Telegraph, Spinner, and the Toronto Sun. Continue reading »

Jun 182010

The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Championship last night, putting them only one behind the Boston Celtics in total rings. Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” became an unofficial theme song for the team, which is pretty funny when you think about it. The song is partially ripping on the city. Sure, it does so lovingly, but it’s hardly “New York, New York.” Newman sings about a bum “down on his knees” and lists streets with some of the poorest people in the area.

Even funnier are the covers this inspires. Take this nine-year old singing, “I’m rolling down the Imperial Highway with a big nasty redhead at my side.” Or Alvin and the Chipmunks catching some waves while singing about the homeless. Does no one read lyrics?
Continue reading »

Jun 102010

You may know her from the cabaret-punk duo the Dresden Dolls. You may know her from conjoined-twin circus pair Evelyn Evelyn. You may know her solo work. Or you may not know her at all. But you should. Amanda Palmer creates offbeat art via music, film, theater, and her hilarious Twitter page (which this past weekend featured a lengthy discussion on the best slang term for breasts). Whatever she does, it’s bound to be interesting.

Good thing too, because otherwise the idea of another Radiohead covers EP would be forehead slap-inducing. But Palmer and her trusted ukulele may just pull it off. The album is titled Amanda Palmer Plays the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele, which seems a bit tongue-in-cheek. How can the “popular hits” not include “Karma Police”? Generally though the tracklist contains the band’s more well-known songs. Listen to the first single below.
Continue reading »

Jan 042010

Seems like everyone made more resolutions than usual this year. It’s easy to see why. After what everyone but China agrees was a decidedly crappy decade, the opportunity for a fresh start, however artificial, feels revitalizing. The individual New Years Resolutions will quickly fade as always, but hopefully the collective optimism towards a new decade has more staying power.

OK Go – This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies)
The Zombies released this single early in 1968, but sadly their optimism was misplaced — by the time it hit stores the band had already broken up. [Buy]

The Dresden Dolls – New Years Day (U2)
The tag says “12/31/03,” but the 10-9-8 countdown leading into this performance suggests that’s a few seconds out of date. This apt (if slightly clichéd) song turns romantic potential into rejuvenating possibility, Amanda Palmer singing “I will begin again” like an emotional cleansing. [Buy]

Easy Star All Stars – Fitter Happier (Radiohead)
A reggae Radiohead tribute album seems a shaky proposition, but it’s hard to deny the naming potential: Radiodread. Actually this cover is about as reggae as the original is pop, but that doesn’t stop the All Stars from translating the list of resolutions into Rasta-speak. [Buy]

The Flaming Lips – (Just Like) Starting Over (John Lennon)
This 1980 single hit number-one two weeks after Lennon’s death, persevering despite the fact that its b-side was Yoko Ono simulating orgasm in Japanese. [Buy]

Lyle Lovett – Blue Skies (Irving Berlin)
Irving Berlin wrote this as a last-minute addition to the obscure Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy in 1926, three years before the Great Depression hit. Though the show was a flop, the song was an instant success. On opening night the audience demanded star Belle Baker reprise the song a stunning twenty-four times. [Buy]

Elton John – Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac)
Rumours is one of the most depressing breakup albums in history, but “Don’t Stop” brings a rare glimmer of hope. The lyrics seem almost too cheery taken on their own, but in the context of such a painful album the forced positivity takes on all sorts of narrative nuances. [Buy]

Joe K’s Kid – Changes (David Bowie)
Featuring the best stutter since “My Generation,” the “Changes” single came smack in the middle of Bowie promoting his significantly weirder album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (last month’s Full Album). While the chorus seems optimistic on first listen, some strange lyrical twists make you wonder. [Buy]

Goldspot – Float On (Modest Mouse)
“Float On” comes off the aptly-titled Good News for People Who Love Bad News. “I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere,” songwriter Issac Brock told The A.V. Club. “I just want to feel good for a day.” [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Better Days (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen has complained that when he made happy music in the early ‘90s, audiences turned away. He’s got a point. While righteous average-Joe indignation has always been a part of his appeal though, the fact that the two “happy” albums he refers to were his first without the E Street Band didn’t help matters. [Buy]

Muse – Feeling Good (Newley/Bricusse)
Another huge hit from a semi-obscure musical, “Feeling Good” comes from 1965’s The Roar of the Greasepaint – the Smell of the Crowd. The song gained prominence through a recording by Nina Simone, but rendition ain’t too shabby either — Total Guitar magazine named it the fifth best cover of all time. [Buy]

The next Full Album set, traditionally Cover Me’s first major post of the month, will go up next week.