Feb 252019

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

buddy holly covers

The so-called “Day the Music Died” occurred 60 years ago this month. One night after an Iowa concert, that fateful plane crash took out a host of young pioneers of the first wave of rock and roll: Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (in a last minute seat-trade with Waylon Jennings), and, of course, Buddy Holly.

Over at 22, Holly’s career had barely begun. But in a few short years, he’d written and recorded some of the most foundational tracks of rock and roll. So, to remember him six decades on, we’re ranking the best covers of his songs – from “Rave On” to “Not Fade Away” to a host of deep-cut gems that deserve wider recognition.

We were going to include 22 covers to honor Holly’s age but – in a testament to how much he accomplished in such a short time – that turned out to be not nearly enough. So we expanded the list to 36, his birth year. And frankly, we could have easily doubled it. That’s how often his songs have been covered by his admirers of yesterday and today. So rave on, Buddy, with these 36 fantastic covers of your songs.

Continue reading »

Jun 082018
anthony bourdain music

Others can offer more on Anthony Bourdain’s massive impact on the worlds of food, or travel, or recovery, or just living life to the fullest. But anyone who followed his work closely knew in additional to all that, he was a music superfan. He adored 1970s punk from his early days working in New York kitchens in particular; he wrote a must-read essay on that thirty years later for SPIN.

So we’re going to pay tribute the only way we know how: With covers of Bourdain’s favorite songs. Which we know from playlists he made over the years for Rolling Stone and KCRW. We hope he would have liked these covers of the soundtrack to his life. Continue reading »

Feb 282018
best cover songs february

Today we continue the tradition we started way back one month ago. Since we’re still new at this, I’ll reiterate that our picks are unranked and semi-impulsive. Even the un-blurbed “Honorable Mentions” at the bottom aren’t necessarily worse than the rest; in many cases, we’ve just already written about them at length and have little else to say.

Okay, disclaimers behind us, let’s dive in. Continue reading »

Dec 202010

Christmas is a festival of light and joy. As such, those into darkness and sorrow often feel excluded. Party-planners may find themselves asking, “How do I get my congenitally unmerry guest into the holiday spirit?”

We reply: add the following five Christmas carols to your playlist, and even the grinch laid out on the couch will stand up and sing – or at least sit up and nod before collapsing into a ball of self-pity. Continue reading »

Aug 312010

The Raveonettes first teased their Stone Roses cover way back in April. It’s been a long wait since. Well finally – finally! – Dr. Martens has posted their cover. I’d say it was worth the wait, but if you’re familiar with this Danish duo, you already know that. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharon Foo’s dreamy fuzz-pop is tighter than ever.

“I remember watching ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ on TV and thinking, ‘Wow.’” Foo said in a making-of clip. “It’s different, it’s kind of psychedelic, but so super-cool.”

The cover comes complete with an aww-inspiring video. An elderly woman and her grandaughter bridge the generation gap with a whole series of cute activities. They play checkers in an elevator! They hold hands! They go fishing (with an already-dead fish)! It’s all sorts of adorable. Given the title, that seems appropriate. Check out the video and, below that, a making-of clip. Then hop on over to the Dr. Martens website to download the MP3. Continue reading »

Dec 242008

Last year’s Christmas post (here) was prefaced with an apology about jumping on the Christmas post bandwagon. No excuses this year though, I’ll come out and say it: I like Christmas music. Not the schlock you hear at Macy’s of course, but in better contexts those songs can really groove and, in a culture of indie emo, some holiday joy can never be a bad thing. So as my little present to you, here’s the 12 Covers of Christmas.

Yo La Tengo – Rock’ n’ Roll Santa (Jan Terri)
The Ramones with heavier distortion and singing ability. [Buy]

The Beach Boys – Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Coots/Gillespie)
Brian Wilson and the Boys combine their trademark harmonies with a lively beat, but the big surprise here is the blaring horn section that forces its way through. [Buy]

Joy Electric – What Child Is This? (Dix)
Like a slow-motion rave, this hymn works shockingly well as an electronic jam. [Buy]

The Raveonettes – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Darlene Love)
One of my favorite bands of the year, The Raveonettes released a Christmas EP was a true holiday present, and their fifties fuzz brings a thumping urgency to this desperate plea. [Buy]

Pedro the Lion – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Longfellow/Marks)
Electronic organ is all Dan Bazan uses, and it’s all he needs. This meandering delivery is so slow you wonder if he’s dozing off, but are glad he doesn’t as he slowly draws you into his world. [Buy]

Sufjan Stevens – Angels We Have Heard On High (Chadwick/Barnes/Trad.)
Sufjan sent his eighth Christmas album (!) to friends only, but luckily one risked a place on his naughty list by leaking it for all to hear. Stevens’ trademark off-pop bliss is here, but with an extra shot of adrenaline that keeps it from being too cute. [Buy]

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – Jingle Bells (Pierpont)
It’s a song I couldn’t be more sick of, but Smokey sings it like it’s just the greatest thing he’s ever heard, and it’s hard not to get caught up in his joy. [Buy]

Patti Smith – We Three Kings (Hopkins)
It’s a well-known fact that I will smack anyone who says Patti Smith is not a genius, and this track is just further evidence of my conviction. Over a reverb background that sounds like quiet rage, she recited the scripture while sings the melody. Who else could make the Bible sound so badass? [Buy]

Bright Eyes – Oh Little Town of Bethlehem (Brooks/Redner)
Slow and ponderous, Coner Oberst’s take on Christmas would be depressing if it wasn’t so beautiful. Reverence and loneliness have never sounded so similar. [Buy]

Pilate – Fairytale of New York (The Pogues)
They don’t drastically reinvent the tune here, and to be honest it kind of makes me want to hear the original, but this song is so good I’ll take as many versions as I can. [Buy]

The Flaming Lips – White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
The Lips attempting covers is truly a hit or miss affair, as their quirky freak-orchestra sound is…unique. All bets would say that White Christmas would truly be a terrible choice for them, but their bizarrely sung interpretation works. I think. [Buy]

Weezer – O Holy Night (Adam/Cappeau)
Christmas With Weezer did not get a proper release, showcased only on an iPhone game. Luckily some clever fan figured out a way to snag the tracks, and this plucked power-pop pearl shows that, Red Album aside, Rivers has still got it. [Buy]

Merry Christmas.