The music of !!! can feel confounding on first listen. The group, whose name is pronounced “chk-chk-chk,” have made a rats’ nest of dance-punk releases across two decades, and their name sets somewhat of a high barrier of entry as to what they’re all about. Beneath the blistering production (and hard-to-Google identity) though, you’ll find a band with unflagging creative momentum and, especially on their recent records, some properly funky instrumental chops.
Brandi Carlile – We Belong (Pat Benatar cover)
Cheating a little as we missed this one in July, but if you too haven’t heard the acoustic “We Belong” Brandi’s been playing on tour with The Twins, it will be worth the wait. “We belong together” takes on a whole new meaning as we (try to) come out of quarantine.
Just hearing the opening riff to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” has an instant calming effect. The lyrics kick in, and you’re on a joyful soft rock journey for the next five minutes. Or, in Jim O’Rourke‘s case, 33 minutes.
This cover by the experimental musician, recorded live in Japan in 2002, uploaded to YouTube in 2016, and brought into wider view by a in a Washington Post article last week, lulls you into a false sense of security. The classic riff starts us off, and it seems like it’s going to be a straightforward cover, but after a minute or so, the riff starts to be looped, just out of sync of the main melody. By six minutes, the loop has started to turn into a swelling drone, filling your ears and blocking out the rest of the world. By the half-way point of this 33-minute (!) track, the riff has disappeared, with a new droning tone and guitar melodies swirling around the space.
Amy Helm – Twilight (The Band cover)
Many musicians, unable to go on the road, have taken to performing concerts in their home in the past week. Personally, I have spent a huge amount of time watching various these live streams. The performances have been moving and powerful, an unusually intimate way to see some of your favorite musicians.
Many such shows have included covers, songs that feel right to sing right now, like John Lennon’s “Isolation” or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” So I decided to round up some of my favorites below.
Unfortunately, many live stream platforms don’t archive the content, so if you miss it live, it’s gone (another reason to watch these streams!). But plenty of great covers have remained online. Check ’em out below, and let us know in the comments what others we shouldn’t miss.
Since January, Kanye West has been exploring the spiritual side of popular songs at invite-only concerts on the West Coast he’s dubbed “Sunday Service.”
The concept is elaborately simple: take a song that everyone knows, fly in an entire choir (known as The Samples) to a new location each week, and have the choir perform the song with new lyrics and a decidedly gospel feel. Bands such as Nirvana and No Doubt as well as artists Sia, Tracy Chapman, and Chance the Rapper among many others have all had their songs gospelized by West and his amazing choir. “Don’t Speak” becomes “Lord Speaks,” “Fast Car” becomes “Great God,” etc. West has gospelized a few of his own songs, and the entire project is rumored to be a preview of West’s upcoming album Yandhi (release date still unknown).