Jul 232010
 

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.

Bands are a dime a dozen in the Big Apple, but edibleRed has a special claim to fame: they’ve been on the fantastic TV show Cash Cab! Can Lady Gaga say that?

Now their Cash Cab appearance (which you can watch here) isn’t strictly relevant to their music, but it does tell you this crew has a knack for being on camera. This fact is confirmed in music videos for three covers. The radio-ready rocker “Hey Ya” goes from domestic bliss to plate-smashing in a matter of minutes, “Straight Up” journeys into a seedy burlesque basement for some dark dance-grind with DJ Peter Shalvoy, and the churning “Blister in the Sun” shows just how far a few MacBook effects can go. Continue reading »

Feb 062010
 

Cover News is a weekly feature keeping you up to date on the goings-on in the world of cover tunes, tribute albums, etc. Plus, at the bottom we post the array of cover tunes we’ve been sent in the past week. Have you recorded a cool cover? Send an mp3 to the address on the right!
 And as always, follow Cover Me on Twitter for the latest news.

Dropkick Murphys


This Week’s News

Another Commissions cover this week: California songwriter Brady Harris putting a ‘30s folk spin on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” [Cover Me]

The cover blog family just got one more member: Cover By Numbers. Welcome! [Cover By Numbers]

Will I stream a new Preservation Hall Jazz Band covers record, featuring guest appearances from Andrew Bird, Merle Haggard, Dr. John and Tom Waits? Why yes, I will! [Preservation Hall Jazz Band]

The message of “Everybody Hurts” is “Hey friend, sometimes life sucks for all of us.” Does that really make it an appropriate song to cover for Haitian relief? [YouTube]

“I Put a Spell on You” may be a better choice, simply because there’s zero “message.” And with the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan behind the wheel (with Nick Cave and Johnny Depp), it’s sure to get rowdy. [Pitchfork]

A football fight song redone. It’s no “Super Bowl Shuffle,” but really what is? Go Saints! [Team Glory Bound]

Attention Austria: Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu will be covering Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures in full at a Krems festival. Make the most of it. [Click Music]

Us folks stateside will just have to console ourselves with the Flaming Lips playing a 2am Dark Side of the Moon at Bonnaroo. And this is after two hours of their own material! [Spinner]

Peter Gabriel’s soft piano run through Bon Iver’s gorgeous “Flume” takes some getting used to. Once you wrap your mind around a harmony-free rendition though, it’s something special. [Stereogum]

While I like the idea of Roberta Flack doing a Beatles cover album, does the world really need another soul-tinged “Let It Be”? [Spinner]

Coming February 20: two-disc New Order tribute album dedicated to Factory Records bossman Tony Wilson. [New Order Tribute]

Also coming soon: A 21-song tribute to punk pioneers the Swingin’ Utters. Get a taste with Dropkick Murphys’ “Strongman.” [Alternative Press]

This Week’s Submissions

Steve Acho – Rio (Duran Duran) [more]

Billy Gewin – The Other End (Of the Telescope) (Elvis Costello / Aimee Mann) [more]

Brady Harris – Heart of Glass (Blondie) [more]

Or, the Whale – Toxic (Britney Spears) [more]

Sentient Machine – Disco Inferno (The Trammps) [more]

Still Standing – Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes) [more]

Send your cover to the email address on the right for inclusion in next week’s Cover News!

Second Chances

 Posted by at 3:00 pm  No Responses »
Jan 252010
 

Whether you’re a pining romantic, fading dance pioneer or violent dictator (see below), everyone deserves a second chance at love. Listening to songs pleading for another try makes you want to know the addressee’s response. Some we know – Sandy and Danny reconciled their differences at the fair; America decided yes, it was ready to twist again – but the rest leave you wondering. Was Warren reconsidered? Did she give up on Solomon? The world may never know.


Steve Earle and Reckless Kelly – Reconsider Me (Warren Zevon)
When you live a life of alcoholism, drug abuse and divorce, lines like “I’ll never make you sad again ‘cause I swear that I’ve changed since then” take on a heartbreaking sincerity. He probably said them a good deal. [Buy]

Bob Dylan and George Harrison – Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance (Henry Thomas)
Dylan re-wrote much of this 1927 blues tune for inclusion on 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. He revisited it in an impromptu 1970 Studio B jam session with Harrison, coming up with some new lyrics on the spot about “looking for a woman with some chicken knees.” [Buy]

Jenton – My Life Would Suck Without You (Kelly Clarkson)
A YouTube cover artist to watch. [Buy]

Joe Cocker – Don’t Give Up On Me (Solomon Burke)
The title track to Solomon Burke’s Grammy-winning 2002 comeback album, “Don’t Give Up On Me” keeps its soul power even when transferred to the notoriously mush-mouthed Cocker. [Buy]

Jamie McClure – Let’s Twist Again (Chubby Checker)
Chubby ruled the summer of 1960 with his dance craze “The Twist.” Apparently without any new ideas, he asked America to recreate the magic the following summer with “Let’s Twist Again.” The country was happy to oblige. [Buy]

Robins and the Highrollers – Change Your Mind (The Killers)
Hot Fuss had its share of hit singles with “Somebody Told Me,” “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” but this album cut (not even included on the British version) holds its own next to any of them. [Buy]

Noseriders – Could We Start Again Please (Jesus Christ Superstar)
If Robert Johnson, Conway Twitty, and Jake Shimabukuro got together for an instrumental jam sesh, they probably wouldn’t go anywhere near Andrew Lloyd Webber. But if they did… [Buy]

The Oakdales – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
The genius of the Jackson 5 was how well an eleven-year old pipsqueak relayed the complexity of desire in a way people twice his age could relate to. [Free Download]

Violent Femmes – I Swear It (I Can Change) (South Park)
A homosexual appeal from a horny Saddam Hussein to an emotionally unstable Satan? Only on South Park. [Buy]

The Beautiful South – You’re the One That I Want (Grease)
What descriptors do justice to this duet? Goth-country? Brooding-romantic? How about: One of the best covers I’ve heard in a while. [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]

The Uncoverable

 Posted by at 6:37 am  1 Response »
Feb 162009
 

I’ve heard a lot of covers, but every now and then a song comes along so bizarre I think, no way anyone could cover that. In every case, I turn out to be wrong. It seems musicians can take even the strangest, most idiosyncratic music and remake it in their own image. Let me present…the (not quite) uncoverable.

Neil Cowley Trio – Revolution 9 (The Beatles)
The ultimate in uncoverable (well, after Metal Machine Music…which, incidentally, an orchestra covered). The original is just random noise with some idiot saying “number nine” incessantly. When MOJO wanted to put together covers of all tracks on the White Album, I would have thought they’d given up upon remembering ol’ #9. But no, they persevered, and came up with a funky jazz cover that, unlike the original, doesn’t sound like ass. [Buy]

Alan Licht – Lonesome Valley (Trad.)
The tag says “Trad,” but there’s a lot more to the story. Licht, of avant-garde free-jazz groups like Lovechild and The Blue Humans, describes the history of this track: “Run On’s David Newgarden had played me a CD of hollerin’ contests from North Carolina, so I went about coming up with chord progressions to play behind the recordings of the weird a cappella, howling melodies.” Hollerin’ is a lost art of yelling, communicating messages in wordless yelps. It’s bizarre stuff, and can be explained better here. [Buy]

James Eric – Untitled #1 (Vaka) (Sigur Rós)
The music of angels, Sigur Rós has a sound all their own. Airy, spacey songs that float by sung either in Icelandic or a made-up language (for most of us there’s little difference), their music is entrancing, enticing, and as idiosyncratic as can be. Shockingly, however, there are a few Sigur covers out there, all quite good. I chose this one because (spoiler alert) you can expect to see more of Mr. Eric here in the very near future. [Buy]

Vienna Teng – Idioteque (Radiohead)
Radiohead is a commonly covered band, but some songs lend themselves better to covers than others. The original for this “tune” features such an idiosyncratic drum loop one wonders how to reinvent it. Teng hints at the pattern, but brings out the melody as a folksy tune with (gasp) harmonies! [Buy]

Violent Femmes – Step Right Up (Tom Waits)
Quite a few Tom songs could fit in this uncoverable category, but this tuneless huckster bark goes right up there. Tom’s six-minute infomercial for dozens of questionable products, “Step Right Up” find the Femmes adding in some more free-jazz background and bizarre vocal contortions to sell you their shit. Don’t be caught with your drawers down! [Buy]

Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
“What’s this doing here?” you’re wondering. “It’s one of the most easy-to-cover rock songs there is because of that damn riff.” It’s true; the riff puts it just after “Smoke on the Water” as a popular hook to inspire teens everywhere to pick up an axe. The vocals come second; you know the riff, you can play the song. Smith does the unthinkable though, putting out a version of the tune without the riff! The fact there even is a song without the riff is the real shock, much less that it’s such a good one. [Buy]

Mersault – Westward Ho (Moondog)
There are some unusual stories in music, but it doesn’t get much more bizarre than Moondog. Where to begin? For one, he was a homeless guy. Who only wore homemade clothes. That he designed to look like the Norse god Thor. Including a horned helmet. The strangest thing of all though, was that this “Viking of 6th Avenue” produced gorgeous off-kilter melodies, largely using his own invented instruments. Needless to say, not an artist you’d expect to find a lot of covers of, especially of a song that only has one line. [Buy]

Jars of Clay – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Gavin Bryars)
Ina little mini-theme here, this is the second recording of a homeless guy. Bryars heard a recording of an anonymous tramp singing a two-line testimonial to his face, and turned it into one of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve ever heard, adding strings, brass and, later, Tom Waits to come up with 74 minutes of sweeping beauty, all built around the tramp’s sixteen words. Well-regarded Christian rock group Jars of Clay took those few lines and added their acoustic harmonies to bring the simple melody to a new generation. [Buy]

The Antlers – When You Sleep (My Bloody Valentine)
Influential though they are, My Bloody Valentine’s shoegaze noisescapes seem so idiosyncratic one wonders how anyone could translate them. Pickin’ on MBV: The Bluegrass Tribute seems a stretch. The Antlers get it right though, keeping the waves of reverb right up front. [Buy]

Bruce Springsteen – Dream Baby Dream (Suicide)
When Springsteen abruptly began closing his 2005 solo concerts with this obscure cover, fan reaction was understandably mixed. The song only has two lines, repeated over an over to an organ loop for as long as thirteen minutes. Hypnotic and haunting, Bruce probably just couldn’t get the melody out of his head, and neither will you. [Buy]