Frontier Psychiatrist

The 10 Best Covers of Winter 2012

Posted on: April 9, 2012

There were so many great covers over the last three months that not one song from Macy Gray’s new covers album could make the cut.  OK, that was a joke.  In all seriousness, though, it took quite awhile to decide what to cut from the dozens of songs considered for this season’s list.  I’ll admit that this collection trends a bit toward the sappy side, but you know what?  I’m sappy.  Emo cred aside, all ten of the performances below are wonderful interpretations of their source material, some staying true to the original, others veering wildly away.  Stream away, and feel free to add favorites of your own in the comments section below. 

10. Chairlift feat. Kool A.D. of Das Racist – “Party” (Beyonce Cover)

This seems like an odd pairing until you remember that Das Racist will agree to feature on anything.  In any case, Caroline Polachek’s voice in unassailable, and while Victor’s verse starts off a tad slow, he settles into his trademark hyper-literate style about a third of the way in.  As discussed in our SXSW journal, Chairlift is a pleasant surprise live, and the band’s lounge-y take on this Beyoncé hit is as restrained and lovely as all of their work.  After you hear this song, make sure to check out the band’s excellent  2012 LP Something.

9. Black Tambourine feat. Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls – “What’s Your Game” (Ramones Cover)

If Black Tambourine had released an album five years ago, no one would have known it was a “reunion album” because no one would have heard of them in the first place.  Thankfully, the wave of gauzy girl groups that recently rose to prominence (Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, etc) were not shy about trumpeting the band’s influence, and now they are back with a Spring tour new record on the way.  In addition they recorded an EP of Ramones tunes, on which the song below is included.  Call it punk rock on Xanax.

8. Nite Jewel – “Visions” (Stevie Wonder Cover)

Nite Jewel’s music is a tad too schmaltzy for my taste, but this Stevie Wonder classic is right in her wheelhouse.  Lady’s got pipes.

7.  Bon Iver – Coming Down (Anais Mitchell Cover)

If I didn’t include this song, co-editor Keith Meatto would have had me fired.

6. Grouper – “Demona” (Dead Moon Cover)

If you read this site regularly, you may have heard of Grouper, although the likelihood is that you haven’t heard of either of these acts.  Grouper is the alias of Liz Harris, a Portland musician whose haunting, hazy ambience was responsible for two of my favorite recordings of 2011 as well as one of my favorites of 2012 (as part of the group Mirroring).  Dead Moon, is a long-defunct Oregon garage-punk band whose indieness put the entire borough of Brooklyn to shame.  The two styles make for an odd combination but one that is consistently enthralling, particularly if you aren’t troubled by indifference to fidelity.

5. Keep Shelly In Athens – “Just Like Honey” (Jesus And Mary Chain Cover)

Keep Shelly in Athens is a Greek duo with only a couple of singles and EPs to its name; their profile has benefited by being signed to the label run by mega-blog Gorilla vs. Bear.  That said, the band’s  profile probably deserves to be a bit higher, given the consistently mood-enhancing nature of its music.  No band was more consistently mood-altering than the Jesus And MAry Chain, a group with a handfull of flawless recordings to its name.  Covering such a band is bold, but KSIA acquit themselves well with this entrancing interpretation.

4. St. Vincent – “Black” (Pearl Jam Cover)

Every time you think you hate Pearl Jam, you hear this song and realize that you don’t hate them as much as you want to.

3. Chromatics – “Into the Black” (Neil Young Cover)

I’ve been spinning the Chromatics’ new record Kill for Love incessantly over the past two weeks, and its hot, steamy goodness has me feeling like I’m Maverick toweling off after a tough flight, looking forward to a night of sex with Kelly McGillis.  This band is so sexy they can make Neil Young sound hot.  Don’t believe me?  Listen for yourself.

2. POP ETC (formerly The Morning Benders) – “Unravel” (Bjork Cover)

Last month, the Morning Benders changed their name to POP ETC for legitimate reasons,  and they celebrated the change with a free mixtape for their fans.  The mixtape is as good as any of their album work, and among its many riches is this spectacular Bjork cover.  The replacement of Bjork’s wildly erratic vocal style with Chris Chiu’s almost painful sincerity is surprisingly effective, bringing the pop purity at the song’s core to its surface.  We can’t hear a proper new album soon enough.

1. Twin Shadow – “Here Comes the Flood” (Peter Gabriel Cover)

We posted this performance on our tumblr last week; there’s not much to say about it other than that it is a singular, stunning performance by a supremely talented young artist.  George Lewis Jr.’s 2010 debut was a consistently brilliant effort, and his 2012 follow-up is one of our most anticipated releases of the year.  While we wait, we’ll take the opportunity to listen to this song again.  And again.  And again.

L.V. Lopez is co-editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. 


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