Jan 232015

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

The sun must have been approximately eight inches from my forehead as I wound my way through a crush of warm bodies – all of them panting and glistening in the fierce Texas heat. Perspiration beaded and trickled down the damp necks of an expectant crowd; condensation beaded and trickled down their cans of Lagunitas.

With the first loud and clear ring of an electric guitar, a roar arose from the crowd, and Paolo Nutini strutted onto stage at Austin City Limits – shirt unbuttoned like a golden god of 70s rock, tight pants that might have been painted onto his lithe frame, and a tousled mane that exemplified the definition of “sex hair.”

And then, the man proceeded to take us to church.
Continue reading »

Sep 062011

Labor Day may have come and gone, but technically we’ve got a few more weeks of summer left. So there’s still time for more covers of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” the unofficial Indie Song of the Summer. The latest version comes from beloved Brits the Kooks, who performed a new cover for the BBC Live Lounge. Continue reading »

Dec 092010

Next Sunday, the Simon Cowell-helmed UK television singing competition The X Factor (based largely on American Idol, itself a spinoff of his British series Pop Idol, on which Cowell also judged) will crown the winner of its seventh go-around. As tradition has held since the show’s second season, the victor’s debut single will drop the following day so as to compete to be the “Christmas number one,” (the top spot on the UK singles chart for the sales-heavy week prior to the holiday), a feat accomplished by four of the last five champs, much to the chagrin of the show’s detractors. Last year, however, a grassroots Facebook campaign known as Rage Against the X Factor lobbied over 500,000 supporters to pay to download “Killing in the Name,” the explicit 1992 debut single by Rage Against the Machine, and the title held off the debut of X Factor winner Joe McElderry (a cover of Miley Cyrus‘ “The Climb”) to become the first download-only Christmas number one in chart history. Continue reading »

Jan 142009

–Edit: Reposted, with the offending link removed.–

Didn’t best of 2008 lists get played out in, oh, 2008? Yes. I even already had a post on the best covers of the year. So what is this? Well, I get a kick out of year-end lists, so I really enjoyed seeing the Hype Machine compile hundreds of them into one master list of the fifty most highly-rated albums on the blogosphere. You can read it most easily here, though there aren’t too many surprises. Regardless, I though I’d throw up all the covers I had of songs from these albums. In true year-end list fashion, they’re in descending order.

Laura Barrett – Gamma Ray (Beck, Modern Guilt)
I’ll be honest: I like Beck, loathed this album. I only even made it throw once, it just seemed like experimental mush that took me nowhere. Luckily, Barrett heard something I didn’t, as her twee karimba (wikipedia it) cover gives it a fuzzy cuteness that the grunge-synth of the original obliterated. [Buy]

Friendly Fires – I’m Good I’m Gone (Lykke Li, Youth Novels)
Count me out of the Lykke Li obsession too. From the first time I saw her spastically gyrating on Conan, I knew this strange Swede was not for me. Friendly Fires strips away the irritating production enough to make it more tolerable, though it sneaks in towards the end. [Buy]

Holy Fuck – Balloons (Foals, Antidotes)
I haven’t actually heard the original here, but this unfortunately-named band’s electronica take slowly draws you in, taking it sweet time to add layer to layer. [Buy]

Mason Proper – Get Innocuous/Love Lockdown (LCD Soundsystem/Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreak)
Brilliant. Mason Proper takes the bass line and lyrics from the Kanye hit and throws in some LCD production for a take that may just eclipse the slow-burn original. A point in Proper’s favor: no AutoTune. [Buy]

Ola Podrida – Calling and Not Calling My Ex (Okkervil River, The Stand Ins)
Having a go at another album that passed me by, Podrida brings out a sweet indie melody that stands on its own so well I’m having trouble imagining the original. [Buy]

Noah23 – Canadian Dollars (A Milli) (Lil’ Wayne, Tha Carter III)
Though not as blog-worthy as when ?uestlove held down the a milli’s with Jimmy-Fallon-houseband The Roots (video), Noah23 challenges Weezy by throwing down his own verses instead of Wayne’s. It’s a hip-hop cover of a hip-hop song, but one completely different. [Buy]

The Kooks – Violet Hill (Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends)
A live acoustic take for the BBC, this cover-loving indie group strips back the Brian Eno production to focus on the herky-jerky melody and falsetto-swoon chorus. A song everyone got sick of long ago gets some welcome new life. [Buy]

Roommate – Lights Out (Santogold, Santogold)
The slow pulse oozes sex on this come-on cover that makes you want to be more than just Roommates. [Buy]

Radiohead – The Rip (Portishead, Third)
Frankly, I didn’t see the hype about this album, but Thom Yorke’s plucking makes this one sound like an acoustic In Rainbows outtake. The original ‘Head gets good…head…from another ‘Head. Now if only Motörhead gets on board, the trinity will be complete. [Buy]

David Porteous – Electric Feel (MGMT, Oracular Spectacular)
David makes a bold stance here, replacing the psych-techno throb of MGMT with some crunchy blues guitar. Crunchy solo blues guitar. There’s no way this should work, but it’s fantastic. [Buy]

Hot Chip and Peter Gabriel – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend)
It’s clear Gabriel hasn’t lost his sense of humor, choosing to be involved in this cover presumably for the sole reason that it name checks him. A lot. Sure, it’s an excellent cover in its own right, but nothing can top the moment where he sings, “And it feels so unnatural to sing your own name.” Tell that to Lil’ Wayne. [Buy]

First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes)
The Kit accomplishes the shocking feat of stripping a Fleet Foxes song back even more than the original, leaving little more that a delicately strummed guitar to contend with the female duet that adds a vocal oomph to the proceedings. [Buy]