Sara Stoudt

Sara is a statistician, but during her free time she is crafting the perfect playlist for any occasion. Her dad trained her well in the art of music appreciation (for which her live music trivia team is thankful for), and she is definitely judging you by your karaoke song choice. Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

Apr 262021
 

Scouting for Girls "Easy Cover"Scouting for Girls, an English pop band, are preparing to unleash some pent up momentum and energy in the form of a UK and Ireland tour, their longest ever, starting in September. In preparation, they have released a new album, Easy Cover. It features 8 tracks throwing back to their ’80s childhood and 3 original tracks inspired by those good old days. This is one of those albums released recently that can’t be taken out of the pandemic context. It was clearly formed as a response to the all-encompassing gloom and doom and as an attempt to provide a soundtrack to crawling back out into the light.

Scouting for Girls say it themselves:

We’re not trying to do justice to these songs! That’s impossible. We’re just trying to have fun and take them out on the road to give people the night out they deserve after 2020!

With that framing in mind, this (mostly) cover album delivers. Will it change your life? No. Is it earnest and feel-good? Definitely!

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Apr 162021
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum is a jazz artist with fluency in the crossover to pop. He has won and been nominated for jazz-specific and more general awards alike, collecting a Rising Star British Jazz Award and most recently a Radio Academy Award for his BBC Radio show. He also scored a nomination for a Best Original Song Golden Globe, for “Gran Torino.” Admittedly, 2005 was a bit of an awkward year when he won both the BBC Jazz Award for Artist of the Year and the Worst British Male award from the parody Naomi Awards. Showing perseverance, Cullum won the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Award for Best British Male two years later.

Many of Cullum’s covers come from two “Song Society” albums, where he challenges himself to create a new take on a song in an hour, allowing for a lot of creative improvisation to shape the end product. The songs chosen include new hits on the pop charts as well as some throwbacks and standards. Other covers are sprinkled throughout his original albums as well. Here we take a sonic journey through a handful of his covers that both show his range as an artist and span original genres and decades. This doesn’t even cover (ha) his whole jazz cover album Interlude, so if you are a jazz cat, check it out.

P.S. Fun fact: Cullum is married to Roald Dahl’s granddaughter. If you are a Matilda, BFG, Willy Wonka, or Witches fan, there is even more of a reason to read on.
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Apr 052021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Le Freak Chic

“All that pressure got you down / Has your head been spinning all around?” How did Chic know?! “Le Freak” was the band’s first number one hit, and it became a best seller for Chic’s label. Since its release in 1978, the song’s significance has been solidified. In 2018 the Library of Congress preserved the track in the National Recording Registry. However, Chic is still waiting on the elusive Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spot; they’ve been nominated over ten times!

Prominent Chic member Nile Rodgers went on to play a key role in the music careers of many others. He wrote big hits for Sister Sledge (“We are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer”) and Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down”), and he produced albums for David Bowie (Let’s Dance) and Madonna (Like a Virgin). More recently, he co-wrote and played guitar on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and you may have heard him on Keith Urban’s latest album. Chic as a whole even released a new album in 2018 featuring artists like Lady Gaga and Elton John.

But for now, let’s see who helps us throwback to the early days of Chic with covers of “Le Freak.”
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Mar 262021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba

“Screaming Infidelities” has two birthdays – one in March 2000, for its presence on Dashboard Confessional’s debut album The Swiss Army Romance, and one in March 2001, as the lead single off of Dashboard Confessional’s second album, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. This song is usually thought of as Dashboard Confessional’s big break. “Stolen” was still just a twinkle in Chris Carrabba’s eye at this point.

Whichever way you look at it, the song is celebrating an important milestone this month, either turning the big 2-0 or finally being able to legally drink a beer while hearing the saddest songs (“and sit alone and wonder,” of course). The song struck a nerve twenty-ish years ago, and I’m willing to bet it still strikes a nerve today, not so much “taking its wear.” Others try to reach that same level of feeling in their versions. Of these…

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Mar 122021
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Camper Van Beethoven Tusk

Rumours was a tough act for Fleetwood Mac to follow, so they didn’t follow it. Instead of giving an audience more of the same, they took a big leap with their next album, Tusk in 1979. It was the most expensive album to be recorded at the time, and although it did not reach the same level of commercial success as Rumours, there were pockets of critics and fans alike that appreciated the post-punk experiment. (Did I know Lindsey Buckingham was a big Talking Heads fan before writing this piece? No!)

Camper Van Beethoven is a band somewhere between alternative and indie rock who decided to take on Tusk in all its double-album glory.  Not to be outdone in terms of drama, their version has a conspiracy theory-esque origin story. The band claimed to have unearthed it years after recording it on a whim in the late ’80, but they actually recorded it in 2001 and then released it in 2002 as a test run to see whether they could work together as a band after an earlier breakup. Oh, the intrigue! It is good to see a little of the Fleetwood Mac drama carry on in this work, although it is a little ironic that an original album that represented a band being divided by romance gone wrong actually brought another one back together in cover form.

Tusk is no ordinary Fleetwood Mac album, and in the spirit of that fact, this is no ordinary Fleetwood Mac cover album. Let’s hear some of the contrast in sound and approach.

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Mar 012021
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday  celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Kesha covers

Kesha turns 34 today, and she’s certainly been through a lot both personally and professionally since her first big break on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” in 2009. A series of legal battles have been ongoing since 2014, but let’s turn to happier things today. In 2014, Kesha also replaced the $ from her name, marking the end of the Animal/Warrior era and ushering in the new sound of Rainbow and High Road.

Beyond being a performer, she is also a prolific songwriter. She has at least co-writing credits on all of the songs on her first two albums and even some other hits from other artists, like Britney Spears’s “Till the World Ends” and The Veronicas’ “This Love”. Kesha has also been involved in animal rights and LGBTQ+ activism and even makes an appearance in Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” music video, who knew?

Today we throwback to and celebrate the “good old days,” when we could at least pretend like we’d be up for club-going on a Friday night. Since I unabashedly agree with this defense of “punk goes…” covers, why not mix guilty pleasures: Kesha’s party anthems plus pop-punk (with a dash of screamo… as a treat).

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