Something you didn’t know you needed is a Wiggles cover of Tame Impala. If you’re not already familiar, the Wiggles are an Australian children’s music group. Before you click away, hear me out. This past week, they covered Tame Impala’s “Elephant” for Triple J’s Like A Version, along with a performance of their song “Fruit Salad.” As on YouTube commenter put it, “If this doesn’t make the hottest 100 then someone is wrong with this country [Australia].”
Ashley McBryde – You’re Lookin’ at Country (Loretta Lynn cover)
The Country Music Hall of Fame recently presented a video series called Big Night at the Museum, getting modern country and Americana artists to cover Hall of Famers. Lucinda Williams did Johnny Cash, Miranda Lambert did John Prine, and a bunch more. Best by a blonde-streaked hair was Ashley McBryde, a performer who skirts the line between country, Americana, and brawny rock, proving her bona fides on Loretta Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country.”
Bluegrass giants the Punch Bothers appear to cover every genre except one: bluegrass. They’ve covered the White Stripes, Wilco, and Radiohead in recent years and continue their left-field picks with a wildly reimagined take on Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen” for Spotify.
While many niche-genre bands (bluegrass, polka, etc) seem to cover pop or indie-rock hits for novelty and crossover effect, the Punch Brothers always find songs that genuinely work in their style, well-known or not. For Radiohead, they didn’t tackle “Creep” or “Karma Police,” but “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box” – hardly the best choice for the band’s SEO.
Al Green – Before the Next Teardrop Falls (Freddy Fender cover)
Sorry, Beyoncé; the biggest surprise release of the year might be Al Green’s sudden return after a decade away. Well, not totally away; he still conducts weekly services at his Memphis church and, when I attended, was liberally sprinkling quotes from “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River” into his sermons. Best of all: This Freddy Fender cover sounds like Al hasn’t lost a step. It’s apparently a one-off, but hopefully recording it will whet his appetite to do more.
In Pick Five, great artists tell us about five cover songs that matter to them.
Speedy Ortiz’s third album Twerp Verse doesn’t come out until tomorrow, but it’s already making noise. NPR Music calls it “both musically expansive and [frontwoman Sadie] Dupuis’ most accessible work yet, a blend of catchy pop hooks and dexterous guitar playing,” while the New York Times praises the band’s “signature acerbic wit.” And it almost didn’t exist.
In late 2016, the band – that’s Dupuis plus guitarist Andy Molholt, bassist Darl Ferm, and drummer Mike Falcone – planned to record a new album full of peppy love songs. Then November 8th happened, and all of a sudden a bunch of chipper “lovey-dovey” tunes didn’t feel appropriate. That batch of songs “just didn’t mean anything to me anymore,” Dupuis wrote in the press release. “Social politics and protest have been a part of our music from day one, and I didn’t want to stop doing that on this album.”