Altered States

By Jason.

Special Halloween edition of Altered States.  Phish’s Halloween set from last year.  They are covering Disney’s Thrilling Sounds album.  A spooky sound effect album released in the 60’s. They sampled the sounds then created this master piece live on stage.  Enjoy.

Season 3, Episode 19: Phish!

Howdy y’all!  This week Jason, John, and Robert get together and discuss why Neil Pert is the greatest white guy drummer over 50, why David Bowie doesn’t want to die on stage, shockingly there’s no Taylor Swift news, what we’re drinking, and Koop gets down to business with us and we finally discuss Phish.  It’s a damn good episode and we hope you agree.

“Joe Camel is a fucking camel!  I’m talking about horses!”


Altered States

by Jason.

Welcome to Altered States. A weekly playlist to help your weekend’s adventure get to the right destination. Featuring music left of center and slightly askew; ranging from post psychedelia, psybient, jam, and world music. Whatever I’m listening to during the week that I feel might help you through life’s journey.

Today’s list is a bit heavier than the previous list, focusing more on more modern rock’n roll psychedelia. Per wiki for neo-psychedelia: Neo-psychedelic acts borrowed a variety of elements from 1960s psychedelic music. Some emulated thepsychedelic pop of bands like The Beatles and early Pink Floyd, others adopted the jangly guitars of folk rock bands like the Byrds-influenced guitar rock, or distorted free-form jams and sonic experimentalism of late 1960s acid rock.[1]

If you love heavy droning guitars with dark themes, then buckle up, this list is for you. It can get dark, look for the light at the end of the tunnel.


Last week’s list if you want to listen back:

Covers project: Chenel

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Any list of best/favorite covers of all-time (in American music) have a few stone cold locks. I don’t care whether you’re black, white, green, Protestant, extraterrestrial or whatever, “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (NIbackwardsN) is going to show up. I’m not going to be the one asshole that tries to be a hipster and overlooks Jeff Buckley or Whitney Houston’s indelible pipes (covering Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” naturally). So let’s get those out of the way. Some all-time great covers are as follows:

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails)

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton)

“Hallelujiah” by Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen)

“All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan)

“With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Crocker (The Beatles)

You know ‘em, you love ‘em. In addition to the aforementioned American classics, I’d like to submit for your consideration 10 cover songs that I love. No particular order, of course.

Walk This Way by Run DMC (Aerosmith)

This one is a bit of a softball. Of course this is a great cover. The indelible guitar lick scratched up. The emergence of rap into the national consciousness. In terms of 20th century pop music, this may be the most important cover of them all.

Twist and Shout by The Beatles (Isley Brothers)

The prototypical go-go 60s hit tune gets covered by the prototypical 60s hit band. While it can’t be said that The Beatles really improved on the original with their cover like the others on this list, Lennon’s atypically raw vocals are a perfect fit for this group in its early mop-top days. Not unlike herpes, it’s pure infectious fun.

Love Hurts by Sinead O’Connor (Nazareth)

When most people think of Sinead and covers, “Nothing Compares 2 U” is the tune that comes up in conversation. Yeah, it’s heartbreaking and heartfelt. But for my money, nothing compares to (you know I had to) a broken heart. Sinead takes Nazareth’s pained paen and elevates it  an emotional wail that hits just the right spot. I dare you not to shed a tear.

Handle With Care by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (Traveling Wilburys)

The addition of a little pace and the layered voices of Conor Oberst, Ben Gibbard and M. Ward and the Watson Twins, helps Jenny Lewis add real depth to this Traveling Wilburys hit. You’d think it would be tough to top the combined forces of George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan. This does.

Tainted Love by Marilyn Manson (Soft Cell/Gloria Jones)

Soft Cell’s cover of the original song is definitely a classic. Pure 80s love in that one and definitely deserving a spot on any cover list. But who could have imagined the hard edge take by Manson would work so well? Well, it does.

Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth by Neko Case (Sparks)

You add Neko Case’s voice to anything and the song will soar in elegance. Simple as that.

Fever by Peggy Lee (Little Willie John)

Bet you didn’t know this was a cover, did you? Both versions are excellent in their own right. But man, Peggy Lee adds that fire to really get your blood boiling. If you haven’t heard it yet, listen and you’ll hear why it became Lee’s signature song over the equally great “Is That All There Is?”

Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm (Michael Jackson)

How do you improve on the King of Pop? You really don’t. But even coming close with your own infectious sing-along chorus and driving guitar-laden beat is a little miracle in its own right. Diaper-wearing chimps and surgery-mask-sporting dancing preteens help.

Jolene by Miley Cyrus (Dolly Parton)

Yes, that Miley Cyrus. Dolly herself may appear in the video for Mindy Smith’s cover, but Miley Cyrus knocks the cover off this cover in one of her surprisingly stellar Backyard Sessions videos. This girl actually has the pipes in the way she thinks she has ass. Use your talent, girl. Please.

Ready for the Floor by Lissy Trullie (Hot Chip)

I don’t like dance music. So when a singer makes me like a reformed dance song, I sit up and take notice. The electronic cheese is gone, but the straight fire remains in my final fave cover.

Season 3, Episode 18: Mos Def!

Howdy folks.  This episode is crazy late to be posted, but better late then worth 2 birds in the bush, or however colloquiums works.  This week a drunk John and Robert sit down and talk about The Mighty Mos Def.  There’s also music news, very loud Triscuit eating (sorry about that y’all!), and we lose Jason to sleep.  Or Nachos.  Something.  Any which way we hope you enjoy.

Covers Project: Valerie

Each week on Tuesday in October, we have been releasing a list of 10 cover songs that are arguably “better than the original” from each of our staff members on the blog and podcast network. Let us know if you agree with our selections!

Here is my list and very first contribution to the blog! Woo! Narrowing down to 10 songs was difficult, because I really had to stop and ask myself what makes a cover “better” than the original to me? 

Firestarter, Jimmy Eat World covering Prodigy

My favorite band covering a song I find completely insufferable in its original form. Listen to the whole 6 minutes; it doesn’t disappoint.

XO, John Mayer covering Beyoncé

Love JM’s somewhat unexpected take on what I consider to be Queen B’s best song. The harmonica really makes it.

Stay (I Missed You), New Found Glory covering Lisa Loeb

My favorite of NFG’s tracks on From the Screen to Your Stereo II, the second of their two cover albums of songs from motion pictures. Lisa Loeb does join in for the vocals, but I decided it still qualifies as a cover. I couldn’t remember what 90’s movie the original was from, but I love this pop-punk take on it.

The First Cut is the Deepest, Rod Stewart covering P.P. Arnold and/or Cat Stevens…depending who you ask?

One of my favorite “wait, that’s a cover? No way!” songs. Rod Stewart’s version > Sheryl Crow’s and certainly better than the original. No contest.

The Only One, Kevin Devine covering Manchester Orchestra

A great track from a split EP where KD covers MO and vice versa. You may have heard my first appearance on the podcast where I gush about Kevin Devine. He’s got so many great covers, but this is is one I can truly say tops the original.

Heroes, Janelle Manoé covering David Bowie

Typically covers of classics for commercials don’t match up to their originals at all, but this version absolutely rocks. Thank you, Pepsi.

Close to Me, The Get Up Kids covering The Cure

Speaking of people covering Bowie, The Get Up Kids cover “Suffragette City” on the same album as this Cure cover. There’s nostalgia to this one, admittedly. I love the original but there’s just something about this version and Matt Pryor’s voice that I just adore. This spot on the list was almost taken by Dinosaur Jr.’s version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, which is equally excellent, but the original of that one is just too good.

Stay, Thirty Seconds to Mars covering Rihanna

This song really shows off Jared Leto’s voice in ways I don’t believe Thirty Seconds to Mars other songs have, based on what I have heard. This version feels incredibly personal, while Rihanna’s version kind of loses me when Mikky Ekko’s vocals come in.

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, Neko Case covering Tom Waits

What can I say other than “whoa”? A surprisingly chilling take on this kind of kookie song. Not the best fit for a Christmas Party jam mix, but it absolutely belongs on this list.

Valerie, Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson covering The Zutons

Mostly because I just had to include it. When people meet me, they occasionally sing a line or two from this (or other “Valerie” songs) and then it’s stuck in my head all afternoon. Amy turned this so-so original into something truly memorable. I love the story that Mark Ronson asked Amy what indie song she might want to cover with him for his album and she chose it because it was a song they played all the time at a local pub she went to and she sung it in the shower.

I like to imagine that most awesome covers are born out of shower- solos and neverending earworms.

Altered States

By Jason.

Welcome to the first edition of Altered States. A new weekly playlist to help your weekend’s adventure get to the right destination. Featuring music left of center and slightly askew; ranging from post psychedelia, psybient, jam, and world music. Whatever I’m listening to during the week that I feel might help you through life’s journey.

Enjoy. It’s a chill vibe. Whether you’re looking to sit back and relax or put noise on in the background to help you concentrate, this list will help you get there.

Everyone safely on the bus? Let’s go:

Covers Project: Jason

By Jason.

Each week on Tuesday in October, we are going to release a list of 10 cover songs from each of our staff members on the blog and podcast network.

1 Hey Yeah by Outkast covered by The Blanks. You might recognize the voice as Ted the hapless lawyer from the TV show Scrubs. The cover project is “songs that are better than the original”, I wouldn’t say that this song is better than the original, but it IS completely different and beautiful in it’s own right. In fact, I’d go as far to say that you might be hard pressed to find a better cover song on any of the list that will be posted this week. I think this might be the winner of our cover project. This simplistic version is not only beautiful, but elicits more of a haunting emotion than it’s hip hop counterpart that dominated the radio waves in 2003.

2 Angel from Montgomery John Prine’s 70’s classic covered by the talented Susan Tedeschi in Tedeschi Trucks Band. Not only is this song a beautiful cover full of soul and longing, but it’s also a mash up. Be sure to listen to the end when Grateful Dead’s Sugaree makes an appearance. This song would probably be number 1 on many lists.

3 Tears for Fears 80’s song Mad World gets the full treatment by Michael Andrews featuring Gary JulesThe song first makes it’s appearance on the soundtrack for the cult classic Donnie Darko. Turning the original on it’s head the 80’s ascetic has been dropped in place of an eerie piano riff that makes one’s soul shudder in anticipation.

Georgia on My Mind is a song originally by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, This Ray Charles take is the definitive version of the song. Like Hendrix’s version of the Watchtower, most don’t even realize that it’s not originally Ray’s song. I’m partial to it because it takes me back to my days living in Savannah Georgia stumbling drunk along River Street or fishing of the beach at Tybee Island. I also like the Willie Nelson version, if you have time look up the Ray and Willie duet.. Awww hell… here you go. I’ll link it here:

Heartbeats originally done by The Knife in 2003 was covered by Jose Gonzalez that very same year. I think it’s safe to say that Jose’s cover is better because up until fairly recently I didn’t even know it was a cover and had never heard of The Knife. I’m finding that I’m attracted to these slowed down hauntingly beautiful type of covers. Let’s change that.

6 In 2010, indie band The Bird and the Bee released Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, an album of Hall & Oates cover songs. I Can’t Go For That is the best track off the album and is arguably better than the original. Here YOU decide if it’s actually better:

To be honest, I really like the original Hall and Oates version, but The Bird and Bee drops the 80’s cheese and it just works.

7 Ben Folds cover of Bitches Aint Shit is something to behold. I’m a sucker for these hip hop re-works, what can I say. Of course we couldn’t claim that it’s “better than the original” but like The Blanks Hey Yeah, it’s such a different take that it holds it’s own. What I love about this version is how Ben is able to be tongue in cheek about the cover while you still feel a real mixture of hurt and anguish of a broken man trying to be tough in front of his homies.

8 Who has the balls to cover Metallica? Rodrigo y Gabriella that’s who. They not only crush Orion, but make it wholly their own. The mixture of metal and flamenco is a pairing that somehow works. The technical prowess of these musicians really shines and allows the song room to breath taking it to a new level that the Masters or Puppets could never attain. It might not be “better” but again, the arrangement is a home run and deserves to be on anybody’s top covers list.

9 Son Seals Funky Bitch gets taken for a walk by Phish. I was playing with an idea of making a covers list of 100% Phish song, but I had to be honest with myself. As great as Phish covers can be, there are some terrible ones too, and mostly it would be inaccessible to non-fans. This cover of Funky Bitch is a screamer. Trey’s fingers fly over these blues notes breathing new life into an old tune. Be sure to look up other great Phish covers of Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, The Who, and TV on the Radio’s Golden Age.

10 One of my favorite things is Coltrane’s jazz cover of Rogers and Hammerstein’s My Favorite Things.  If only this was the version on the Sound of Music though I don’t think Ms. Andrew’s voice could solo quite like Coltrane’s sax. This song spurred Coltrane’s solo career after breaking from Miles Davis and was a giant hit in 1961.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, the top ten covers. I hope you enjoy the tunes and I look forward to your feedback.

Covers Project: John’s List

By John

It’s Rocktober and you know what that means! We’re gonna kick out the jams.

Each week on Tuesday in October, we are going to release a list of 10 cover songs from each of our staff members on the blog and podcast network. As Jason says, cover songs are “like the music equivalent of Halloween costumes.”

Our theme for October is Cover songs that we believe are better than the original. This will be cause for some debate, I am sure. To level the playing field, we unanimously voted to exclude some monster jams like Johnny Cash’s  cover of “Hurt.” Seriously. That would be (and should be) on EVERYBODY’S playlist of covers that are better than the originals.

Here is my Spotify Playlist of 10 Cover Songs John Believes are Better Than the Originals. We’ll discuss this playlist on this week’s podcast.