The magazine, The Believer, put out a great compilation CD in the summer last year, a comp that came with the summer issue of the magazine. Containing covers and nothing but, you were treated to Devendra Banhart covering Antony and the Johnsons "Fistfull of Love", the Mountain Goats version of Silver Jews "Pet Politics", and Canadian Jim Guthrie (Mr "Hands in My Pocket" himself) doing The Constantines "Nighttime/Anytime (it’s alright)". There's lots of great stuff here and I'd recommend The Mountain Goats cover of Silver Jews "Pet Politics" and The Shins doing "We Will Become Silhouettes" by the Postal Service. But covers are a strange thing, some are smitten by the idea and charge headfirst in pursuit of rare and unimaginable covers, somehow finding the idea of a band reinterpreting another's song beautiful and wondrous. I'm not in that group (if one even does exist outside my imagination), I'm a pessimist and I think to adore covers you've got to be a musical optimist. The pessimism comes from way back, way back before many of you were born. I heard a song and liked it. I liked it a lot. The very next chance I got I scoured the bins of the local record shop for this band and found a record of theirs. I carried it to the counter and paid with pennies and lint pried from beneath the seat cushion of my Dad's recliner. I ran home, or biked, imagining I was someone in a movie or a book, or a TV show (I did a lot of fantasizing when I was a kid), and slapped that vinyl onto the hi-fi. HUH? What the h is this? This doesn't sound like that song. Lift the arm and drop the stylus on track 2... the same result. And again ... and again. This little game was played out once more in my youth and it reulted in my musical pessimism when it comes to covers. You know, I had the wool 'cover' pulled over my eyes once too often. The problem for me being that I liked the band doing someone else's song, but I didn't like the songs they wrote themselves. But now, with years of experience, I know many of the bands and artists beforehand and go in with my eyes, and ears, wide open. I guess I show a little optimism.
As I said there is some great stuff here, people showing their love for other's music by re-interpreting it themselves. So give a listen, I just hope that I don't turn you into a musical pessimist, when it comes to covers.
The Decemberists: "Bridges Balloons" Original by Joanna Newsom
The Constantines: "Why I Didn’t Like August 93" Original by Elevator to Hell
CocoRosie: "Ohio" Original by Damien Jurado
The Mountain Goats: "Pet Politics" Original by Silver Jews
The Shins: "We Will Become Silhouettes" Original by the Postal Service
Josephine Foster: "The Golden Window" Original by the Cherry Blossoms
Jim Guthrie: "Nighttime/Anytime (it’s alright)" Original by the Constantines
Two Gallants: "Anna’s Sweater" Original by Blear
Vetiver: "Be Kind to Me" Original by Michael Hurley
Ida: "My Fair, My Dark" Original by David Schickele
Mount Eerie: "Waterfalls" Original by Thanksgiving
Devendra Banhart: "Fistful of Love" Original by Antony & The Johnsons
Wolf Parade: "Claxxon’s Lament" Original by Frog Eyes