Published Dec 21, 20125. Gallows
(Minor Threat cover)
Gallows, especially in their latest incarnation with Canadian Wade MacNeil on vocals, are one of the meanest machines in modern hardcore, but the band paid their respects to the masters by covering genre forefathers Minor Threat's "Seeing Red." It's played a little faster and screamed a little louder, but overall the redo dusts the classic off for anyone that doesn't already have Minor Threat's complete discography tattooed in their memory.
4. Mark Lanegan
"White Light/White Heat"
(The Velvet Underground cover)
Though backed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' top-notch, bluegrass-inspired Bootleggers, Mark Lanegan's rough and rustic cries take the back-porch jamboree version of the Velvet Underground's mescaline anthem into overdrive. Since the raucous, bow-fiddle and pianny rendition was recorded for the prohibition-era Lawless flick, though, you get a feeling that these dudes picked their poison by scooping a ladle into a bathtub full of the proofiest shine around.
3. The Walkmen
Long-running indie troubadours the Walkmen get more and more serene as the years go on, as evidenced by the sigh-inducing elegance of their latest LP Heaven. What makes their "U2 Medley" so great, then, is how truly fucking awful it is. It's an between-sessions jam sloppily slinging together "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "With or Without You" and "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" with Hamilton Leithauser tragically missing almost every one of Bono's high notes. If the result of the goof-off session was the highly refined Heaven, we hope the band keep the atrocious non-album covers coming full-force.
2. Neneh Cherry & the Thing
There are a lot of oddball moments to R&B singer Neneh Cherry and Scandinavian jazz trio the Thing's appropriately titled covers LP, The Cherry Thing. It's hard to pick a favourite, but the outfit's take on Madvillain's "Accordion" is about as out-there as you can get. First, they swap out MF Doom's gruff spit and replace it with Cherry's smouldering singing voice and some free-verse beat poetry. They also, well, take out the titular accordion sample to toss in a highbrow mash-up of sax skronks and stand-up bass slides. Bizarre, but brilliant.
Feist and Atlanta metal masters Mastodon covered each other on the Record Store Day exclusive Feistodon 7-inch, but who would have figured the heavier track of the two would be Leslie's cover of The Hunter's "Black Tongue"? While Mastodon's take on Metals' "A Commotion" amped up the distortion, it lacked the tense, percussive thud —not to mention those wild sax blasts from Colin Stetson — of the original. Feist's "Black Tongue," meanwhile, toned down the volume but offered up the track as a spare and haunting slice of gothic country, full of eerie vocal harmonies and tin-pan clanks recorded somewhere in the devil's bayou.