RecommNeds Halloween 2019 Mixtape Edition

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It’s Halloween week, which means costumes, candy and, if you’re a live music lover, covers. Over the last few years, I’ve featured cover albums in this slot. I love a good covers album, whether a full-album tribute or a more jukebox-style mixtape format. So, I’ve been collecting these throughout the year to feature during the final week of October. The problem is, I have too many aural treats to put into your sonic pillowcase. I think it’ll be too hard to whittle it down to my typical three – five albums, so I’m just going to do a quick hit on a whole bunch of them. These are all great, I promise, but feel free to pick the ones you find most appealing.

The first batch are in the rock/pop category. Let’s see, we’ve got Night Beats doing a full-album cover of the classic proto-punk record Boom from The Sonics. Serious rocker that one is. On the other end of the spectrum are The Bird and the Bee “interpreting” the masters once again with a record filled with wonderful versions of all your Van Halen favorites. No, really, have you heard this one yet? Pretty inspired. It’ll take you back to the ’80s in more ways than one. Speaking of inspired, no one covers a great tune quite like Arc Iris. In fact, they were in this spot last year with their full-album reimagining of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. They’re back with a surprise EP entitled Friends & Lovers that’s got four ridiculous covers (and one original) – actually, “cover” doesn’t quite do justice to what they’ve done, particularly the two Zeppelin tunes on there. Must hear!

The jazz world is never short of amazing tributes and covers, whether straight-up or completely new realizations. Some of my favorites this year are the Marco Pacassoni Group’s vibes-centric album filled with positively delightful Frank Zappa covers. The record is called Frank & Ruth and is a treat for any FZ fan. Barrance Whitfield and the Savages, or in this case, The Barrance Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra, take things into outerspace with their swinging selections from Sun Ra’s take-you-out catalog on their Songs From The Sun Ra Cosmos out earlier this year. Guitarist Pasquale Grasso has three EP’s out this year, all great, but the newest one features five solo renditions of Thelonious Monk favorites that sound pretty darn timeless on his six-string. Finishing out this set is an album from the brimming-with-talent trio of Ted Nash, Steve Cardenas and Ben Allison doing a wonderful sax-guitar-bass jazzed-to-the-max take on the West Side Story soundtrack.

Finally, we end with a set of cover albums played by Americana artists. We’ve got the appropriately-titled Sharing The Covers from Chatham County Line. The bluegrassers hit everything from Wilco to John Hartford with plenty of interesting stops in between. On-the-rise country singer Corb Lund also doesn’t bury the lede. His new EP is called Cover Your Tracks and consists of eight songs you can tell he has a true love for. He opens with “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” and ends with “I Shall Be Released,” so, I mean, what could be bad? Check it out. We’ll finish off with this real beaut from Tom Brosseau and Sean Watkins who put out In The Shadow Of The Hill earlier this year. The record is songs from the vast Carter Family catalog and, while there’s no shortage of Carter Family covers out there, this collaboration really breathes new life into the classic material while giving the sense that Watkins and Brosseau learned the songs directly from A.P., Maybelle, Sara themselves.

Not too many tricks this week, but plenty of treats. Enjoy all the covers, don’t forget to brush your teeth after all this sweetness and back to our regular dose of off-your-radar goodies next week. Enjoy!