Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.
Honk If You’re Lonely || Cover: Say Sue Me || Original: Silver Jews
South Korean indie rock band Say Sue Me celebrate their 10th anniversary with an EP simply called 10 (out digitally and on cassette through Damnably). For this they recorded creditable new versions of their own songs Bad Habit and Old Town, as well as covers of songs by Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Daniel Johnston, Silver Jews, Grandaddy and Guided By Voices. No weak moments here, but as we can’t honor David Berman enough, we chose this one.
Pushin’ My Luck || Cover: Boogie Beasts || Original: Robert Belfour
The Belgian blues rockers of Boogie Beasts are also celebrating their 10th anniversary with a release full of covers. On Blues From Jupiter (out on CD and vinyl LP via JukeJoint500), you’ll hear 11 new, dirty, powerful versions of tunes from blues giants like Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, R.L. Burnside and John Lee Hooker. The name Robert Belfour is probably less well known, but worth a closer listen, so you know what’s behind this version of the title track from his album Pushin’ My Luck (his sophomore LP for Fat Possum, then aged 63 (2003)).
Little Babies || Cover: The Linda Lindas || Original: Sleater Kinney
Riot Grrrl outfit Sleater-Kinney’s breakthrough album Dig Me Out (1997) has lost little of its eloquence after 25 years, yet the band thought it was time for Dig Me In: A Dig Me Out Covers Album (out on vinyl LP, self-released), on which various artists reinterpreted and reimagined the 13 original tracks. Big names like Wilco, Courtney Barnett, St. Vincent, Margo Price and Low are participating, but the most fun is LA 4-piece The Linda Lindas‘ take on Little Babies.
Canary In A Coalmine || Cover: Gavin Guss || Original: The Police
Ten years after his last album On High, Seattle (US) based musician Gavin Guss is back with the (digital) single Canary In A Coalmine b/w Jenny Anne (self-released). He explains: “These days, I think we can all identify with the canary. Originally performed by The Police, now with a rockabilly twist, to remind us there is always light at the end of the shaft.” It reminded me to rediscover the 1980 Zenyatta Mondatta LP.
Man in Black || Cover: Chuck D feat. Bob Log III || Original: Johnny Cash
This Friday, Hillgrass Bluebilly Records will release the compilation JR Vol 3: A Tribute to Johnny Cash. The most remarkable names among the diverse line-up of artists covering Cash’s music are rapper Chuck D (of Public Enemy fame) and guitar and drums one man band Bob Log III, who came together to create a version of Man in Black – a protest song originally released in 1971, which is iconic by the title alone – that’s neither country nor hip-hop. This taster sparks curiosity for the rest of the LP. In February 2023 Volume 4 of this series will follow: A Tribute to RL Burnside.
Attitude || Cover: Jimso Slim || Original: Misfits
Perpetual Doom celebrated Halloween with the release of Die, Die My Doomer, a pretty eclectic compilation on which 35 artists contribute their interpretation of a favorite song from the Misfits catalog – you’ll hear singer-songwriters, country artists, punk rockers, indie artists, rock ‘n’ rollers, folk artists, and others. I wonder if fans of the American horror punk band can handle all this, but the slacker rock version of Attitude by NY singer-songwriter Jimso Slim is so well done and original that we’re happy to share it. Note: 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
Dracula’s Theme || Cover: Didi Wray || Original: The Ghouls
Like every year, there was quite a bit of new music to soundtrack Halloween in 2022. That seems an appropriate reason to finally share something from Argentine composer/guitarist Didi Wray, the creator of “tango surf music” who now breathes new life into a spooky 1964 melody to by The Ghouls.
You Must Swallow Things When Beauty’s Gone || Cover: The Laughing Chimes || Original: Ocean Chimes
Indonesian label Shiny Happy Records released a 13 track album called So Much Fun, featuring 13 international bands covering songs from Indonesian indie pop bands – a nice way to discover bands coming from over there. That also applies to our friend Evan Seurkamp of US jangle pop duo The Laughing Chimes: “I had not heard this song until I was asked to participate in this compilation, but I am very glad I was made aware of this project and its music. This one in particular stood out to me because it reminded me of classics dreamy and jangle tunes like those of The Ocean Blue and Echo and the Bunnymen.”
I Love You Always Forever || Cover: Holm || Original: Donna Lewis
At the beginning of this year we heard Holm’s excellent debut LP Why Don’t You Dance (PNKSLM Recordings), last week at the Left of the Dial festival we saw that the Danish indie rock band also convinces live, and now they come with a surprising 5 minute cover of 1996 synth-pop hit I Love You Always Forever by Donna Lewis. The song hit front man Mikkel Holm Silkjær on a drunken night with a close friend, and later there was a good time to put his own version on tape: “On the day I finished recording Why Don’t You Dance I figured it would be fun to do something with the recording crew that didn’t necessarily directly relate to the process of recording a full-length album, so we collectively spend the night drinking screwdrivers, recording a cover of I Love You Always Forever and went for a swim in the ocean as the sun was rising.”
Real Love Baby || Cover: The Heavy Heavy || Original: Father John Misty
As The Heavy Heavy, Brighton (UK) based musicians Will Turner and Georgie Fuller play soulful psych-folk tunes for lazy summer evenings. Their sunny debut EP Life and Life Only came out exactly five months ago, and as a snack in between before more to come, they have now covered Father John Misty’s 2016 song Real Love Baby in the same, delicious style (streaming only, via ATO).
Check out our Dusted playlist on Spotify for more cool cover songs.