Top Cover Songs of 2011

Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley

Welcome to another installment of Up on the Sun's 2011 Review. We've been counting down our favorite songs, shows, national and local releases of 2011. This installment takes a look at 2011's top cover songs. Enjoy!

The idea of The Beatles, The Pixies, Tom Waits, and Elton John sharing a stage is a pretty awesome one -- though a little chronologically challenged.

You can still pretend, though, tomorrow night at Crescent Ballroom as Dry River Yacht Club, Born Loser and the Hangers On, Colorstore, and Painted Faces will take on songs from each, respectively, as part of Cover the Crescent.

As our year-end coverage winds down, we thought these ten examples of great 2011 cover songs would be of service to the bands and fans attending Cover the Crescent.

Tennis, "Tell Her No" (The Zombies)

Not everyone at Up on the Sun loves Tennis, but the band's take on this Zombies classic is just perfect. The band plays it safe, mimicking the band's original arrangement, which I saw the band perform back in September.

Low covers Toto
Low, "Africa" (Toto)

Slowcore rockers Low released a pretty great album this year, (C'mon) though it got lost in my year end shuffle. The band stopped by Onion A.V. Club's offices for an entry in the site's Undercover series, taking on Toto's infamous "Africa." The 1982 prog-pop jam turns out to a be a perfect showcase for Mimi Parker and Alan Sparkhawk's haunting, close harmonies.

Anthrax, "New Noise" (The Refused)

From my interview with drummer Charlie Benante: "I remember when that record [Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come] first came out in 1998; it was immediately one of my favorite records. I never stopped playing it. Sometimes at sound-check we would joke around playing that song. I said we should cover that song when it comes time to make a record." Vocalist Joey Belladona: "I wasn't familiar with the song at all. I was, like, if you want [intense vocal screaming], it's not me. So I had to do my own thing."

And the "own thing" works.

Sade, "Still In Love With You" (Thin Lizzy)

Sade proved her endless class this year, and to top things off, turned in this gorgeous Thin Lizzy cover for her latest best of. Maybe she could tackle "Running Back" next? The Boys were pretty rough and tumble, but they sure had a soft spot.

Ty Segall, "Buick MacKane" (T.Rex)

Ty Segall topped my favorite 15 of 2011 with his album Goodbye Bread, but his collection of T. Rex covers, Ty Rex, was nearly as worthy. Get blown out with this one.


Wilco, "I Love My Label" (Nick Lowe)

Wilco meets a Stiff Records classic.

The Dum Dum Girls, "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" (The Smiths)

The Dum Dum's Only in Dreams was great, but the He Gets Me High EP might have been even better, a short blast of jangle pop and this excellent Smiths cover. Melancholy, without Morrissey's dick moves.

Kurt Vile, "Downbound Train" (Bruce Springsteen)

Kurt Vile's take on this Boss tune drips with blue-collar drama. It knocked me out live at the Rhythm Room, and then via my turntable and the So Outta Reach EP.

St. Vincent, "She is Beyond Good and Evil" (The Pop Group)

From my review of Annie Clark's (St. Vincent) show at Crescent: "Clark's new album, Strange Mercy, feels like a reaction to being crowned "cutest indie rocker" award. Clark bears her teeth, embraces harsh dynamics, and shreds on the album, bringing the same gnashed intensity to her performance, all angular guitar riffs, flashing lights, throbbing synth bass, and a Pop Group cover."

Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band, "Stay Away" (Nirvana)

Charles Bradley and Daptone backers The Menahan Street Band turn this grunge classic into something far swampier than anything that ever washed up on the "muddy banks of the Wishkah."

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