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!

There is very little that can be considered “new” in the world of popular music — everything builds on something that came before, and influences get combined in different ways. So the idea that you can declare the inventor of a musical genre is ridiculous. Uncle Tupelo didn’t invent alt-country, a mix of country, rock and punk (check out, say, Jason and the Scorchers, the Long Ryders, Rank and File, X, or the Blasters, for example, for proof that these strains were already well mixed when Uncle Tupelo emerged). But it cannot be denied that Uncle Tupelo’s debut album No Depression, which gave its name to the influential message board and magazine that spearheaded the movement, helped to kickstart the genre’s popularity and became one of its cornerstones.

And it all started with a bunch of high school kids.
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Recently, Detroit band Promartyr paid tribute to their fellow citymen and garage punk legends The Stooges as part of the AV Club series. This was possibly due to Iggy’s 67th(!) birthday falling around the same date, but more likely as a mark of respect for the recently departed Scott “Rock Action” Asheton.

The Michigan four-piece power through “Down on the Street,” an aggressive highlight from Fun House. Frontman Joe Casey initially appears quite juxtaposed to the band as he nonchalantly, hand in pocket, makes his way through each verse, but he becomes monstrously alive for each increasingly antagonistic chorus, leading to a blistering, feedback-heavy finale.
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Back in 2010, Anna Rose performed the Stooges “Gimme Danger” for the “Jam for Ron Asheton” honoring the recently-deceased Stooge with current band members Scott Asheton, Mike Watt and Steve Mackay. As these things generally are, the tribute night was somewhat of a karaoke-esq affair. In the subsequent years though, she stuck with the song, re-arranging it and fiddling with it to arrive at the version you hear below. She delivers the song like nightclub singer with a spaghetti western bent, like if Blue Velvet was set near the Alamo. Continue reading »

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!

Next month, the Primitives will release the 25th anniversary edition of Lovely, their debut album; it’s a quarter century old, but its sound is deathless. While the band may be best known for Lovely‘s leadoff track “Crash,” their sound combined Blondie and the Jesus and Mary Chain in a way that resounded with fans far longer and deeper than one song could ever account for. As for the Primitives themselves, they disbanded in the early ’90s, but twenty years later got back together to release Echoes & Rhythms, a cover album that pulls off the rare trick of showing them to be just as vibrant and relevant as they ever were.
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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!

Just over three decades since The Birthday Party helped spark off the doom & gloom sub-stream in ‘80s post-punk, Nick Cave now belongs in the great club of certified songwriters.  Like several members of that club, Cave has his share of skeptics, and it’s not so easy to bring them into the fold.  Nonbelievers in latter-day Nick Cave would benefit from checking out the Birthday Party, or Cave’s earlier albums with The Bad Seeds, to better appreciate one of the most prolific and consistent musicians to rise from the ashes of the punk era. Continue reading »

Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.

A couple weeks ago, James Vincent McMorrow broke our hearts with his cover of “Higher Love.” Now, he does it again on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” He’s been playing it live for a while now, but Vagrant just sent over this gorgeous recording.
MP3: James Vincent McMorrow – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover) Continue reading »

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Iggy Pop, born James Osterberg in Muskegon, Michigan, turns a remarkable 64 years old today. Remarkable because he spent so much time living on the edge. He arguably created punk rock with his band The Stooges in 1968, uniting the D.I.Y. ethic of mid-’60s garage rock with a nihilistic attitude and Jim Morrison-inspired performance antics. After three albums, Pop’s extreme drug abuse led to the demise of the band and a stint at an L.A. mental institution. Continue reading »

The opening words to the latest Sucker Punch trailer, punctuated like they’re spoken: I lost everyone I’ve ever loved. Then they locked me away. With nowhere to hide. From the pain. Just when you think all hope for this film is lost, though, Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” kicks in. Sure, they keep blathering about escaping from some asylum that apparently only holds gorgeous teens (and they want to escape why?), but at least music supervisor Tyler Bates seems set to deliver. Continue reading »

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