Oct 182013

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.

Sara Lov first made a name for herself with the Devics, an indie dream pop-rock (for openers) L.A. band with a small but highly appreciated catalog. Since they came to a close, she’s released two full albums and is working on a third. She’s a fine songwriter, but has shown a special flair for cover songs; whether the original is too cool for school or the guiltiest of pleasures, she makes it matter without making it unapproachable.
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Dec 162011

When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.

There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.

Aug 192011

The Thompson Twins’ 1984 hit “Hold Me Now” may be on your ’80s mellow mixtape, but it’s not a song that has aged well. The odd percussion sounds, the chimes ringing every so often, and the layers and layers of reverb all firmly plant this song in a decade of questionable decisions. Some redeeming factors, though, are a wicked bassline and that catchy chorus. Continue reading »

Jun 062011

Duncan Sheik had one of the 1990s’ more enduring songs in “Barely Breathing,” which hung around the Billboard Top 100 charts for a full year. As they say in (what used to be) the radio business, it tested well. Six additional albums have followed, but Sheik has spent much of the past five years composing scores for Broadway productions and winning both Tony and Grammy awards in the process. Long before he was halfway to an EGOT, though, Sheik spent his teenage years in the 1980s. On Covers 80s he reflects the influence that a wide range of synthpop bands and tracks had on his formative years.

This is no John Hughes soundtrack compilation and if you’re looking for a “Walking On Sunshine” feel-good nostalgia trip, you’ll likely be disappointed. While a few big hits are represented, Sheik offers a deeper and somewhat darker journey back into his past. Although he grew up in New Jersey, Sheik does not include any American bands on Covers 80’s. He says that the litmus test for inclusion was “did I really, really care about it when I was 15 or 16?” Apparently what Sheik really, really cared about back then was the electronic, indie and New Romantic pop of the second British Invasion and Covers 80s benefits greatly from Sheik’s choice of source material. Continue reading »

Jun 182009

Cover News is a weekly feature where I sum up the week’s cover-related news, whether it’s new to the world or just new to me. Anything that doesn’t fit in my regular thematic posts I think my readers would enjoy, be it a youtube video, a blog shout-out, or a cool-looking new release. I also post all the submissions I have gotten from record labels and artists. Send suggestions or submissions to the email address on the right.

This Week’s News

First thing: The links to yesterday’s NYC-themed post are working for now. So hurry up and download!

Following that, the most important bit of news concerns this site. Regular readers will know I have been having some hosting troubles. On the advice of several readers I will probably switch over to bluehost.com, but that means many of the files available here will disappear come July 1st. So download them now while you still can!!! I’ll throw up a post to guide you through the archives as the time approaches.

In more upbeat Cover Me news, our poll for June’s Cover Commissions broke voting records, with Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” pulling away for the win. My Lady’s House has holed up in a French chateau somewhere to work on it, fueled only by red wine and cigarettes, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.

There’s a new cover blog in the ring: Don’t Judge a Song By It’s Cover [sic]. It features lots of covers of individual songs, so whether you’re looking for a dozen versions of “Love Will Teat Us Apart” or “Norwegian Wood,” Ibnu’s got you covered.

The new Springsteen tribute I mentioned a month or so back is coming along, with four new covers available for download! The project is being run by Where It’s At Is Where You Are with the exciting news that the full 38-track set will be available by week’s end! Pick up a split 7” from Rough Trade in London first though to hear fresh takes on “If I Should Fall Behind” and “Girls in their Summer Clothes.”

Anything involving the Decemberists is exciting news in my book, and the fact that they covered Heart at a recent show with Lavender Diamond and My Brightest Diamond is just fun. Eyeball it here.

I know I’m not the only one who feels no guilt about loving everything The Lonely Island releases, whether it’s “Dick in a Box” or “I’m On a Boat.” Most visible front-guy Andy Samberg hosted the MTV Movie Awards a few weeks back and LeeAnn Rhimes, Chris Isaak and Forest Whitaker paid tribute in their own way. Not to be missed (scroll to #3).

In my Full Albums series I’ve long wanted to take on Prince’s Purple Rain, but have avoided it because of the Purple One’s notorious legal team (go try to find a video of his Super Bowl performance a few years ago and you’ll see what I mean). Luckily Spin has done my work for me, commissioning covers of every song to celebrate the movie/album’s twenty-fifth anniversary. You’ll be able to snag ‘em here starting June 23rd, but it looks like you might need an issue in hand to download, so get purchasing!

In more Prince news, check out a couple cuts from one of the best-named tribute albums ever: That Skinny Motherfucker With the High Voice. Dump does two tunes at Aquarium Drunkard.

All you old-school folkniks out there will be excited to hear about a Judee Sill tribute coming out in September. It’s called Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill and you can peep the cover/tracklist here. And download a sample track too!

Randy Newman covers never get old (witness our full Sail Away covers set from a few months back), so how great to see a new freebie EP of tunes! It’s by Jon Hardy & the Public and you must download it immediately. Then encourage them to get recording that Rosalita cover they’ve been doing live! Little Criminals: Songs From Randy Newman is here.

Lastly, though it’s not a cover per se, I couldn’t let this post go by without promoting Weird Al’s new Doors-eye send-up “Craigslist.” Watch Al channel Jim himself in the freak-your-face-off video.

This Week’s Submissions

Apteka – If You Were Here (Thompson Twins)

Morgan Burgess – Let Me Know (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

Randy Haddock – Saved By the Bell Theme