MP3 Of The Week

2009 and onwards / 2008 / 2007 / 2006 / 2005 / 2004 / 2003 / 2002

Each week I'm posting a random or not-so-random cover song. Only the current week's track will be available but if you see a past one you'd like, contact me and we'll make arrangements.

If you are the copyright holder of the current track and wish it to be taken down please contact me to do so.

Past Selections - 2008

December 28, 2008
Amos The Transparent - "You Oughta Know"

At first you think they're taking the piss - after all, how could Amos The Transparent's recasting of fellow Ottawan Alanis Morissette's biggest hit as an ultra-earnest Coldplay-esque power ballad be anything but a joke? But they not only keep a straight face for over six minutes, but they deliver their version with force and emotion - they sell it and sell it well, extended warranty and everything. This band never ceases to astonish me. Expect greatness when they play Rancho Relaxo this Friday night, January 2.

Originally by : Alanis Morissette

December 21, 2008
Death Cab For Cutie - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

Christmas really does afford an embarrassment of riches when it comes to covers, thanks to the glut of holiday-themed compilations featuring artists doing holiday-themed songs. Like this Death Cab For Cutie redo of a Phil Spector-penned classic. The original was performed by Darlene Love for the A Christmas Gift For You collection circa 1963 and this cover is from the Maybe This Christmas Tree comp released a few years back. Death Cab had a big year, topping the charts with Narrow Stairs. Phil Spector is currently waiting to go on trial for murder for a second time.

Originally by : Phil Spector

December 14, 2008
Blur - "Maggie May"

The big news this week, obvs, was the announcement that Blur were back together - Graham included - and were planning gigs for next year. And earlier this year, it was announced that The Faces were also getting back together, including lead singer Rod Stewart, who went on to solo fame on the strength of songs like this one which Blur covered for Ruby Trax, a 1992 covers compilation assembled by NME.

Originally by : Rod Stewart

December 7, 2008
Mercury Rev - "Vampire Blues"

You'll forgive me if I keep the old Neil Young meme running just a little longer… after last week's shows, I've got Shakey on the brain. So it's convenient that Mercury Rev are coming to town on Tuesday for their first headlining show in Toronto in over seven years. This Neil cover dates back to 1999, appearing on the "Goddess On A Hiway" EP from their glorious Deserters Blues album.

Originally by : Neil Young

November 30, 2008
Jeff Tweedy - "Walk On"

I had some trouble deciding which version of this song to post, but considering that Wilco are opening up for Neil Young at the Air Canada Centre not once but twice (December 4 and 5), I figured I should go ahead and post both. The version above comes from a Jeff Tweedy solo gig at the University of Chicago in February 2006 and is of somewhat better audio quality. This second one comes from a charity gig Tweedy played in someone's living room in April of the same year.

Originally by : Neil Young

November 23, 2008
Neil Young - "A Day In The Life"

When Neil Young rolls into the Air Canada Centre next Thursday and Friday nights, it's a safe bet that the set list will full of old favourites, unexpected rarities and - if recent shows are any indication - this cover of my favourite Beatles song. Not a pairing I'd have ever thought I'd hear, but you'll get no complaints out of me. This recording comes from Farm Aid in Massachusetts this past September.

Originally by : The Beatles

November 16, 2008
The Acorn - "Steep"

Two of the finest up-and-coming bands in Canada - Toronto's Ohbijou and Ottawa's Acorn - teamed up earlier this Fall for both a tour across the US and a split-12" that saw each band cover one of the other's songs as well as contributing a new original song. Ohbijou tackled "Darcy" from The Acorn's debut Pink Ghosts while The Acorn reinterpreted the lead track from Ohbijou's Swift Feet For Troubling Times. Loveliness ensued. The two bands will pick up their co-touring ways next week for a short trek along the 401 starting next Thursday night with a show at Lee's Palace.

Originally by : Ohbijou

November 9, 2008
The Postmarks - "OX4"

Miami's Postmarks took an interesting tact when assembling their new record. First, the elected to do an album of covers, then chose the songs according to a numerical meme where each one related to a number between one and twelve. Then, they released them for free, one by one, on eMusic, leading up to the release of the complete album - By The Numbers - this Tuesday. No matter who the original artist is, be it The Ramones, David Bowie or Nancy Sinatra, the Postmarks recast the song a rich, retro-lounge sheen. For the #4 selection they went with "OX4", the closing track from Ride's masterpiece Going Blank Again and paean to their hometown of Oxford, England.

Originally by : Ride

November 2, 2008
Iron & Wine - "Waitin' For A Superman"

I had to triple-check that I hadn't already posted this one - for a while a few years back, it was pretty much one of my favourite covers - I guess I just never found the opportunity to post it up. I actually have two versions of Iron & Wine covering The Flaming Lips - I give the nod to this live recording from the Amstel Festival in 2003 because it has better fidelity and you get to hear Sam Beam say "shit". Iron & Wine are at the Phoenix next Thursday, November 13, and the Flaming Lips release their Christmas On Mars DVD and soundtrack next Tuesday.

Originally by : The Flaming Lips

October 26, 2008
Ryan Adams - "Like A Virgin"

Considering my computer is currently dead, the fact that I'm getting this one up is a feat. Never mind any accompanying verbiage. Basically, Ry-Ry is releasing his new record Cardinology is out this week. Madonna is single now. She likes rock stars. HMMMM.

Originally by : Madonna

October 19, 2008
Of Montreal - "Moonage Daydream"

Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes knows a thing or two about flamboyance, so it's really of no surprise that amongst the many, many live covers that are part of their repertoire there'd be a little David Bowie represented. What's somewhat more surprising is just how hard they make this one rock. Their new album Skeletal Lamping is out on Tuesday and the play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

Originally by : David Bowie

October 12, 2008
Editors - "Lullabye"

The Cure will release their thirteenth album 4:13 Dream in two weeks (was supposed to be this week, hence the timing of this selection, but what can you do) and have not one but two tribute albums coming out in the next while - Perfect As Cats is also out on the 28th and Just Like Heaven isn't out till January 27 but you can stream it now. This Editors track appears on neither one - it comes from a special covers compilation assembled to mark the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 1.

Originally by : The Cure

October 5, 2008
Okkervil River - "Roll Another Number For The Road"

Sloppy doesn't begin to describe it. Though Will Sheff offers a "we've never played this before" disclaimer before an obviously well-lubricated Okkervil River lurch into this Neil Young cover, it's rather obvious that it's not been heavily rehearsed... but it's entirely in keeping with the spirit of the song. Taken from a hometown show at Emo's in Austin circa November, 2003. It'll be a much, much tighter Okkervil River who play the Phoenix next Sunday and Neil is at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.

Originally by : Neil Young

September 28, 2008
The Wedding Present - "Caroline, No"

It's always great when The Wedding Present comes to town, not just because they're a great band and put on an entertaining show, but because the massive number of covers they've recorded over the years make picking a track so easy. This one I didn't know existed until I picked up for super-cheap in London Do It Again: A Tribute To Pet Sounds. It's an indie-skewed tribute to the classic Beach Boys album, and Gedge and co contribute the closing track, probably my favourite Beach Boys tune, and make it simultaneously wistful and creepy. The Wedding Present are at Lee's Palace on Friday night.

Originally by : The Beach Boys

September 21, 2008
Johnny Cash - "The Mercy Seat"

Neither the artist who wrote this song nor the one who performs it here needs any introduction, so I shan't insult you by trying. Johnny Cash covered this Nick Cave song on the third volume of his American series of late-career albums, the one entitled Solitary Man. And like most every other song he touched in those years, he made it his own. Cash died five years ago last week, Nick Cave is at the Kool Haus next week on October 1.

Originally by : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

September 14, 2008
My Bloody Valentine - "Map Ref 41N 93W"

Yes, this is another repeat but a) I first posted it five (5) years ago and b) with My Bloody Valentine coming back to Toronto for the first time in forever next week (September 25 @ Rich Coliseum) and Wire also here just a couple weeks after (October 7 @ Lee's Palace), how could I not offer this up again? It comes from the 1996 Wire tribute album Whore, and still remains the last officially released recording from My Bloody Valentine.

Originally by : Wire

September 7, 2008
Portastatic - "And I Was A Boy From School"

Whether with Superchunk or Portastatic, Mac McCaughan has never been one to shy away from a cover and so for the 2006 demos collection Some Small Things You Can't Defend, he included this largely acoustic cover of the largely non-acoustic Hot Chip. The Portastatic b-sides collection Some Small History, on which this track also appears, is out on Tuesday and Hot Chip are at the Kool Haus on the 30th of September.

Originally by : Hot Chip

August 31, 2008
The Smokin' Mojo Filters - "Come Together"

Way back in 1995, a whack of British stars came together to assemble the Help compilation in support of War Child's efforts in Bosnia (and again in 2005 with Help: A Day In The Life). The closing track on the album had arguably the most concentrated star power on the compilation, with Oasis' Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller - both of whom are playing the final day of V Fest next Sunday - teaming up for a cover of The Beatles' "Come Together" with Paul McCartney along to help them with the changes.

Originally by : The Beatles

August 24, 2008
Calexico - "Guns Of Brixton"

One of the many gifts of Calexico is their ability to cover most any song, and make it sound like was always meant to be heard under the desert sky and this reinterpretation of The Clash is no exception. It comes from an iTunes session and was also released on a limited edition split-7" with Beirut in Europe. Calexico's new long-player Carried To Dust is out in two weeks.

Originally by : The Clash

August 17, 2008
Squeeze - "End Of A Century"

It's usually the followers paying tribute to their forebears, but Squeeze - British and pop before there was such a thing as Britpop - turn it around in 1995 and covered then-biggest things in England Blur for a b-side to their "This Summer" single. Glen Difford and Chris Tilbrook have gotten the band back together this Summer for a tour that hits the Kool Haus next week on August 28. It will probably be at least the end of this century before Blur does the same.

Originally by : Blur

August 10, 2008
The Twilight Sad - "Climbing Up The Walls"

Yes, two Radiohead covers in a row. That's the lazy days of August for you. This one's by angst-tacular Scots The Twilight Sad and was their contribution to OKX, the Stereogum-curated tribute album marking the 10th anniversary of OK Computer. Radiohead are at the Molson Amphitheatre this Friday night.

Originally by : Radiohead

August 3, 2008
The Mountain Goats - "No Surprises"

It's not really fair to call The Mountain Goats out on matters of fidelity - up until just a few years ago (okay, more than a few), the lo-fi, boom box sonics were an integral part of their aesthetic so it's reasonable to think that's from whence this Radiohead cover comes. Yeah it sounds kinda crappy, but it also sounds kinda right. Radiohead are at the Molson Amphitheatre in a couple weeks.

Originally by : Radiohead

July 27, 2008
Mates Of State - "Starman"

Too cute for words drum and keys, husband and wife duo Mates Of State hit town next Monday night in support of their new album Re-Arrange Us for a show at Lee's Palace. This David Bowie cover came from their 2004 EP All Day. Let all the children boogie.

Originally by : David Bowie

July 20, 2008
Spiritualized - "The X-Files Theme"

Spiritualized's Complete Works compilations from a few years ago may have been thorough in cleaning out J Spaceman's cupboards, but they were sorely lacking in documentation so it's not clear where or when this nicely orchestrated cover of The X-Files theme originated, but most likely in the late-90s when the series was still popular. Spiritualized will be in town for V Fest in just over a month on September 6 and the movie no one was asking for but we're getting anyway, X-Files: I Want To Believe, is out Friday. I may see it eventually but if Alex Krycek shows up I swear I'm shooting the television.

Originally by : Mark Snow

July 13, 2008
The Hold Steady - "Can I Please Crawl Out Your Window"

The Hold Steady are back this week with their new album Stay Positive and while it's only been a couple years since Boys & Girls In America, it's felt like a much longer wait for new material. One of the tracks that helped pass the time in between was their contribution to last year's soundtrack to the Todd Haynes film I'm Not There wherein Craig Finn's fast-talking ways were put to good use on Bob Dylan's lyrics. Dylan plays Copp's Coliseum in Hamilton on August 20.

Originally by : Bob Dylan

July 6, 2008
Calexico - "Wave"

Consider this week's selection a preview of tonight and tomorrow night's attractions at the Mod Club. Tonight, we have Arizona's Calexico in town to preview their next album Carried To Dust, due out September 9, and tomorrow night brings Austin's Alejandro Escovedo, who has just released his new album Real Animal. Calexico covered this Escovedo song on the Por Vida tribute album a number of years back.

Originally by : Alejandro Escovedo

June 29, 2008
We Are Scientists - "Hoppipolla"

Though as a band they don't do much for me, We Are Scientists need to be commended for crafting one of my favourite cover versions of recent times. Covering Sigur Ros would be an exercise in folly for most bands, but they manage to not only do it, but do it well and acoustically. The version above comes from their Crap Attack b-sides collection, while this version comes from a radio session. You can also watch them do it on video. Sigur Ros released their new album Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust last week and will be at Massey Hall on September 22, We Are Scientists released Brain Thrust Mastery earlier this year.

Originally by : Sigur Ros

June 22, 2008
A Northern Chorus - "Candle Song #3"

Hamilton dreampop stalwarts A Northern Chorus call it a career this week with a couple of farewell shows, one this Friday at the Horseshoe in Toronto and one last one at the Casbah in Hamilton on Saturday night. I think this Mojave 3 cover may come from their last-ever release, a 7" entitled Chained To The Truth, which was recorded in a barn and also featured a cover of Low's "Slide". Both are lovely and a worthy send-off for this band, but if you buy the 7" take note that though the label says it's a 45, it's not - play at 33RPM. Mojave 3's Neil Halstead will release his second solo album Oh! Mighty Engine on July 29.

Originally by : Mojave 3

June 15, 2008
Catherine Wheel - "The Spirit Of Radio"

Toronto was always exceptionally good to the Catherine Wheel, so maybe it was their way of saying thanks when they recorded this cover of Rush's paean to Toronto radio station CFNY which appeared as a hidden track on their Like Cats And Dogs rarities comp. Rob Dickinson just re-released his 2005 solo record Fresh Wine For The Horses and will be at the Mod Club on Wednesday with a full band to promote it. Rush are at the Molson Amphtheatre on July 9.

Originally by : Rush

June 8, 2008
Airiel - "Blowin' Cool"

The Swervedriver reunion finally hits Toronto this week with a show at Lee's Palace on the 13th, an occasion that I will mark with this cover by Chicago's Airiel, whom I don't know too much about save that they certainly do the energy of the Mezcal Head original justice. It comes from the first volume of the Never Lose That Feeling shoegaze tribute compilation.

Originally by : Swervedriver

June 1, 2008
Death Cab For Cutie - "Love Song"

Robert Smith's deep, mournful voice is really what makes The Cure The Cure and for all of Ben Gibbard's gifts, a deep, mournful voice is not one of them. But that didn't stop him from leading Death Cab For Cutie through this cover of one The Cure's most beloved songs... with pretty much the results you'd expect. Death Cab play Olympic Island this Saturday, The Cure were just here a few weeks ago and will release their new album in September.

Originally by : The Cure

May 25, 2008
Islands - "Waterloo Sunset"

I'm returning home from the UK today, and really, what's more English than The Kinks, and what's more Kinks than "Waterloo Sunset"? Thanks to You Ain't No Picasso for cover by Islands, taken from a fundraising CD for Austin radio station KVRX. Islands at the Phoenix on Friday in support of their new album Arm's Way.

Originally by : The Kinks

May 18, 2008
Gemma Hayes - "All The Way Down"

Any suggestions that I'm only going to Dublin this week to stalk Gemma Hayes are wholly untrue. Well, largely untrue. Partly untrue. Completely true. Ahem. Hayes recorded this cover of The Swell Season for The Cake Sale, a collection of Irish artists working together for Oxfam. Hayes just released her third album The Hollow Of Morning and the Swell Season will be at Massey Hall on September 20.

Originally by : The Swell Season

May 11, 2008
The Rosebuds - "Push It"

I suspect The Rosebuds are around the same age as I am, so their decision to cover Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" should be taken less as an exercise in irony than simply acknowledging an inescapable memory of adolesence. It was released earlier this year as a bit of a lark, complete with video, and I'm dusting it off now as the band will be at Lee's Palace this Friday night opening up for British Sea Power. They've also just released a free remix album of last year's Night Of The Furies.

Originally by : Salt'N'Pepa

May 4, 2008
The Mendoza Line - "Sleep Of The Just"

Under a sort of shroud of mystery, Elvis Costello released his new album Momofuku on vinyl only but follows it up this week with a more conventional CD release. This gives me the excuse to post what may be my favourite track from the Almost You tribute album to Mr McManus - the now sadly defunct Mendoza Line doing one of my favourite EC songs from probably my favourite EC album, King Of America.

Originally by : Elvis Costello

April 27, 2008
Kate Nash - "I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You"

Sometimes these things just work out so well. This week, we have Kate Nash, who plays the Phoenix tomorrow night, covering Black Kids who they themselves are at the Phoenix next week on May 9 with Cut Copy, for a French radio session. And while I like nothing more than arbitrarily dismissing a band that has as much hype behind them as Black Kids do, this cover is pretty damned infectious and considering that Bernard Butler - aka Mr Midas Touch - is producing their debut Bastards Of Young, I may end up getting on board... but grudgingly.

Originally by : Black Kids

April 20, 2008
Miracle Fortress - "Digital Love"

I've never really listened to Daft Punk so I can't comment on how this cover of "Digital Love" by Miracle Fortress measures up, but if I didn't know it was a cover I'd have had no problem believing it was simply a new song by the Montrealers - it has the same gleaming, electro-pop sheen that made last year's Five Roses such a joy. Miracle Fortress will be at Lee's Palace on Saturday, April 26, with Born Ruffians.

Originally by : Daft Punk

April 13, 2008
American Music Club - "Queen Jane Approximately"

American Music Club are generally equated with the bummed out end of the musical spectrum but their take on Bob Dylan's "Queen Jane Approximately", recorded for an Uncut cover CD compilation a few years ago, is unexpectedly gentle and glistening - perhaps a stylistic foreshadowing of their latest record The Golden Age, which manages to be glistening and bummed out at the same time. American Music Club play Lee's Palace on April 17.

Originally by : Bob Dylan

April 6, 2008
Jens Lekman - "You Can Call Me Al"

For three years, Toronto has been calling Jens Lekman "in absentia" as his North American touring never seemed to bring him through town. That all changes this Tuesday night, however, when he plays a show at the Great Hall. Will he cover Paul Simon, as he's been doing on recent tour dates? No idea, but if so it might look a little like this.

Originally by : Paul Simon

March 30, 2008
Blitzen Trapper - "Star Me Kitten"

R.E.M. release their new album Accelerate on Tuesday. Blitzen Trapper are in town on Wednesday night for a show at the El Mocambo. Blitzen Trapper covered R.E.M. as part of Stereogum's Drive XV project, which paid tribute to the 15th anniversary of R.E.M.'s Automatic For The People. The cover sounds rather like R.E.M.'s original and almost nothing like Blitzen Trapper.

Originally by : R.E.M.

March 23, 2008
Adele - "Last Nite"

UK chart-topper Adele is generally labeled a soul singer, The Strokes are tagged a garage band. So what's more surprisng than the fact that she covered this song on Jo Whiley's BBC show recently is that she does it without emasculating the original or changing her own style. Don't expect to hear her trot this one out on Wednesday when she plays the Rivoli, though - it's an acoustic gig.

Originally by : The Strokes

March 16, 2008
Emmy The Great - "Where Is My Mind"

One of the new artists I was most looking forward to seeing at SxSW this past week was English artist Emmy The Great, who's made some waves based on a few singles and EPs and radio sessions - like the BBC one that this Pixies cover came from - and which leaves me anxiously awaiting a proper album, hopefully sometime this year.

Originally by : Pixies

March 9, 2008
Nina Persson - "Losing My Religion"

This week is SxSW and while most of the week will be dedicated to seeing the new and rising acts, Wednesday night at Stubb's will be pure old-school indulgence when I see R.E.M. for the first time in some seven years. They'll be showcasing their new album Accelerate due out April 1 and will be in town for a show at the Molson Amphitheatre on June 8. The Cardigans released their best-of compilation earlier this year and Nina Persson is working on a second A Camp record with an eye towards a Summer release.

Originally by : R.E.M.

March 2, 2008
Lightspeed Champion - "Xanadu"

Is Lightspeed Champion's cover of the title track/theme song from the 1980 Olivia Newton-John vehicle Xanadu ironic or sincere? Only Dev Hynes knows, and I think he's odd enough a fellow that it could well be the latter. And he wouldn't be the only one - I saw that movie so many times as a kid that even though I know, rationally speaking, that it's a terrible film - how could a roller-skating musical starring ONJ and Gene Kelly be anything but terrible? - scenes like this and this will live in my heart forever. Lightspeed Champion plays the Horseshoe this Tuesday night, March 4.

Originally by : Olivia Newton John

February 24, 2008
The Twilight Singers - "When You Sleep"

My Bloody Valentine are not an easy band to cover, so the fact that Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers are able to maintain the sweet spirit of "When You Sleep" while making it sound distinctly theirs, as they did in this radio session performance, is remarkable. Dulli's new band The Gutter Twins release Saturnalia next week and play the Mod Club the week after, on March 14. My Bloody Valentine still exist.

Originally by : My Bloody Valentine

February 17, 2008
American Music Club - "Heart & Soul"

American Music Club have, thanks to Mark Eitzel's lyrics, earned the reputation as a rather depressive bunch, though not nearly to the same degree as, say, Ian Curtis and Joy Division. That said, this cover - recorded in 2005 in San Diego - fits AMC like a glove. AMC's gorgeous new record, The Golden Age, is out Tuesday and they play Lee's Palace in Toronto on April 17.

Originally by : Joy Division

February 10, 2008
Basia Bulat - "Someday"

Though it crops up in live shows from time to time in a considerably more polished form, this rehearsal room recording of Basia Bulat and her band taking a leisurely stroll through The Strokes' "Someday" has a certain charm, inter-band banter and all, that I find delightful. Which isn't to say that a recording of a proper performance wouldn't be welcome... Basia's debut Oh My Darling came out in the US last week and she's currently on tour across America but will return home for a show at Lee's Palace on March 29.

Originally by : The Strokes

February 3, 2008
British Sea Power - "Caribou"

British Sea Power are weird. Pixies are weird. "Caribou" is a weird Pixies song. Ergo, British Sea Power covering "Caribou" by the Pixies as they did for the Dig For Fire Pixies tribute record should be weird... and it is. All ambient, electronic and vocal-less, it sounds more like, well, Caribou. British Sea Power's Do You Like Rock Music? is out in North America next week.

Originally by : Pixies

January 27, 2008
Catherine Wheel - "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely"

Bob Mould releases his new album District Line next week and so I'm going back to his band before last - Husker Du - for this week's cover. Yeah, I know that Grant Hart wrote this one, not Bob, but come on. It's a great song and Catherine Wheel did a great job with it as a b-side to their "Waydown" single, circa Happy Days. Mould is in town March 10 and Rob Dickinson, formerly of the Wheel, is doing something. Somewhere. BTW - there's a great interview with all three members of Husker Du in the current issue of Filter. Not online yet. Go to a bookstore or something.

Originally by : Husker Du

January 20, 2008
Drive-By Truckers - "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"

The Drive-By Truckers are one of the few bands who can pull off the foot-on-the-monitor guitar solo so if there's anyone who can or should cover Van Hagar Halen, it's they as this undated live recording will attest. The Truckers' Brighter Than Creation's Dark is out on Tuesday and they roll into the Opera House on March 19.

Originally by : Van Halen

January 13, 2008
The Magnetic Fields - "Heroes"

Stephin Merritt has said the new Magnetic Fields record Distortion, out Tuesday, draws inspiration from The Jesus & Mary Chain. Back in 1996, he paid more direct tribute to another seminal British artist, one David Bowie, on the Crash Course For The Ravers tribute record, with a cover of "Heroes" wherein he traded in Bowie and Eno's sonic grandeur for his own trademark deadpan delivery and tinkertoy arrangements.

Originally by : David Bowie

January 6, 2008
Lush - "Outdoor Miner"

"McNulty's drinking again".

The fifth and final season of The Wire premieres tonight and that's really all the reason I need to trot out this Wire cover by Lush, which was originally released iin 1992 as a b-side to their "For Love" single, circa Spooky.

Originally by : Wire