Tag Archives: Covers

Album Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits

A few weeks back, I found a photo of myself from when I was working in shipping and receiving at some internet company.

I was about 21 years old at the time and looked ever so thrilled in the picture.  The photo showed me working hard while I rocked a backwards hat as well as a Me First and the Gimme Gimmes shirt, a shirt that I basically wore in the late 90s until it fell apart.  That was almost 20 years ago.

Where am I going with this you ask?

Well, clearly I was a fan back then, and I still am today.  Ever since I heard the Gimmes play “Country Roads” on a Fat Wreck comp, I fell in love.  There was just something so appealing about hearing a song my parents listened to in the 70s altered to my standards.

For those of you who live under a rock, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes consist of Joey Cape, Chris Shiflett, Dave Raun, some guy who calls himself Fat Mike, and good ol’ Spike Slawson.  They have been taking overplayed and classic tunes and covering them the only way they know how to.  The result is catchy, likable, and just downright fun.  i should probably add that they have been doing this since 1995.

Over the years, they have tackled adult contemporary, Motown, show tunes, country, and even Japanese pop songs just to name off a few genres.  I guess you could say they are not the gimmicky type.  Hell, they have 7 studio albums under their belts released on Fat Wreck Chords.  Clearly they are pretty damn important in the punk cover band scene.

To showcase their accomplishments (and squeeze you out of your hard earned cheddar), they are about to drop a greatest hits album on April 7th full of renditions of songs cleverly titled Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits.

Featuring 17 memorable covers, the Gimmes threw together the best of the best for all to hear in one collective listen.  I am sure it was tough for the Gimmes to pick the right songs for this “greatestest” hits album, but I think they did a pretty good job.

Starting with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, the album spans the Gimme’s eclectic taste in covers.  It was great to hear “Straight Up” and “Jolene” and of course “I Believe I Can Fly”.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stoked to hear “Desperado” as well as “End of the Road”.  I adore the Gimme’s take on these two originally over-played-as-hell songs.

As an added bonus, a few non-album tracks that I have not heard in a long time appeared.  “City of New Orleans” off of Willie, a Fat Mail Order limited edition EP, was an excellent surprise to hear.  The Del Shannon classic “Hats Off to Larry”, originally on the Live Fat, Die Young: Fat Music Vol. V, was the other.

The one track missing that I felt should have been on this greatest hits was the Gimme’s version of “Rocket Man” by Sir Elton John.  Luckily, I have Have A Ball in my collection and can listen to it whenever I please, but for those out there that are just discovering this punk rock cover band, that is one song I know they would enjoy.

To be honest, I was really hoping for the band to have a new album full of covers, but I will take this “greatestest” hits release over nothing.  I hope one day they decide to cover 90s hip hop songs in the key of punk rock, I seriously think that would be amazing and I know they could pull it off.

What I’m trying to say is simple:  Long live the Gimmes.  They are the best cover band of my time.

In support of this release, Me First are touring and have been since February.  I can not even tell you the last time I have seen these guys tour, so make sure you go see them live.  It is going to be an all out blast.  Give them your money.  All of it.  Being in a cover band can’t pay that much, can it?

Tour Dates:

04/11/17 Pittsburgh, PA at The Rex *
04/12/17 Cleveland, OH at House of Blues *
04/13/17 Chicago, IL at Concord *
04/14/17 Detroit, MI at Majestic *
04/15/17 Toronto, ON Canada at Phoenix Theatre *
04/16/17 Montreal, QC Canada at Club Soda *
04/19/17 Boston, MA at Royale *
04/20/17 Philadelphia, PA at Union Transfer *
04/21/17 Baltimore, MD at Baltimore Soundstage *
04/22/17 Asbury Park, NJ at Stone Pony *
04/23/17 New York City, NY at Webster Hall *
05/02/17 Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom ^
05/03/17 Vancouver, BC Canada at Commodore ^
05/04/17 Seattle, WA at Showbox ^
05/05/17 Boise, ID at The Olympic ^
05/06/17 Salt Lake City, UT at The Depot ^
05/07/17 Denver, CO at Summit Music Hall ^
05/10/17 Scottsdale, AZ at Pub Rock ^
05/11/17 San Diego, CA at House of Blues ^
05/12/17 Santa Ana, CA at The Observatory ^
05/13/17 Los Angeles, CA at The Fonda ^
05/14/17 Berkeley, CA at The UC Theatre ^
05/27/17 Las Vegas, NV at Punk Rock Bowling
06/09/17 Interlaken, Switzerland at Greenfield Festival
06/11/17 Milano, Italy at Carroponte w/ Descendents *
06/14/17 Attnang-Puchheim, Austria at EQUALITY Festival
06/15/17 Nickelsdorf , Austria at Nova Rock Festival
06/16/17 Bischofsmais, Germany at Rock The Hill
06/17/17 Bischofsmais, Germany at Rock The Hill
06/23/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
06/23/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/24/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
06/24/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/25/17 Scheessel, Germany at Hurricane Festival
06/25/17 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany at Southside Festival
07/01/17 Würzburg/Giebelstadt , Germany at Flugplatz Mission Ready Festival

^ = w/ Together Pangea

Album Review: Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield – Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

ES_Cover_loWhat can be said about Elliott Smith that most people have not said already?  You either loved him or did not care for him.

Smith left his legacy suddenly years back in the worst way possible and his music has remained for the world to sulk upon when in need.

In 2003, Smith ended his life after suffering from depression for years.  I have no words for his choice on how he bowed out to the world nor will I even go into detail.

The 90s punk me was introduced to Smith’s self-titled album by some of my indie-loving friends years before “Needle In The Hay” was heard in The Royal Tenenbaums.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I never appreciated him until after his passing.  I remember liking what I heard, but apparently was too much in love with the SoCal punk scene.

The twenty-something-year-old-me back then was not impacted as much as present day me would have been.  I hate to admit it, but at the time I was not deprived of Smith’s talent when I learned of his passing.  Twelve years later, I have a different way of looking at his loss.

Next week, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers and Kent, Ohio’s sweetheart Jessica Lea Mayfield will be dropping Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, a covers album full of, you guessed it, Elliott Smith songs.

The album, dropping on Ramseur Records, is not a reinvention of Smith’s work, but more of an appreciation for someone they both were fans of.

Produced by Avett and recorded over the last three years at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC as well as at Avett’s and Mayfield’s homes, the album features renditions of twelve Elliott Smith songs.

It was almost haunting to hear Mayfield start out “Between The Bars”.  This version sent chills throughout my body.  I loved how Avett joined Mayfield but did not dominate the song.

I really enjoyed the piano playing that built up throughout “Baby Britain” and feel Avett nailed it when trying to recreate.  It started off slower with acoustic playing but soon jumped into a more upbeat cover.  It kills me thaSeth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smitht this was a more popular song of Smith’s and was all about his addiction, but it really is a great song.  (Side note:  I enjoyed this cover way more than Bayside’s 2008 version)

“Ballad Of Big Nothing” was just as depressing as the original on Smith’s Either/Or.  Not that i was expecting anything different, but the impact that Mayfield’s voice with Avett provided a different dismal angle.

I would have loved to have heard Avett take lead on their version of “Roman Candle”.  The distorted guitars were awesome but I really wanted to hear a more close to the original version of the signing to this amazing track.  I was rather underwhelmed on this.

The original version of “Memory Lane” always reminded me of something the Beatles might have done.  Hearing Avett slow it down a bit with a stings section made me think of the Beatles even more.  This was a great version of the original.

The collaboration of Avett and Mayfield only made sense seeing how they have been pals for years now.   For them to cover Elliott Smith songs was nothing next to brilliant.  The best part is how they chose what material to cover and how they each took turns taking the lead.  They reached all over Smith’s catalog including some hits and more obscure tracks.

This is the part where I encourage those who never cared for Smith to take a listen and hear his brilliance in a different dynamic.  Love him or hate him, Smith was an incredible songwriter.  This covers album proved that so well.

The album drops on March 17th and you can preorder it now by heading over to The Avett Brothers merch site.

If you’re lucky, you can even catch them live throughout March:
10   McGlohon Theatre, Charlotte, NC
11   The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
12   Town Hall Theatre, New York, NY
14   Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Philadelphia)
17   James K. Polk Theatre/TPAC, Nashville, TN
18   Southern Theatre, Columbus, OH
20   Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago, IL
22   Fitzgerald Theatre, St. Paul, MN
24   Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO
26   Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
27   Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
29   Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
31   Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Side note:  This powerful scene with Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums is beyond horrifying even more so when you think about what happened just a couple years later…  I am glad Avett and Mayfield did not cover this track.

Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) Covers Guns N Roses

I am still kicking my ass for missing Rise Against when they recently played Cleveland.  I literally overlooked the show until hours before they started and had already committed to other engagements.

Ok, I am done feeling sorry for myself.

Today I was reminded of an awesome protest compilation album being released by A-F Records called This Concerns Everyone.

What does this have to do with Rise Against you ask?  Go on, keep reading…

The album will feature a ton of artists playing covers and originals including Tom Morello, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Chris Farren (Fake Problems), Erica Freas (RVIVR), Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves, as well as Justin Sane and Chris#2 (Anti-Flag), just to name a few.  See below for the complete track listing.

What first stated as a split between Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane and Chris #2 as well as The Homeless Gospel Choir and Chris Stowe turned into an inspirational idea.  More and more people got involved and soon the split turned into a compilation.

An undisclosed portion of proceeds will be donated to the Right To Heal Campaign.  I think this is an amazing way for artists to reach out to troops in need.

The good folk at Alternative Press are currently streaming Tim McIlrath’s rendition of a classic Guns N Roses track.  Head over to Alternative Press to check out his rendition of “Civil War”.

This Concerns Everyone

This comp drops on 11/18/2014.  Head over to A-F Records and pre-order yourself a copy now.

Side A:
01. Chris Farren (Fake Problems) – Establishment Blues (Rodriguez)
02. Erica Freas (RVIVR) – Tiny Murders
03. Chris Conley (Saves The Day) – A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
04. Chris #2 (Anti-Flag) – What Did You Learn In School Today (Pete Seeger)
05. PJ Bond – Dirty Hands
06. Anika Pyle (Chumped) – Ugly
07. Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman) – House Gone Up In Flames
08. The Homeless Gospel Choir – Some People
09. Chris Stowe – Other Peoples Guns
Side B:
10. Chris Wollard (Hot Water Music) – Selected Scenes
11. Roger Harvey – What Are You Fighting For (Phil Ochs)
12. Shawna Potter and Brooks Harlan (War On Women) – Servilia
13. Tim Mcllrath (Rise Against) – Civil War (Guns N’ Roses)
14. Justin Sane (Anti-Flag) – I Ain’t Got No Home (Woody Guthrie)
15. Thomas From The Burning Land (Strike Anywhere) – The Deep State (Field Recording)
Digital Bonus Tracks:
01. Prophet Motive – Hallowawa
02. Josh Massie – Life During War Time (Green Day)
03. Spoonboy – Last Of The Asshole (The Max Levine Ensemble)
04. Pat Thetic – Owe Us A Living (CRASS)

Billy The Kid & Joe McMahon Song A Day Performances

So apparently Billy The Kid and Joe McMahon (Smoke Or Fire) decided to cover 31 songs in 31 days for the month of January.

Going by the title Billy + Joe, the duo has been dropping an acoustic cover a day and have been posting them on Facebook.  Not just covering punk rock favorites, the band has been selecting all sorts of songs from a wide array of artists at their, and other’s, discretion.  I guess my question is, are they going to start writing their own material?  They really compliment one another quite well.

They have been actually taking requests for more songs to cover through their Twitter Page.  With a few more days left, it does not hurt to try and throw them an idea.

Have you heard of this little project yet?  If not, you are missing out on some fun covers.  Here are a couple of my favs:

Want to see all of the covers to date? Check out their YouTube Page.

Album Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Sing In Japanese

Leave it to punk-rock-superstar-cover-project-extraordinaires Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to make America look good.  Usually us U.S. folk will see Japanese bands covering American tunes, but when is the last time you saw someone from the states actually take the time to cover a Japanese pop song as well as turn it into a punk rock jam?

The Gimmes have been making covering songs cool since the 90s with help from Fat Wreck Chords.  Featuring members of NOFX, Swingin’ Utters and even Foo Fighters, the Gimmes are not your Friday night hole-in-the-wall cover band.  By taking tracks your parents and probably grandparents listened to before you were accidentally conceived, the Gimmes add a punk rock style and make the songs tolerable.  I remember the first time I heard the Gimmes cover  Elton John’s”Rocket Man”.  I found the track on a free comp CD I snagged at a Warped Tour in ’96 and I was hooked instantly.

On the bands newest EP Sing In Japanese, the Gimmes decided to cover a new territory of music and once again add their own punk rock flair while doing so.  Having covered many different genres of music in the past (including country, Broadway tunes and adult contemporary), it was no surprise the the boys in the Gimmes would eventually try something a tad more challenging.  The result is a catchy culture crossing take on songs more likely sung along to in the bars of Japan.

“Hero” started off the EP with the Gimmes covering a Kai Band song.  Lead vocalist Spike Slawson did not hesitate at all while singing this track in Japanese.  While listening I read the band’s bio for this release and learned that Spike actually learned Japanese phonetically thanks to a friend of Fat Mike.  I have to admit, I was impressed to learn that.

With a clever Social D “Story Of My Life” intro, the cover of the 70’s hit “Kekkon Shiyou Yo” (“Let’s Get Married”) by Takuro Yoshida was actually a lot of fun to listen to.

“C-C-C” mixed in Japanese and English lyrics into the song originally recorded by the early 70s Beatles-inspired band called The Tigers.  The track, although I could only understand 50% of it, it was my favorite track on the EP.

“Linda Linda” ended the six song EP with a more ska-punk feel.  With trumpets supplied by Brad Magers and Keith Douglas of Mariachi El Bronx, the song was indeed a genre bender of a track.

This is not the first time the Gimmies have played a songs in different language as previously heard in their only live album to date Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah. Ok, it was just “Hava Nagila”, and yes, they were at a Bar Mitzvah.  Still, NOFX has covered the classic French tune “Champs Elysées” before, and they nailed it.  The point I am trying to make is that the Gimmes are more talented than many may think.

So why did they do a Japanese EP full of songs you probably have never heard of in your life?  Simple…because they can.

The band will be touring Japan shortly and I am sure that had something to do with which culture they decided to cover.  Just like the band’s last EP Go Down Under (they toured Australia upon releasing the EP), the band threw together a bunch of songs together just in time to tour.  I really would like to think that this was a little more involved than a couple of jam sessions as Spike really does a hell of a job singing the lyrics of each track in Japanese.  Funny thing about this concept is that the band plans on releasing future EPs in Spanish, German, and even French.  Is it wrong of me to be excited about this world tour of covering?

I can not say I knew any of these songs by heart nor have I the slightest clue what they were about, but I enjoyed what I heard.  The Gimmies could play Jesus Christ Superstar in its entirety for all I care and I am sure I would say the same thing.  I love these guys.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “Hero” by Fat Wreck Chords