Butcher Brown ft. Alex Isley – Best Friend (Brandy cover)
Virginia jazz collective Butcher Brown throws it back to ’90s R&B with this cover of Brandy’s 1994 slow jam “Best Friend.” Though it’s a little out of their usual wheelhouse – for one, it has a singer, Ernie Isley’s daughter no less – they ably blend their own leanings with the retro soul-pop feel. If you like this, don’t miss their rooftop NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
Kate Clover – These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra cover)
“If Suicide produced a Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood song” is a hell of a tag line, and Kate Clover’s “These Boots” delivers on that premise. The menacing guitar seems pulled straight from “Frankie Teardrop,” while Clover’s vocals channel Sinatra’s swagger. Bonus points for the fun Twin Peaks-esque video.
Lake Street Dive – Thank You For Being a Friend (Andrew Gold / Cynthia Fee cover)
When Betty White died, several artists busted out covers of the iconic Golden Girls theme song. Former Red Hot Chili Pepper Josh Klinghoffer was perhaps a bigger surprise, but this sort of thing is right in Americana group Lake Street Dive’s wheelhouse. It’s corny as hell, but in the most endearing way possible.
Later Fortune – Win (David Bowie cover)
Every January, a new spate of David Bowie covers emerges to honor both his birthday (January 8) and his passing (January 10). Philadelphia duo Later Fortune added a new milestone too: celebrating 50 years since David Bowie recorded the Young Americans cut “Win,” in Philly no less. The duo of Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins, collaborators with Karl Blau and War on Drugs band members, wrap a hazy gauze around this Bowie deep cut, bringing in Depeche Mode influences. “I remember hearing ‘Win’ as a kid, lying on the bedroom floor with headphones, Christmas lights flickering,” Delcampo says. “It’s just one of those implanted youth-related feelings that invoke a warm recall, and when we were considering doing a cover, I thought we could do something interesting.”
Marissa Nadler – Seabird (The Alessi Brothers cover)
Marissa Nadler is one of the best cover-ers working today, having released several killer albums of the stuff. She tends toward the moody and ethereal, layered angelic vocals with a dark undercurrent. For “Seabird,” off her forthcoming EP The Wrath of the Clouds (a companion piece to last year’s full-length The Path of the Clouds) she ups the energy a bit, turning this soft-rock hit into a swooning indie-pop number.
Restorations – Radio Free Europe (R.E.M. cover)
The Philadelphia post-hardcore band Restorations don’t get quite as wild as you might expect on their “Radio Free Europe” cover, but it is still pretty damn loud. This comes on a split 7″ included with the third issue of the comic book series What’s The Furthest Place From Here? The other side, which isn’t available to hear yet, features Nothing covering Big Star. Future editions will have Chubby and the Gang covering The Kids, Spiritual Cramp covering Radio Birdman, AAJ covering Joe Jack Talcum, and AVAIL’s Tim Barry covering John Prine.
Rosie Thomas – All Is Full of Love (Björk cover)
Singer-songwriter Rosie Thomas makes a real power move in the credits for this one. Specifically, this line: “Guest vocals from Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Alexi Murdoch, Audrey Assad, William Fitzsimmons, Dawn Landes, Denison Witmer, Josh Ottum, The Head & The Heart’s Charity Thielen, The Lone Bellow’s Kanene Pipkin, Leigh Nash, Kyshona Armstrong, Beau Jennings, Kevin Brace, Buster Shoop, Alvie Shoop.” Damn.
Space Coke – Twist of Cain (Danzig cover)
Get ready to get heavy. Doom band Space Coke lurch and growl through an old Danzig tune, and deliver a killer quote to go with it: “Here’s the cover we put on our new album Lunacy picked from the self titled Danzig album. ‘Twist of Cain’ has always been one of my favorite songs and I felt like it needed the Space Coke treatment. Especially the experience of hearing it with Moses [Andrew’s] Hammond organ riffs! We made the ending count be 666 for extra occult spice.”
Spoon – I Can’t Give Everything Away (David Bowie cover)
Spoon threw in yet another anniversary to the Bowie batch, the sixth birthday of his final album Blackstar, covering the album’s “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” They honor the song’s jazz influences, but dispense with the skronking sax for a smoother soft-rock feel. They weren’t the only ones to dip into Blackstar either, as you’ll see below…
Twenty One Pilots – Bennie and the Jets (Elton John cover)
Whatever you think about Twenty One Pilots, the massively popular rock band every music nerd loves to hate, they do a pretty good Elton John. Seriously good, in fact, with singer Tyler Joseph leading the augmented band from the piano, hitting Elton’s high notes and blending it with the band’s own “Mulberry Street” (eschewing the more obvious Billy Joel song pairing).