Eddie Vedder – Long Shadow (Joe Strummer cover)
This month, Joe Strummer would have turned 70. In a few weeks, Dark Horse Records will release the compilation Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years. To promote it, director Lance Bangs filmed a video of Eddie Vedder covering the posthumously-released Mescaleros track “Long Shadow.” It’s a simple fireside performance, similar to Vedder buddy Neil Young’s lockdown videos, and hopefully will bring more attention to a lesser known non-Clash track from the Strummer catalog.
Fletcher Reed – The Weight (The Band cover)
Lofi has become a sneakily popular genre in recent years. That’s not “lo-fi” as in ragged-sounding punk or noise music. Almost the opposite, in fact. The genre is often grouped under streaming playlists like “study beats,” light electronic jams made to serve as background music for college kids doing homework. As such, the producers of this music tend to be fairly anonymous. Amsterdam-based American music producer Fletcher Reed (aka Andrew Smith) is aiming to be a little more front-and-center on his new instrumental EP Bedroom Covers. You could still study to it, but you’ll pick up some familiar melodies when you do. Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears, and Toto make sense in this vein, but he goes a step further with a cover of “The Weight.”
In Hearts Wake – all the good girls go to hell (Billie Eilish cover)
A lot of people cover Billie Eilish, but not a lot cover her like this. In Hearts Wake and guest singer Maz DeVita of WAAX go full metalcore on “all the good girls go to hell,” with vocals shredding as hard as the guitars. It’s heavy as, well, hell, with three singer-screamers trading vocals that range from melodic to full Cookie Monster. It’s not the only Billie cover on this month’s list, but it’s definitely the loudest.
Iron & Wine – That’s How You Know (Lori McKenna cover)
During lockdown, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam felt drawn to the heart-on-sleeve songs of country songwriter Lori McKenna. So, for what he jokes is his “obligatory covid covers release,” he’s tackled four of McKenna’s songs on the new EP LORI. Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart join him on this first single. Only bummer: He didn’t tackle my favorite McKenna song, “I Know You.”
Moses Sumney – Come to Me (Björk cover)
“Come to Me” comes from Moses Sumney’s upcoming film A Performance in V Acts. It earns the theatrical title, as the video features some serious stagecraft to accompany Sumney’s stunning vocals. Dramatically handing out flowers to the crowd while he hits ear-piercing high notes (he even jumps off the stage right when he hits the line “Jump off”), it’s a mesmerizing piece of choreographed and costumed performance. Björk, no stranger to inducing theatrical elements into music, would be proud.
Rid of Me – PDA (Interpol cover)
On a new single, Philadelphia noise-punk trio Rid of Me covered Interpol’s “PDA” and Shellac’s “Prayer to God.” They both rip, frankly. Turn the speakers to 11 and holler along to Interpol’s first single, twenty years old this month.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (Radiohead cover)
Hell of a month for virtuoso flamenco-metal guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. The band that topped our 2019 Covers of the Year list with Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” tackled both Radiohead and Mozart. An odd combo? Not in their hands. They fit together perfectly. “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” (that’s the Radiohead one, just in case you thought maybe Wolfgang wrote a symphony called “Weird Fishes”) is above, and the Mozart cover is over here.
Sleater-Kinney, Fred Armisen, Courtney Barnett – Physical (Olivia Newton-John cover)
Our Patreon supporters at the highest tier will, like always, get MP3 downloads of every song on this list. That will include this song…but really, it’s all about the video. At a recent show, Sleater-Kinney bring up buds Fred Armisen and Courtney Barnett to pay tribute to Olivia Newton-John and her iconic “Physical” video. They’ve all got the headbands, and Armisen spends most of the time doing the aerobics moves (using a microphone as the weight). Best part is him and singer Corin Tucker joyously doing jumping jacks while Barnett solos.
Tenacious D ft. Beck, Dave Grohl, John C. Reilly – Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts cover)
At a live show at LA’s Largo, Tenacious D brought on Beck, John C. Reilly (in character as Steve Brule it looks like?), and Dave Grohl for an extremely fun and silly cover of this yacht-rock classic. Grohl easily steals the show though. He just walks on to sing that little “do-do-do-doooo” guitar/horn riff, then walks off until the riff comes back. Great straight man work, and nice to see him having some fun since he’s stayed mostly out of the public spotlight since Taylor Hawkins’ death.
Tropical Fuck Storm – Ann (The Stooges cover)
A Stooges cover by a band called Tropical Fuck Storm starts off more mellow than you might expect. It doesn’t stay that way. Accompanied by creepy dolls with the band’s moving eyes and mouths superimposed on top, things start out psychedelic and trippy before a both musical and visual explosion. The top YouTube comment hilariously reads, “I was at this show. Can confirm Gareth rode a pony before Lauren rage-drummed her kit into oblivion.”
Willie Nelson – Live Forever (Billy Joe Shaver cover)
Willie Nelson has sung “Live Forever” before, most notable on The Highwaymen’s final album, 1995’s The Road Goes on Forever. This new version, off November’s Live Forever: A Tribute To Billy Joe Shaver, starts off almost the same. But, of course, there’s no Johnny, Kris, or Waylon trading vocals with Willie. Instead, he’s got Lucinda Williams on harmony vocals. And now, as he looks towards turning 90 next year, it’s more poignant than ever.
The Best of the Rest
Alicia Blue – Jane Says (Jane’s Addiction cover)
Butcher Brown – Unbelievable (Notorious B.I.G. cover)
Deer Scout – “Suspended In Gaffa (Kate Bush cover)
Dr. John feat. Aaron Neville – End Of The Line (Traveling Wilburys cover)
The Infamous Stringdusters and Anders Osborne – Black Muddy River (Grateful Dead cover)
Kasey Chambers – Lose Yourself (Eminem cover)
Kittenhead – Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees cover)
The Linda Lindas – Tonite (The Go-Go’s cover)
Mark Mulcahy – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)
Mini Trees – Let Down (Radiohead cover)
Nathaniel Rateliff – Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen cover)
Old Fire ft. Bill Callahan – Don’t You Go (John Martyn cover)
PJ Harvey – Who By Fire (Leonard Cohen cover)
Remi Wolf – Pink + White (Frank Ocean cover)
The Soft Pink Truth – The Anal Staircase (coil cover)
St. Vincent w/ Stay Human – Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Wynona – Everything I Wanted (Billie Eilish cover)
Check out previous months’ best covers lists.