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Video List: IndyMcGrath’s Top Cover Songs of 2011

Love them or hate them, people are always talking about them.  I have yet to notice anyone else make a 2k11 list covering covers.  My selections for the best songs from previous recordings are as follows:

13  Real Estate – Barely Legal (The Strokes)

I could not be any more pumped up for the upcoming Strokes cover album Stroked. If the rest of the disc stacks up to the first single from Real Estate, we are all in for a real treat. Congrats, Real Estate, on making this song your own–no small task.

12  The Black Keys – Dearest (Buddy Holly)

The Black Keys work wonders on their take on this Buddy Holly classic. Short, sweet and fantastic. The Keys at their simplest, which is always a good thing.

11 Morning Benders – Lovefool (The Cardigans)

Hand claps, acoustic guitar and three part harmonies. Rarely do I say that a cover surpasses the original, but this sure as hell comes close. A helluva rendition of the classic guilty pleasure from Swedish rockers The Cardigans.

10  Friendly Fires – I’m Good, I’m Gone (Lykkie Li)

What better way to add buzz to their latest release, Pala, than to put out of cover of a song that people can’t hate.  These guys have a formula and it is continuing to work.

9  She & Him – Oh Boy (Buddy Holly)

When I heard that a tribute album to Buddy Holly was going to be dropped this year I thought “Oh Boy”! Unsure of what to expect I found exactly what I was looking for with this track.

8  Fitz and the Tantrums – Arthur’s Theme (Christopher Cross)

This is a silly cover from a silly movie by a band getting a lot of buzz this year.  I love it.

7  Hooray for Earth – Lewis Takes Action (Owen Pallet Cover)

This band has caused me to take a step back ever since I started listening to them.  No Love, True Loves, and Sails make their full-length debut stand strong.  This cover makes me think they are going to be around a while.

6  Bat for Lashes – Strangelove (Depeche Mode)

Natasha Khan continues to be the mark for indie innovation.  This pairing just makes sense to me.

5  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Higher Love (Steve Winwood)

After Dodge posted the video of them covering this at the White Cabaret in Indianapolis I was extremely jealous for being out of town.  If this does not win you over, I am not quite sure what will. Their cover of The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” deserves to be on this list as well.

4  James Blake – A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)

James Blake and the Dub-step movement has been one of the hottest topics of 2k11.  This song makes me believe there is some legitimacy to it.

3  Mr. Little Jeans – Suburbs (Arcade Fire)

Sometimes groups get popular after they have maxed out on buzz via a cover (i.e. First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song). I thought it would be impossible to cover anything off this album.  I was wrong.

2  Bon Iver – I Can Make You Love Me / Nick of Time (Bonnie Raitt)

Justin Vernon’s release this year deserves to be album of the year, win a Grammy, and be talked about for the rest of eternity.  Opting to play this to national audiences instead of a track on his latest release tells you how good he thinks this is and I would have to agree.

1  Dum Dum Girls – There is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths)

This beats out Bon Iver because of the happiness it brings to the table.  This cover has given me a newfound respect these four Californian garage poppers. This is number one because I do not think of it just as a cover, I consider it one of my favorite songs of the year.

Written by Brett McGrath


VIDEO: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. cover Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” via MOKB


Thoughts on MOKB Presents Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: White Rabbit Cabaret: Indianapolis: June 17, 2011

One of my biggest beefs with the indie music scene is the pretentious nature of many of the scene’s artists. We’ve all witnessed it—the teenager in face paint singing choruses in French over a backbeat of crying children. Vomit. In my experience, those that believe they reside at the forefront of an artistic revolution tend to be the last ones aboard the bandwagon.

Two pranksters from Detroit breathed some much-needed frivolity into indie music on Friday night. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.—yes, that is their name. And, no. You will not forget it.—brought their addictive hooks and body-moving beats to a packed White Rabbit Cabaret, in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square.

Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott, along with a drummer, took the stage in NASCAR racing gear only to shed it for three-piece suits. Think a reverse Clark Kent to Superman transformation. And super men they were.

Don’t let the band’s name and cheap gimmicks fool you, the sound is solid. Though Zott looks identical to Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, he has the voice and energy that can move a room. Epstein would be a dream member of any band, navigating seamlessly from the keys to the synth to bass to guitar. His voice is stellar as well.

The duo turned trio offered the audience a premium blend of tracks from their debut release It’s a Corporate World, as well as a handful of covers. See the setlist here. By the time they played Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” for the first encore, the audience had worked itself into a frenzy. It was a full on party at the Cabaret that night.

Other high notes included the band’s raucous take on Gil Scott-Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit”, “An Ugly Person a Movie Screen”, “Simple Girl” and The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows

Download or listen to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s recent Daytrotter Session: here.