florence + the machine

Cover Songs

Yesterday my friend Bev and I got into a deep discussion about music covers. It was prompted by a video I shared with her where the background music was a cover of Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” by jam band, The String Cheese Incident. We delved into a deep discussion about her particular taste in covers, my taste in covers, and covers that would never do justice to the original artist or bands. I’m assuming everyone knows what a cover is but just in case you don’t, when someone says a song is a cover it means that the song is a recording or performance by someone who is not the original artist.

There have been plenty of cover songs throughout history that have become more successful than the original. A great example of this comes from legendary rock n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis also did plenty of Chuck Berry covers. Then of course there’s some controversy surrounding the song “Hound Dog”. Some claim that Elvis stole the song from Big Mama Thornton. Truth be told though when Elvis rose to fame racial prejudices were much greater than they are today. As a white singer, he brought many songs that may have been sung by or written by black musicians to fame. Hence, all of Elvis’s music being written by someone other than Elvis, which isn’t uncommon even today, but still.

Another example of this is “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. The original song was by The Isley Brothers who are also famed for their song “Shout”. To be honest, I didn’t realize until today that “Twist and Shout” was a cover. I was looking for some covers on Spotify and saw it on one of their playlists. Part of me believes I knew this at one point and just forgot but the other part of me is kind of shocked.

Besides these songs a few other famous covers are Otis Redding’s “Respect” covered by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” covered by Jimi Hendrix (Dave Matthews Band also frequents this cover too), Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” covered by Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” covered by The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” covered by Jeff Buckley, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” covered by Lenny Kravitz, Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” covered by Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also been some recent covers in the spotlight. Two years ago Weezer got some airplay from covering Toto’s “Africa” and lately an indie artist named Ritt Momney is getting some huge hype over his cover of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. The list goes way beyond this too. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know just how many famous songs are actually covers. I know I was.

My friend Bev seems to love covers that capture the essence of the original song especially when the original was by a well-known band or artist. What I think makes a great cover is when the song is given a new “spin” or feel like when an artist known for a certain genre of music covers a song of another genre. This is why I was always a fan of the Punk Goes… album series growing up.

These albums started in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and by 2002 the first Punk Goes Pop album was released. Most of the Punk Goes… albums are cover songs aside from Punk Goes Acoustic which are just acoustic recordings of original songs. While hosting my own radio show in college, I would occasionally do cover shows where I played a lot of covers from these albums.

Although I don’t really listen to punk/pop-punk/alternative music these days, I’m always looking out for a great cover whether it does the original justice or not. I still love and appreciate hearing unique covers. However, strangely enough, I don’t usually love remixes, which I feel are electronic music’s version of a cover song. I have a few I enjoy, but in this instance I seem to enjoy the original version of the song more. I’m not sure if we could even consider these “covers”, but unless a deejay has someone else singing the track, how would they cover the song? I definitely think a remix is “sub-genre” or so of a cover for this reason.

If you’ve ever played an instrument or sang a song, you’ve probably played someone else’s music or sang someone else’s lyrics. It’s a pretty standard practice in music. But just be careful if you ever plan on officially releasing covers. There are copyright laws surrounding music, but thanks to the Copyright Act of 1909 we’re able to create covers (usually with some negotiations between the artists involved and ASCAP or BMI…I linked the act for more info). No matter what your preference is on cover songs, I bet you’ve heard plenty and even have a few favorites. I obviously do so I figured I’d share some of mine to end this post.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bon Iver (Bonnie Raitt cover)
  2. “99 Red Balloons” by Goldfinger (Nena cover)
  3. “Everywhere” by Yellowcard (Michelle Branch cover)
  4. “Umbrella” by All Time Low (Rihanna cover)
  5. “Megan” by Bayside (Smoking Popes cover)
  6. “Blitzkreig Bop” by Foster the People (Ramones cover) (performed live only, not recorded so check out a live version on Youtube)
  7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by HAIM (Shania Twain cover)
  8. “Skinny Love” by Birdy (Bon Iver cover)
  9. “Walking On A Dream” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Empire of the Sun cover)
  10. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” by A Day to Remember (The Fray cover)
  11. “Start Today” by Fall Out Boy (Gorilla Biscuits cover)
  12. “Mad World” by Gary Jules (Tears for Fears cover)
  13. “A Thousand Miles” by Mac DeMarco (Vanessa Carlton cover) (performed live only, not recorded so again check Youtube)
  14. “What I Like About You” by The Suicide Machines (The Romantics cover)
  15. “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (Cold War Kids cover)

Top Albums of the Decade

For the last few years, I’ve been ending each year with a list of my faves in music from the past year. I plan on doing it again but since 2019 is the last year in this decade I thought I’d also include a list of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. I definitely have a clear cut favorite and second favorite, but after those two, there’s really no particular order.

This list is defined by albums that I’ve listened to in full for days, weeks, months, or just repeatedly for no set amount of time. It’s a list of albums that I couldn’t get enough of. My two favorites on this list have been in my car since I bought them in 2011 and 2012. I still listen to them occasionally. You could probably chalk them up on the list of my favorite albums of all time, but the others are special to me as well.

So let’s get down to it. Here are my top 15 (plus a few honorable mentions!) favorite albums of the 2010’s:

Torches -Foster the People (2011)

My absolute, number one, favorite album and Foster the People’s debut album. I wrote once about how Foster the People really shaped the music I got into this decade going from being into punk/emo/alternative music to indie pop/indie rock. This album did it for me in 2011. Foster the People was a new, hype band on the music scene. They played SXSW and Coachella the spring before their first album dropped. When I got into them I learned about Coachella for the first time. So this band and album really shaped a lot about this decade for me.

I’ve loved Torches from top to bottom since I purchased it in May 2011. “Helena Beat” was the first song that hooked me, but despite any criticism it’s received over the years, “Pumped Up Kicks” kept me around. It’s filled with other bangers like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, but it has plenty of underrated hits like “Call It What You Want”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Life on the Nickel” and “Warrant”. Since I bought a record player in 2012, I’ve been adamant about not purchasing records that I already have on CD. This month I broke that rule for this album. It’s one of my all-time favorite works of music and the best of this decade for me. It was about time that I own it on vinyl too.

Born to Die -Lana Del Rey (2012)

Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s debut album. It came out in 2012 and I’ve loved it ever since. I listened to it constantly once I bought it. Like Torches, it’s the only other album that’s stayed in my car since I purchased it. I remember thinking Lana Del Rey and her music were completely ridiculous when I bought the album, but I fell into it and the rest of her music. It was the song “National Anthem” that convinced me. It’s still my favorite Lana Del Rey song to this day. “Diet Mountain Dew” was always another favorite of mine as well. Born to Die is filled with several other classics like “Born to Die” the title track, “Blue Jeans”, “Off to the Races”, “Video Games” the album’s first single, and Lana’s biggest hit “Summertime Sadness”. I’ll always love Pabst Blue Ribbon because of “This Is What Makes Us Girls” too.  This album was always on in my car for a few months in the summer of 2012. It got me into Lana Del Rey and she became one of my favorite artists of the decade as well.

Days Are Gone -HAIM (2013)

In early 2014, I discovered the sister trio band Haim. I decided to buy their debut album Days Are Gone because I liked their songs “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”. I might have taken a risk on two songs but it was a great risk to take. I loved the album and had it in my car for quite some time. I really got into “The Wire”. I also loved “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Forever”, “Honey & I”, and “Days Are Gone” in addition to the others I already liked.

I had Haim’s album in my car for a very long time as well. It ended up on repeat in my car once again in the summer of 2016 shortly before I saw them perform for the first time at my first Lollapalooza. It’s definitely an album I’ve loved a lot this decade and the reason why I’ve loved Haim a lot too.

An Awesome Wave -alt-J (2012)

Compared to the rest of the albums on this list An Awesome Wave is a little bit different for me. I got it on vinyl years after I started listening to the music on it. I also listened to each song at different points. It all started with “Breezeblocks” though. Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario posted about the song on social media and after listening once, I downloaded the song. Then a day later it was “Something Good”. Then “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”, and “Tessellate”, in that order, through the course of 5 years. In the meantime, their second album This is All Yours came out and “Left-Hand Free” became my jam too. When I saw them perform at Coachella in 2018, I was with several co-workers when we all danced freely to “Dissolve Me”. By that point their third album Relaxer was already out as well. I got into “Dissolve Me” though and decided last year that it was time to own An Awesome Wave. I then completed listening to the album by getting into “Matilda”, “Ms”, “Bloodflood”, and “Hand-Made”.

An Awesome Wave really spanned the decade for me, but so did alt-J. I saw them play about 5 times over the last 5 years and it’s always been an enjoyable set every time. Their unique sound has always been a catch for me and I’m sure they’ll be releasing new music in this new decade before we know it.

21 -Adele (2011)

Up until I got into Adele’s album, 21, I despised pop music. The song “Rolling in the Deep” was the one that really got me interested in Adele. It was on a sampler CD from my local record store. I bought the album around the same time I bought Torches and both albums became the soundtrack to one of my favorite vacations of all time. I listened to both albums repeatedly on that early June trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and my love for Adele began.

Of course I was into 25 when it came out in late 2015 and 19 somewhere around that time, but it was 21 that made me feel okay with liking a pop artist again. I also just really liked the album. “Rumour Has It”, “Set Fire to Rain”, “Someone Like You”, “I’ll Be Waiting”, and “One and Only” are pretty great songs even though “Rolling in the Deep” always has my heart. 21 does too. It came out of the blue uninvited, but it came to stay.

Heartthrob -Tegan and Sara (2013)

I got into Tegan and Sara while I was still in college in 2009, but their album Heartthrob really made me a fan. It was the album that put them into the mainstream music world for a bit. I didn’t get into the album until a year after its release in 2014. I fell hard for it though. It became the soundtrack of another trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. The hit song “Closer” was the one that suckered me in. I got into so many others though like “I Was A Fool”, “I’m Not Your Hero”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Goodbye, Goodbye”. Heartthrob revitalized my interest in Tegan and Sara and I’ve been a bigger fan ever since because of it.

Pure Heroine -Lorde (2013)

I was introduced to Lorde in the summer of 2013 from her breakout song “Royals”. From there I also got into the song “Tennis Court” and “Bravado”. I remember anticipating her debut album during my first trip to California especially because of the line in “Tennis Court” that goes “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” That flight to California wasn’t my first flight, but it was my first flight in 9 years. I purchased the album as soon as I got home from Cali. It was my go-to album for a few weeks as I got into several other tracks on the record like “400 Lux”, “Team”, “White Teeth Teens”, “Glory and Gore”, and “A World Alone”.

Sacred Hearts Club -Foster the People (2017)

In the last 10 years Foster the People solidified their spot as my favorite band. I remember being so excited for their second album after Torches but Supermodel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After their sophomore release, it was then a few years of silence before the group released new tunes. 2017 was one of the best years in music of this decade for me. It was filled with great albums by plenty of my favorite bands and artists, which included Sacred Hearts Club by Foster the People.

Foster the People dropped three songs from the record in the spring “Pay the Man”, “Doing it For the Money”, and “SHC” and I listened to those three quite frequently until the album came out in July. When it did, I immediately fell in love with the song “Sit Next to Me”. I listened to it non-stop along with the rest of the album and songs like “Lotus Eater”, “Static Space Lover”, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, and “I Love My Friends”. It was only about 2 weeks after the album dropped that I was able to see Foster the People live again at Lollapalooza (the last time I saw them was in 2014). They were incredible. I then bought tickets to see them play in Philly in September as a treat to myself after my position was cut from a festival I was supposed to work. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and was filled with 2 full hours of music from my favorite band including the best encore that I could have ever imagined. I caught the set list too! I owe that night to Foster the People and Sacred Hearts Club.

Wild World -Bastille (2016)

When Bastille’s sophomore album dropped, I got into Bastille. Sure I knew about Bastille before that. There were a few songs I liked from Bad Blood. Some might even argue saying Bastille’s Bad Blood really set the tone for the band, but for me it was the second album Wild World. “Good Grief” and “Send Them Off!” were always my go-to songs, but “The Currents”, “Power”, “Warmth”, and “Blame” were great songs as well. I listened to the album for weeks. Bastille recently released their third album this year. Even though the album is great, it still doesn’t do for me what Wild World did.

Ultraviolence -Lana Del Rey (2014)

Lana Del Rey’s second album was highly anticipated for me after my love of Born to Die. In between the albums, she also released the EP Paradise which was another incredible compilation of music. When Ultraviolence came out, it successfully did for me what Foster the People’s Supermodel couldn’t and since both Foster the People and Lana Del Rey were my faves I expected the best from them. Ultraviolence gave me that. “Money Power Glory”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Ultraviolence”, “West Coast”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” were my favorites. The album picked up where Born to Die left off and that’s all you can really ask from a band or artist.

Melodrama -Lorde (2017)

I always knew Foster the People and Lana Del Rey would be on this list more than once, but who knew I liked Lorde so much? Melodrama was also an incredible follow-up album to Pure Heroine. Like Sacred Hearts Club, it was part of that 2017 wave of new music. Lorde released the first single “Green Light” in early March. That song got me stoked for the new album because it was an absolute banger. Then she dropped “Liability”. I hated the song at first. It took hearing the song live on the last night of Coachella Weekend 2 to make me fall in love with it. The album released 2 months later and I remember being so pleased with how good it was. “Homemade Dynamite”, “Perfect Places”, “Sober”, and “Supercut” added to my love for “Green Light” and “Liability” made the album a hit. I wasn’t the only one that thought so either since it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.

Woodstock -Portugal. The Man (2017)

Who would have thought Portugal. The Man would have made a statement with their 8th album? They did though and it was the hit “Feel It Still” that did it. The entirety of Woodstock is fantastic though. In fact, I feel like “Feel It Still” is the song that doesn’t quite fit with the album. The first time I heard the song I thought it was Electric Guest but was shocked to find out it was in fact Portugal. The Man, whose song “People Say” was one of my favorites when I was a radio DJ in college. “Live in the Moment”, “Tidal Wave”, “Number One”, and “Keep On” are a few other great jams from Woodstock. The album left an impression and I’m sure we’ll be feeling it still even when Portugal. The Man releases more music.

El Camino -The Black Keys (2012)

The Black Keys had plenty of albums before El Camino and those albums, particularly its pre-cursor Brothers, were big in the indie rock music scene. El Camino is the album that got me into The Black Keys though. I got the album in 2012 and saw the band perform live two years later. “Lonely Boy” was the song that got me started on The Black Keys, but El Camino was full of hits like “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine”, “Stop Stop” and “Dead and Gone”. I learned how to play a few of those on guitar too. The Black Keys haven’t stopped making music in the last decade and have released two albums since El Camino, the most recent being this year, but El Camino will always be special to me.

Heard It In A Past Life -Maggie Rogers (2019)

Last winter I debated buying this album on vinyl while I was listening to Maggie Rogers as part of my Coachella preparations. Ultimately I decided with the help of my instagram followers that I should buy the vinyl. I did and it was a great purchase. The debut album from Maggie Rogers is a thing of beauty. “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, “Give a Little”, “Alaska”, and “Burning” are incredible. Oh and there’s also “Back in My Body”, but I’ll get more into that song when I recap this past year. The album was one of my favorites of the last year and I was pretty shocked when it didn’t get a Grammy nomination. The album is still tops in my book and one of my favorites of the last decade.

This Is Happening -LCD Soundsystem (2010)

When I think about it, there’s only three words that can describe This Is Happening: “Dance Yrself Clean”. It was the song that got me into LCD Soundsystem a year after the “final” show at Madison Square Garden thanks to Suits actor Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario (yes, again!). Over the years I got into LCD Soundsystem and their small-ish, but excellent discography. I never thought I’d be able to see the band until right before Christmas in 2015 when the band dropped a Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” (which I’ve actually listened to twice today) which sort of signified their return. A few weeks later they were on the Coachella lineup and officially back. They dropped a new album American Dream in 2017 and I was able to see them twice once they returned, at Lollapalooza in 2016 and at my favorite venue in Philly in 2017 with a friend who was actually at their “last” show.

Oddly enough, I don’t own This Is Happening in any form. It kind of doesn’t fit this list in that regard, except it’s kind of like An Awesome Wave. I’ve listened to all the songs on this album at different points over the last decade. “Drunk Girls” is one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. “You Wanted A Hit” was the song I got into after seeing them play for the first time. Then there’s “I Can Change”, “Home” and “All I Want”, which I actually just got into recently. Over the last 10 years, LCD Soundsystem earned a special place in my heart, but I sort of owe that to This Is Happening.

Honorable Mentions:

The 1975 -The 1975 (2013)

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful -Florence + the Machine (2015)

AM -Arctic Monkeys (2013)

Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy (2019)

So there you have it. All my favorite albums from the last 10 years. Actually, there’s probably more, but these are the ones that stood out the most. Thanks to music for all that I love and thanks to these great bands and artists for putting amazing tunes into the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings or where music will take me both personally and professionally. I can only hope for the best, but so far it’s been nothing short of incredible.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

According to my little stats here on the blog, it’s been 22 days since I made any sort of update. With the epic coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup throughout June and trying to focus on getting my life in order plus some vacation time, I needed a little break. Right before the World Cup began, I failed to note a much anticipated release in the music world.

Since seeing Florence and The Machine at Coachella back in April (one of my favorite performances of the festival might I add), I anticipated the release of her latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. It came out on May 29th, about a week and a half before the USAvAUS opener. However, I was waiting to purchase it with my gift certificate from Amoeba Music (the world’s largest independent record store with three locations in California- Berkeley (the original location), San Francisco, and Hollywood) during their monthly 15% off sale. The sale didn’t happen until mid-June so I ordered it on vinyl then. I received it by the end of June, about a month after its initial release. I didn’t listen to the album aside from an early song release or two in prep for Coachella until I had the record in my possession. I did however unintentionally hear a few songs from the album because FoxSports, who covered the Women’s World Cup, used some songs off the latest album as background music during their video montages of the tournament. Needless to say, that just got me more hyped to listen to the album.

The album was worth the wait. After purchasing the first two Florence and The Machine albums on vinyl, I had to follow suit with the third. Like the first two albums, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful delivered with the same powerful female vocals, catchy choruses, and indie pop/rock style. I  honestly love this band’s consistency as far as style goes. Although the themes in Florence and The Machine’s albums may vary, the sound never disappoints or strays from what made people fall in love with them in the first place. It may be my favorite album of theirs to date. I highly recommend it. The album topped the charts in eight different countries during its first week on the market, including the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 in the United States. It was the first time a Florence and The Machine album received that honor. So there’s a little proof of how good this record is besides me just saying it’s awesome. So check it out asap and check out these songs in particular:

1. Delilah

2. Queen of Peace

3. Ship to Wreck

4. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

5. What Kind of Man

6. Caught

7. St. Jude

Coachella Band Preview: Florence + the Machine

It’s close to the one month countdown to Coachella Weekend One which means it’s time to ramp up your music listening. It also means it’s time to talk about another band playing the festival this year. This group out of the U.K. has been making a name for themselves since the release of their first album Lungs. With the anticipation of the release of their third album slated for this June, Florence + the Machine is sure to put on a killer set at Coachella this April.

Florence Welch and her friend Isabella “Machine” Summers are the founding members of the group which started in 2007. Along with Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Tom Monger, and Mark Saunders, the band released their first album in July of 2009. It sold over 100,000 copies in a month and debuted at #1 on the U.K. charts. The BBC supported the band and played a big role in the attention they received upon the release of their album. After touring, playing plenty of festivals, receiving award nominations (including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist) and a few awards since the release of Lungs, Florence + the Machine released their sophomore album Ceremonials in October 2011. The album received much praise and gave more attention to the already well-known band. They received two more Grammy nominations, VMA nominations, Brit Award nominations, and other award nominations in the years post-Ceremonials release.

In 2012 Florence + the Machine played their first Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in a minor headlining role. This year it’s no different. Their blend of soulful and dark indie rock will be flowing through the large crowds in Indio in a little over a month with hits like “Dog Days Are Over”, “Shake It Out”, and “What the Water Gave Me”. I’m sure they’ll be playing some new material like their already released first single off their new album “What Kind of Man”. Their set is bound to be a favorite among festival-goers. It’ll be worth checking out.

So check out these songs in the meantime to get you ready:

1. “Dog Days Are Over”

2. “Shake It Out”

3. “No Light, No Light”

4. “Spectrum”

5. “Cosmic Love”

6. “Howl”

7. “Only If For A Night”

8. “Kiss With A Fist”

9. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

10. “What the Water Gave Me”