Anyone who was paying attention to cover songs a decade ago will remember The A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series. In the vein of the BBC Live Lounge and Triple J Like a Version, the entertainment web site would bring bands into their Chicago offices to cover a song. The concept, though, was the site started with a masters list of songs and the band had to pick one. The later they came in, the fewer song choices remained. It went on for years and the covers were ubiquitous (we must have posted a million of ’em). Practically every indie band of the era stopped by (many several times), and they often delivered something great.
As the crumbled fliers and crushed PBR cans across the Lower East Side and Williamsburg will attest, another CMJ has come and gone. In a year that didn’t seem to quite have the star power leading into it, hundreds of under-the-radar bands had a reasonably level playing field on which to try to impress to industry and tastemaker types who swarm the city’s diviest clubs. Here are five standout acts we caught, complete with a great cover each has done in the past.
This past week the A.V. Club wrapped up their beloved “Undercover” series with the Fruit Bats’ rendition of Loretta Lynn’s “The Other Woman.” This cover was just one of a myriad of brilliant renditions put forth by various indie rock gods and goddesses over the time span of three months. And seeing as this was a veritable who’s who in indie rock these days, few bands disappointed. The worst it got was average (ie that Smith Westerns take on “American Girl”), but most bands scored at least a 7 out of 10. Given the talent, it would be near impossible to only pick just a couple favorites so we here at Cover Me are choosing ten performances instead. The ten most original, most jaw-dropping, and most “Play it again man!”-inducing covers that were featured this past summer.
Last night a slew of alt-indie heroes descended on New York’s Bowery Ballroom to pay tribute to the bands featured in Michael Azerrad’s era-defining tome Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. Ted Leo covered Minor Threat, Titus Andronicus did the Replacements, and, strangest of all, Dirty Projectors played Black Flag.
Indie artists continue their march through the list of 25 covers compiled by the A.V. Club as part of the Undercover series. The latest, and so far ballsiest, band to participate, Baltimore’s Wye Oak, took on the daunting task of performing Danzig’s “Mother.” No easy task, especially for a duo known more for ethereal indie folk than big guitar chops!