If there was ever a year to go ahead and start the Christmas music early, this might be it. Christmas music means it’s almost Christmas means 2020 is almost, finally, over. And what better way to get started than with everyone’s favorite Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy”!
With its undeniably catchy hook and sharp lyrics, Lizzo’s “Juice” has been a hit for the past two summers and is sure to see many more covers. Uncommon Denominator’s new version cover moves the horns, which sneak into the end of the original, to the forefront, blending them with soulful vocals and all the intricacies of the original’s rhythm section.
This Eau Claire-based cover band, who have described themselves as “a group of friends that united over a passion for playing music that is fun,” bring a life-affirming attitude to the track. Along with it, the eight piece band released a video which captures their vibrant group dynamic, making for an impressive effort at their first-ever music video.
Transport yourself to a rustic farm by listening to Declan McKenna’s lo-fi banjo cover of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram classic “Heart of the Country.” The English singer-songwriter’s version starts paired down to only his voice and a banjo, but gradually builds more harmonic layers with a funky bass line stays true to the original. The prominent banjo translates the swing of McCartney’s song well. Overlaid with the banjo, he sounds right as home and could give country singers a run for their money.
McKenna’s recently released album Zeros is a spaced-out glam-rock harmonic journey. And yet he retains a twang in both his indie style songs and in this cover. Even if you can’t visit any horse or sheep in the heart of the country right now, McKenna makes it a bit easier to imagine an autumnal adventure full of apple picking and hayrides this October.
Forgive the sense of deja vu. We have indeed been here before, at different stages of fruition; this being the 3rd and final chapter of Country Darkness, hitherto a work in progress.
For those not up to speed, here we have the UK’s answer to George’n’Tammy, the married country torch singers Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. Otherwise known as my Darling Clementine, they’re both big fans of Elvis Costello, and they have been spending their 2020 putting together a collection of Costello covers. To add icing to that cake, they’ve done this in conjunction with no less than Steve Nieve, right hand man and keyboard pilot for Costello since near the beginning. Released in three helpings (earlier volumes reviewed here and here), this final set is again four songs. Over the course of the year, the question has changed from whether it will be worth hearing (’twas ever thus) to whether they can keep up the momentum.
My answer: a muted yes.
“Fly Away”, the fourth single from Lenny Kravitz‘s fifth album, was one of his biggest hits, and the biggest since “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. Arguably the two most iconic parts of the song are the song’s simple riff and what sounds like a slap bass. But both of these are completely absent in the new semi- acoustic cover by roots outfit Larkin Poe.
Clairo has been busy. Although the 22-year-old viral pop star has not released any official music since her 2019 album Immunity, she has been uploading covers and demos to Soundcloud. Her newest is a version of The Strokes’ “I’ll Try Anything Once” with Jake Passmore of the London-based indie band SCORS.