coverspam: (Adam Lambert sings a cover)
Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. There's going to be a major march on Washington which I cannot attend, but it's for visibility and equal rights, both of which I want. Posting in a cover blog that nobody reads is not going to really help with that goal, but nonetheless: theme post!

I didn't come out because of Michael Stipe, but he certainly helped. I was in junior high during the peak of R.E.M.'s fame, and Stipe was this awkward, androgynous alien. Just like me, in that adolescent delusion of defiant individuality where nobody in your hometown understands you but your idols are Just Like You. Interviewers kept trying to get him to say he was gay - 15 years ago, when there was no Ellen DeGeneres or Adam Lambert to prove that you could be out and not kill your career. At some point, he started referring obliquely to relationships he'd had with both women and men, talking about disliking labels and and liking the idea of "queer." He always sounded like he was tired of people bringing it up, like his music was so much more interesting to him.

It was the first time I'd heard anyone express a sexual identity similar to the one I was experiencing. When you're a kid coming out to yourself, and especially when you don't fall within the neat lines of gay or straight and can't figure out what the hell you are, that's huge. I've loved R.E.M.'s music with inordinate passion since I was eleven, but they're my favorite band because Stipe gave me something to come out as.

Some people covering R.E.M.:

Bodies of Water - Everybody Hurts
A really good twee-rock reading of the song with a male-female duet and well-placed Phil-Spectorish lush pop touches.

The Observatory - Feeling Gravitys Pull
Raucous, insane, noisy version of an album track from R.E.M.'s indie days.

Scary Kids Scaring Kids - Losing My Religion
I have about four mediocre punk covers of R.E.M.'s big hit, of which this is the most listenable.

You Say Party! We Say Die! - Nightswimming
A couple years ago, the online magazine Stereogum compiled an album of modern indie bands covering all of the songs on Automatic for the People. This deadpan but heartfelt electro-pop reading of "Nightswimming" is my favorite.

Over the Rhine - The One I Love
I love Over the Rhine's chilling Ohio country-folk. Their style really brings out the melancholy, bitter edge of this song.

Redbird - You Are the Everything
The New England folk trio replace the original's spooky accordions with vocal harmonies and earnestness that actually suit the song well.
coverspam: (There should be more VU covers)
I love mp3 blogs, especially cover blogs. I've wanted to have one since, like, 2003, when the whole idea of an mp3 blog was new and for me, as a rock snob mourning the death of the CD, people writing about music and sharing samples was like magic. I love covers because they're awesome even when they're bad -- sometimes more awesome than when they're good. They're almost always an expression of love, often with a shiny coating of nostalgia or a sprinkling of sarcasm. I collect them like other geeks collect comic books, by which I mean there's a spreadsheet on my computer and it's really out of date and I update it when I feel sad.

I have thousands of them, and my collection grows every day. And now I am going to share some of them with you.

There might be themes in the future, including some single-artist or even single-song posts. But it seems like the best way to start is to hit shuffle on my covers playlist and share what comes up.

Amy Millan - I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie)
Sweet-voiced country version of the whiny college rock classic - a total improvement on the original.
Buy Masters of the Burial by Amy Millan

Groove Armada - Crazy For You (Madonna)
Delightfully obnoxious electro-rock with handclaps.
Buy Best of Groove Armada

Chantal Kreviazuk - Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver)
Yes, there is a way to make this song schmaltzier, and this pop diva rendition is it.
Buy Under These Rocks and Stones by Chantal Kreviazuk

John Anealio - Mr. Roboto (Styx)
Geek-folk guy who sounds like he's trying his best to be ironic but really loves this song. Which is my favorite kind of cover: the one where nostalgia fights sarcasm and wins.
Visit John Anealio's blog, Sci Fi Songs

Banjo or Freakout - All I Need (Radiohead)
Wish your Radiohead were even drone-ier and less coherent? Banjo or Freakout are here to help. Simultaneously marvelous and unlistenable. Also: handclaps.
Buy Upside Down EP by Banjo or Freakout

Evan Dando - Knowing Me, Knowing You (ABBA)
I have a lot of dudes with guitars doing snide acoustic renditions of pop songs. But Dando, former Lemonheads frontman, was doing this before those dudes were, and The Lemonheads were my favorite band when I was fourteen.
Buy Come on Feel the Lemonheads

Weston - La, La, Love You (The Pixies)
This makes me think I hate The Pixies. The "la la las" make me think of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Buy Matinee by Weston

Luna - Sweet Child o' Mine (Guns 'n' Roses)
I applaud Luna for turning this song into the dreamy slowcore ballad it always wished it were.
Buy Bewitched by Luna

Enjoy! I swear there will be more soon. Really.

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