May 122011

Download This scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.

Here at Cover Me, we tend to see a lot of artists pop up over and over. Some, like Stephin Merritt, are covered all the time for the sheer versatility of their songwriting. Others, like James Eric, have the ear and the talent for releasing a near-constant stream of quality covers. Eric, in fact, has been even more of a staple on this blog than Merritt or his band the Magnetic Fields and was the first artist featured in our Cover Commissions series.

Now we’re featuring Eric not as cover artist, but as cover curator. 21 Love Songs: A Tribute To The Magnetic Fields isn’t the first of his compilations we’ve come across – we featured his Broadway collection last June – but it is his first and, by his own admission, his best. Despite the album 69 Love Songs-recalling title, we’re treated to covers of a vast swathe of the Fields catalog, going so far as to include “Plant White Roses” from Merge Records’ fifth anniversary compilation. Continue reading »

Mar 182010

Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist covers a reader-selected song for this blog. Any artists interested in participating, email me at the address on the right.

I consider one month a fast Cover Commissions turnaround, but this is just ridiculous. The polling for Tinyfolk’s Commissions closed just one week ago and we’ve already got the finished cover. Two versions of it in fact. Plus a bonus track!

Voting almost hit a three-way tie between Taylor Swift (“You Belong With Me”), Elton John and Jeremy Irons (“Be Prepared”) and Bonnie Tyler (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”), but in the end the ‘80s fans won out. Maybe synth solos are more popular than previously believed or maybe folks had seen the recent “literal video” for “Total Eclipse” that’s been making the rounds.

Taking on any song by legendarily epic songwriter Jim Steinman is a daunting task to be sure. There’s a reason there aren’t many “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” covers out there. Tinyfolk’s Russ Woods describes how he approached Bonnie’s epic ballad:

I’m pretty glad this got picked. I’m a huge Jim Steinman fan. I love his work with Bonnie Tyler, Meat Loaf, and yes, even Celine Dion. I’ve seen Streets of Fire, and own a CD of music from the German-language musical Tanz Der Vampire that Steinman scored. I’ve never covered one of his songs because they’re huge and epic and kind of intimidating. I put this on the list as a way to force myself to try it if it got picked. And it did.

We ended up with two different takes, one a bit dancier and one a bit folkier. Both involve me having to use the far extremes of my vocal range more than any song I’ve ever recorded. James Eric and I recorded them on Sunday after finishing up recording the new Tinyfolk album, Black Bears, which he produced. So, big thanks to James Eric, aka Garden on a Trampoline, for helping out.

Just like James did for us a year ago with his two versions of Devo’s “Beautiful World” and one of MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” (download them here), Russ has sent in not one cover, but three. First up, the Commissions winner. Turn around…

Tinyfolk ft. G.O.A.T. – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Dance Version) (Bonnie Tyler)

Tinyfolk ft. G.O.A.T. – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Folk Version) (Bonnie Tyler)

Apparently still having time to kill, Tinyfolk also tackled one of the other poll options: “Do Your Best.”

Tinyfolk – Do Your Best (John Maus)

Check out more Tinyfolk at CLLCT, Muxtape, Last.FM and Rain Above Records.

These mp3s may be freely shared with the artist’s blessing. Post them on your blog, send them to your friends, tweet them to the world. When you share these though, please include a link to this site. Check back for future Cover Commissions installments.

Mar 052010

Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist produces a special cover for this blog. Readers choose the song from a list of suggestions provided by the artist. Any artists interested in participating in a future installment, please email Cover Me at the address on the right.

This month’s featured cover artist was passed my way by James Eric, who longtime readers will remember kicked off our very first Commissions (which actually makes this the one-year anniversary of the series). Tinyfolk is the brain child of Russ Woods, an Illinois native and absurdly prolific musician who, having just graduated school, already has five album, a bunch of EPs, and a smattering of compilation appearances to his name.

Woods records low-fi tunes either on his own or with Meghan Lamb of Iron Like Nylon. What started out as a series of twee pop nuggets (lots of ukulele) have evolved to include synthesizers, strings and all the other elements of, you know, actual production. Best of all, he gives everything away for free at CLLCT, Last.FM, Muxtape and pretty much anywhere else you turn (his latest is at Rain Above Records).

Best of all, for us at least, he has done a ridiculous number of covers. Poke around that CLLCT page and you’re likely to find dozens tucked away on various albums, EPs and comps. One of his best is “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus, a one-hit wonder in the purest sense that the only single she ever released was a hit. Tinyfolk’s cover comes with a video especially for all you pixilated-hose lovers out there.

Like I mentioned, Tinyfolk has covered a lot of songs. Here’s a sampling. Poke around CLLCT for his takes on David Bowie (“Five Years”), They Might Be Giants (“Stormy Pinkness”) and more.

Tinyfolk – (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach)

Tinyfolk – Will You Be There? (Michael Jackson)

Tinyfolk – You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon)

What song will he cover next? Your call. Below are ten song choices, each linked to a YouTube video where you can listen. Check out the originals, listen to Tinyfolk’s other stuff, then pick which song he should cover in the poll on the right. While I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up covering every last one of them eventually, at least you can tell him which to do first.

Voting closes in one week, so get deciding! Vote in the poll on the right.