Nineteen years ago today fans around the world got news Nirvana's Kurt Cobain had taken his own life in his Seattle home. As the years have passed, fans, peers, and friends of the musician and his pioneering grunge band have paid their respects by covering the band's material. Here now, from Patti Smith to Charles Bradley, are the most unique Nirvana covers by other.
When My Morning Jacket play live, they tend to come off as an elemental force. They play three hours, paradoxically leaving you wanting more and leaving you absolutely spent. MMJ gives everything live, but also requires a lot of you, pulling you through blissed-out calms into twisting, peaking jams and one epically emotive chorus after another. They're live shows become a religious experience, where fans track recordings of each concert, or make pilgrimages cross-country to see MMJ's marathon sets at Bonnaroo, or at Madison Square Garden, or both. A rare feat.
Let's face it: "All My Friends" is a nearly flawless song that could stand alone as the best track from LCD Soundsystem's three studio albums. That fact, however, has not stopped about a thousand different cover versions from hitting the internet, from professionals and common-folk alike. The latest to join this group is the quiet-electronics solo artist Baths, whose cover of the song is featured on The A.V Club's "AV Undercover Series 2." The Baths cover borrows the piano from the original, and not much else, as Will Wiesenfield turns the song into even more of a ballad, filling the sonic spaces that previously housed guitars and drums with silence and drumming-on-legs (courtesy of Dexter Tortoriello from Houses). Not satisfied with just one cover version of "All My Friends"? Here are a couple of the more famous versions, along with the best of the best from YouTube archives.
Any last-minute digital-music shoppers out there are hereby advised that there's a new six-song Vampire Weekend EP up on iTunes today, mostly reprising their own work but including the whimsically bloopy cover of Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down" that surfaced earlier this year. Given that the Boss is capable of being plenty whimsically bloopy himself, this isn't exactly blasphemous -- Ezra Koenig may not sing "I remember back when we started/My kisses used to turn you inside-out" with the same, uh, degree of credibility, but who among us can? Below, an earlier version; just keep these guys away from "I'm on Fire" and we'll be fine.
At long last, Bob Dylan arrives in town tonight, kicking off three days at Terminal 5. The shows are sold out as all hell, of course, though Craigslist doesn't seem too predatory at the moment (think $75-150, or considerably more if you want to go the Stubhub route). And what better way to celebrate the arrival of one oddball auteur genius than with another oddball auteur genius's cover of one of his old songs? Behold, the Atlas Sound's new Bedroom Databank Vol. 1, a free LP's worth of music released to the internet today by Bradford Cox. On it, he becomes the latest to cover Dylan and the Band's old warhorse "This Wheel's On Fire," an illustrious list that also includes (but is by no means limited to) Rod Stewart and Siouxsie and the Banshees:
Reba McEntire's new album, All the Women I Am, features a spirited rendition of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy," which you can hear above, and which got us thinking again about the tricky nature of cross-genre cover songs. McEntire remains true to the song's melody, save the addition of her country twang, but adds spare acoustic plucks and a slide guitar to make it her own. More importantly, the song's questions of gender identity lose no meaning when sung by McEntire, especially on an album about womanhood. In other words, it's not a joke. And that's usually the problem with these things: "The appeal of these experiments, if any, is primarily comedic but while it's funny to hear white people over-enunciate black slang, the gag quickly wears thin," wrote Jonah Weiner at Slate on the subject. So who else has done it right? Well, Beyoncé, for one...
Well this is just delightful. Rockapella, everyone's favorite Carmen Sandiego-locating vocal crew, are evidently still in business, and aim to remain there by covering "relevant" alt. artists like our good friends Vampire Weekend, who sonically traverse the globe in a flippant, maddening manner similar to that of Ms. Sandiego herself. The boys have tackled "A-Punk," and the result makes way more sense than it has any right to. Get a load of this:
I've followed the Onion A.V. Club's "Undercover" series -- they picked 25 songs, and have invited 25 bands to cover them one at a time, so the first band has 25 songs to choose from, and the last has no choice at all -- just to see which tune will suffer the indignity of being the last one remaining. Your contestants are R.E.M.'s "Driver 8," Superchunk's "Detroit Has a Skyline," and Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You," now that the Swell Season has tackled Neutral Milk Hotel as per below; would've picked this one to go way higher. Can't blame the guy for needing a lyric sheet:
Not sure what it says about our level of expectation here that we were actually disappointed by the rendition, but there you go. Those who enjoy John Mayer making jokes about how much he hates getting sand in his stilettos may feel differently. Next time, maybe try "Teenage Dream" instead? [@KatyPerry]