Not since I heard Bloomington, Indiana’s now defunct 16-piece funk outfit Flattus have I heard anything as immediately infectious as Doctorfunk, a band as comfortable dabbling in off-kilter covers as they are breaking fresh ground. I submit for your approval this funkadelic bad-assed restructuring of AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” which is as fitting a summer jam as I’ve heard in years. The jazzy funk backdrop gives the song a fresh new groove, but the vocals stick close enough to the original that this serves as a fitting homage to one of rock’s greatest tracks. For more, check out Second Opinion, the band’s exceptional sophomore album, produced by Jeff Tamalier, who formerly produced or played guitar for Tower of Power, the Strokeland Superband, Cold Blood and others over the years. And follow them on Facebook, you’ll want to definitely keep these guys on your radar screen!
The Railers don’t do anything to this classic Boys II Men track that pushes it into The Gourds’ “Gin and Juice” territory, but they’re still clearly having a lot of fun. Check out the cover below, but then give their original “Good Luck Comin'” in a fantastic live version from Indianapolis’ Rathskeller. They’re a country rock band worthy of a second listen. They’ll be hitting a venue near you over the next month, so give them a shot. Headphones are great, but the live sound’s always preferable.
|3.06||The New Vintage||Louisville, KY|
|3.07||Six Strings||Bloomington, IL|
|3.14||El Dorado Municipal Auditorium||El Dorado, AR|
|3.15||Revolution Music Hall||Little Rock, AR|
|3.16||Knucklehead’s||Kansas City, MO|
|3.27||Hill Country DC||Washington, DC|
|3.28||Hill Country Brooklyn||Brooklyn, NY|
|3.29||Hill Country||New York, NY|
“Hey Mama, Rock Me” — Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel” should make a True Believer out of any Hootie-loving holdouts
I’m already a huge fan of Darius Rucker, whether he’s performing with Hootie and the Blowfish or as a chart-topping country solo songwriter. And though I’m always more interested in originals, this cover he chose to record of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” should convert many who haven’t yet jumped onto his solo bandwagon. The song totally fits where Rucker comes from as a down home South Carolina boy born and bred, and should prime the pump for all the great songs we can expect to reside on True Believer when it comes out later this spring. Hell, Rucker sounds way more comfortable on songs like this than he had on any Hootie single of the last decade.
Even the way he stumbled on the song in the first place has a great feel to it (thanks to The Boot for the great quote!)
“Somebody had played ‘Wagon Wheel’ for me years ago,” Darius explains. “It was one of those things that I didn’t really get. So, I’m at my daughter’s high school talent show, and I’m sitting in the audience with my family. We were watching my daughter, and the faculty band gets up. It’s just the faculty from her school, and they play ‘Wagon Wheel.’ I’m sitting in the audience, and they get to the middle of the chorus, and I turned to my wife, and I go, ‘I’ve got to cut this song.’ I’m serious. This all happened in three-and-a-half minutes, four minutes, while they’re playing the song.
The singer-songwriter knows the tune, written by Bob Dylan, may be a bit of a gamble, but believes it’s worth the risk. “[I texted producer] Frank Rogers, ‘Do you know this ‘Wagon Wheel’ song?'” he recalls. “He’s like, ‘Yeah. It’s by Old Crow Medicine Show. A lot of people have cut it.’ I said, ‘I don’t care! I’m cutting it!’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, dude. We’ll try it. We’ll cut it.’ So I cut it, and it was great after we finished it.”
Anyone else out there excited to hear the rest of True Believer?
So I picked up my copy of Rolling Stone this afternoon from the mailbox, and I see a two star review of Birdy’s self-titled debut, and it was surprisingly scathing considering in the end they seem to merely be accusing her of having taste too refined for her age:
The songs stick to a formula: tolling piano chords, an “atmospheric” beat and Birdy’ s mewling. The result is the most boring music ever recorded bya teenager. No one so young should have such flawless taste in Quality Indie Rock, or sound this bummed out.
Her taste, whatever you think of her choice in covers, is impeccable. Birdy is an album which sticks to a theme, and the choices she makes in the arrangments of others’ songs are definitely interesting. Take her version of The Naked and Famous’s “Young Blood,” which she slows down from its originally dense synth arrangment (a la the likes of The Knife’s “Heartbeats”), accentuating the melody of the song and making room for her exeptional vocals. When she sings “I’ll fall back in love eventually,” it’s hard not to melt between the headphones. She may only be 15 years old and still finding her own voice, but what we find here on her debut bodes well for the future. I’d put her high on the list of artists worthy to follow in Adele’s footsteps in the coming years.
I’ve written before on this blog about how awesome Don Ryan is. But this cover of Queens of the Stone Age’s “This Lullaby” is definitely worth a listen. Then, once you’ve basked in the melodic glory that is Don Ryan meets QOTSA, you can go re-read my feature on his magnificent “This Town,” and run out to buy a copy of Tangle Town, the best album of 2011 that no one’s gotten to hear:
Don Ryan knows he has to win listeners from the very first moments … which makes “This Town” even more impressive, since the smothering sense of doom is present instantly, yet manages to build as the song progresses. “This town is burning down,” he sings, his vocals providing hits of desperate hope even as all the music around him floats like flotsam upon the oily black bilge water below.
This isn’t your dad’s Neil Young, but if this teaser is a true hint of what’s to come with Gitar’s Seen As Unclean later this year, the results should be impressive. Toronto’s Gitar exists to bring eclectic beats into the world of rock and roll, which is certainly a worthy endeavor. On “Hippie Dream” we’re hit immediately by fuzzed out bass and popping synth percussion, as Mikhail Galkin layers his off-kilter vocals into the mix, the entire affair sounding as though it takes place in a world where we’re about half a minute away from succumbing to drowning — though that’s certainly not a terrible effect, once you’ve heard the whole thing and hit repeat a few times.
Hell, it’s a step up in pace from the lugubrious original by Young, which features slowed-down bass oppressive enough to fully suggest the death of the hippie aesthetic. According to the band’s press materials, this is the first time they’ve dared to take on the music of a Canadian legend. The finished product showcases their ability to live up to the challenge, and one hopes this won’t be the last time they throw caution to the wind and reach for something legendary. At the very least they don’t lack for balls.