UNDER COVER: Hoochie Coochie Men – “I’d Rather Go Blind Don’t Let Me Down”

You’ve never heard Etta James or the Beatles like this. I have to give credit where it is due, and the Hoochie Coochie Men drop the mic with finality on this magnificent mash-up of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and John Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down”  which manages to build upon both without sacrificing what made both songs classics in their own right. This is what keeps me writing about music, listening to music, dreaming about music. And it’s going to keep you up late tonight, I guarantee!


UNDER COVER: Doctorfunk’s “Back In Black” the prescription for good times

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!

UNDER COVER: The Railers – “Motown Philly”

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
3.08 Rathskeller Indianapolis, IN
3.14 El Dorado Municipal Auditorium El Dorado, AR
3.15 Revolution Music Hall Little Rock, AR
3.16 Knucklehead’s Kansas City, MO
3.26 TinAngel Philadelphia, PA
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?

UNDER COVER: Hope & Social (featuring She Makes War) – “Dress You Up”

Crypt Covers

Hope & Social and She Makes War (a.k.a. Laura Kidd) come together to collectively say: “Madge who?”

She Makes War’s Little Battles being one of my favorites of the year thus far, I was pleased to hear this great cover come across my desk this afternoon. Laura Kidd teamed up with the band Hope & Social as part of a fan-sourced project to arrange, produce and record a collaborative cover track, chosen by fans, in just one day. The cover speaks for itself, and is in this critic’s opinion, more than lives up to the challenge a Madonna cover puts forth. It’s a full-on reinvention of the original, slow and steady in its ear-bendingly haunting arrangement until just the moment the band stretches its demented imagining to the point of no return. Then we crash to earth as bass and full-bore percussion bring the hammer down. Once you listen, there’s no going back, but then again: why would you want to? (Hooked? Check out more “Crypt Covers” here!)



You can't go wrong hearing this little bird sing ...

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.

UNDER COVER: Don Ryan – “This Lullaby”

Don Ryan

Don Ryan

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.