Nov 242020
 

Neil Vol. 1Famed alternative rock sideman Scott McCaughey is perhaps best known for his contributions to R.E.M. and The Minus 5, his band with REM guitarist Peter Buck. In November 2017, McCaughey had a serious stroke that, in his words, left him without “my ability to talk, sing, make music.” He used Beatles and Neil Young songs to help recover his music-making skills. Now he’s released some of the Neil Young recordings, under the nom de rock Scott the Hoople.

McCaughey performed and recorded 13 Neil Young deep cuts, on an album he’s calling Neil (Vol. 1)(leaving the door open for a sequel). Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready guests on seven of the tracks, but otherwise, this is completely McCaughey. The songs range from early Buffalo Springfield tracks like “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” to deep cuts from Young’s ’70s peak to ’90s songs about reuniting Buffalo Springfield. It’s a interesting selection which feels really personal.
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Nov 232020
 

Kindred Spirits Larkin PoeThis should have been a belter.

True, in places Kindred Spirits shines, and it’s everything one could have expected from this talented pair of sisters.

But?

Let’s first set the scene. Larkin Poe are Megan and Rebecca Lovell, two sisters from Tennessee, deeply ingrained with the sounds of “the South Will Rise Again,” i.e. the Allmans and all who knelt before them. Indeed, their publicity touts them as little sisters of the Allman Brothers (although the Black Keys, for me, is a better reference, sonically speaking). Kick-ass slide and sassy vocals are their calling cards, and since 2014 they have produced a run of well-received records, usually with an added rhythm section adding woomph to their twin guitars and vocals. In recent years they have seemed glued to the side of Elvis Costello, notably on his solo tours to support the autobiography, acting as his support band and accompanists. Frankly, at times, they were better than their employer.

A lighter side of their work has been the slew of YouTube recordings put up, looking all very ad-hoc, in hotel rooms, maybe whilst touring, and a delight they are.Kindred Spirits is in that style, just the the two of them.
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Nov 202020
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

4 Non Blondes covers

4 Non Blondes were fine with not fitting in. They even named their group after a pointed run in with a blonde family in San Francisco that made that fact very clear. Although they only made one album and disbanded after five years, the group made a splash while they were together. They were particularly influential in the LGBTQ+ community, getting their start in various bars throughout San Francisco. Since the breakup, lead singer Linda Perry and guitarist Shaunna Hall have written and produced with other artists, and drummer Wanda Day continued to drum in other bands until an accident made it too difficult to continue playing.

Their second single, “What’s Up?” was a success all over the world, reaching higher spots on the charts outside of the US than even inside. And although it may be considered a one-hit wonder, the song is one that remains relevant when you are just feeling a bit run down. Some may call it a pre-chorus, I just call it my daily routine.

Here we have five covers of “What’s Up?” trying all the time to live up to the original. All of the covers begin with a different instrument leading the way. I dare you not to sing along.

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Nov 202020
 

Dizzy's "Basement Covers"

Dizzy is a band from Ontario made up of singer Katie Munshaw and three brothers: Alex, Charlie, and Mack Spencer. You could call them alternative pop, indie pop, dream pop, maybe even Ontario indie. Munshaw and Charlie Spencer met in high school, and their debut album Baby Teeth chronicled the roller coaster that is being a teenager. This album won them the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year in 2019 and gave them a wider audience. Earlier this year they released their second album The Sun and Her Scorch, this time with inspiration from being 20-somethings. The pandemic cut their tour for this album short, but during quarantine Dizzy has been keeping busy posting covers to YouTube. Basement Covers is an EP meant to collect their favorites.

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Nov 132020
 

MarikaMarika Hackman kicks off Covers with a rendition of Radiohead‘s “You Never Wash Up After Yourself,” a pretty clear indication that the album is born from the ennui of lockdown. We hear flies buzzing, and a slow intake of breath, before Hackman languidly sings over a sparse synth soundscape:

I must get out once in a while

Everything is starting to die

The dust settles, the worms dig

The spiders crawl over the bed.

With her multi-tracked harmonies, Hackman brings an intimate, desolate beauty to this short and simple song of hopelessness. And she makes you wonder where the hell she is headed.
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Nov 112020
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

This Year's Model covers

 

Before there was Elvis Costello, there was Day Costello. Well, actually, Day Costello was the name Ross MacManus (Declan Patrick MacManus’s father) used for a recording of a cover of Paul McCartney’s “The Long and Winding Road” in 1970. The song was a number one hit in Australia, and the name Costello actually belonged to Elvis’ great-grandmother. Six years later, young Declan signed to Stiff Records. He was going by D.P. Costello until his manager Jake Riviera rechristened him Elvis.

Elvis Costello unleashed an instant power pop classic when he tossed 1978’s This Year’s Model into the mix. It earned best album of the year in Robert Christgau’s Pazz & Jop poll in The Village Voice, and has topped many a best album list since. It was Costello’s second album, but his first with The Attractions. His sharp wit and punk rock ethos manifest themselves in each song, shedding some light on why this nerdy Buddy Holly-esque looking guy runs around calling himself Elvis and gets away with it. His new band is a little more rocking than the backing band on his debut album, My Aim Is True (a country band called Clover), and Steve Nieve’s organ is a driving force that cements a lifelong partnership between the two men.

Elvis Costello has gone on to release over 30 albums (eight with The Attractions), win a few Grammys, get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and pen a few songs for films (including partnering with Burt Bacharach and T-Bone Burnett on two of them). He’s collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney, Daryl Hall, Annie Lennox, Billie Joe Armstrong, Fiona Apple, Bruce Springsteen, and many more, and he’s had a very successful career. But his 1978 masterpiece tends to resonate most with people. It stands the test of time, and its punk rock/power-pop mix of attitude and hooks with clever wordplay, and the occasional laidback number, lend it a wide scope influencing artists across genres.
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