Tuesday, June 21, 2011

11 Best Covers: Pt. 2

Middle Brother - "Portland"
The most recent entry on this list comes from the "supergroup" comprised of Deer Tick, Dawes, and Delta Spirit members. Full disclosure: I didn't realize this was a cover of a Replacement's B-side until I did a little homework. I do recall thinking it was the best thing on the Middle Brother album by a mile. Now, we know why: because Paul Westerberg wrote it. But John McAuley handles the vocals well--his voice is sort of a middle ground between Westerberg and Axl Rose as it is.

George Harrison - "If Not For You"

Since about 1963, it's grown into a musical constant: everybody covers Dylan. I mentioned Hendrix in the introduction, but his take on "Watchtower" is just the tip of the iceberg. But in my opinion, few interpretations are as perfect as George Harrison's take on "If Not For You". Harrison's cheery-calm vocal style was made for this upbeat Dylan number, and so it slots in comfortably on Harrison's brilliant All Things Must Past.

The Low Anthem - "Home I'll Never Be" 

The Low Anthem have something of a Jekyll/Hyde dynamic. They split time between delicate, whispered balladry and ragged anthems. Kinda like--I dunno--Tom Waits? On TLA's Oh My God Charlie Darwin, they calcified such a comparison by covering Tom's "Home I'll Never Be", which itself was written by Jack Kerouac (at least the words.) Hard to believe Ben Knox Miller can conjure up such a firestorm with his voice, only to coo a falsetto mere minutes later.

Red House Painters - "I Am A Rock" 

Mark Kozelek is almost as known for his covers as he is for his material. Hell, Sun Kil Moon released an entire LP of reinterpreted Modest Mouse tunes, one of which would have made this list had it met the requirements. But my favorite in the field is the Red House Painters' cover of "I Am a Rock" from Red House Painters II (a.k.a. Rollercoaster). It's reasonably faithful to Simon & Garfunkel's original, but swapping out S&G's sweet harmonies for Kozelek's sad, elongated notes yields a strikingly fresh listening experience.


Justin said...

Great picks so far. I MUST include Warning Sign in my "train" list since the Talking Heads are another band that gets covered a lot. Was also shocked that your Spoon inclusion was a cover. Had no idea.

George said...

I remember thinking the same thing when I found out DYE was a cover. You'd never know, right?