I love a good cover. There’s something about a fresh take on an old classic that really excites me as a music fan. For example, if you’ve never heard Gnarls Barkley take on Radiohead, or Katy Perry rework MGMT, or the Morning Benders’ version of a Disney classic, then you’re missing out on a critical part of the musical experience. Until the 1960’s, everything worthwhile got covered – paying tribute to your influences is just a natural part of being a musician. Just the other weekend at the Backbeat magazine block party, we heard Sounds Under Radio perform Bjork’s “Army of Me,” Schmillion tackled “Wolf Like Me” by TV on the Radio, and the Boxing Lesson tore up the traditional “House of the Rising Sun” (made famous by the Animals). We even featured Shakey Graves’ version of “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen here on our site a few posts ago. Suffice it to say that covers are everywhere, and I’m thankful for that.
Well, we can all add another pair of covers to our ever-growing covers playlists (you all don’t have one of those too?). Austin’s own Royal Forest have unleashed their versions of a pair of songs from 1975 to hold us all over until they finish the follow up to their 2010 self-titled EP. Their reinterpretation of Neil Young’s “Borrowed Tune” straightens out Young’s syncopated piano chords into a forceful yet mellow drive reminiscent of Band of Horses, while also filling out the arrangement. The other cover is of “You’re a Big Girl Now” from the inimitable Bob Dylan. Rather than try to imitate, Royal Forest go with a spacey laid-back feel with smooth vocals from frontman Cody Ground. It’s a very slow build that takes a very different approach from the original.
The covers become even more interesting when you hear the rest of the group’s material. Their self-titled EP is full of Beatlesque melodies buried in stilted rhythms and atypical guitar harmonies. The two songs they covered seem like kind of an odd choice, considering how simple and straightforward the songs are structurally and melodically compared to Royal Forest’s original material. So even if these two covers aren’t your speed, keep an open ear for new songs from these guys. You can get both the covers EP AND their debut self-titled EP here for free! And we’ll be keeping you posted, of course, about any new material.