Amaara – House of Cards (Radiohead cover)
We just posted the 45 best Radiohead covers ever, but there’s already a 46th. Unsurprising, really, considering how much this band gets covered. The musical project of actor Kaelen Amara Ohm, Amaara took on the In Rainbows gem “House of Cards.” Her cover carries echoes of the haunting original, but with a smoother electro-ambient sheen.
Chris Anderson – Eh-Hee / Digging in the Dirt (Dave Matthews / Peter Gabriel cover)
Composer Chris Anderson draws from some pretty deep wells of music knowledge on his new Song Cycle. He covers Laurie Anderson and John Cage and Tom Waits – twice. He covers Peter Gabriel twice too, on a beautiful “Mercy Street” and more subtly here, working bits of “Digging in the Dirt” into – of all things – a gospel Dave Matthews cover. “The addition of a choir was important to me to create the feeling of a ground-swell of support,” he writes in an email. “The fact that the song is about ‘knocking the devil to his knees’ made the gospel choir a natural choice.”
Chatham County Line – Walk, Don’t Run (The Ventures cover)
Surf-rock is a genre that hasn’t been “cool” for about sixty years. Few other genres are quite as out-of-step with the times, but bluegrass may come close. So it feels appropriate the Raleigh bluegrass quartet Chatham County Line took on a staple of the surf-rock genre on their new covers album Sharing the Covers. The banjo turns out to be an ideal instrument to handle those quick guitar runs, with little reverb needed.
Clea – Nothing Breaks Like a Heart (Mark Ronson ft. Miley Cyrus cover)
Give how ubiquitous a pop hit it’s become, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” was overdue for a good mellow acoustic cover. Australian singer Clea delivers for Triple J radio, accompanied by guitar, piano, and violin. Most powerful is the bridge though, where everything else cuts away as two voices harmonize.
Craig Haller – Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
“Stylistically speaking,” Craig Haller writes in a lengthy blog post about his “Crazy Train” cover, “it sits in stark contrast to the original.” That’s an understatement. But the smooth country-rock ballad works surprisingly well with this song, like a chestnut you’d discover on some Nashville Cats-backed record from the 1970s.
Derek Simpson – Her Song (The Zombies cover)
The backstory, from Simpson (and read our new Zombies feature here): “I originally heard this song while I was doing some research on The Zombies in 2017. Stumbling upon Blunstone’s debut album was such a joy as there are so many under-appreciated pieces on there: ‘Misty Roses’, ‘Caroline Goodbye’, and ‘I Can’t Live Without You’ just to name a few. First hearing ‘Her Song’ brought me to tears. After a year I felt the pull to record my own cover as a gift to my girlfriend. Though this is not necessarily a tune by The Zombies, I felt that this would be appropriate to release as a celebration of them since three members of the band (Rod Argent, Chris White, and Colin Blunstone) worked on the original song together.”
Hallowell – Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior (hymn cover)
Hallowell’s “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” feels less like a hymn you might have sung in church and more like, say, The Lumineers’ next single. That’s because, as Hallowell’s Joseph Pensak told County Tracks, he rewrote the melody completely. It becomes peppy and catchy, while still beautiful and moving.
Julien Baker and Aaron Dessner – The Woodpile (Frightened Rabbit cover)
Not long after Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison passed away last year, a host of friends and collaborators gathered at New York’s Rough Trade for a special tribute concert. The whole thing is streaming on Soundcloud, and my favorite track on first listen is Julien Baker and The National’s Aaron Dessner covering “The Woodpile.” Her intro in the previous track is worth listening to, about once getting busted by Scott for soundchecking his song with a fake Scottish accent. (The band encourages donations to the Scott Hutchison Memorial Fund here).
Little Mazarn – Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Slow, sad, acoustic “Dancing in the Dark” covers have become a cliché at this point – but the song gets performed that way so often because it works. The latest comes from Austin duo Lindsey Verrill and Jeff Johnston. Verrill writes: “I didn’t really ever listen to Bruce Springsteen and I still don’t but I ended up sitting outside of Staples with a bunch of stuff I needed to photocopy in my lap just listening to him talk on the radio. He was talking about his life, about pitching his songs to record labels, about never having the right clothes, and about being down and depressed and still getting the job done, making music. Then while I was making copies, “Dancing in the Dark” came on. I realized that if you take away the stadium drums and synths and sweaty biceps and Courtney Cox, it’s a song about everything that I had been feeling, about self doubt and being down and taking solace in your music.”
Papercuts – Blues Run the Game (Jackson C. Frank cover)
“Blues Run the Game” – cult icon Jackson C. Frank’s best-known song by far – gets covered plenty in folkie circles. But I don’t know that I’ve heard a cover this rocking. It’s not that heavy, to be fair, but this post-rock sheen suits the song, giving it more propulsion than the quieter finger-picked versions usually offer.
Scary Pockets ft. Bruno Major & Bill Wurtz – Don’t You Want Me (The Human League cover)
Like a Postmodern Jukebox for funk instead of ’30s jazz, Scary Pockets covers hits new and old with a lite-funk sheen on YouTube. The best I’ve seen thus far is this swinging “Don’t You Want Me.” No surprise that they’re so professional; one of the guys, Jack Conte, used to perform with his wife in YouTube-cover O.G.s Pomplamoose. (As if that wasn’t enough, he founded Patreon too.)
Taken By Trees – Careless Whisper (Wham! cover)
Taken By Trees’ Victoria Bergsman (former frontwoman of The Concretes) tells Billboard: “I’ve always been a fan — of Wham! since I grew up, and then George Michael. I felt when he passed I wanted to do one of the songs. My older sister was the bigger fan; She definitely had the posters and everything up on the wall and she was in love with George. But I always really liked the music.”
Vampire Weekend – Sunflower (Post Malone and Swae Lee cover)
The sunflower must be having a moment. Vampire Weekend titled their latest single “Sunflower” (somehow roping Jerry Seinfeld into appearing in the video). And Post Malone topped the charts most recently with another “Sunflower,” alongside rapper Swae Lee. It figured sooner or later the two would collide, as they did when Vampire Weekend played Post’s “Sunflower” for the Live Lounge. In their hands, though, it sounds like something off Graceland.
The Best of the Rest
Angélique Kidjo – Quimbara (Celia Cruz cover)
Arcade Fire – Baby Mine (Dumbo cover)
Better Oblivion Community Center – Human (The Killers cover)
The Bird and the Bee – Panama (Van Halen cover)
Brass Against ft Samuel Hope – Parabol/Parabola (Tool cover)
Cherry Glazerr – Time to Get Away (LCD Soundsystem cover)
Cub Sport – When the Party’s Over (Billie Eilish cover)
Cyrene – Time to Pretend (MGMT cover)
Dave Ernst – Driver 8 (R.E.M. cover)
Hurricane Roses – Best Dress (Damien Jurado cover)
Lauren Daigle – Don’t Dream, It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
Lissie – Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Morrissey – It’s Over (Roy Orbison cover)
Mountain Man – Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver cover)
Nothing – Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping (Grouper cover)
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band – Misunderstood (Wilco cover)
Pond – Ray of Light (Madonna cover)
SZA and Alicia Keys – Day Dreaming (Aretha Franklin cover)
— Alicia Keys Daily (@AliciaKeysDaiIy) March 11, 2019
We Are Scientists X Art Brut – Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys cover)
William Tyler – Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac cover)