May 312024
 
Bat for Lashes
Bambie Thug – Zombie (The Cranberries cover)

This month, Bambie Thug represented Ireland in Eurovision, coming in sixth (the country’s highest placement since 2000). Shortly before the finals, they released this cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”amidst criticism of their outspokenness about the devastation in Gaza. The top YouTube comment puts it well: “The significance of Bambie choosing to cover this song will not be lost on anyone in Ireland or the UK, or many places outside them. It’s just about the most impactful call for peace an Irish person can give, and they’ve done it as well as anyone ever has.” Continue reading »

Mar 152024
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

John Scofield

Guitar great John Scofield values the art of improvisation and seeks those moments of inspiration when an individual or band achieve moments of transcendence. Historically he has tried to do this during 150 gigs a year, in all sorts of settings.  Even if a small fraction of that work is laid down, Scofield also has a huge catalogue of recorded work. He has put out work under his own name, or that of one of his bands, every year for over 40 years and is a valued sideman, collaborator, and mentor for many others.

Jazz is an obvious format for improvisation, and Scofield describes himself as a jazz guitarist. Someone who studied at the Berklee School of Music and has worked with Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and a host of modern greats is certainly entitled to describe himself any way that he wishes. Certainly you should not go into his music if you have a distaste or disdain for the “only truly original American art form.”

Scofield can nevertheless thrive in other environments. Phil Lesh has made him a vital collaborator in his Phil Lesh and Friends project, improvising around the Grateful Dead canon. Indeed, jam bands in general view him as an inspiration and touchstone, and he has worked with Lesh, The Allman Brothers and Trey Anastasio, amongst others. When beloved covers band Scary Pockets wanted to develop their own funky music, as Scary Goldings, they put him on the roster. He takes, and brings, his inspiration wherever he finds it.
Continue reading »

Mar 172023
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Low covers

Today we place Low in the spotlight, even if the Duluth-based band has already occupied the spotlight in recent months, and for the worst of reasons: Low’s co-founder Mimi Parker passed away in November 2022, age 55. The tributes and memorials that poured out to Mimi took many beautiful forms, all of them disbelieving and heartbroken. As we sample the amazing music that she and her husband Alan Sparhawk (Low’s other co-founder and the band’s primary songwriter) gave us in their 30-year run as a band, we’ll look at covers by Low and covers of Low, and pay our respects to Mimi along the way.
Continue reading »

Oct 142022
 

Here It IsWith peak anticipation building in lovers of the Bard of Montreal, here finally drops Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, the Larry Klein-helmed and Blue Note-imprinted all-star tribute we have been sneaking peeks at these past few months. We have been a little underwhelmed by James Taylor and then bowled over by Nate Rateliff, so what of the rest?

First, some background. Klein and Cohen were good buddies during the final decade and a half of the singer’s life, having been crossing paths a good deal longer. Klein himself has an interesting pedigree, a jazz bassist of some renown, starting his career off by playing with Joe Hubbard and Wayne Shorter. Becoming more mainstream, as rock drew out for the greater sophistication jazz might offer, he began to play with, most notably, Joni Mitchell, actually marrying her. Whilst that didn’t last, he became one of the go-to bassists. It is him on Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” Bob Dylan’s Down in the Groove, and Peter Gabriel’s So album, still keeping his hand in with older buddies like Herbie Hancock.

Adding the production arrow to his quiver, Klein went on to take charge of studio work by a throng of artists encompassing many, many genres. Who else can say they produced acts as varied as Holly Cole, Rodney Crowell, and (Jefferson) Starship? Not to mention Joni, even after their marriage dissolved, and the aforementioned Hancock, including his The Joni Letters, where those two worlds aligned.

Having spent a fair amount of time covering Cohen songs for other artists, Klein came up with the idea of assembling an album’s worth of new ones. He brought together a collection of his contacts and acquaintances, largely from the jazz world, or, as he himself put it: “a group of the most prescient and forward-looking musicians.” Thus the band here, which is led by unassuming guitar titan Bill Frisell, includes also saxman Immanuel Wilkins, Kevin Hays on piano, and the rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nate Smith. Longtime Frisell associate and pedal steel player to the stars Greg Leisz also gets to play, as does Larry Goldings. So a crack band, and already catnip to the Blue Note label, even ahead the roll call of vocalists.
Continue reading »

Mar 312022
 
best cover songs of march 2022
Avhath – Cool / Levitating / Don’t Start Now (Dua Lipa covers)

What’s better than one Indonesian black-metal Dua Lipa cover? Three Indonesian black-metal Dua Lipa covers! Not that you’d ever know these were Dua Lipa songs unless you were listening really closely to the lyrics (and could manage to make them out).

The Band of Heathens – El Paso City (Marty Robbins cover)

During lockdown, Band of Heathens hosted a regular livestream variety show called Good Time Supper Club. One segment, “Remote Transmissions,” featured them covering a new song every episode – over 50 in all. They’re collecting some of the best on a forthcoming album of the same name: Remote Transmissions. “Making records is always about cataloging any point in time. We wanted to celebrate the unique collaborative aspect of the show,” guitarist Ed Jurdi told American Songwriter. “What better way to document the last year than with these songs?” First up is this take on a Marty Robbins country classic. Continue reading »

Apr 232020
 
live from home covers

Every week the names doing these covers from home just get bigger. This past week got a boost from Global Citizen’s all-star charity event, from which several of today’s set come, as well as one major appearance in last night’s Jersey for Jersey fundraiser (Fountains of Wayne’s heartbreaking “Hackensack” from that is worth watching too, though, except for guest bassist Sharon Van Etten, it’s not a cover).

But, amidst the all-stars, musicians at every level continue to take to the internet to perform covers. We’ve got some of the best we’ve seen below. As always, we make no claims to being comprehensive, so share any other favorites in the comments. Continue reading »