Riley Haas

Riley is a digital marketing trainer and strategist in Toronto. He obsessively writes and talks about music and once had a classic rock radio show in university. His favourite cover of all time is Uncle Tupelo's version of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog." He's also a movie fan, having seen approximately 4,400 films. You can follow him on Twitter @riley_haas.

Feb 132024
runnner driver 8 cover

The End of the Road Festival is an annual festival at Larmer Tree Gardens in southern England. As part of the promotion for the festival, magazine Best Fit does “secret sessions.” For one of this year’s, Runnner, aka Noah Weinman performed a solo show. During the show he covered “Driver 8.”

“Driver 8” was REM‘s seventh single and second biggest hit when it was released in 1985. Very much a classic ’80s REM song, it’s about a train and fully embodies their jangly, folk-tinged college rock aesthetic from that period of their career.

Weinman plays the opening riff pretty much as written, though on a regular 6-string acoustic it sounds considerably less jangly. It sounds to me like he’s playing it slightly slower than the original. He otherwise sticks to the form and pace of the song. Stripped of all the original’s ornamentation though – including the harmonica that echoes a train whistle – the song sounds considerably more traditional. The original has a classic college rock sound and Weinman has stripped all of that away. His delivery feels more plaintive even if it may not be, just because it’s him and his guitar alone on stage.

It’s faithful and earnest and a nice version of the song. Check it out below.

Feb 082024
the scratch Sally MacLennane cover

The Scratch hail from Ireland. Like so many Irish musicians, they were greatly affected by Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan’s death in November. The band had been playing around with a cover of “Sally MacLennane,” an upbeat celtic punk song that was the second single from The Pogues‘ second album. The song’s title is the name of a stout and the song is a celebration of the Irishmen who had to work outside of Ireland. Once The Scratch heard of MacGowan’s death, they decided to start performing the cover live and now they have released a video. Continue reading »

Feb 012024
slower south of heaven cover

Thrash metal transformed heavy metal irrevocably. Because of thrash, metal got louder, harder, faster and generally more “metal.” Early metal and NWOBHM aren’t always recognizable as metal to fans who grew up on ’90s and 21st century metal, just because of how much louder and more aggressive metal got as a result of thrash. Four bands are usually credited with defining thrash metal, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and, of course, Slayer, arguably most responsible of the Big 4 for many of the most extreme metal genres that have emerged since thrash metal changed everything. Continue reading »

Jan 262024
brent amaker the rodeo cover gut feeling

DEVO‘s “Gut Feeling” is a deep cut from their debut album, known for its 2 minute instrumental intro before lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh starts singing. It’s fairly atypical for early DEVO, melding an almost jam-band type of song structure with DEVO’s notoriously herky jerky new wave sound.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are a Seattle-based traditional country band that first got attention in the covers world for their cover of Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” back in 2010. They all dress in black with cowboy hats and Amaker’s delivery is often spoken word. Continue reading »

Jan 192024
linda smith salad days

The Welsh proto indie pop band Young Marble Giants, who existed for about 3 years in the late ’70s/early ’80s, are known for their minimalist recordings, featuring lead singer Allison Statton’s voice backed by only a (very active) bass guitar, either an electric guitar or an organ, and a drum machine. This is not a band that has been covered much, despite their influence on some ’90s acts. The SecondHandSongs covers database lists a total of 18 covers for their catalogue. Now, their catalogue is something like 25 songs, but it’s still not a lot of covers for a band that was once revealed to be one of Kurt Cobain’s favorites. Continue reading »

Jan 182024
sean rowe red right hand

The final single from the Bad Seeds’ eighth album, “Red Right Hand” has become one of their most famous songs despite not starting out as much of a hit. This is both because of how often they play it in concert and its use in popular media. (It has become their fifth most popular cover, something that surprises me as a big Nick Cave fan.) The song oozes a vaguely western menace and feels very much a thematic predecessor, lyrically and musically, to their next album, Murder Ballads (though Cave had been writing about characters like this for years). Continue reading »