James McManus

Jack hails from Cambridge, MA and currently attends college in snowy Central New York. He was raised on a strict diet of his father's Bruce Springsteen and Clancy Brothers records and has since developed a taste for American folk music, jam bands and indie rock. In high school Jack and some friends started the blog Pie Tonight Cheese as a place for them to ramble about music to their hearts content. He spends his summers driving boats on Block Island and knows more about 18th-century pirates than anybody else he knows.

Dec 162011

Dallas native and current Yale University student Conner Youngblood names a diverse group of artists as his influences, from Kid Cudi and Gorillaz to Ray Lamontagne and Elliot Smith, incorporating a unique blend of electronic synths and traditional acoustic instruments into his original material. Balancing his academic pursuits as an American Studies major (just like your humble author) with a blossoming music career, Conner has posted a solid string of singles on his Soundcloud page, including a recent interpretation of Michael Jackson‘s iconic “Will You Be There.” Continue reading »

Nov 222011

Minnesotan folksinger Mason Jennings has been known to cover songs that he particularly likes, whether they’re in his genre, like Bob Dylan and John Lennon classics, or they’re unexpected acoustic versions of Rage Against The Machine. In his recent video for The Voice Project, he adds one of rock’s best-known songs to his collection: Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.” Inspired by his Withers-fan parents and the unbelievable 2009 documentary Still Bill (which is available for streaming on Netflix if you haven’t seen it yet), Jennings pulled up a bar stool before his show with the Pines in Vancouver last week to record this gorgeous take on the ubiquitous song. Continue reading »

Nov 182011

As a benefit for Calling All Crows, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanitarianism and service projects around the world, Dispatch/State Radio frontman Chad “Chadwick Stokes” Urmston organized a weekend of Boston-area concerts in 2009 featuring himself playing an acoustic set along with appearances from former Dispatch bandmate Pete Heimbold, (then) RX Bandits frontman Matt Embree, Stephen Kellogg, vocal heavyweight and his childhood friend Darren Buck, and folk journeyman Jake Smith, better known as The White Buffalo. Those evenings produced many fantastic covers, including group efforts on two classic songs written by The Band, a showstopping “Bring It On Home To Me” from Matt Embree and this amazing version of Bob Dylan‘s “Girl From North Country” by Stokes and The White Buffalo. Two years later, a set of recordings from the show is set for release, including these covers and solo acoustic versions of some State Radio classics like Keepsake and Gang of Thieves. Continue reading »

Nov 162011

So-called “witch-house” group Salem are known for their absolutely terrifying brand of creepy electronic music with inhuman, ghoulish vocals and hints of southern crunk hip-hop, but recently they’ve turned from creating original songs to making dystopic remixes and covers of otherwise innocent pop hits, starting with Britney Spears’ “Til The World Ends” and now reaching back to 1998 for Alice Deejay’s classic “Better Off Alone” (yes, the one with the incessant “do you think you were better off alone?” hook). Continue reading »

Nov 102011

Mellow rockers Clem Snide aren’t exactly strangers to covering interesting songs (go find their “Heat of the Moment” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” covers if you don’t believe me), but frontman Eef Barzelay recently embarked on an ambitious covers project that puts the others to shame. Last Spring Clem Snide used Kickstarter to fund an EP of Journey covers, and, as a reward for pledging $150 or more to that project, Eef promised to record any song of the donor’s request and email the recording to them. After recording 30 or so of these covers, he decided he liked them so much that some are now being offered on Bandcamp on a free/name-your-price basis. Continue reading »

Nov 092011

Los Angeles-based folk-rockers Dawes are touring the nation in support of their sophomore LP Nothing is Wrong and when they stopped recently at Royale in Boston, the folks at Visible Voice were on hand to review the show. Along with their review, the Voice posted a new live recording of the last time Dawes hit Boston, opening for Middle Brother at the Paradise in March. Along with some passionate recordings of their early material and an always-appreciated cameo from the legendary Jonny Corndawg, this set featured a cover of the ’70s rocker “Out In The Woods” by Rock Hall of Famer Leon Russell, known for his extensive session work with some of the biggest bands of the classic rock era. Continue reading »