Get Lucky: The Best Cover Songs of 2013

2013 Best Covers

I’m back! It’s been a busy few months since my last post and I’m sorry it took me so long to return to blogging. I’ve actually spent that time and most of this year going to loads of gigs and listening to tons of music. In fact, I’ve probably listened to more new music than I’ve ever listened to in a calendar year before. It’s been a brilliant twelve months for music and I hope to use the rest of it to tell you about my favourite songs, albums and films of the year. Of course, it could be 2014 by the time I finish doing all that, but today I’ll start off by telling you about my favourite cover versions released in 2013 and later in the week I hope to write about my favourite original tracks

I’ll start things off with three new versions of songs originally performed by The Boss. I got to see Bruce Springsteen play his own and other people’s songs at three concerts this year and his songs still remain popular with both new and old artists. I must admit I was surprised when I heard that the Pet Shop Boys had recorded one of his songs for their new album. Last to Die is a lesser known track from 2007’s Magic and the English duo have added the definitive article as well as a dance beat to their version that appears on the Electric album. In an interview with Idolator, keyboardist Chris Lowe revealed that he and singer Neil Tennant transformed the original song’s guitar riff into a vocal one and tried to come up with something that The Killers would create. See if they were successful below

Ruth Moody is a member of the folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys. The Australian-born singer grew up in Canada and released a solo album this year called  These Wilder Things. She removes the eighties production from the original version of Born in the USA’s Dancing in the Dark and turns it into a completely different kind of dance song

The unfortunately named Diarrhea Planet hail from Nashville and the band’s sound couldn’t be further removed from the kind of music usually associated with the city. The band with the shitty name include no fewer than four guitarists amongst their number and they sure do like to rock it. They haven’t delved into the bowels of Springsteen’s career like the Pet Shop Boys, but have chosen to perform possibly his most iconic song. They’re joined on this loose version of Born to Run by New Jersey native Patrick Stickles from the band Titus Andronicus. Watch out for the dude with the skateboard in the video below

Sharon Van Etten is also from New Jersey and her fine acoustic version of People Are No Good by Nick Cave is taken from the Australian radio show, Like a Version. Sharon starts playing after chatting with the show’s hosts for a couple of minutes

Caitlin Rose is a Nashville native who hasn’t ventured too far from her musical roots and has performed songs by the likes of Gram Parsons and JD Souther in the past. Her new album The Stand-In is worth a listen and includes a track called Pink Champagne. So, perhaps it’s no coincidence that she sings a song called Pink Rabbits from another new album worth checking out, Trouble Will Find Me by The National. Nice version

I got to hear two of Springsteen’s originals from this list in concert this year, but the only cover I heard was at a gig by Low in Cork. The trio are from Bob Dylan’s hometown of Duluth in Minnesota and I have to admit I didn’t know the original version of a song they played that night called Stay. I still haven’t heard Rihanna’s original and I’m sure the minimalist duet by Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker is not as lively, but possibly more moving than the version by the band’s husband and wife vocalists

Despite its almost universal ubiquity this year, I was also late to the Daft Punk Get Lucky party. I was only familiar with this equally minimalist take by a London trio named Daughter. I’ve since heard the original quite a bit and I like it, but I prefer this version below

Daft Punk are from Paris, but the French Horn Rebellion are actually brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari from Milwaukee. The brothers may not even have been born when Sheffield’s Human League had a worldwide hit with Don’t You Want Me in 1981, but I’m sure Daft Punk would enjoy their 2013 version of the song

Eleanor Friedberger from Illinois also forms part of a duo with her sibling, Matthew. I’m not too familiar with the music of The Fiery Furnaces, but Eleanor’s solo album, Personal Record, is one of my favourites of the year. She joined North Carolina’s Superchunk at the Bowery Ballroom earlier this year to perform this excellent version of Patti Smith’s Free Money

California’s Mazzy Star released their first album in 17 years in 2013, which may have prompted J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr to record a version of the band’s 1994 single, Fade Into You. The original frequently pops up during films and TV dramas, so it’ll be interesting to see if the newer version shows the same longevity

My Bloody Valentine’s return garnered far more media attention than Mazzy Star’s as the release of m b v saw them bridge an even bigger gap of 22 years since Loveless came out. High Fader Records saw this as a timely opportunity to put together a Japanese tribute to the earlier album, which they called Yellow Loveless. The wonderful Shonen Knife channel the sound of sixties girl groups in their brilliant version of When You Sleep

The final cover in my dozen was originally part of that girl group sound. Ohio native Andrea Carroll sang about how tough it was to be a teenager in a single written by Neil Sedaka under the guise of Ronnie Grossman. Silkies are Caufield Schnug and Lira Mondal from Austin and they now live in Boston. Their ramshackle version of It Hurts to Be Sixteen is reminiscent of the British indie pop movement of the eighties and it’s a perfect complement to the song’s themes. The track is also available as a free download. Please come back later in the week when I’ve decided on my twelve favourite original tunes of 2013


One thought on “Get Lucky: The Best Cover Songs of 2013

  1. Pingback: No Exceptions: The Best Songs of 2013 | Town Full of Losers

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