Singer-songwriter Andrea von Kampen is a Nebraska native with a catalog of independent releases dating back to 2015. Her songs are inspired by the scenes and voices of her home state: the still, natural beauty of its landscapes; the incisive works of fellow Nebraskan writers like Willa Cather. Given von Kampen’s firmly rooted sense of place, its a welcome surprise to find her latest single journeying from the landlocked Midwest all the way to sunny Southern California — a West Coast Art-Pop trip of sorts.
Last week, Stereogum published a fascinating oral history of “Somebody That I Used to Know” for the song’s 10th anniversary. (Among other things, it answers the question “What ever happened to Gotye?” Turns out he’s been making rock albums with a different band!). Now New Zealand indie-pop singer Benee has covered the song for Amazon Music, saying “I resonate so strongly with the lyrics in this song. I wish that I had written it.”
With its scratching violin and shouty vocals, the Raincoats’ bleak examination of a relationship “Fairytale in the Supermarket” is not for everyone. Really, little on their debut album is immediately accessible, given their tuneless vocals and aggressively noisy playing. Part of a wave of feminist post-punk in the UK in the late ’70s and early ’80s, The Raincoats became a cult band because of their distinct sound.
Like many of Michael Jackson’s hits, it seems kind of impossible to imagine “Bad” without its memorable bass line. Well, Jonah Nilsson of Swedish jazz fusion outfit Dirty Loops is here to change your mind. He changes the bass line so much the song isn’t even recognizable as “Bad” until Nilsson starts singing something resembling the vocal melody about 15 seconds in. (His Jackson impersonation is pretty good.) Nilsson is basically a one man band here, singing lead and backing vocals, playing multiple keyboard parts and the drums.
If it feels like everyone is covering Metallica‘s self-titled “Black Album” lately, that’s because a massive 30th anniversary cover collection called The Blacklist is coming out this fall. Jason Isbell‘s contribution is a version of the album’s fifth single, “Sad But True.” Other artists tackling the track for the The Blacklist have preserved the form of the music, even if they’re using synthesizers, but Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit keep the words and fiddle with just about everything else.
When he’s not busy picking fights with next-gen rockers, David Crosby continues to make singular, beautiful music. The folk rock legend has had a prolific run of five solo album releases since 2014, many of them in collaboration with a cadre of younger, progressive, genre-roving musicians — among them, members of Snarky Puppy, Becca Stevens, Cory Henry and his own son, producer James Raymond. Crosby pushes forth with an open mind and spirit (and another cross-generational collaboration) on his latest release: a stirring cover of Joni Mitchell’s “For Free,” featuring singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz on duet vocals.