Tag Archives: covers

New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy: The Wild Kindness (ft. Cassie Berman)

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy “The Wild Kindness” (ft. Cassie Berman)

Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy "The Wild Kindness (feat. Cassie Berman)" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Ben Berman. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s David Berman week, apparently. Yesterday, we featured the video for a song by a member of what was supposed to be Berman’s touring incarnation of Purple Mountains, and today we have a cover of a Silver Jews classic by his Drag City labelmates and his widow.

Bill Callahan and Will Oldham have been releasing covers of classic tunes throughout the pandemic. My favorite of these has been their version of Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” but this one’s pretty good too.

They recruited an army of singers for it. In addition to Cassie Berman, they’ve also got Elisa Ambrogio, Meg Baird, Ben Chasny, Bill MacKay, Haley Fohr, David Grubbs, Cory Hanson, Emmett Kelly, Matt Kinsey, Sean O’Hagan, David Pajo, Todd Rittmann, Alasdair Roberts, Matt Sweeney, Mick Turner, George Xylouris, Azita Youssefi. That’s like half the Drag City roster!

Callahan says, “The infrastructure of this song should set an example to politicians of all type—everybody sings of wild kindness.”

Not sure it can hold a candle to the original but it was probably cathartic to record and maybe even fun. The video is hilariously silly.

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Christian Lee Hutson: Betty

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Betty”

Christian Lee Hutson - "Betty"

From The Version Suicides, Vol. 1, out now on Anti-.

Christian Lee Hutson’s Beginners was one of my favorite albums of 2020. Taylor Swift’s folklore was another. In a bit of pop culture synchronicity Hutson has just released an e.p. of cover songs, including a version of Swift’s song sung from the point of view of the boy in the love triangle that is explored in a trio of folklore songs along with “Cardigan” and “August.” I can geek out all day on these three songs but I’ll spare you.

“Betty” is my favorite though. It’s the one that sounds most like a real teenager. The other two songs have references to “downtown bars” and bottles of wine, but the narrator of “Betty” talks about homeroom and his skateboard and dances in gyms and it just sounds like a dopey kid who messed up and really, really regrets it.

But if I just showed up at your party
Would you have me? Would you want me?
Would you tell me to go fuck myself
Or lead me to the garden?

In The Long Pond Studio Sessions documentary Swift says something about how she’s written so many songs wishing the boy would apologize and with “Betty” she finally gets her apology. I sincerely hope Betty gives him another chance. He’s only 17, after all. He’s doesn’t know anything.

Hutson plays it straight. He doesn’t amp up the drama but he can’t bury it. On The Version Suicides, Vol. 1 he also covers Abba and Vanessa Carlton. I’m a sucker for acoustic folkie covers of pop songs. Not sure that “Betty” required this re-imagining but it’s not bad. Just not particularly necessary. The original is perfect as it is.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New M. Ward video: Violets For Your Furs

Video: M. Ward – “Violets For Your Furs”

M. Ward - "Violets For Your Furs"

Directed by Holly Andres. From Think Of Spring, out now on Anti-.

M. Ward has always been an interesting interpreter of older material. Solo and as half of She and Him, Ward has sprinkled in covers of classics and standards throughout his career. So it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that he’s doing a tribute to Billie Holiday. It’s a little quirky to cover 1958’s Lady in Satin album in its entirety, but why not?

At the end of her career Holiday wanted to record a “pretty album, something delicate” so she enlisted easy listening bandleader Ray Ellis to arrange songs to match her voice that by this point had been damaged by years of substance abuse. Ward forgoes orchestration altogether and sticks to vocals and guitar. And, not surprisingly, it’s lovely.

He talked to Rolling Stone about what drew him to this album: “I heard Lady in Satin at a shopping mall. I had no idea what it was. Her voice sounded like distorted electric guitar paired with these really beautiful string arrangements. It was like something I’d never heard. The whole experience was kind of like a dream. […] I’ve been arranging these songs for 10 years, recording them for a couple of years. I was experimenting with different tunings to get the songs right for my voice. I was just trying my best to take my favorite elements of Ray Ellis’ arrangements and it took a lot of time.”

Anyone expecting Rod Stewart-style songbook schmaltz will be disappointed.

Proceeds from the album go to PLUS1 for Black Lives.

Continue reading New M. Ward video: Violets For Your Furs

New Jeff Tweedy: Old Country Waltz

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Old Country Waltz” (Neil Young cover)

Jeff Tweedy performing Old Country Waltz in support of the #NIVA Emergency Relief Fund

Live at the beloved Hideout in Chicago in support of the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund.

The Hideout in Chicago is the best bar in the world. I think it would be hard for anybody to argue with that. I mean, it’s perfect. What more could you want in a bar? (Easier access via public transportation, perhaps, but maybe ridesharing apps have rendered that irrelevant?) Anyway…

I’m playing that old country waltz
In this empty hall, bouncin’ off the wall

Looks like this was filmed at the same time as the CBS “Saturday Sessions” that aired back in October when he was promoting Love Is The King. Maybe he still is, since it’ll be available on CD and vinyl this Friday, but the focus of this new video is the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund, a/k/a #saveourstages. Even though the Save Our Stages Act passed Congress as part of COVID-19 Relief bill, it’s going to take months for that funding to make its way into the bank accounts of our beloved clubs and bars. So NIVA is continuing to raise money “to assist the venues at greatest risk of permanently going under.” Help if you can.

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New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy video: Deacon Blues

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Deacon Blues (ft. Bill MacKay)

Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy "Deacon Blues (feat. Bill MacKay)" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Michael Tully. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s easy to hate Steely Dan when you’re an angry young person. The music is slick and perfect and the lyrics are mean and condescending. It sounds so adult. None of that reckless teenage abandon that makes rock and roll fun and exciting.

But you know what eventually changes your perspective? The Cuervo Gold and the fine Colombian…

These days I can’t even imagine not loving the Dan. Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are hilarious, and that’s something I didn’t pick up on when I was a kid. I even respect Michael McDonald now, which is something I never would’ve believed I’d admit. And it’s not some silly ironic enjoyment of “yacht rock.” They sound great. What’s not to love?

Clearly Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy feel the same way. Here, they take on Becker and Fagan’s tale of a suburban loser who wishes he was a hip jazz cat with a cool nickname, and it’s beautiful.

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Callahan’s broken baritone embodies the character of the narrator perfectly. In the original version Fagan makes you smirk at the guy’s chutzpa, but Callahan makes you feel genuinely sorry for him. What more could you ask for?

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New Juliana Hatfield video: Can’t Stand Losing You

Video: Juliana Hatfield – “Can’t Stand Losing You”

Juliana Hatfield - Can't Stand Losing You (Official Video)

Directed by Rachel Lichtman. From Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police, out now on American Laundromat.

This is fun. The video is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the original Police promo clip with Jules playing the parts of Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland. Kinda wish she would’ve donned some big round glasses and a bow tie, but that’s alright.

Like the video, Hatfield’s cover doesn’t veer too far from the Police classic, which didn’t chart here in the States despite being the follow-up single to the Top 40 smash, “Roxanne.” Being a kid in the 1980s, it was mandatory to like the Police whether you were a jock or a punk, a popular kid or a band geek. Everybody liked the Police. Every drummer wanted to be Stewart Copeland. There was a drummer in my high school who even looked like Stewart Copeland! He was definitely the coolest kid in marching band.

Looking back it’s weird to realize how short of a lifespan the band had: basically, from 1979 to 1983. And then poof, like it was all a dream…of a blue turtle (minus the abomination of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86”).

Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police is her second tribute album in two years, following 2018’s collection of Olivia Newton-John hits. In between, she released an album of originals, Weird. Busy busy!

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New Courtney Barnett video: So Long, Marianne

Video: Courtney Barnett – “So Long, Marianne” (MTV Unplugged Live In Melbourne)

Courtney Barnett - So Long, Marianne (MTV Unplugged Live In Melbourne)

From MTV Unplugged (Live In Melbourne), out now on Milk! Records, Marathon Artists and Mom+Pop.

Courtney Barnett is great. Leonard Cohen is great. What’s not to love?

Like many of Cohen’s best songs, “So Long, Marianne” makes longing feel palpable. And Barnett gets to the heart of that.

Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now
Then why do I feel alone?
I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
Is fastening my ankle to a stone.

Marianne, of course, was a real person. Cohen met her on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 after her husband had abandoned her and her infant son. She and Cohen stayed together throughout much of the decade and she inspired many of his songs.

On her deathbed in 2016 Cohen sent her a note that went viral after he died a few months later. “I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand,” he wrote. “I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that.”

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New Eerie Wanda video: Cars and Parties (Edith Frost cover)

Video: Eerie Wanda – “Cars and Parties” [Edith Frost cover]

Eerie Wanda - Cars and Parties [Edith Frost cover] (Official Video)

Single out now on Joyful Noise.

Eerie Wanda is the project of Dutch/Croatian songwriter Marina Tadic. She has released two albums on Joyful Noise and now released a home recorded cover of this classic Edith Frost song of displacement from 2001’s Wonder Wonder.

Everyone I know reminds me
Of someone down in Texas
And every strip mall on the highway
Reminds me of my home

Tadic says, “I discovered her music earlier this year and fell in love with it. I made it together with Adam Harding and Kramer. We hope it brightens your days.”

It definitely does!

Any time someone brings up Edith Frost it brightens our day. It’s been almost 15 years since Frost released her last album, It’s a Game, on Chicago’s Drag City Records. Other than an annual holiday song she hasn’t released much music since then (except for a brief, ill-fated collaboration with noted douchebag David Obuchowski called Distant Correspondent).

Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer. Back in July, Frost suggested that she would be “going to Chicago to record in about 2 months,” but then in October she admitted, “My Chicago plans are delayed, or rather still haven’t gelled, got too many busy people involved.” So cross your fingers and wish her luck in pulling it all together.

It’s very exciting to imagine actually getting a new Edith Frost album!

Eerie Wanda: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Eerie Wanda video: Cars and Parties (Edith Frost cover)

Old Emmylou Harris video: I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

Video: Emmylou Harris – “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” (live in 1970)

From Gliding Bird (Jubilee Records, 1969 or 70).

This Bob Dylan cover was Emmylou’s debut single, released years before she met Gram Parsons. The album, Gliding Bird, came out on Jubilee Records, which folded soon after. Emmylou subsequently “disowned” the album, but these days she links to a reissue on her website. And really, what’s not to like? Sure, it’s juvenilia, but it’s not without its charms. She’s more of a singer than an artist. But hey, she was just a kid.

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New Automne video: Pendant Que Les Champs Brulent

Video: Automne – “Pendant Que Les Champs Brûlent”

🔥 Pendant Que Les Champs Brûlent - Automne 🔥

Single out now on ATPD Records.

Niagara’s “Pendant Que Les Champs Brûlent” was a big single in France in 1990. The duo were offered an American deal, but they refused to record English-language versions of their songs so they never got signed over here. (Note: This is not the same Niagara who sang with Detroit’s Destroy All Monsters.)

Automne’s cover is more upbeat and seems to bring out a bit of playful sixties yé-yé that’s missing from the moodier synthpop original. Can’t you imagine girls in mini dresses frugging to this?

While the fields burn
I am waiting for my tears to come,
And when the field dances
May nothing ever reach me.

The video was shot on an island in the Marne River, southeast of Paris, where the band rehearses. Guitarist Perry Leopard tells me, “The island has no bridges, so we have to take a row boat any time we’re packing up gear to play out of town!”

If you’re curious about that little push-button synth contraption, it’s a Pocket Piano built by Critter and Guitari but no longer available. This is the company that designed the Septavox synthesizer specifically for Third Man Records.

Automne: web, facebook, youtube, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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