Jan 132022
 
Bill Callahan Wilco Nels Cline Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits held their 7th annual Hall of Fame ceremony in the fall of 2021, inducting the likes of Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo and Wilco as new members of the ACL pantheon. The ceremony premiered on PBS stations across the U.S. last weekend. One of the special’s flagship performances, featured ahead of the broadcast over at Consequence, found Wilco performing “California Stars” alongside a host of guest musicians present for the ceremony — among them, Mermaid Avenue collaborator Billy Bragg, Japanese Breakfast, Jason Isbell, Margo Price and Sheila E. A bit deeper into the proceedings, though, was an even more striking performance: Bill Callahan covering “Sky Blue Sky,” drawn from Wilco’s seminal 2007 album of the same name. Continue reading »

Jan 032022
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

The message that there is a place for everyone in this world, no matter what challenges they have to endure, is cathartic. Daniel Johnston struggled with finding his own path through the wilderness, often pressured by society or the medical establishment to imitate whatever their normal was. His music spoke to everyone universally, beamed out to our worlds and beyond. His songs and personality made him a beloved son of Austin, along with the similarly troubled Roky Erickson. Their flaws and strengths melded together: insight, folly, madness, anxiety, and joy, connecting them to people who went through the same shit they did, just not as scaled up or fucked up.

From great pain comes great music.

Johnston’s stories are legendary, from removing the keys and throwing them out of a small plane his father was flying (spoiler alert: they lived), to becoming famous simply because Kurt Cobain wore a t-shirt with Johnston’s cartoon frog on it. He struggled to sell records and find an audience, but the music industry wasn’t seeing him—they were looking for the next Seattle.

Others found him. A documentary was made of Johnston’s life. An Austin non-profit took his inspiration to remind people to check on each other by asking, “Hi. How Are You?

“True Love Will Find You in the End” is certainly an oft-covered song; I listened to snippets of easily a couple of hundred versions to find my favorites below. I can’t defend my choices for being the best, as the nuances that speak to me may not speak to you. But every single artist here stutters, “The light, the light,” and that became a must have for this collection. I hope you believe them all.
Continue reading »

Nov 152021
 
johanna samuels ohtis via chicago cover

The longest and most ambitious track on Wilco’s breakout album Summerteeth, “Via Chicago” is both a showcase for that album’s elaborate, sophisticated production and a preview of the weird places Wilco would go on their acclaimed followup, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. For LA singer-songwriter Johanna Samuels’ more traditional cover, she’s joined by country rockers Ohtis, who reunited in 2019 after 15 years, and only then put out their debut album. Continue reading »

Oct 052020
 
best tribute albums

Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now. Continue reading »

Sep 302020
 
cover songs september 2020
Amigo the Devil – Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood cover)

When we last heard Amigo the Devil, he was stripping down a Tom Jones song to create a haunting murder ballad. Now he does the same to another highly polished pop song – but a much more recent one. “[The original is] this very confidence-boosting, really good-feeling, power-infusing song,” Amigo’s Danny Kiranos told Rolling Stone. “I was curious what it would sound like if you took away the positive nature of it and kept the lyrics, essentially the emotions they are portraying.” Continue reading »

Jun 082020
 
quarantine covers
Angelique Kidjo – Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil cover)

Continue reading »