Once again, we find ourselves at the time of year that everyone loves: An Under Cover Weekend, that magical pair of nights when some fine local artists in St. Louis put aside their own works to pay tribute to their idols.
Here is a small sample featuring some of the legends that will be covered at AUCW 6 (either the legend doing a cover, or another artist paying tribute to the legend), and a teaser for what we can expect to find at the Firebird on September 7 and 8. Check out the full lineup.
Depeche Mode covering “So Cruel” by U2
U2 started out as a rock band and embraced electronic music as time went on. The opposite holds true for Depeche Mode. The universal truth that good music remains good music when played by good musicians is proven in this track, where Depeche Mode takes “So Cruel” and transforms it from a soulful, up-tempo ballad into a synth-driven, droning meditation on love without losing any of the original feeling.
U2 covering Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”
Speaking of U2, they’ve been known to throw an occasional nod to the artists that came before them as well. Here is a clip of Bono and the crew covering the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me.” Please note that this video is from 1987, way before Bono traded in his ridiculous hairdo for the ridiculous glasses.
The Killers covering “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits
To be honest, I have not heard much of the Killers’ discography. My first and only encounter with their music was when “Human” was released and I was diagnosed with PTSD triggered by hearing it. That being said, I may have to find a therapist that specializes in irrational hatred in order to test the waters after hearing this cover of one of my favorite Dire Straits tracks. Brandon Flowers does a fine job of evoking Mark Knopfler’s mournful mumble in this excellent recreation of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Beck covering “I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingos
Beck straddles the line between the bizarre and the unknown with his musical output and hasn’t released a single track that hasn’t been given a heaping helping of tender-loving care. When he decides to cover a classic, he pays the same attention to detail. Check out this cover of “I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingos. I think Beck spent about a week finding the perfect combination of echo and reverb to recreate the overall tone of the original.
PJ Harvey and Björk covering “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones
Polly Jean has always been known for her harder edge, much like the Rolling Stones before her. Here is some video footage of Ms. Harvey covering “Satisfaction” with Björk at her side. In case you aren’t able to recognize her unless she’s dressed up like a kindergarten art project, swan or something that Walt Disney threw up on, Björk is the one playing the keys.
Oasis covering Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize”
There is no doubt that some of you will recognize this track as mid-’80s MTV staple “Cum On Feel the Noize,” as performed by Quiet Riot. That track itself was a cover of a song originally performed by Slade, a British band that was part of a new wave of British heavy metal that swept the world in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Here the Gallagher brothers show off their love of British metal, whether they’re singing it or beating each other over the head with folding chairs made of it.
Aerosmith covering the Beatles’ “I’m Down”
Aerosmith is well known for its cover of the Beatles’ hit “Come Together,” but rather than take the easy way out I decided to plumb the depths of YouTube to find something else. After several minutes of mouse clicks, I managed to find something worth posting. Here is Steven Tyler doing a damn impressive imitation of Paul McCartney in “I’m Down,” one of the Beatles’ earlier tracks.
Michael Jackson covering Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin”
Michael Jackson is one of those artists that other people cover, but he doesn’t do much covering of his own. I did manage to find MJ and his siblings covering the Bobby Day oldie “Rockin’ Robin,” which is always a fun tune. In case you were expecting older Michael, here he is doing a cover of the late, great James Brown.
ABBA covering “Pick a Bale of Cotton,” “On Top of Old Smokey”, and “Midnight Special”
ABBA seems to be another one of those groups with a prolific discography that gets covered by bands from every genre but never has covered anyone else. That is not a correct assumption, however, as they recorded a single track for a German charity album in 1975. If you couldn’t consider your life complete without hearing Anni-Frid and Agnetha singing traditional American folk songs, you can now die happy after hearing them belt out this bizarre medley.
Neil Young covering Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me”
Neil Young chooses his covers carefully, and this pick was not a difficult one for me. Taking up residence on the first track of the second side of “After the Gold Rush” is Young’s take on the Don Gibson classic “Oh Lonesome Me.” Young’s voice is full of the sorrow that can only be produced by a lonely heart in this one.
Simon and Garfunkel covering Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game”
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had a wealth of original songs and usually stuck to their own material. On “Wednesday, 3 A.M.” they did cover “Blues Run the Game” which was written by Jackson C. Frank. I was either going to choose this track or their version of the Cyrkle hit “Red Rubber Ball,” but I wasn’t sure if a songwriter singing a song he co-wrote but never recorded really counted as a cover.
I wasn’t surprised at the utter disappointment many media outlets expressed when the much hyped August 7 finally arrived revealing, not a tour announcement, but rather the release of a music video for “Hell Broke Luce,” the battle march from 2011′s “Bad As Me” by Tom Waits.
But what does “live up to the hype” even mean?
I like the idea of an artist sending cryptic messages of pirates and sharks to media outlets, regardless of the big reveal.
The video, directed by Matt Mahurin, brilliantly matches the aggressive song with the lingering, surrealist imagery of Waits marching through a battlefield, pulling a house by rope.
Advisory: this video contains profanity and awesomeness.
With My Morning Jacket visiting St. Louis with Band of Horses, I thought it was a good time to put together my top 10 favorite My Morning Jacket songs. Bring your headphones and get ready to rock for the band’s show at the Peabody on August 8.
10. “Librarian” (“Evil Urges,” 2008) – A beautiful song. “Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me.” Oh, and James uses the term “interweb” in a song. How could this not be on the list?
9. “Xmas Curtain” (“At Dawn,” 2001) – I certainly don’t think of this when December 25 rolls around, but it’s a beautiful and haunting song. Great for the other 364 days each year.
8. “Lowdown” (“At Dawn,” 2001) – It’s difficult for me to make a top 10 MMJ songs without including several from this album. A great song about convincing her that you won’t hurt her like she’s been hurt in her past relationships. “So, love dawg, can’t you see? That you only have to dance with me …”
7. “Dancefloors” (“It Still Moves,” 2003) – A road song. But what makes this song wonderful is the mix of styles. From the honky-tonk piano to the ’70s/’80s southern-rock sound to the slow bass line into the horns. This song has more lives than a litter of kittens.
6. “Gideon” (“Z,” 2005) – “Truly, truly we have become / Hated and feared for something that we don’t want / Listen, listen. Most of us believe that this is wrong.” I have to believe this song refers in some way to the Iraq War and James’ stand against it. Regardless, a great song.
Pretty Little Empire is a force in the St. Louis music scene. The affable quartet’s sophomore release “Reasons and Rooms” was one of the best locally-produced records of 2010, and their inspired, rock-solid live sets have only been getting better over time, with no bound in sight.
The band is currently hard at work on LP number three, with recording taking place at Cherokee Street’s Native Sound studio. While we wait to hear what they’re cooking up, perched at the edge of the seat, they have been kind enough to temper our thirst by releasing a video for their non-album cut “All I Know.” The song has been a staple of their live shows and was released in 2011 on the “STL LOUD Vol. 2″ compilation.
This burning, mysterious track is a keeper, and it gets proper visual treatment thanks to a few of the band’s talented friends. I recommend that you experience it with headphones on, video set to full screen.
Thursday Morning Music News: Record Store Day preps for Black Friday, Loretta Lynn recovers and Leonard Cohen comes up with ‘Old Ideas’
Extreme alcohol poisoning took the life of Amy Winehouse.
It’s been seven years since Leonard Cohen released an album of new material. “Old Ideas” ensures it won’t be eight.
Watch the trailer for the Andrew Bird documentary.
Clear Channel goes on a layoff binge.
Is the 1% really that into the Stone Roses? Only eBay knows: Tickets for the band’s reunion have crossed the million pound rubicon.
In other reunion news: The Scud Mountain Boys are playing together again after 14 years.
Consequence of Sound gathers up some excellent footage from the Bridge School Benefits, in honor of the charity’s 25th anniversary.
NPR asks a question it’s well-positioned to answer: Has indie rock become adult contemporary?
A bunch of St. Louis bands are doing a Guided Boy Voices tribute.
Loretta Lynn has been released from a hospital in Kentucky after a pretty scary case of pneumonia.
Ryan Wasoba at RFT Music counts down the six best drum fills.
Get the scoop on Record Story Day Black Friday releases.
Rolling Stone shares a spooky, new Decemberists track.
Ted Leo joins cover punks TV Casualty for an EP of Misfits songs.
Johnny Depp jams with Billy Gibbons and Bill Carter in Austin.
Prefix shares a previously unreleased track from the forthcoming “Some Girls” reissue.
It’s a battle of the hair bands as former members of Kid Rocker sue Poison for ripping them off.
PopMatters scores an interview with legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.
Spin streams the new Christmas album by Scott Weiland.
Country boy (really) Lionel Richie says hello to twang with forthcoming album of duets.
Barry Feinstein, one of rock music’s most brilliant photographers, has passed away.
Nada Surf will kick off 2012 with a new album.
Hear two songs from the forthcoming Mazzy Star album.
Nostalgia for the ’90s knows no bounds: The Lemonheads have expanded their US tour, with a date in St. Louis on January 28. They’ll be playing all of “It’s a Shame About Ray.”
And in final Halloween-related news:
Thursday Morning Music News: The Cranberries plant ‘Roses,’ Skrillex meets the Doors, and Kanye and Tom Morello occupy different streets
What do Jarvis Cocker and T.S. Eliot have in common? Editorial positions at Faber & Faber.
Behold the lineup for Moogfest 2011.
RIP Mikey Welsh, bassist for Weezer.
Experience the epic train wreck of LA Weekly attempting to interview Ryan Adams.
Pianist Roger Williams, who performed for no less than nine US presidents, has passed away.
Spotify has notched some 2 million subscribers but it’s a long way from turning a profit.
The Cranberries haven’t released an album in 11 years. Valentine’s Day 2012 will put a stop to that.
Jens Lekman debuted a new song in Chicago. Watch.
Wilco hangs out on a stoop in New York and talks about stuff.
Christmas comes early for Black Keys fans: The Danger Mouse-produced “El Camino” is due out December 6.
Skrillex has hooked up with the surviving members of the Doors.
Pitchfork already had a music festival in Chicago. Now they’ve got one in New York.
Billboard has the scoop on forthcoming Flaming Lips’ Record Store Day release.
NPR is streaming new albums by Future Islands, My Brightest Diamond, Joe Henry and Real Estate.
Paste rates the 20 most underrated bass guitarists.
The New Record (Beta) features free, legal MP3s from a bunch of indie labels.
It’s safe to say that Kanye West will be the only dude to occupy Wall Street in Givenchy.
In contrast, Tom Morello sings “This Land Is Your Land” at #occupyLA. Watch.
NME shares a new track by Kurt Vile.
Jon Brion is set to produce the next Best Coast album.
Tom Petty is still fighting the good fight.
Thursday Morning Music News: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame makes nominations, Roberta Flack covers the Beatles and a pig flies over London
Bob Dylan is in lukewarm water again over questions of plagiarism — this time for his paintings.
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are contemplating music after Clarence.
Guns N’ Roses, the Cure, Eric B. and Rakim, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are all part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees for 2011.
NPR is streaming new releases by Ryan Adams, Zola Jesus, Wilco and DJ Shadow.
Hear “Metals,” the new album by Feist.
Roberta Flack returns with an album of Beatles covers.
Hear “Back in the Crowd,” another song from the forthcoming Tom Waits album.
James Brown may get the bio pic, tribute album and museum he deserves.
Roger Waters joins Foo Fighters on Fallon. Watch.
Jesse Winchester’s fight against cancer takes a turn for the better.
RIP Johnny Wright, husband to Kitty Wells, and country pioneer.
Robert Whitaker, the photographer who shot the notorious “Butcher” album cover for the Beatles, has died.
Facebook and Spotify: A match made to annoy a lot of people.
Billboard takes a look back at 31 chart milestones for R.E.M.’s 31-year career.
Norah Jones’ side project, the Little Willies, readies album of country songs.
Paste tallies 25 one-hit wonders from the ’90s.
Berkeley indie Absolutely Kosher closes up shop.
They Might Be Giants know a thing or two about staying power. With a fun and arty sound the band continues to pull out surprises and memorable pop songs.
Originally a duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, They Might Be Giants has remained a pillar in indie rock over the last three decades. The band has maintained a hefty cult following since the mid-’80s with their nerdy personas and smart songwriting. Eccentricity also largely contributed to the band’s popularity. When the duo first started writing together, they used their original songs on a Dial-a-Song phone line’s answering machine in an attempt to share their music. Odd and memorable videos accompanied the group’s popular songs such as “Don’t Lets Start” and “Ana Ng.”
The band flirted briefly with the mainstream with their early ’90s albums and adopted a full live band. Many devoted fans felt estranged and betrayed that their band appeared on MTV and changed up their less conventional sound. But They Might Be Giants were always a little too quirky to do what’s expected of an alternative band; and that was quite clear when the band began releasing children’s albums such as “Here Comes the 123′s,” “Here Comes the ABC’s” and “Here Comes Science” throughout the last decade.
After creating original music for animated movies and collaborating on children’s books They Might Be Giants return to the adult-oriented rock with 2011′s “Join Us.”
KDHX welcomes They Might Be Giants to the Pageant on Saturday, September 24.
They Might Be Giants: Live at KDHX 10/9/09