2018 has been a rollercoaster if rollercoasters had more trials and tribulations than thrills and excitement. I had high hopes of bringing Nostalgia For Tomorrow circa 2010 back to reality, but again the rollercoaster of life had an open seat for me in the front row. Despite all that, I won't apologize. Instead, I'll write about some things that make me happy. So, here is a list of my favorite cover songs from the year 2018. For listening and enjoyment purposes only.
Always Crush Me - Wreck and Reference
Wreck and Reference take Guided By Voices' lo-fi recording and all its roughness, amplify it by 100, and project it into twisted industrial metal. The monotonous guitar strumming is traded in with synths and slacker vocals become panic-induced yelling. "Always Crush Me" is the perfect little cover for a perfect little song in Guided By Voices' giant-ass catalog.
Agony - Beach Fossils
I Started a Joke - Marissa Nadler
A number of songs from Marissa Nadler's second cover album could have been posted here. There's one of my favorite Leonard Cohen tracks ("Avalanche"), a heartbreaking Daniel Johnston track ("True Love Will Find You in the End"), and a somber Danzig deep-cut ("Blood and Tears"). I have to give the spotlight to Nadler's rendition of "I Started a Joke" by Bee Gees though, since the original turned 50 years old this year. Plus, it's really good.
Bark at the Moon - Integrity
Integrity haven't slowed down a bit since releasing their barn burner, Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume last year. This year, the metal/hardcore crossover vets released a split with American black metal outfit, Krieg, and for Halloween released a cover of an Ozzy Osbourne classic. Despite the essential choice, Integrity's deliver is anything but tongue-in-cheek. Yes, it's still clearly an Ozzy track, but Integrity's signature sound breaths new life into the old beast. Take a listen above and go off the rails of the crazy... err, bark at the moon.
The Book of Love - bedbug
A few years back, a work friend invited me to his wedding and mentioned that the wedding song would be "The Book of Love". He asked me if I had ever heard of the song in hopes that I would guess The Monotones' song by the same name. Instead, I did my best Magnetic Fields impression without drawing too much attention to myself. He was impressed but also a little confused. I never ended up attending the wedding, but I did learn that "The Book of Love" is a very popular wedding song. The twist, of course, is "The Book of Love" by The Magnetic Fields on the album, 69 Love Songs was later covered by the more-known-by-co-workers, Peter Gabriel. Flash forward to this past Halloween, I'm attending one of the 8 Halloween cover shows the Boston-area had to offer, and bedbug was performing as the Scrubs Soundtrack, a medley of songs from the hit show. One of the songs bedbug played happened to be "The Book of Love", which appears in the season 8 finale a la the Peter Gabriel version. I joked about whether bedbug covered The Magnetic Fields version or Peter Gabriel to myself. Flash forward to a few days ago, when a 69 Love Songs tribute album was released by Living Statue Records. There, waiting for me among the 69 songs, was bedbug's "The Book of Love". This recorded version might be missing the Scrubs samples that were weaved into the rest of bedbugs' Halloween set, but it's still really awesome to see my pointless anecdote about "The Book of Love" grow each year.
By My Side - Ben Walsh
Ben Walsh of Tigers Jaw's cover on Don't Stop Now II: A Collection of Covers is a perfect example of a gateway song to the original. Without clicking on Ben's cover, I would have never given much of a thought to the new Porches album. Now "By My Side" is among one of my favorite songs of 2018. As for the compilation itself, if you got the cash I highly recommend grabbing all 33 covers which benefits RAICES (Refugees and Immigrants Center for Education & Legal Services). RAICES seems like a great place to throw your money at; throw your money at anything and everything that is not a giant fear-mongering wall.
Havana - Superorganism
Superorganism's intoxicating rendition of "Havana" feels like it manifested via a long night of partying at a local karaoke bar. Something that could not have been duplicated at the karaoke bar, however, is their candy-coated production that has been ever-so-carefully melted into digital goodness for the ears. There might not be as much going on as there is in every other facet of Superorganism's recordings, performances, and wild Spotify music videos, there's still no mistaking the dedication to their commitment to ultra quirkiness.
I Wanna Be Adored - King Woman
A major appeal to the Stone Roses' hit number, "I Wanna Be Adored" is the misheard chorus which I always sing as "I Wanna Be A Door", while others mishear it as "I Wanna be a Dog" or, similarly, "I Wanna be Your Dog". King Woman's version adds a new layer to the already misunderstood lyrics by draping the song in doom-y drone atmosphere. "I Wanna Be Adored" seems unrecognizable at first, until Kristina Esfandiari AKA Miserable's wispy vocals come in. Eventually the song picks up and echoes the aforementioned line that sounds especially like "I Wanna Be A Door" until coming to an untimely end. It might not go down as smooth as the original, but give it a few listens and let it grow on you like a small rash or black mold.
Infinity Guitars - Sunflower Bean
Moon River - Frank Ocean
People / Halfsleeper - CJ Boyds
CJ Boyds has been traveling all over the country for 10 years playing with all sorts of wonderful talent. Boyds' cover album in honor of 10 years on the road might not be the biggest, but it's definitely the most ambitious cover album on this list. Not only are Boyds' covers carefully picked to reflect the bands and musicians he has shared stages and spaces with, all the covers are by musicians he has played with covering all 50 states plus Washington, DC and an unknown bonus track for US territories. Along with that, Boyds recorded each song in the respected state as to which the song is associated with. Currently, only "People / Halfsleeper" is available for listening, but judging by this drone-y Dilute meets Chelsea Wolfe combo-cover recorded in California, Boyds ode to the US is going to be mighty impressive.
Pontiac 87 - Preoccupations
A few bands seem to loose some steam when they change their name. Preoccupations, formerly Viet Cong, however are keeping the hype train going. This year they released an album called New Material (Which might be there new name next year) and a split with top-tier post-punkers of the '10s, Protomartyr. Preoccupations prove they are here to stay with their spaced-out rendition of "Pontiac 87". The cover might not be the most challenging, especially since both bands are so similar, but maybe not appropriating someone else is a good thing for Preoccupations right now.
Same Drugs - Free Throw
With a band tackling Chance the Rapper's "Same Drugs", one might think that Free Throw are putting a special spin on a hometown favorite. However, Free Throw are not a Chicago emo band. Hell, they're not even an East Coast emo band. Free Throw from Nashville, Tennessee already take on the task of being a long shot, a surprisingly not "southern" emo band. Free Throw aren't defined by where they reside, but rather by how moving their music can be. It's a surprise to most, and a cover of Chance seems like the biggest surprise Free Throw could have come up with, yet here we are. "Same Drugs" comes as a surprise at the end of Missing Pieces, a small compilation of re-imagined songs from their 2017 album, Bear Your Mind.
Playlist w/bonus covers: