On “Codeine“, Jason Isbell sings “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, its this bar and this cover band”. I’m not sure which he hates more; the bar or the cover band. But in the right situation I love both of these things, and find reason to disagree with Mr. Isbell. So, for today’s installment of LxListening I have decided to pick out 5 recent covers that deserve a little recognition.
What makes a good cover you ask me? In my opinion, a good cover doesn’t try to reenact or mimic the original song, instead trying to take a new musical angle. This can be anything from completely changing the arrangement, to changing the style of the music, to changing the pace. Sometimes, a cover may be so ironic (as you’ll see below) because of who is singing it that it deserves a little attention. Either way, check out a few of these gems below and decide for yourself whether you think there is any added value to these cover songs. Enjoy.
Florence + The Machine – “Not Fade Away”
Buddy Holly’s classic version, which is one of those few songs I believe would be a hit in any decade, gets a Mardi Gras makeover. Florence holds back her blistering vocals on the first verse, keeping it understated and cool on this slower version. As her vocals become more forceful, the images in the video become more energetic as well, making for a perfect pairing.
Amanda Palmer – “Polly”
I was really apprehensive listening to anything off of SPIN Magazine’s Tribute to Nevermind. In addition, “Polly” has always been my favorite track on Nevermind, and I had never heard of Amanda Palmer. Who knew that a little xylophone, banjo and a really messed-up-but-killer music video would do “Polly” justice. Palmer’s version is more like the more slow-down MTV Unplugged Nirvana version, than other live or studio electric versions. There are a few moments where Palmer cannot approach Cobain’s sincerity in delivery, but can we really fault anyone for that?
EMA – “Soul on Fire”
EMA was also featured on the aforementioned Tribute to Nevermind, but I decided to include her take on this Danzig track. I love Danzig’s original, but EMA has proven in the past year her ability to make anything her own. In case you haven’t noticed, I love EMA, and will continue to find excuses to write about her until served with a cease and desist by Todd and Wes.
Anya Marina – “Whatever You Like”
This is the ironic cover I talked about in the introduction; some blonde chick sultry cover of T.I.’s club smash “Whatever You Like”. Admittedly, the video above blows (although it does have an appearance by Uncle Andy from Weeds), but the song works somehow. T.I.’s version is probably the poppiest thing he has done, but Marina puts that extra little frosting on it to make it that much sweeter.
Serena Ryder – “The Funeral”
Serena Ryder gifts us with a cover of Band of Horse’s “The Funeral”. Ryder’s version is ultra-slowed-down and organ-based and utterly beautiful. I like the Band of Horses version, but this may be the one track on the list that outdoes the original.
Thanks for reading, and if you want to check out last weeks edition of LxListening, click here