Alex Kapranos & Clara Luciani – Summer Wine (Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra cover)
Clara Luciani is Nancy Sinatra and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos is Lee Hazlewood on this charming cover. Kapranos wrote, “When the lockdown started, we decided to record [‘Summer Wine’] — more for ourselves than anything else. We wanted to create the atmosphere of an imaginary world away from the confinement we were experiencing. Not that we were unhappy, but the imagination is the greatest medium for escape and adventure… After the lockdown eased off, we got together to film the video with our friends Adrien, Leo, Fiona and Hugo. I love the ideas they had, which suit the mood of the song and reflect our… well, our love of karaoke!”
Ben Gibbard – Centerfield (John Fogerty cover)
Ben Gibbard’s popped a lot up here of late, as the Death Cab and Postal Service frontman was one of the first to truly master the quarantined livestream. They often included new covers of everyone from Big Star to a song from I Think You Should Leave. He recently dusted off his solo-covers skills, though in a much less DIY format: Surrounded by lights at the Seattle Mariners’ T-Mobile Park to sing “Centerfield” for the start of a very weird season of baseball. He knows his local baseball; like a home run, the Mariners references he adds to the lyrics fly way over my head.
Billy Strings ft. Sierra Hull – Circles (Post Malone cover)
Post Malone’s “Circles” came out last summer, but it took a minute for the high-profile covers to start rolling in. We recently saw Iceland indie-folk stars Of Monsters and Men tackle the song for Like a Version, and now an even-folkier version has landed via a live stream by Billy Strings and Sierra Hull. Though Post Malone is incredible easy to roll your eyes at (the tattoos alone…), this is clearly a durable song.
Bow Thayer – West LA Fadeaway (Grateful Dead cover)
Bow writes about his “West LA Fadeaway” cover: “The Dead are usually not credited for their forays into the digital electronic realm but they were way ahead of the game in improvised “space” music. They took MIDI to places that haven’t even been explored since. What I am getting at here is that Jerry would have gotten a kick out of this instrument and it just felt right that I did a little jam on it.”
Courtney Barnett and Phoebe Bridgers – Everything Is Free (Gillian Welch cover)
Gillian Welch wrote “Everything Is Free” about the devaluing of music way back in 2001. In the Spotify era, it’s getting covered a lot, and I think you can see why.
Hinds – Spanish Bombs (The Clash cover)
“We’ve always loved doing covers,” band member band’s Carlotta Cosials explained. “Maybe ’cause it’s the way we started, or maybe because there are so many good songs in the world already that we wish we had written! And we really enjoy hindsifying them.” Cosials added: “The Clash were my mom’s forever favourite band and ade’s parents also, so it is always beautiful to connect generations through music. “As Spaniards, we don’t usually get shout outs in songs, like ‘New York’ or ‘London’, so the clash writing a song about our civil war made us feel honoured. We recorded it the last day of studio, pretty much live, while recording our third album.”
Morgan Harper-Jones – I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
Whitney Houston’s songs are grand pop productions, but, as has been proven in many covers over the years, they work great stripped-down. Harper-Jones brings little more than her voice – layered, at times – and slowly strummed guitar. It’s all the song needs.
Orville Peck – Fancy (Bobbie Gentry cover)
Masked country music mystery man Orville Peck recently covered Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy” and Willie Nelson’s “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other.” He’s on a mission to queerify country, and picking the right covers to do it. The latest, from his new EP: “Fancy,” a hit for both Bobbie Gentry in the ’60s and Reba McEntire in the ’90s.
Poolside – Shakedown Street (Grateful Dead cover)
“Disco Dead” was the knock on late-’70s songs like “Shakedown Street.” But “disco” is, thankfully, no longer the slur it was back then. Poolside make “Shakedown Street” sound like a deep cut from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Sarah Jarosz – Love Is A Wild Thing (Kacey Musgraves cover)
“Slow Burn” was the early covers champion from Kacey Musgraves’ massive Golden Hour, but we’re starting to see other songs get tackles. Americana singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz nails “Love Is A Wild Thing.” Might be time to start prepping a Full Album on Golden Hour.
The Best of the Rest
Angel Olsen and Hand Habits – Walls (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
ANOHNI – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue (Bob Dylan cover)
Big Joanie – Cranes in the Sky (Solange cover)
Black Marble – Johnny and Mary (Robert Palmer cover)
Deon Jones ft. Jon Batiste – Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2 cover)
Fast Romantics – Used Cars (Bruce Springsteen cover)
First Aid Kit – On the Road Again (Willie Nelson cover)
George Barnett – Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
Illiterate Light – Thank You Too (My Morning Jacket cover)
Jaguar Jonze – Toxic (Britney Spears cover)
JR JR – Basketball (Kurtis Blow cover)
Kama Vardi – These Days (Nico cover)
Korn ft. Yelawolf – The Devil Went Down the Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band cover)
Left at London – Pony (Ginuwine cover)
Lingua Ignota – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)
Luna – Marquee Moon (Television cover)
Maddie & Tae ft. Avenue Beat – Watermelon Sugar (Harry Styles cover)
Margo Price – WAP (Cardi B. ft. Megan Thee Stallion cover)
Mina Tindle, Kate Stables, Emma Broughton, Melissa Laveaux – 22nd Century (Nina Simone cover)
Modern Nature – Slip Away (David Bowie cover)
Moses Sumney – thank u, next (Ariana Grande cover)
Naomi Westwater – Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday cover)
Nation of Language – Gouge Away (Pixies cover)
Robin Pecknold – Hammond Song (The Roches cover)
Steam Down – Etcetera (Wayne Shorter cover)
Vio-Lence – California Über Alles (Dead Kennedys cover)
White Reaper – Only a Shadow (Cleaners from Venus cover)
Whitney – Strange Overtones (David Byrne & Brian Eno cover)
Zac Farro (of Paramore) – This Strange Effect (The Kinks cover)
Check out previous month’s best covers lists.
Missed Whitney doing Rainbows & Ridges and Strange Overtones.