Apr 122024
carlie hanson nutshell cover

Though not released as a single, “Nutshell” has probably become the best known song from Alice in Chains‘ second acoustic EP, Jar of Flies. (The first EP ever to debut on Billboard at #1, apparently.) Lead singer Layne Staley was writing more and more of his own lyrics and “Nutshell,” like many of his songs, concerns his struggles with addiction.

Carlie Hanson is a singer-songwriter from Wisconsin, who has put out a couple of albums and EPs over the last five years. She released her new cover of “Nutshell” on the 22nd anniversary of Staley’s death.

The song is famous for its extended acoustic guitar intro, just featuring guitarist Jerry Cantrell playing chords, with some bass accompaniment for nearly a minute before the drums and Staley’s vocals come in. Hanson begins her version with a loop and some prominent drums. But she wastes little in starting her vocal and once she starts singing the song much closer resembles the original. Though her pace is faster, her acoustic guitar moves forward in the mix and the loop fades.

For the wordless refrain, she piles on group vocals and drops the guitar fill, giving the vocals much more focus. These vocals feel a bit like a lament and the repeat as this version’s coda until they drop away and all we’re left with is a guitar repeating the main lick.

Though it starts out sounding very different, it’s actually a quite faithful rendition that manages to both recall the original but sound different enough. Check it out:

Mar 262024
july talk hand in my pocket cover

“Hand in My Pocket” is the second single from Alanis Morissette‘s breakout album, Jagged Little Pill, as well as her first ever Canadian #1 song. As much as this album was big in the US, it was even bigger in her native Canada where it went double Diamond and produced four #1 songs as well as a #2. For some reason “Hand in My Pocket” wasn’t released as a single in the US so it had less of an impact, though it still received enough airplay to chart well.

Still, it makes sense that it would be a little less popular of a cover than the biggest songs in the US from Jagged Little Pill and that a Canadian band like July Talk would be a little more likely to perform it. July Talk have been around for a little over a decade with a fair amount of success, due to their famous live performances.They were invited by CBC to cover the song in honour (with a u) of the upcoming Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammys.) They were a little nervous of doing it because of how big Alanis and this album were in Canada at the time. Continue reading »

Mar 152024
teenage joans call me maybe cover

2012’s song of the summer, “Call Me Maybe,” launched Carly Rae Jepson’s career with a little thanks to Justin Bieber. If you were a tween when it came out, it likely made as much of an impression as it did on the members of Australian duo Teenage Joans.

Teenage Joans, whose name echoes no wave legends Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, are an Adelaide-based punk-ish guitar-and-drums pair that have received considerable acclaim in their native state. But they grew up with pop like “Call Me Maybe” and decided to honour that heritage for Triple J’s legendary cover program “Like a Version.” Continue reading »

Mar 132024
alex melton jump cover

There’s been a trend for a quite a while now on YouTube for transposing a particular song into a new genre. One prominent purveyor of this, um, genre of internet cover is Alex Melton. Melton is perhaps most famous for his pandemic-era cover of Third Eye Blind’s “Semi Charmed Life”…as if Blink 182 were the original artist. Melton has been at it for over a decade, most often in this similar style, a pop punk cover of a major hit from now or the recent past.

“Jump” was Van Halen‘s first number 1 hit. Infamously, it was their first single driven by a synthesizer, which proved divisive among fans. Though Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth had both played synthesizers on Van Halen tracks before, this song appeared, “Jump” does really feel like a change in kind compared to their previous material. Continue reading »

Mar 062024
patrick watson perfect day

“Komorebi” is a Japanese word meaning “sunlight leaking through the trees,” or so the internet tells me. It seems to conjure up images of a particular kind of autumnal, pastoral sunlight for Japanese speakers. It has found it’s way into English lately as English does not have its own word for this particular image or feeling.

Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson has dubbed his new piano instrumental cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” the “komorebi version” and has even taken pains to give it artwork featuring a Japanese man lying on the floor in this particular type of sunlight. He’s leaning hard into the imagery. And that’s appropriate because his new cover is very much the right music for “komorebi” if I understand the word correctly. Continue reading »

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.