Country & Folk

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of June 2022

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.

In June we heard some covers on the soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic film ELVIS, The Routes’ did a surf rock Kraftwerk tribute, Elvis Costello celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, a project of Disclotch Records contained 27 home recordings to pay homage to Daniel Johnston, and previously we wrote about releases from Thee Escapees, Mikey Erg, Reverendo Band, Runaway Lovers and Townies with some successful cover versions. Below we list the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.

New album: Matt Moody || Still A Kid In A Painted Sky

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter/guitarist Matt Moody has the name and the voice as well as the songs to become as much of a hero as his role models Tom Petty and Jonathan Wilson. His full-length debut album Still A Kid In A Painted Sky has just been released and already feels like a classic. This is richly orchestrated and diverse indie folk rock, full of dreams about better times after a dark period, about convincing yourself that you’re worth living – doing what feels right – and that everything will be fine in the end. Moody has a pleasantly gritty voice with a wide range, with which he manages to convey his poetic but vulnerable stories in a captivating way. His skilled band – Lee Kolarik (drums, percussion), Todd Marshall (bass), Mike Abbadini (keys, whistles), Jacob Wynne (trumpet), David Kasper (sax, flute) and Megan Sullivan (violin) – knows how to create the right, warm atmosphere for every story with its varied set of instruments. “It feels like I’ve been yappin’ my best // But I don’t have much left, that ain’t been said // Except we’ll all be dead // Like rocks and such // And I don’ t mind, it too much”, you hear in standout song I Don’t Mind, but this LP is something to remember anyway.

Still A Kid In A Painted Sky is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Widespread Haze || Move

Tommy Whiteside (drums, vocals), Matthew Campbell (guitar, vocals) and Kristi Rifenbark (bass, vocals) describe their band Widespread Haze as “a time-travelling, hip-shaking, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll trio, specializing in organic earworms and lyrical hash.” That’s pretty adequate phrasing for the sound on their self-recorded and self-produced debut full-length album Move – “a lifetime of genre-bending emotion, jam-packed into an hour-long joy ride” – although the local record store probably will file it under Southern rock. The 15 tracks here are bluesy and folky, raw and authentic, lighthearted and laid-back, entertaining and danceable, soulful and groovy, summery and cool, diverse and timeless. The musicians from Roseburg, Oregon (US) convey a live feeling, all three know how to sing and play to strike the right chord. When you put so much passion for Waffles into your opening track, you really can’t go wrong with what follows. This introduction to Widespread Haze is love at first hearing.

Move is out now digitally, and on CD via Atomic Disc. For fans of Natural Child, G. Love, Nude Party, The Lee Sankey Group.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Widespread Haze

Gimme 5! T.E. Yates Shares 5 Albums He Listened To During His Most Prolific Phase As A Songwriter

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share five records THEY love.

Thomas Edward Yates aka T.E. Yates is a gifted multi-disciplinary artist – singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, illustrator, animator – based in Bristol (UK). After a single in 2012 and an EP in 2013, he released his debut full-length Silver Coins and White Feathers (Debt Records) in 2017, followed by the EP Strange Weather (self-released, self-designed) late last year, with six songs from the same recording sessions. It’s richly orchestrated indie folk, with a well-thought-out structure and beautiful, sincere vocals. The video for Condition showcases Yates’ qualities as musician and creator, but Palace of Your Master is his personal favorite (for me Jack of All Trades is the track that stands out – just saying).

Given his versatility, we wondered what Tom’s influences are. He was kind enough to provide his response in some interesting stories.

New album: L’Resorts || Explorers

Explorers is L’Resorts follow up toVacation (2021), and if those names alone don’t bring a positive mood, wait until you hear the music. L’Resorts is the musical project of love interests Martha Cannon (Lady Cannon) and Vincent Kircher (Jaill) who draw influences from Velvet Underground, Camera Obscura, ’60s pop, folk and country. The result is a playful folky take on indiepop that has a strong country feel in part due to the vocal performances of Cannon and Kircher.

If you have time for just one song today, I strongly recommend Blasting Off or Pieces Of My Love, arguably the most sunny and upbeat sounding songs on Explorers. Better yet, join L’Resorts on all of their explorations, and let their generous and gorgeous melodies wash all over you.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Blake || The Book on Love

Countless books have been written about love, but rarely as melodic as English singer-songwriter / DIY musician Julian Pugsley aka Bernard Blake has now. The Book on Love, his new album under the moniker of Blake, contains eleven songs that keep on misleading you without feeling cheated. “I very slowly started writing lines // And I learned from the very best // My parents told me I was wasting time // So I knew I was passing the test”, he explains beautifully in standout track Lost Ground . I assume he’s referring to the great folk artists of the 70s, because that’s where the roots of Blake’s music lie. He does give it his own twist though, each chapter has a different sound, tempo and gear, without losing sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes rocking, sometimes meandering, sometimes waltzing, etc., always providing a familiar but fresh and optimistic look. In every way it has been worth the effort: this is a book we’ll be opening up more often, if only for memorable phrases like “If we surrender what’s the cost // If the fighting stops we’ll see exactly what we’ve lost” (from the title track). Whether you like to read or not, listening is a pleasure.

The Book on Love is out now digitally and on CD through Subjangle. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of May 2022

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.

In May we saw A Tribute to Jawbreaker’s Dear You collection (Sell The Heart Records subscriber exclusive), The Black Crowes’ 1972 EP (Amazon exclusive), Todo Muere SBXV (artists from the Sacred Bones roster covering their favourite tunes), Sarah Brown singing Mahalia Jackson and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band doing Bob Dylan, the previously announced Coverama compilation, Lester Greenowski tackling the discography of Kiss on Kover All Over and various ladies performing songs of The Boss, Bryan Ferry’s smooth Love Letters EP, and nice releases from The Soul Jacket, R.E. Seraphin, Ditches, Zeno Jones, Walker Brigade, Praise, The Christian Family and Rat Tamango with some successful cover versions. And there was a lot more, but below you hear the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

It’s Raining || Cover: JD McPherson || Original: Irma Thomas
American singer-songwriter/guitarist JD McPherson’s released The Warm Covers EP, Vol. 2, a great sequel to his 2014 cover collection (the new 5-track EP is out now digitally through New West Records, a physical edition including additional bonus tracks will follow sometime in 2023). The obvious choice here would be his interpretation of a song originally performed by Iggy Pop or Pixies, but thanks in part to It’s Rainin’ (4am) by Bob Forrest’s The Bicycle Thief, I don’t miss a chance to listen to this Irma Thomas classic. Heartfelt rhythm ‘n’ blues the way it’s meant to be.

New album: Steve & Ginie Jackson || Colder Than The Sea

Acoustic folk duo Steve & Ginie Jackson got to know each other during a joint concert of their respective previous groups. Together, they started to dream about traveling and playing music, and they fell in love. Their common dream came true, and a tour led to their debut album Leaving For Today in 2017. After the EP Dance Away in 2019, the couple from Montreal (Canada) are back with a new full-length, Colder Than The Sea. It has 12 uplifting songs with guitar and mandolin, songs that are all easy to embrace. You can hear from the lyrics how happy the two musicians are together still (“There might be 7 billion people, but all I see is you”), but that feeling is made even stronger by the way they play (incredible mutual chemistry) and sing (more heartfelt is hardly possible). Both vocally and instrumentally they complement each other perfectly, and how nice it is that they want to share their happiness and skills with us in such fine music.

Colder Than The Sea is out now digitally and on CD through Thousand Islands Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Thousand Islands

New album: Buddhist Bubblegum & Wiggly || Dreaming Of The Desert (Split)

Slovenia and Poland are not at the top of my list of countries I asssociate with sunshine pop, but perhaps I should recalibrate. Meet Buddhist Bubblegum, a project by Wiktor Szotowski – a Polish emigrant now based in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. His most recent release is a split with Wiggly, a pseudonym for “an eclectic, freewheeling singer” songwriter form the US state of Missouri. More than each artist simply contributing songs to the split, Dreaming Of The Desert is a collaboration, with Wiggly providing lyrics to one of the Buddhist Bubblegum songs (Summertime), and Buddhist Bubblegum covering a Wiggly original (Stationary Weathervane).

The Wiggly side of Dreaming Of The Desert challenges my comfort zone, but I’m fascinated. Wiggly’s music is all over the place, and experimental folk is probably the easiest way to describe it. The acoustic guitar is joined by all kinds of soundscapes and quirky instrumentations. Quite mesmerizing.

The Buddhist Bubblegum side though, that’s where I feel right at home. Szotowski puts his own spin on ’60s pop with Buddhist Bubblegum, combining sugary sweet melodies with fuzzy and jangly guitars – and steady upbeat drumming by Maks Rozman of the Slovenian pop groups Regen and Masaž. Remember The Brother Kite? That’s the first reference that came to mind. Or if you don’t know that band, Buddhist Bubblegum kinda is like a blend of Nada Surf and The Resonars. It’s perfect music to accompany you on your ride to your early morning surf sessions. Or perfect music for your commute. Or for your work-from-home sessions. Or your bike ride. I guess what I’m trying to say is, listening to Buddhist Bubblegum will make any day more enjoyable.

Dreaming Of The Desert is out now on CD at New Jersey label Cavern Brew Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Album premiere: LARAIGNÉ || The Brightside Of It All

We are very proud to premiere The Brightside Of It All, the sophomore studio album from Toronto-based folk-punk musician Greg Laraigné, now exclusively under his last name as LARAIGNÉ. The LP will be out this Wednesday (May 11), digitally and on limited edition smokey clear vinyl, through Snappy Little Numbers (North America) and Shield Recordings (Europe), but you can already stream it in its entirety here. I don’t know what music you expect based on the impressive cover art by Gian Andrea Signorell, but this has an Americana kind of sound, honest and heartfelt. [Post continues below]

Singer-songwriter Greg Laraigné released his first full-length Story Tellers, True Believers in 2012. Although he has toured extensively with his songs, he has focused more on his second passion as a widely recognized tattoo artist. Luckily for us, he managed to record this new album – at the end of this post he shares how the record came to life, but let’s start with our early impression of The Brightside Of It All. Ten years in the making, the seven tracks are well thought out and well produced. The sound is bright, and the beautiful instrumental accompaniment functional, melancholic and expressive. The powerful vocals and personal lyrics take the spotlight though: stories that hit hard. For example, listen to Thirty-Nine, which is intense both musically and lyrically, magnificent in all respects.

This is roots music but with a punk rock feel – a combination we really like, but this release excels in the genre. It’s convincing, timeless music with its heart in the right place.

Add to wantlist:
Shield Recordings: Bandcamp || Web Store
Snappy Little Numbers: Bandcamp || Web Store

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