For a certain ilk of artist, boutique destination music festivals in Mexico have become a recent mainstay of the January/February touring cycle (or lack thereof — who wouldn’t want to scuttle off to Mexico for a lost weekend rather than tour in the depths of winter?). Acts like Wilco, Brandi Carlile and an array of others in the indie/jam/rock firmament have been parading down south of the border to the all-inclusive resorts of Riviera Maya. Though Dead & Co.’s plans were thwarted this winter by the Omicron variant in the final hour, many other acts were still able to perform without snafus or health scares. Atop the heap of performers who made their way successfully to Riviera Maya, Mexico this February were My Morning Jacket, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and Phish.
‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, here’s how Kurt Cobain described the genesis of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”
Surprisingly, the Pixies’ most famous superfan – the man who said he should be in a Pixies cover band – never covered the Pixies. Nirvana were rarely shy about covering their influences, from the Vaselines to the Velvet Underground, but maybe the Pixies were just too obvious. Every Nirvana song, Kurt might have thought, was just a Pixies cover a few degrees removed.
That line of thinking didn’t stop many other artists, though. Pixies covers abound, both from obvious acolytes in the ’90s alt-rock scene to musician fans in other genres who found a way to make Pixies songs sound like bossa nova or doo-wop. We’ve narrowed it down to the best thirty for our list, below. We hope you la la love it.
PS. The artist for this month’s list was selected by our Patreon supporters. To have a say in who we tackle next, sign up for our Patreon here.
The list continues on Page 2.
Last night’s VMAs surprised many by omitting any sort of musical tribute to Aretha Franklin. You’d think if anyone could pull that together with a few days notice, MTV could – but honestly, I get it. There have been fewer memorial covers of Aretha Franklin than we saw for Tom Petty, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and many others. Even Chris Cornell earned more in-concert tributes, and Aretha’s career of hits goes back decades further than his.
Why is that? Certainly Aretha is no less beloved than these others; eloquent and moving tributes in other forms continue to pour in hourly. My guess: Aretha is first and foremost known as a singer, maybe the greatest ever (Rolling Stone said she was). Though certainly no songwriting slouch (pretty much every part you’d sing along to in “Respect,” she added herself), Aretha may simply be too daunting vocally for many musicians to attempt.
Luckily, not all musicians. Here are the best posthumous Aretha Franklin covers we’ve seen so far. Hopefully more are coming!
With the possible exception of “Wolf Like Me,” TV on the Radio songs are not easy to cover. They typically rely on dense textures and complex rhythms – not the sort of thing you can easy strum along to at the coffeeshop open mic. But today we’re premiering a band who took on the challenge, Brooklyn duo Of Clocks and Clouds. They do justice to TV on the Radio’s early song “Young Liars,” keeping some of the basic textures but giving it an arena-ready Interpol-esq sheen.
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).
Today’s question: What’s a favorite country & western cover of a non-country & western song?
Back in 2009, TV on the Radio released a cover of David Bowie‘s “Heroes” for the charity album War Time Presents Heroes. The album benefited the charity’s aid efforts in real war-stricken areas such as Iraq, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cover has recently been deemed fitting for wars set in HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones trailer for the upcoming fifth season.