Now that Elvis is in theatres, we are making our way through the covers that litter the soundtrack. One of the highlights is American country singer Kacey Musgraves’ version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Barbaro – Believe (Cher cover)
Progressive bluegrass quartet Barbaro takes on a few obvious inspirations on their new EP Under the Covers. Gillian Welch’s “Dark Turn of Mind,” makes sense. Wilco’s “Jesus Etc,” sure. But the other two tunes venture a little further afield. Sheryl Crow’s pop hit “If It Makes You Happy” makes for a jaunty fiddle and banjo number, as does, surprisingly, Cher’s “Believe.”
Chicago-based indie musician and producer NNAMDÏ has released an alluring cover of Kacey Musgraves’s “Lonely Weekend.” Drawn from the 2018 genre-expanding blockbuster Golden Hour, which earned Musgraves the Grammy for Album of the Year, “Lonely Weekend” is both a charged album opener and, relatively speaking, a deep-cut in her catalog.
On his cover, NNAMDÏ maintains Musgraves’s immediate, electric energy while burrowing deep into the arrangement’s esoteric surprises and insularities. The cover feels like a trip inside the many dreamy and refracted moods of NNAMDÏ’s titular indoor weekend. One minute, an propulsive banjo reel winds up and around in the mix; the next, jarring clusters of drippy, bassy vocal harmonies lazily loll around down below. By the time the song emerges into a deserved, expansive coda at the 2:26 mark, NNAMDÏ’s delicate arrangements and roving musical curiosities have coalesced into something truly progressive, refreshing, and limitless.
Black Country, New Road – Time to Pretend (MGMT cover)
If you’re expecting the “Time to Pretend” you knew and loved a decade ago, think again. UK post-punkers Black Country, New Road, one of the buzziest bands of the new year, deconstruct the song entirely. It starts pretty sane, then gradually veers off the tracks into chaos. By the end there’s a free-jazz sax solo leading a wall of noise only barely identifiable as this, or any, song.
Alex Kapranos & Clara Luciani – Summer Wine (Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra cover)
Clara Luciani is Nancy Sinatra and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos is Lee Hazlewood on this charming cover. Kapranos wrote, “When the lockdown started, we decided to record [‘Summer Wine’] — more for ourselves than anything else. We wanted to create the atmosphere of an imaginary world away from the confinement we were experiencing. Not that we were unhappy, but the imagination is the greatest medium for escape and adventure… After the lockdown eased off, we got together to film the video with our friends Adrien, Leo, Fiona and Hugo. I love the ideas they had, which suit the mood of the song and reflect our… well, our love of karaoke!”
Daniel Romano’s Outfit – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan cover)
This one’s for all the Dylan superfans. In 1984, Bob Dylan played three songs on Letterman with L.A. punk band The Plugz. They were gritty and garagey and raw. It boded well for his new sound. And then he never played with them again. The album he was ostensibly promoting, Infidels, was much smoother, helmed by Mark Knopfler. For those who still wonder what could have been, Daniel Romano covered the entire album as if he’d recorded it with The Plugz.