It’s difficult to believe that the class photo we took at the Keflavík Airport was snapped this morning. Those half-asleep but excited expressions seem like they were from days ago, but all eleven of us have been parading around Reykjavík for the last 12 hours, eating Icelandic hot dogs with crunchy onions in the morning mist, exploring the downtown area where Airwaves has begun its five-day takeover, and dipping into hot pots at Sundhöllin like true Icelanders who desperately need to unwind.
It’s the oldest tale in rock and roll: a person gets a guitar for their birthday, perhaps a Christmas present, or maybe their dad saw them eyeing one as they walked past a local music shop. That first instrument is a special purchase. The wannabe musician wants to learn how to play so they start pecking away at notes and chords, and usually head out to the garage with a few friends to play some covers from bands that perhaps started out the same way. After practicing an old Oasis or Neil Young song 100 times over, the newly appointed musician is now ready to take that next step and share it with the world on a platform that makes even the worst of musicians visible: YouTube.
How many times have you searched for a song on YouTube and seen bad covers by earnest-looking kids that make you want to jab number two pencils into your eardrums? I know I have clicked on more than my fair share of tone deaf wannabe musicians’ videos who would have been better served by thinking twice before clicking the “Upload” button. Hey, this is the Internet after all though you’re certainly free to put whatever you want up on media sharing websites however, more often than not, these renditions of one of your favorite original songs are inadequate at best.
Sometimes a pleasant surprise does happen. The covers don’t suck! Sometimes the person has a really clever or unique take on a song or even better a voice that actually does the song justice. It’s becoming common for new artists to get discovered via YouTube and while you may have to sift through some particularly horrendous versions of Velvet Underground songs, good cover songs really do exist!
So the next time you’re bored laying on the couch around the house, pick up the old laptop and see how many clicks it takes before you find someone who makes you sit back and say “hey, that was actually a pretty good version of that song.” To speed up the process , check out a few good videos of covers right here in this post.
Brendan Taylor hosts the indie alternative rock show, Indie Cuts, every Monday evening from 9-11 pm on WCRX 88.1 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @Btayradio
The Pixies have been together since 1986 and have seen multiple lineups since their first incarnation and debut album Come On Pilgrim. After some in-fighting and creative differences between original members and main songwriters Black Francis and Kim Deal, the group broke up in 1993. Through all of this, the band had developed a religious following of fans and admirers who longed for a Pixies reunion, which did happen in 2004.
I was curious to see what an alternative band of their stature would look and sound like 25 years later and the answer is simple: they sound fantastic. Time has taken its toll on the group. Yes they’re a little balder, a little grayer, and a little heavier but their sound is as sharp as ever.
Opening their Chicago show at The Riviera Theatre on February 9th with “Bone Machine”, the group immediately set the bar high with a tremendous amount of distortion and feedback while lead singer Black Francis cooed falsettos over a mountain of drums and bass. With literally no stage banter between songs, the Pixies packed 32 songs into an hour and 45 minute set which had the sold out crowd cheering throughout the evening. Pulling material from landmark albums such as Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, the group mixed favorites like “Gouge Away” and “Where Is My Mind” in with the band’s newest releases, EP1 and EP2, and first new music in over 10 years, like “Indie Cindy” and “What Goes Boom”.
Newcomer to the group, Paz Lenchantin, handled departed bassist Kim Deal’s vocals with a polished style and grace that complimented Francis’ dark lyrics about extraterrestrials, love in vein, and a number of other assorted odd lines. The Pixies displayed the raw power and nerve that has served them so well over nearly three decades together and it was all on display at their Riviera show. Go see these guys if you get the chance.
Listen to Indie Cuts with your host Brandan Taylor every Monday night 9 to 11pm on WCRX, Chicago’s Underground and WCRXFM.com.