May 292020

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs may 2020
Daniel Romano’s Outfit – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan cover)

This one’s for all the Dylan superfans. In 1984, Bob Dylan played three songs on Letterman with L.A. punk band The Plugz. They were gritty and garagey and raw. It boded well for his new sound. And then he never played with them again. The album he was ostensibly promoting, Infidels, was much smoother, helmed by Mark Knopfler. For those who still wonder what could have been, Daniel Romano covered the entire album as if he’d recorded it with The Plugz.

Eli Paperboy Reed – Dream Lover (Mariah Carey cover)

A few years ago, Eli Paperboy Reed joined soul revival band Durand Jones & The Indications for a fun couch cover of Mariah Carey’s “Dream Lover.” Now Reed’s fleshed it out into a full version. It sounds like Mariah Carey recorded down at Stax.

Green Day – Dreaming (Blondie cover)

Billie Joe Armstrong has been posting a new solo cover every week while in isolation, but this latest dispatch is billed as Green Day proper. No word whether the band recorded it recently in their separate spaces or this was dug up from the vaults, but it comes paired with a charming video recalling the days when bands could still tour the world.

Inter Arma – Southern Man (Neil Young cover)

Maybe the strangest and most surprising cover I’ve heard this year. At first, I wasn’t even sure I liked it. Now I’m obsessed. I don’t even want to give anything away. Just press play and sit back.

Nichole Wagner – Ambulance Blues (Neil Young cover)

Need a Neil Young cover to bring you down from that last Neil Young cover? This should do the trick. When we posted Nichole Wagner’s Talking Heads cover in February, her covers EP Dance Songs for the Apocalypse was due imminently. Well, like everything else, that got screwed up by the pandemic. But it is finally, belatedly, out – and the title seems more appropriate than ever. Admittedly, “Ambulance Blues” is not a dance song in her version any more than it is in Neil’s. Well, maybe some very slow swaying.

Nick Cave – Cosmic Dancer (T. Rex cover)

Hal Willner’s final tribute album has been years in the works. It will finally come out this fall, shortly after the tragic death of the man who practically invented the format (and who I was thrilled to interview for – you’ll forgive the plug – my upcoming book on tribute albums). The first taste, from Nick Cave, indicates it was worth the wait.

The Pretenders – Standing in the Doorway (Bob Dylan cover)

Okay, it’s just two Pretenders: Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne. The full band, like everyone, can’t get together these days. So Hynde and Walbourne have been recording what they call the “Dylan Lockdown Series.” They’ve tackled some under-covered tracks too: “In the Summertime,” “You’re a Big Girl Now,” and the latest, “Standing in the Doorway.” They promise one a week until the lockdown ends.

Rhiannon Giddens – Just the Two of Us (Bill Withers cover)

Giddens told Vanity Fair: “You can look at ‘Just the Two of Us’ as a romantic song, or you can look at it as just me and you, whoever you is, everybody out there, all kind of doing this to protect each other. The sentiment of the song, ‘We can make it if we try,’ is just so powerful, and I was so thrilled with the recording. We’d forgotten we’d done it.”

Soccer Mommy – Drive (The Cars cover)

I’m not a guitar nerd and don’t know a damn thing about “tone.” But her guitar sounds so rich and full that I kept looking around the studio for her accompanist. Nope. It’s just her.

Sunny War – Staying Alive (Bee Gees cover)

Sunny told Aquarium Drunkard (where you have to go to hear this recording): “I wanted to cover this song cos I’ve been in this weird BeeGees phase. I don’t know what traumatic thing happened to me last year that made me only listen to BeeGees for 5 months but… Something definitely happened. I was so into them at one point I decided I wanted to know all the lyrics to all their songs so I could really sing along. Then I discovered this Staying Alive song is actually pretty dark and relatable. Before reading the lyrics I just thought it was a song about snorting coke and dancing but boy was I wrong.”

Tuluum Shimmering – A Horse With No Name (America cover)

The Tuluum Shimmering UK record label has been posting incredibly trippy new covers on Bandcamp every week. The most recent one blends the Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground, which should give you an idea where they’re coming from. Even weirder, though, is their 41-minute version of “A Horse with No Name.” Well, they claim it’s “A Horse with No Name.” You might have to take their word on that one.

Zac Brown Band – The Eye (Brandi Carlile cover)

Zac Brown recently uploaded this video of his band covering Brandi Carlile while warming up backstage. Remember backstage? Seems like a long time ago now. It’s hard to achieve these kind of harmonies over Zoom.

The Best of the Rest

Archers of Loaf – Street Fighting Man (The Rolling Stones cover)

Behemoth – A Forest (The Cure cover)

Blackberry Smoke – Keep On Smiling (Wet Willie cover)

Bombay Bicycle Club – Lose You to Love Me (Selena Gomez cover)

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks – What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong cover)

Caroline Spence – The Middle (Jimmy Eat World cover)

Cave In – Moonlight Mile (The Rolling Stones cover)

Christine and the Queens – Heart of Gold (Neil Young cover)

Dean & Britta – The Carnival Is Over (The Seekers cover)

Devon Gilfillian – Love on the Brain (Rihanna cover)

The Flaming Lips – He Stopped Loving Her Today (George Jones cover)

Ghost Hounds – Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen cover)

girl in red – Say It (Maggie Rogers cover)

Gregoire Maret, Romain Collin, Bill Frisell – Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits cover)

Hundredth – Idioteque (Radiohead cover)

I Am Snow Angel – Tower of Song (Leonard Cohen cover)

I’m With Her – Lover’s Return (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris cover)

The Inspector Cluzo – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)

Jacob Banks – Like You’ll Never See Me Again (Alicia Keys cover)

Lingua Ignota – Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)

Malicay x Bhi Bhiman – What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover)

MANTAR – Ghost Highway (Mazzy Star cover)

Marissa Nadler – Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)

Melodicka Bros – B.Y.O.B. (System of a Down cover)

Mikey Erg – Mother Nature’s Son (The Beatles cover)

Molly Tuttle ft. Old Crow Medicine Show – Helpless (Neil Young cover)

Mountain Man – Slow Burn (Kacey Musgraves cover)

The Prize Fighter Inferno – Stand By Me (Ben E. King cover)

Sara Evans – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams cover)

Shadwick Wilde – All Apologies (Nirvana cover)

Sharon Van Etten and Josh Homme – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding (Nick Lowe cover)

Sick to the Back Teeth – Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band cover)

Sweet Soul – Come On (Chuck Berry cover)

The Sword – She (Kiss cover)

Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters – Automatic (Go-Go’s cover)

Teddy Thompson – If It’s Magic (Stevie Wonder cover)

Check out previous month’s best covers lists.

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  2 Responses to “The Best Cover Songs of May 2020”

Comments (2)
  1. Ray, thanks for your efforts each month in compiling these fantastic covers. Cover me songs is my no 1 place for covers! Cheers *waves from Australia*

  2. Great comp! But then they usually are. I just kept listening, and scrolling, and listening, and scrolling, and listening, and….Thanks!

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