Aug 202010
 

If you’ve ever attended a music festival, you need to know Consequence of Sound. If you ever plan on attending a music festival, you need to know Consequence of Sound. If you have no interest in music festivals whatsoever, you need to wise up…and then you need to know Consequence of Sound. In addition to the site’s regular music news and features, their Festival Outlook has established itself as the premiere source for festival info. From lineup info (which they always seem to know before anyone else) to reviews, their coverage spans ‘em all, from the big boys (Bonnaroo, Coachella) to the underdogs (Ghoulsfest?).

Suffice to say: These guys know their festivals. So as fest season winds down, we checked in with some CoS writers (of whom – full disclosure – I am one) to hear the best festival covers they’ve ever witnessed. Here’s what they offered. Each has a review and a video so you can vicariously experience the insanity.

After you finish here, hop over to CoS’ Friday Mixtape! The covers were chosen by yours truly. Continue reading »

Dec 092009
 

The first post of the month always features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


The thing most surprising about the music on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is its accessibility. Just imagine someone hearing the concept behind this album for the first time. “So it’s about a transsexual alien who tells the world it only has five years to survive. This news makes the transsexual alien sad, so he writes some songs and forms a hit band. Then he becomes Jesus for awhile, until other aliens come along and rip him into little bits to absorb his essence.” Good God, the person would think, what could music about that possibly sound like? Well, it turns out it sounds like good old-fashioned rock and roll with a sprinkle of glam. No one (including Bowie) really understands the plotline, but everyone can get on board with the incredible music.

The Arcade Fire – Five Years
In 2005 Wynn Butler and the Arcade Fire crew performed this with Bowie himself at a iTunes-released Fashion Rocks concert (great video here). This comes from around that time, a Bowie-less concert performance that features all the bombast we’ve come to expect from the Fire. [Buy]

Tim Reynolds – Soul Love
Longtime Dave Matthews sideman Tim Reynolds may be one of the best acoustic guitar players around today. He’s got dozens of concerts available for free download at archive.org, most featuring a wide selection of instrumental covers like this one. [Buy]

L.A. Guns – Moonage Daydream
One of the best opening couplets in rock: “I’m an alligator / I’m a mama-papa coming for you!” The Whites Stripes do a raw version of this live (video), but stay tuned for some more polished Jack White. [Buy]

Nena – Starman
You probably know Nena from her hit “99 Luftballoons,” unless you live in Germany where she’s a legitimate artist with an actual career and everything. Wherever you’re from, her album Cover Me (dumb name, huh) is worth snagging, if only for the phenomenal two-sentence Wikipedia description: “Cover Me is a cover album by German pop star Nena, released in 2007. It contains songs that she likes.” Apparently one song she likes is a German-language version of “Heroes.” [Buy]

The Raconteurs – It Ain’t Easy (Ron Davies)
I used to exclude albums with non-original songs from Full Albums consideration until the irony of excluding artists who did covers from a cover songs blog became too great. Plus, we know Jack White’s a fan of the album (see above), so his shrieking guitar work is surely tribute to original Ziggy player Mick Ronson. [Buy]

Seu Jorge – Lady Stardust
Wes Anderson is a weird director. There’s no other explanation to explain why he scored his The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with singer/actor Jorge’s Portugese-language versions of Bowie classics. Anderson even put videos of Jorge performing the songs in the movie! Here’s the clip for “Lady Stardust.” [Buy]

Techno Cowboy – Star
One fine day singer-songwriter Brad Stubbs decided to strap in some weird 80s instruments under pseudonym Techno Cowboy and record The Ziggy Stardust Omnichord Album. The world was never the same. [Buy]

Shesus – Hang On To Yourself
Good band name, badass band. [Buy]

derpferdheissthorst – Ziggy Stardust
This one was recorded for one of our earliest Cover Commissions series, narrowly beating “The Safety Dance” and “You Spin Me Around.” If you like what you hear (and you will), these German gents have a few more covers available at their spiffy new website. [Buy]

Golden Delicious – Suffragette City
David Bowie loved Mott the Hoople so much he offered them this song if they agreed not to break up. They declined, so Bowie came back with a second offer: “All the Young Dudes.” They recorded it, had a massive hit…then broke up anyway. [Buy]

Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
The original plays while “the infinites” tear a washed-up old Ziggy to bits onstage. This cover would be better suited to soundtrack the last dance at prom. Until the unexpected ending. [Buy]

Jul 282009
 

Jack White is best known as the frontman for the White Stripes, but these days he’s making waves in plenty of other ways. Whether it’s his newest project The Dead Weather, his new record label, his vinyl-fetishist record store, or his appearance in guitar god documentary It Might Get Loud, White’s a hard man to avoid. It’s hard to keep track of all his musical projects, but here’s an attempt at an overview. In chronological order, here’s a look at the other (ie. Meg-free) side of Jack White.


Goober and the Peas – Snoopy’s Christmas (The Royal Guardsmen)
Those who were shocked by Jack’s debut as the Dead Weather’s drummer hadn’t heard this band, in which Jack briefly played drums as “Doc.” His first release with them was the three-song Christmas record A Christmas Eve Get-Together With… A cover of one of my favorite holiday songs kicks it off. [Buy]

Two Star Tabernacle – Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis)
The briefly-lived Tabernacle never released a record (though their two tunes backing Andrew Williams, available here, are phenomenal). There are two live bootlegs floating around though, with Jack rocking the guitar. More importantly, he takes on a few vocal duties from this ’98 track, his nasal holler already very recognizable. [Buy]

The Hentchmen – Some Other Guy (Richie Barrett)
Jack switched between bass and guitar duties for the Hentchmen, appearing on their excellent garage-rock release Hentch-Forth.Five. It kicks off with a couple covers: “Psycho Daisies” by the Yardbirds (White would later back Jeff Beck live) and this classic rock’n’roll jammer that the Beatles recorded too. [Buy]

Jack White and The Bricks – Ooh! My Soul (Little Richard)
A hint of things to come in this live jam session with Brendan Benson, later of the Racs, Ben Blackwell (Dirtbombs) and Kevin Peyok (The Waxwings). It’s mostly White Stripes tunes (we’re at ’99 already), but they close with an roaring take on this Little Richard (and others) tune that hears Jack attempt Richie’s falsetto holler. It sounds unrehearsed and the recording quality isn’t great. Something tells me Jack would approve. [Buy]

The Upholsterers – Ain’t Superstitious (Willie Dixon)
Before Jack was a Raconteur, before he was a White Stripe, he was an upholsterer. Yes, that’s lower-case for a reason: Jack actually ran Third Man Upholstery, and was apparently pretty good at it. Here he teams up with his boss in the biz Brenan Muldoon for a three-song record where you can hear the assertive, guitar-wailing White coming into his own. [Buy]

Jack White – Fragile Girl (The Waxwings)
Recorded exactly one month before the Stripes’ breakthrough White Blood Cells came out, this solo concert finds Jack and his guitar at local Detroit venue the Gold Dollar playing tribute to heroes like Blind Willie McTell (“Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues”) and Beck (“Cold Brains”). Here he remembers some local boys, some of whom he’d played with (see The Bricks above). [Buy]

Jack White and Beck – Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Robert Johnson)
Jack and Beck have a history of turning up at each other’s gigs, as happened at this Michigan Beck show where the pair jammed out on a few tunes. It’s no secret Jack loves the blues, so this delta classic proved a perfect choice. [Buy]

Jack White – Wayfaring Stranger (Trad.)
I’ve never seen the film, but I can say with confidence that Cold Mountain has one of the greatest soundtracks ever. That’s due in no small part to Jack’s participation. He does six solo recordings that evoke Appalachian country with mandolin, fiddle, and banjo. More than anything though it’s his voice that stands out, showing the singer underneath the shouting. [Buy]

The Raconteurs – Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)
And…we’re back to shouting. When you hear the furious rendition of this one-hit-wonder you’ll be glad for the volume. [Buy]

The Raconteurs – Keep It Clean (Charley Jordan)
The Racs’ second album Consolers of the Lonely contained a cover of “Rich Kid’s Blues.” This live track is in a similar vein, but better, Jack White singing about coca-cola who, as you’ll remember, he wrote a song for himself. This come from a soundboard recording from Bonnaroo ’08 and is one you’ll want to put on repeat. [Buy]

Jack White and Bob Dylan – Meet Me In the Morning (Bob Dylan)
This one stretches definition of cover, I know. Jack’s covered Dylan on many occasions, but here he’s covering Dylan with Dylan standing right behind him. I consider it a cover though ‘cause old Bob doesn’t do a lot, standing back and letting Jack rip at this ’07 concert. It’s a cover Jack hasn’t done anywhere else, chosen presumably for its local Nashville reference. The next night, Jack rejoined Bob’s band for more familiar quasi-covers “One More Cup of Coffee” and “Outlaw Blues.” [Buy]

The Dead Weather – You Just Can’t Win (Them)
I saw the Dead Weather last week (what inspired this post) and since they’ve only got one record out, they padded their set with a few covers. Bob Dylan’s “New Pony” (from the record), Pentagram’s “Forever My Queen,” West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s (who?) “Child of a Few Hours Is Burning To Death” (what?), and this. We first heard this one as the b-side to their “Treat Me Like Your Mother” single, and that’s where this come from. It doesn’t like Van Morrison, but it does sound bad-ass as hell. [Buy]

Dexter Romweber Duo – Last Kind Word Blues (Geechie Wiley)
I mentioned Jack’s record label in the introduction. Well this is one of his first releases from earlier this year, a 7” by the Dex Romweber Duo. Jack joins in on both sides of the record, which (sell-out!) can also be purchased from iTunes. It doesn’t get much more obscure than Geechie (or Geeshie) Wiley, but then again Jack does obscure better than most. [Buy]

Hairy Palms

 Posted by at 4:09 pm  No Responses »
Apr 142009
 

So there are a lot of songs about masturbation. Let’s just leave the introduction at that.

Warren Zevon – Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
Why in 1992, eleven years aft er the song’s double popularity as hit singles from Idol’s original group Generation X (shortened to Gen X for this record) and as a solo cut, Zevon decided to bust out his one-man acoustic cover live is beyond me. But I’m glad he did. One can only wonder if he danced while singing it (the literal sort of dancing I mean). For a more unintentionally disturbing version, check out Gonzo singing about it on Muppets Tonight. Yikes. [Buy]

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires – My Ding-a-Ling (Chuck Berry)
The fact that this was Chuck Berry’s only number one hit – in 1972 no less – should be a source of shame to music fans everywhere. Still, the rock legend may have pioneered the musical-instrument-as-penis metaphor that lead to “Bang on the Drum All Day” and the Dylan song below. This horn-fueled reggae take livens it up that you can ignore the inane lyrics. [Buy]

Claw Hammer – Praying Hands (Devo)
This one is basically an instruction manual on technique, proclaiming Devo’s renowned class for the world to hear. Equally tasteful, Claw Hammer breaks it down into loose garage rock when they cover the full album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo. [Buy]

Scala & Kolacny Brothers – I Touch Myself (The Divynals)
Now this song has never been particularly subtle, but somehow when a full female choir sings it together it becomes extra creepy. Like Renee Fleming telling you way more than you wanted to know. [Buy]

David Bowie – Pictures of Lily (The Who)
Townsend claims he wrote this because he wanted to see a song about masturbation become a hit. Well he succeeded, immortalizing British actress Lillie Langtry in a somewhat twisted way. She did indeed die in 1929, as the song says, and one wonders how the “Jersey Lily” would respond to her most famous legacy. [Buy]

Liz Phair – Turning Japanese (The Vapors)
All of these songs are more or less gross, but in 1980 the Vapors took things one step further by adding racial sensitivity to the mix. I won’t go into the details about how turning Japanese relates to masturbation, but it’s gross. Like many masturbatory groups, they deny the charges, saying that “Turning Japanese is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.” Well, that’s probably not why Liz Phair, singer of the classics “Blowjob Queen” and “H.W.C.” (look up what it stands for) chose to cover it. [Buy]

Jason and the Scorchers – Absolutely Sweet Marie (Bob Dylan)
Living up to their name, this cowbilly punk crew scorches through this Blonde on Blonde classic. Though this is Bob at his most lyrically inscrutable, some metaphors are clear. “I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet” = best euphemism ever. [Buy]

Eden Automatic – She Bop (Cyndi Lauper)
Time for the ladies to have a say. Eden Automatic gives a surf-rock swagger to Cyndi’s pleasure-proud hit, precluding Britney Spears’ “Touch of My Hand” by several decades. Bonus: You can download Eden’s full album for free over at Aimestreet. [Buy]

The Raconteurs – Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)
Alright, now here’s where I draw the line. Everyone says this songs about masturbation, but I don’t see it. The Raconteurs do such a kick-ass version though I’ll let you decide for yourself. [Buy]

Paddy Milner – Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes)
To tide you off before the Femmes-themed post I hope to do soon, here’s a jaunty piano-backed take on their biggest (or only) hit. Milner bounces around the keys with strange cadences and notes, backing his more conventional voice. Very Femme. [Buy]

Bonnaroo

 Posted by at 9:49 pm  No Responses »
Feb 132008
 

Sorry this post is a couple days late, but hopefully there’s enough here to make up for it. It’s about a diverse a post as I’ve had, with the only theme being artists who are playing Bonnaroo 2008. It’s a great line-up so far, with more to be added, so check it out at bonnaroo.com. First up we’ll do covers of Roo artists.

Patricia O’Callaghan – Better Man (Pearl Jam)
Having an opera-trained soprano doing a grunge song is a shakey proposition, but it works pretty well here as she reins her voice in from unnecessary theatrics. Starts off with some nice piano that I wish it had stayed with the whole time.

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Orion (Metallica)
Why Metallica is headlining Bonnaroo is beyond me, as there are few bands I can stomach less, but at least there a few nice covers of their songs. This one shows the Mexican acoustic guitar duo (who, incidentally, played Roo last year) put their flamenco-metal spin on the Master of Puppets instrumental, transforming it into something that doesn’t make you want to rip your ears out. Well done.

The Automatic – Gold Digger (Kanye West)
I’m a big Kanye fan, but this is one of the worst singles he’s released. It’s much better as an ironic acoustic rock jam with some screeching backing vocals and flute riffs.

Kind of Like Spitting – Title Track (Death Cab for Cutie)
I need to get myself educated about this band before June, as all I have is a few covers they’ve done. From the one cover of a songs I have though, there’s potential.

And now Roo artists covering others, which gives you a better sense of the festival sound this year.

Jack Johnson – Mama, You Been On My Mind / Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie (Bob Dylan)
I really want to hate this laid-back guitar-strumming surfer dude, but the few covers I have by him are all pretty good. He keeps the momentum here in a song perfectly suited to his voice, before doing a rhythmic melodic version of Bob’s one spoken-word poem. The man knows his Dylan, as I’ve never even heard it covered before.

Phil Lesh and Friends – All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
Another Dylan one here, but a band it could be argued does only covers (depending on where you place songs by the Grateful Dead, a band Lesh was in). This has to be one of the most covered songs ever, but Lesh keeps it fresh (har har) here at an ’06 concert. Joan Osbourne has a beautiful gospel intro before some lively jamming and solos worthy of the song.

The Raconteurs – Bang Bang (Cher)
Jack White knows how to do a cover as well as anyone and with a little more exposure this could be the band’s Jolene. In almost ten minutes his wavering vocals interact with pounding instruments and waves of distortion in a live staple. They do it in about five parts, each one building on the last in an passive-aggressive tour de force that chills.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Killing the Blues (Rowland Salley)
These guys do almost exclusively covers, with a laid-back swing feel that suits the duo perfectly. Steel guitar and brushed drums give them space to explore vocally here, with T-Bone Burnett at his best production-wise.

Tegan and Sara – Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen)
You’ve probably heard their cover of Umbrella, but this one’s even better, taking Springsteen’s poppiest song and making it all shoegazer indie.

Willie Nelson – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
Lauper’s inane ramblings trying to deliver a Grammy the other day were pretty pathetic, but she used to be a pretty legit pop star, with some pretty fun songs. I’d think Nelson’s country warbling would be a terrible fit for this song, but the arrangement is perfect and he keeps the twang out his voice in a subdued take that isn’t afraid to mix up the chorus a bit.

Dirty Pop

 Posted by at 11:40 pm  No Responses »
Nov 032007
 

Doing a 180 from the last post’s Dylan covers, today we’re gonna showcase covers of the lowest of the low, the pop song. We’re talking the song that’s written by a team of middle-aged men for some dimwit nineteen year old to auto-tune her way through. Basically, everything you hear on the radio these days. As you might imagine, take away the elaborate production and the irritating fact that someone’s making a killing with these songs, and you wind up with lots of potential for fun covers. With comps like Pop Goes Punk selling big, the pop cover is almost a genre by itself. Here it is, done right.

Jenny Owen Youngs – Hot In Herre (Nelly)
Probably my favorite of the bunch, it takes a real talent to turn a rap song into a…non rap song. But she does it, adding a cutesy tune that is fabulously inappropriate for the lyrics, complete with awkward white-dude backing vocals. Finds like this are why I follow covers.

The Mountain Goats – The Sign (Ace of Base)
A folky duet by a group that seems to be enjoying this one a little too much. The lead singer was quoted as saying this was not supposed to be a joke cover, but rather should bring out the lyrical quality of the original. Whatever.

Willie Nelson – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
If you didn’t know the original, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out this wasn’t a Willie Nelson song with a particularly catchy melody. He plays with the rhythm of the chorus in a way that throws you at first, but works.

Matt Weddle – Hey Ya! (Outkast)
A Youtube sensation, this version takes the quirky pop sensation and plays it straight, an irony-free meditation on hype and failure. When people perform pop songs as if there’s a deep meaning, 99% of the time they sound like idiots. This is the other 1%.

Jamelia – Numb (Linkin Park)
This was on pretty constant rotation for weeks after I discovered it at Copy, Right. Stripping down the heavy-handed production of the original in favor of heavily-strummed acoustic guitars (perhaps the main staple of good pop covers) reveals an incredibly catchy melody.

Shawn Colvin – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
One of today’s premier cover artists, this one floated around the blogosphere when it came out last year. It’s very tightly done, if perhaps a little precious.

The Raconteurs – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
And, on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, we have Jack White’s side project here. They performed this live a few times in ’06, including this version at Lollapalooza, thrash-rocking it out with some banshee squealing choruses.

Fountains of Wayne – Baby One More Time (Britney Spears)
Sounds about like what you would think Fountains of Wayne doing a Britney Spears song might sound like.

Nickel Creek – Toxic (Britney Spears)
More modern Britney here, this one’s a little love or hate, with fiddle, banjo, and loads of falsetto. I love it.

Dartmouth Aires – Ask the Lonely (Journey)
What pop cover set would be complete without a little Journey, the definition of guilty pleasure? And with a soloist who can belt it like just like Steve Perry, it doesn’t get better. [Note: Apparently Journey’s just good for acapella; Petra Hayden (formerly of the Decemberists) does a nice Don’t Stop Believing.]

Astrid Swan – When You Were Young (The Killers)
I feel like I’m showing all my cards in this entry, as many of these are among my favorite covers ever. The piano by itself would be pretty enough; add on top of it her gorgeous voice and you’ve got a version better than the original.

The Mooney Suzuki – Just Like Jesse James (Cher)
Just released on the album Guilt By Association, it’s another one that sounds so perfect for its context that it’s hard to remember it used to be very, very different.

Hurra Torpedo – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)
The rhythm is off, the guitar playing is out-of-tune, and the vocalist can’t sing. But it’s being played by the leading Norwegian kitchen appliance band, so really what more do you need? (Don’t believe me…to youtube!)

John West – Umbrella (Rihanna)
There are a billion cover versions of this already, by everyone from Mandy Moore to Tegan and Sara, but the cello in this one makes it better than most. It takes the über-catchy factor out of the song, making it an acoustic slow jam that rocks you to sleep.