Aug 052021
smith lyle moore born to be wild cover

Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” is the quintessential motorcycle song of the 1960s and also, famously, one of the first ever uses of the term “heavy metal.” In this case “heavy metal” is just referring to the motorcycles, not music, since heavy metal as a genre basically didn’t exist yet (and the song isn’t loud enough to qualify).

The trio of experienced touring musicians, Smith, Lyle & Moore (son of the Thin Lizzy’s Gary Moore) aren’t interested in motorcycles or heavy metal. They’re interested in space flight, both literal and metaphorical. The video for their new “Born to Be Wild” cover honors the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11. Continue reading »

Aug 042021
matt berninger im wainting for the man

The National’s Matt Berninger has been recording a lot of covers during the pandemic, a few of which we’ve tackled on Cover Me. His latest, tackling “I’m Waiting for the Man,” will come out on I’ll Be Your Mirror, a tribute album to The Velvet Underground‘s debut album, September 24th. Continue reading »

Aug 032021
local h brandy

Alt-rock veterans Local H are pretty far removed from yacht rock, but on their upcoming covers album Local H’s Awesome Quarantine Mix-Tape #3, they tackle one of the early staples of the genre: Looking Glass’s 1972 hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” As anyone who remembers Local H’s grunge-era hits could probably guess, it doesn’t sound much like the original.

Singer-guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding dial the distortion up to 11, turning it almost into a loud-quiet-loud Pixies song. No surprise there; Lucas told us last year that his favorite cover ever was by the Pixies. They do keep a bit of the original yachty flavor, though, courtesy of the backing vocals. This song and the others on the album were expanded from Scott’s quarantined solo sessions (we posted a couple of them here and here). Continue reading »

Aug 032021

Native SonsIn two years time Los Lobos, as a band, will be an astonishing fifty years old, with a staggering seventeen albums to their name between 1978 and now, let alone a myriad of other appearances, including dozens of cover versions and a host of tribute recordings. Few bands are as able to flit between genres so effortlessly, as their presence on projects as varied as records in praise of Fats Domino, Richard Thompson, and the Grateful Dead displays. Now, with their new release Native Sons, they’re putting their latest varied covers in one place.

Native Sons is by no means the band’s first all-covers project either, thanks to Ride This, a covers EP of seven songs in 2004, and the frankly astonishing Los Lobos Go Disney, a 2009 album of nothing but Disney soundtrack favorites, played in their inimitable East L.A. sound. Flitting between an abrasive rock music, Tex-Mex stylizations and full on conjunto Tejano, they have a massive footprint in modern roots based musics.

The theme here is Los Angeles, the L.A. music they grew up listening to, the music on the radio as they honed their trade. So we get songs by big hitters like the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield, alongside some of the popular Chicano fare from the barrios. Like so many releases this year, it arose out of the sense of claustrophobia inflicted by the coronavirus; unable to play, unable to tour, the band hit on the idea of a playlist of all those L.A. songs that had inspired and fed their appetite for music. Whittled down from a longlist of around 60 songs, here are the top 12, which must surely give hope for a second volume or so, or at least for a later deluxe edition.(By the way, top 12, but 13 songs on the record, the title track being a newly written original, which sums up the point and the purpose of the whole exercise.)
Continue reading »

Aug 022021
bite me bambi

There’s nothing to get you out of the southern hemisphere mid-winter blues than a sunny ska cover. Orange County 7-piece Bite Me Bambi have done just that with a superb cover of The Go-Go’s 80’s hit “Our Lips are Sealed.” Continue reading »

Aug 022021

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

billy joel covers

When Bruce Springsteen invited Billy Joel to play with him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 40th anniversary concert, he described their meeting as the “Bridge and Tunnel Summit.” This crossover surprised no one; the two artists are similar in many ways, riding careers that exploded from modest singer-songwriter origins playing dive bars to filling stadiums across the world. But one of the ways their trajectories have diverged: The Tunnel side of that equation (that’s Bruce from New Jersey) is about 100 times cooler than the Bridge side (Billy from Long Island). As a result, Springsteen songs have been covered far more often than Joel tunes, despite both having quite a few household-name hits under their belt.

Or maybe they’ve just been covered differently. When we did our Springsteen list, we had an abundance of genre-spanning covers to choose from, the hippest artists around finding meaning in Bruce’s work from every conceivable direction. Doing this month’s Joel list, we had an abundance too – of lounge piano. So much lounge piano.

Joel’s songs deserve better treatment than they often get. So we had to dig deep for this list, sifting through the schlock. There’s a little jazzy piano sprinkled in here and there, sure, but there’s also hardcore punk, ’90s R&B, spectral folk, robot electronica, south-of-the-border disco, and more. Turns out there are plenty of revelatory Billy Joel covers out there; they’re just lurking a little below the surface.

Dive in.

The list begins on Page 2.