Looking for a good show in NYC? Well here you go! We’ve got a nice big list of what is going on this week, shows that we are excited about and want you to know about too, with plenty of live music from the local scene and national acts at bigger venues to choose from. This list is brought to you by yours truly and our indefatigable live correspondent, Mike Borchardt, of the band Nihiloceros, who is in touch with the local Brooklyn/etc scene like no other. And we’ve got a sprinkling of live photos to get you in the mood for your show of choice too. Check back every Monday for updated listings on what is good for the week to come!
Hello and welcome to FTA’s list of what we are excited for this Bandcamp Friday, aka every music nerds favorite day! A bunch of us weighed in on what we’ve been into lately and we’ve got lots of goodies old and new (check out our picks from April). But don’t take our word for it, dive into these tracks/albums and judge for yourself. Feel free to let us know what you think and tell us your suggestions.
Kate Hoos- Editor In Chief
Gloin– I saw this Canadian band open for Snapped Ankles and few months back (see pics here) which was my introduction to their dark, noisey, synthy ways. I loved their live set and have been exploring their recorded catalog since while I anxiously awaiting their return to NYC.
Rat Chasm– Baby. This is a live recording that is a little rough but that’s no matter because it showcases the strength this band has and I’ve been loving this raw slice of chaos from these Chicago noise punks.
Regret– S/T. D-beat hardcore from Hong Kong, this EP is tough as nails. Complete with warp speed tempos, chugging breakdowns, and duel vocals. This is the band’s debut release, it packs a strong, political punch and I’m ready for more.
Beeyotch– Right Behind You. This albumi s like the party at Debbie Harry’s Lower East Side apartment you wish you got invited to in 1979. Equal parts New Wave and Art Punk with a touch of Nico whimsy, this record somehow feels both extremely NYC retro and Brooklyn current at the same time. But it also feels like 10 years ago. And it’s probably what I’m listening to right now and 5 years from now. It’s timeless, Beeyotch.
Frida Kill– EP 1. I know this EP and this band are a favorite of this blog, but I wanted a chance to add to their praises. DIY feminist punk in the truest way, it deftly rotates it’s cast’s roles to seamlessly tell a story we all need to hear. Lo-fi but splashed in polish, it harkens back to a sound employed by bands like X over 40 years ago, but feels extremely current. Frida Kill expertly weaves infectious pop hooks into a bed of dark sonic tension, and their clever lyrics also strike a similar balance. The EP feels like hanging out and chatting with your friends, because we all have someone in our life that is Frida Kill. In this dude’s humble opinion, we need more bands like Frida Kill to tell all the different women’s stories today, not just in NYC but everywhere.
Nick AD- Contributing Writer
Adiós Amores– Sus Mejores Canciones. Surf, psych, lounge, and flamenco converge on this infectious record from this duo out of Seville, Spain.
The French Tips– All the Rage. Run—do not walk, do not pass Go—to preorder the latest from this phenomenal Boise quartet. Due out next week, the 4 singles have been incredible: dark, hazy, loud, dynamic, just fuckin’ good.
The Klittens– Citrus.Very catchy indie, pop, punk out of The Netherlands.
The Surfrajettes– Roller Fink. Long-awaited long-player from one of the best surf outfits around right now. Half super cool originals, half rad covers, a perfect instrumental party record if you dig the surf rock.
The Veldt– Electric Revolution (Rhythm & Drone). Hell yeah! New Veldt! These longtime shoegazers sound good and fresh as ever.
Western gothic indie rockers, Murder By Death, have announced their upcoming ninth studio album, Spell/Bound, and told us via a press release they have “taken their largest leap forward into lavish, spaced-out territory only hinted at on previous records,” and that they found inspiration in new and seemingly unlikely places. Frontman Adam Turla said this of the record: “Sonically, the direction we explored was more in the vein of almost trip-hop, like Massive Attack and Portishead, where we were trying to lean into a vibe that was chill but dark. We wanted it to be a record that was lush but not necessarily a wall of sound.”
I first became acquainted with their music all the way back in 2003 when I saw them play at Maxwell’s and picked up their split EP with Volta Do Mar, Kondrad Friedrich Wilhelm Zimmer, and I’ve enjoyed seeing all of the musical twists and turns this band has taken over their lengthy career, indeed building an entire universe all their own along the way.
The band has also announced a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the self release of the album, which is due out on July 29th. Rewards for backers include limited edition shirts and lyric comic books, tickets to shows, test pressings and even a one year subscription to get hand made pottery by cellist Sarah Balliet.
To support the album, MBD will embark on a North American tour to kick off the day after the album release, and that will hit NYC on August 19th at Knockdown Center. See below for full tour itinerary.
7/30 – Pelham, TN – The Caverns
8/5 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
8/6 – Dallas, TX – Amplified Live
8/7 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s
8/9 – Kansas City, MO – Lemonade Park
8/10 – St. Louis, MO – Red Flag
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
8/13 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
8/14 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
8/15 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Beer Garden
8/16 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
8/18 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
8/19 – Queens, NY – Knockdown Center
8/20 – Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head
8/22 – Asheville, NC – Salvage Station
8/27 – Denver, CO – Odgen Theatre
8/29 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
8/31 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
9/1 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
9/2 – Los Angeles, CA – Belasco
9/3 – Special Southern California Show Coming Soon!
9/4 – Berkeley, CA – The UC Theatre
9/8 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
9/9 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
9/10 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
9/11 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile EARLY SHOW END OF TOUR PARTY!
Feminist post punk garage quartet and FTA faves, Frida Kill, have released a brand new music video for their super catchy song “Mujeres Con Mango.” The video arrives ahead of the release of their first tape, EP1, due out 4/15 on Insecurity Hits.
Sung by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, Maria Lina, she had this to say about the lyrics: “‘Murejes Con Mangos’ was fueled when reports of undocumented workers were being arrested for selling Churros in the NYC and of a memory I have of passing by an old family friend Margerita (who sells Mangos all year round on Knickerbocker Ave) who was getting a ticket by the cops in the bitter freezing cold for selling mangos. She was very upset but did not back down. I stood with her for a while, bought some mangos and gave her some money and a hug. I feel like a lot of the time these people that provide fresh fruits, treats and ice cream for us on the streets go unseen. They spend time preparing these small things to make money to pay their rent, send their kids to school, send money abroad to their families just like everyone else. They get up everyday and go to work outside in the heat, in the freezing cold, harmless and out of the way and still, the system finds a way to criminalize them. I wanted to write a song for them, give them a voice, I want people who have never thought about them to be kind, have empathy and see them when they pass them. I want people to appreciate them. I want people to help in anyway way can and I hope the message gets across with my song. I have my mother to thank for always instilling empathy to my siblings and I. She opens her doors to anyone and is extremely helpful in her community.”
The video was directed by artist Holly Overton who matched the band’s vision for the song, saying: “I wanted to communicate the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the content behind the lyrics while empowering the band’s sexy and energetic star power at live shows. Each band member has a solo scene in “a day in the life” in gentrified Bushwick, with the intimacy of narrative short film, influenced by Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1963). These realism scenes are interrupted by performance footage shot by Tasha Lutek in what we termed “the red room.” As an untouchable fantasy realm of women performing music, the aesthetics of the “red room” footage were inspired by the car show dance scenes in Julia Ducournau’s film Titane (2021)”
Hello and welcome to FTA’s list of what we are excited for this Bandcamp Friday, aka every music nerds favorite day! A bunch of us weighed in on what we’ve been into lately and we’ve got lots of goodies old and new. But don’t take our word for it, dive into these tracks/albums and judge for yourself. Feel free to let us know what you think and tell us your suggestions!
Kate Hoos- Editor In Chief
F. Emasculata– Hail Mulder. The latest from one of my faves, the UK’s premier X Files themed hardcore band, F. Emasculata. My favorite track is the closer, “Foxglove,” which is about one of the all time best X Files episodes ever aka also the one where Eve 6 got their name from. The riffs are heavy, the screams are severe, and the truth is out there.
Hot Flakes– Hot Takes. I was TMing for Nick’s band on a weekend run recently when we met someone in the parking lot of a DIY space in Pennsylvania (The Building which is doing great things) who said he was in a noise rock duo, bass and drums, which immediately piqued my interest. He gave us a tape and it was exactly the music I love — loud, noisy, full of giant distorted bass and leaning heavily into the psych side of things. Hope to see these guys up in NYC sometime soon.
Nekra– Royal Disruptor. Released at the end of 2020, I instantly fell in love with this EP, a healing salve of riffs and rage at the end of a really fucking hard year. Their Bandcamp page describes it as “five tracks and no mercy” and sometimes no mercy is exactly what you need.
Rebelmatic– Walk on Water. The first single from Mourning Dove, the latest EP from one of the hardest working bands in the NYC punk and hardcore scene. They almost single handedly kept DIY alive in 2020 by hosting a series of outdoor popup shows and gave punks a place to gather and be with our community when it often felt like we had nowhere else to go. Featuring four incredible and hard hitting tracks, and also featuring a guest appearance from Angelo Moore of Fishbone, I’m already predicting the future that this will be on my list of favorites of 2022.
Gareth Quinn Redmond– Oscailte. For ambient fans, check out the beautiful full length release from Ireland’s Gareth Quinn Redmond.
Just Mustard– Hailing from Dundalk, Ireland they’re opening for Fontaines DC on their current tour and have an upcoming release, Heart Under.
Karate– S/T. They are back on tour after 17 years with vinyl reissues of their classic album.
Mike Borchardt- Live Correspondent
Dead Tooth– Pig Pile. Dead Tooth’s “Pig Pile” is visceral experience that feels sonically frantic yet precisely controlled at the same time. This record does everything right. It gives me everything I want and everything I don’t, making it impossible for me to have a favorite song, but quite possibly setting it up as early contender for one of my favorite records of 2022.
My Son The Doctor– Taste Those Dreams. This came out end of 2021, but the EP still feels fresh every time you push play. With layers of melodies that take you in unexpected directions, but somehow feel satisfyingly familiar at the same time, MSTD is one of the coolest new projects coming out of Brooklyn right now. The lyrics are witty and heartfelt in a way that is unique and playful. I can’t help but be reminded of Promise Ring’s Very Emergency which in my opinion is one of the best pop records of the past 25 years. Something tells me My Son the Doctor doesn’t listen to Promise Ring like that, which makes the parallel even cooler.
Nick AD- Contributing Writer
IVY SOLE– candid.Philly rapper/singer/songwriter out with a bangin’ full length after a year of single releases. Ivy’s range of talents on full display at long last.
KEVIN– Aftermath.Spooky Japanese psych with a hilarious band name.
Maneka– Dark Matters. The fantastic follow-up to 2019’s Devin. Devin McKnight’s distinctive voice is the star here, as he offers up his similarly distinct perspective on being a Black man in the world. Indie rock with an 80s goth feel, with jazz interludes and featuring always superb Jordyn Blakely on drums and some backup vox.
sensoren– idiot brain. Catchy synth experimentation with 80s video game soundtrack feel alongside more ominous goth sounds. A groover!
Who doesn’t love a great cover song? I know I for sure do, and I have also loved playing in various cover bands for fun over the last several years with my friends in between our regular bands. We generally only come out to play twice a year, or for special benefit shows, but they are always my favorite times, “punks pretending to be other punks and otherwise;” it always feels like a holiday. Over the years I’ve played guitar in bands like “Bikini Kill,” “Minor Threat,” and “Hole,” as well as drums in “Black Flag,” and more, most recently drumming in “Babes In Toyland.”
Being that FTA is hosting our first showcase this week and it’s a cover show, I figured why not make a list of some of my favorite covers? My favorites are usually the ones that change things up and flip the script, but I can also say that I love a good old fashioned nostalgia fest with a straight ahead cover too; you really can’t go wrong either way. For this list I also invited two of my cover band cohorts who have played with me in a Hole cover band on and off for almost eight years now, and who you may also know as FTA contributing writers Chantal and Rebecca. We each dished on some of our favorite covers so take a read and a listen to some real gems!
Bat For Lashes– I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen). Natasha Khan does change the lyrics to fit her perspective, but it works well on this cover of an already sexy Springsteen song, digging down to find an even sultrier angle — dare I say creepy? [CW]
Blondie– Hangin’ On The Telephone (The Nerves). This is one of those songs I didn’t realize was a cover for a long time. I love Debbie Harry’s delightfully punchy delivery of the lyrics in this song that only clocks in at 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Originally written by Jack Lee of the Nerves and recorded in 1976, the song didn’t get much attention until Blondie recorded it and released it on their hugely successful album Parallel Lines in 1978. [RD]
Cassettes Won’t Listen– The Freed Pig (Sebadoh).This is without a doubt one of my favorite covers and one of the reasons why I like covers that don’t sound like the original. I found it in the mp3 blogosphere some 15 years ago and fell in love with it instantly because up til that point, I had never heard an electro artist covering a rock band so it pretty much floored me at the time (and I also love LOVE Sebadoh). Then over the years, it got lost in the ether of random hard drives and dead iPods and changing computers several times. I searched for it on streamers to no avail and considered it a fond memory that would live only the recesses of my mind.
Flash forward to last week when I mentioned it in passing to Chantal when discussing putting this list together and she, being a more computer savvy person than I am, found it within moments. It turns out it was posted to Stereogum in December 2007 and as luck would have it, the link was still active and I was once again re-united with the cover that changed it all for me. I love that CWL was able to take a straight up indie punk song and turn it into an electro bop with a bass heavy groove, making it his own in the process. This is something that now doesn’t seem all that outlandish, but in 2007, certainly blew my mind. I’m very happy to finally be able to listen to this whenever I want again after so many years. As a bonus, I’ve also included The Breeders take on the original song which is to keep it at as a straight ahead rocker, just with an amped up tempo. Both great interpretations that I absolutely love. [KH]
Cat Power– Sea of Love (Phil Phillips and The Twilights). Cat Power’s rendition came out on The Covers Record in 2000 and was on the Juno soundtrack in 2007 where it gained wider recognition. Chan Marshall’s accompanies her intimate vocals by strumming an autoharp, giving it a spare, stripped-down sound. My bandmate in Fisty, Lola Johnson, played guitar and sang this song at my beach wedding which seemed so fitting. Thanks, Lola! The original was written and recorded by Phil Phillips and the Twilights in 1959. It reached number one on the R&B charts, number two on the Billboard top 100, and was awarded a gold disc. In 1989, it was featured in the movie Sea of Love starring Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin. [RD]
The Dandy Warhols– The Wreck (Gordon Lightfoot). (Note: not the acoustic version from 2004, but the nine-minute version from their original 1996 demo The Black Album.) While stripped down lyrically, this stark, noisy take on Gordon Lightfoot’s classic “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” is poignant and haunting, cold as the ice-water mansions of Superior herself. [CW]
Dinosaur Jr– Just Like Heaven (The Cure). Okay, here’s one of my faves. Dinosaur Jr starts out the song all bouncy, happy, and grungy, but then—but then—on the second chorus are these harsh and hardcore backing vocals and distorted guitar. Even in this onslaught, frontman J Mascis continues to croon in his nerdy voice and then takes it to a very spirited bridge with his signature guitar playing. The original was released in 1987 by beloved goth rockers the Cure and you can find me singing it very badly at karaoke. [RD]
The Dismemberment Plan– Crush (Jennifer Paige). For their split EP with Juno, the Plan tackled this one hit wonder from Jennifer Paige, turning it from a fun 90’s bop into a quiet, almost apathetic protest. ‘It’s just a little crush…’ Who is Travis Morrison trying to convince, the kiss-blower or himself? [CW]
Filth Is Eternal– Kool Thing (Sonic Youth). These hardcore punks have taken Sonic Youth’s noisy indie rock anthem/infamous dis track to LL Cool J to a raging and metallic place. Vocalist Lisa Mungo at first seems to give a delivery that will match more with Kim Gordon’s original subdued, blasé vocal performance before quickly putting that to rest and screaming most of the rest of the lyrics. This version is shorter, half the length of the original, as the tempo is faster (it is hardcore after all) and they forgo the break down and unfortunately the Chuck D. guest appearance. And let me tell you, I love the original, but this is a really powerful take on the song—hearing “I DON’T WANNA, I DON’T THINK SO”screamed with such force and rage is EXACTLY what I need on any given day living in NYC and navigating this world as a queer woman. [KH]
Fountains of Wayne– Baby One More Time (Britney Spears). What is it about 90’s teen music that makes it so fun to cover? Adam Schlesinger (RIP) and Chris Collingwood put their pop sensibilities to work on showcasing the melodies on this Britney classic, revealing how it’s actually very good. [CW]
Fun People– 15 Minutos Con Vos. (The Smiths). Something about this more upbeat version of The Smith’s “Reel Around the Fountain” always has me dancing. Fun People (a genre-spanning punk band from Argentina) improve greatly on the original — I don’t like Morrisey’s voice, ok? [CW]
Galaxie 500– Listen, the Snow is Falling (Yoko Ono). I first heard this song in college on Galaxie 500’s 1990 album This is Our Music. Sung by bassist Naomi Yang in clear, bell-like tones, the track is quiet with lots of extra percussive touches to make it actually sound like snow is falling. When it hits the bridge, the band kicks in and lets loose with a long, meandering guitar solo. The original was written and sung by Yoko Ono with Ono Plastic Band and was on the B-side of John Lennon’s 1971 single “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Ono had recorded an earlier version in 1968 and calls it the first pop song she ever wrote. [RD]
Hole– It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan). – There are a lot of great Dylan covers out there. This one, from Hole’s Celebrity Skin era (it came as a B-side to “Malibu”) has some gorgeous, shimmery guitar work and driving percussion under Courtney’s aggressive vocals, which work surprisingly well in place of Bob. [CW]
Hole- You Know You’re Right (Nirvana). Hole’s MTV Unplugged performance was taped on Valentine’s Day 1995, later airing on 4/17/95, the day after my 14th birthday. Suffice it to say, it was an exciting day for me, but the full weight of the significance wouldn’t hit me til after I was in my 30s. During the performance, the band played a song that MTV billed as “You’ve Got No Right,” and which Courtney Love introduced as “the last song Kurt wrote.” At the time, no one knew what they where hearing and I certainly didn’t realize what a remarkable thing it was at the time either. We didn’t get to feel the full gravity of it until 2002, after the legal battle to release “You Know You’re Right,” the last song Nirvana recorded, and the song came out to the world. About 10-12 years after that, long after my beat up VHS copy of Hole’s set was gone, I going thru YouTube and it came up and it was only then that it dawned on me what I had heard all those years before; I can honestly say I was startled.
At the end of their performance Love says “that wasn’t a very good version” but I beg to differ. She was treated horribly in the aftermath of her husband’s death and it’s clear it was an emotional and painful thing for her to perform. (And also remember, not just Courtney was grieving here, guitarist Eric Erlandson and drummer Patty Schemel were close friends of Cobain too.) And it was a risky one too given the scorn the media and Nirvana fans were heaping onto her at that time, all of whom had been despicable to her, claiming she stole his music anyway (or rather that he wrote all her music, a cruel and misogynist farce) so performing one of his songs that they had never heard before or even knew existed was just more fuel for their fire. (Read our 30th anniversary piece on Pretty On The Inside for more on this.) And sure, Hole’s version isn’t perfect or polished. It’s raw, but it is pure and it is haunting, the addition of harp and cello alongside Love’s uncharacteristically (mostly) restrained voice really nailing the emotion.
Whether because of the chyron error at the time of the original airing or more likely through the sexist media narrative that has continued to follow Love, this version isn’t more widely known and I’ve found only the most diehard Hole fans know of its existence. Which really is a shame because it’s a stirring version that deserves more recognition. [KH]
Julien Baker– Fell On Black Days (Soundgarden). If there’s someone who can take an already harrowing song and make it purely d e v a s t a t i n g, it’s Julien Baker. She manages to tap into the emotions of the song, while simultaneously tearing apart the musical framework of a heavy hard rock song and full band arrangement, turning it into a quiet solo acoustic contemplation with beautiful finger picked guitar work. Also impressive is taking it from Chris Cornell’s rich, deep vocal delivery to her own range, an obviously significantly higher soprano, without breaking a sweat.
This ticked a lot of boxes for me as I love Baker’s body of work, and while admittedly I’m a bit more of a casual Soundgarden fan, I will always love Superunknown. I had just become a teenager when it came out in 1994, so there’s plenty of the nostalgia factor of thinking back to the time when I was discovering and falling in love with rock music, a time that has gone on to shape the entirety of my life. Baker’s version was performed for KEXP as part of their “Live At Home” series in 2021 and as such was never released as a single, but I have listened many times to the video on YouTube. And though she has done a number of impressive covers (looking specifically at her Jawbreaker and Death Cab covers here), I find this one to be among her best. [KH]
Laura Barrett– Smells Like Nirvana (Weird Al). Not just a cover, but a cover of a parody. Using a kalimba to play Weird Al’s take on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is an inspired move, and one I’m not sure anyone but Barrett could pull off. [CW]
Shirley Bassey– Light My Fire (The Doors). Bassey takes the organ heavy, hazy psychedelic jam along with Jim Morrison’s rich baritone and brushes that all aside to bring us an absolutely gigantic and over the top arrangement (which is not a bad thing in the least) complete with a huge horn section, strings, slinky bass and some of the best funk drums of the 1970s (if anyone knows who the drummer on this recording is, please comment). Her voice goes through many moods throughout her take, smooth and silky, reaching a commanding crescendo and taking the main focus even in the midst of at least 20 other instruments. Try not to get up out of your chair to dance and groove to this take on the Doors classic. Go ahead, I dare you.
(Bonus non music reason for including this one: Bassey is Welsh and FTA has strong and loving ties to Wales, our webmaster Jenifun taking care of us from across the Atlantic from her home in Newport just outside of Cardiff.) [KH]
Smashing Pumpkins– Dancing In The Moonlight (Thin Lizzy). No, not the one by King Harvest, the one by Thin Lizzy, one of the greatest bands of all time. The Pumpkins slow down the tempo and make wonderful use of Corgan’s plaintive voice to bring out a softer side of this 70’s classic. [CW]
Snail Mail– The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl In the World (Courtney Love). I know what you’re thinking but no, it’s not that Courtney Love, but rather this Courtney Love, the delightful lo-fi twee band made up of Lois Maffeo and Pat Maley of Yoyo A Go Go. (And yes, they were named after that Courtney Love.) The original was released on a 7inch in 1990 on K Records and came into my possession around 1995ish and it has remained with me ever since, one of my favorite records of all time.
I have yet to meet anyone else who has ever heard of this project so I was very much taken aback the first time I heard Snail Mail’s version thinking to myself “wow someone actually knows about this song?!” Lindsey Jordan doesn’t radically change the song arrangement wise, but her version is definitely punchier than the original and I enjoy her lower vocal range more than Maffeo’s delivery. The addition of bass and heavier drumming really brings it home too. You can look up the originals for all the rest of these songs but I love this one too much to not share both. (Fun Bonus Fact: I have the K Records logo tattooed on my wrist.) [KH]
Snapped Ankles– Give Me The Cure (Fugazi). Fugazi’s music is one of the few things I hold to be sacred in this world and a band I love more than most any other, so if someone is going to cover them, it’s got to be really fucking good to pass muster with me. When I saw that Snapped Ankles, who I also love, had covered them I was immediately intrigued and they managed to create by far one of the most radical re-interpretations of any song I’ve ever heard. While many ardent Fugazi (aka “purist”) fans likely won’t find this particular take to be their cup of tea, these forest dwelling synth post punks hit a real nerve in me with this one. Their version of “Give Me The Cure,” came out last October on a comp called Silence Is A Dangerous Sound on Ripcord Records and it is a drastic reworking of the track from the seminal 13 Songs. I highly recommend the rest of the comp as well, as it is packed full of artists doing their own takes on the legendary band, but this was a major stand out for me. [KH]
Tracy Thorn and Jens Lekman– Yeah! Oh Yeah!. – Score! 20 Years Of Merge Records: The Covers! has a lot of good stuff, including The Mountain Goats’ take on East River Pipe’s “Drug Life,” but Thorn and Lekman’s almost tender cover of this Magnetic Fields murder fantasy is my favorite (and not only because my vocal range is much closer to Thorn’s than the original and I have delusions of performing it live.) [CW]
Undercover SKA– March Slob (Tchaikovsky). I had a pretty big ska phase as a kid, I mean I did grow up in NJ and started going to shows in the late 90s after all. I was also a marching and concert band kid and as such I was around lots of brass instruments anyway so it all just kind of worked. Through being in the concert band, “March Slave” was one of the first pieces of classical music I was exposed to and performed and remains my favorite to this day. Undercover Ska took the bombastic and emotional rallying cry to an irreverent danceable tune, the cheek obvious from the re-title, also a win for the teenage me who had no manners and even less couth. I never heard anything else by this band but every so often I listen to this one on YouTube for a smile and stroll down memory lane. [KH]
Veruca Salt– Bodies (Sex Pistols). “I’m not an animal, it’s an abortion” sounds different coming from Nina Gordon rather than Johnny Rotten, that’s for sure. This B-side to “Number One Blind” starts off as one of the band’s slower tunes, and builds to something powerful. [CW]
Wet Leg– Material Girl (Madonna). I know I said something similar about Fugazi, but I hold Madonna — and particularly her 1980s output— in a similar regard; thou shalt not take the name of the Material Girl in vain in my presence. (I know those two artists are on vastly different ends of the spectrum but what can I say? We all contain multitudes! I’ve also long dreamed of doing a punk Madonna cover band if there are any takers out there.) We’ve also established I love a cover that tears the original apart, and for their version of the 80s anthem to excess, Wet Leg has done just that, easily nailing it and making it something entirely new. They more or less preserve the vocal melody (with some minor alterations) while musically taking the song from a new wave bop with an infectious synth bass line and a steady driving beat to a dark wave feel — the bass now dirgey instead of bouncy, with off kilter drums paired with shimmery shoegazey guitar. And I don’t know about anyone else, but that really works for me. Brb going to listen to the Immaculate Collection on repeat while I wait for Wet Leg’s debut album to arrive next week… [KH]
Willie Nelson– Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper). It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me that Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, released in 1983, was the first album I ever owned (on cassette, of course). I can’t remember the first time I heard Willie Nelson covering it, but his warm, weathered voice and folksy delivery get me time after time. I also love the bright tones of the mandolin and the sweeping violin that come in to accompany Willie’s trusty guitar Trigger. This song was on The Great Divide released in 2002 which was Willie’s fiftieth studio album. So stoners can get shit done. [RD]
The Young Professionals– Video Games. (Lana Del Rey). A club-ready take on Lana Del Rey’s breakout hit, this one transcends mere remixes to offer a summer banger well worth blasting from your car (or moped.) Singer Ivri Lider pulls one of my favorite cover tricks and doesn’t change the lyrics to suit gender norms, giving us a queer version of this slow-burn turned anthem. [CW]