Anyone who was paying attention to cover songs a decade ago will remember The A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series. In the vein of the BBC Live Lounge and Triple J Like a Version, the entertainment web site would bring bands into their Chicago offices to cover a song. The concept, though, was the site started with a masters list of songs and the band had to pick one. The later they came in, the fewer song choices remained. It went on for years and the covers were ubiquitous (we must have posted a million of ’em). Practically every indie band of the era stopped by (many several times), and they often delivered something great.
Dave Richardson – Bright Phoebus (Lal & Mike Waterson cover)
Vermonter Dave Richardson digs deep into folk-rock history on his new album Palms to Pines, covering the title track of Lal & Mike Waterson’s 1972 album Bright Phoebus. Deeply obscure at the time – only 1,000 copies were initially pressed – it became known as “folk music’s Sgt. Pepper” among the very, very few people who actually heard it. The record has seen a recent resurgence with champions like Arcade Fire and Jarvis Cocker leading to a 2017 re-release on überhip Domino Records. Richardson makes it sound like a classic all along.
Sea Girls is an indie rock band based out of London. In between the release of their sophomore album Open Up Your Head in August 2020, and their upcoming European tour in October, they just released a new cover of “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.” It brings a slightly darker tone when compared to Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ track, as Sea Girls’ alternative-sounds rubs off onto the cover. The different tone is almost unnoticeable at first with singer Henry Camamile’s falsetto and the same stringed arrangement opening the tune. But the weight of the tone grows and thickens as the song progresses, almost as if Sea Girls grew bolder as their comfort grew as they molded someone else’s art.
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.
Last week Miley Cyrus continued her epic run of recent covers during her pre-game performance at this year’s Super Bowl. Along with a cover of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (which we previously covered here), Miley also performed a modified version of “Mickey” by Toni Basil, “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails and “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. Her versions of “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, featured special appearances by their original singers, to the delight of the crowd.