our band could be your band? (the spreadsheet)
April 7, 2019 2:00 PM   Subscribe

New York Times Magazine editor Nitsuh Abebe compiled this spreadsheet which catalogs cover versions of ’80s and ’90s indie rock songs, performed by other ’80s and ’90s indie rock bands. (hat tip: Spin)
posted by Drab_Parts (22 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this! The most useful component is the Spotify playlist referenced within.
posted by carrienation at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm unclear on what the organizing principle is. Is it supposed to be a list of what Abebe personally likes, or is it meant to grow into something comprehensive? Yo La Tengo has recorded so many covers that only including their versions of songs from the 80s and 90s (and disregarding their WFMU marathons) could still double the size of the spreadsheet. Sonic Youth has also done a variety of covers, including New York Dolls, various numbers by DC hardcore bands, and Madonna. And there must be a whole lot more Daniel Johnson and Mission of Burma covers than the few this list includes. Should a Television cover be included if it's from the seventies, or does Television's cred give it a pass?

Gripes out of the way, I like this a lot and I'll be digging into it, because it's got a lot of things I've missed. And I'd give Abebe high marks merely for citing a song by Ed's Redeeming Qualities. I'm always down for that.
posted by ardgedee at 2:56 PM on April 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I might add more Minutemen and Replacements--those guys really liked cover songs--but this is a neat list that includes a bunch of things I've mostly forgotten existed.

I'd also add the Blake Babies cover of the Grass Roots' 'Temptation Eyes.' I don't even care that it's from the '60s instead of the '70s.
posted by box at 3:21 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wish I could have been a fairly popular '90s indie musician.
posted by signal at 3:36 PM on April 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

The other day Google Play decided to remind me of the existence of Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey, which is 90s in spirit if not in actual chronology.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:51 PM on April 7, 2019

Someone should do this for 60's & 70's bands.
posted by ovvl at 6:18 PM on April 7, 2019

Should add Cowboy Junkies’ incongruous cover of Dinosaur Jr’s “Post”.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:14 PM on April 7, 2019

Found two covers by Cub and one cover by They Might Be Giants, but not They Might be Giants covering Cub. Which is a shame, because I like that song.
posted by nonasuch at 8:30 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Camper Van Beethoven is the greatest cover band ever.
posted by skyscraper at 8:55 PM on April 7, 2019

I feel like he really short-changed the Wire covers. I mean, yeah everybody covered "Outdoor Miner," but there was R.E.M.'s weird, peppy "Strange" cover on "Document" and the Big Black cover of "Heartbeat" which is one of my favorite things ever (and the Wire original is one of my favorite songs).
posted by thivaia at 10:05 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Camper Van Beethoven Siouxse and the Banshees is the greatest cover band ever.
posted by evilDoug at 6:01 AM on April 8, 2019

The spreadsheet feels like notes for an article Abebe never wrote. I hope he does write it, because it's a fascinating aspect of a subculture that's changed so radically.

I remember when, as a young indiekid in the 90s, one of the main vectors of learning about other bands was through covers. Most famously, Nirvana introduced millions of people to The Vaselines, The Meat Puppets and Lead Belly.
posted by Kattullus at 6:06 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, bands would often cover songs live and give little spiels telling their audience about the band and that they should get a copy of the original record. There was a fun communitarianism about indie, and it was also very international, with bands linking up across oceans and continents.
posted by Kattullus at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing there are lots of SubPop records too, because their fan club specials (maybe?) were SubPop bands covering other SubPop bands, so cd versions of the songs are available vs just being something covered in concert. I personally have about 5/6 of the CDs and songs in the spreadsheet, and the other 1/6 I've heard but don't really like (Dinosaur Jr covers).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2019

I was listening to perfect teeth last night and missing 1995 so fucking bad lol.

The pre-internet age where things felt more immediately human and connected. Now everyone is just a fucking brand.
posted by nikaspark at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Which is ironic because I spent 25 years trying to make the world more connected by helping to build internet tools for the world but I think I fucked up)
posted by nikaspark at 7:45 AM on April 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Despite having around 300 BFF mp3s kicking around on the ol hard drive, I'd somehow missed that Twin Falls, Idaho cover. In gratitude, I offer this cover of Vaseline.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2019

One of the first dates my wife and I had was seeing Jonette and Andy Preiboy in San Jose. It was at the FX I believe. I lost several pieces of my heart that night.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jeff Buckley's "Kanga Roo" cover oughta be included here as well, and I'm surprised the other covers that Nirvana did aren't in here. Still a lot of stuff I didn't know. I'll be putting the spotify playlist on in the background this afternoon.

More recently, there have also been excellent cover projects by Grant Lee Philips and Robyn Hitchcock - not sure they'd be allowed here, but they seem to match the overall format of 80s/90s indies covering their peers.

So he's not looking for edits/additions, just sharing a partial project?
posted by SoundInhabitant at 12:59 PM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Whoa, Concrete Blonde's song "Tomorrow Wendy" is actually a cover of an even more melancholy song by Andy Prieboy.

People have been thinking that "tomorrow Wendy's going to die" as far back as 1990. No wonder I've been anxious.
posted by bendy at 3:15 AM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

bendy, oh you should have seen them singing it together.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:44 AM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow, I hadn't heard Jeff Buckley's Kanga Roo cover before. Wow.

I would include Velvet Crush's 1991 cover of Teenage Fanclub's 1990 song Everything Flows for contemporary covers, and for alt-cannon fodder, from the same single, Velvet Crush's cover of Jonathan Richman's She Cracked (recorded 1972, released 1976.)
posted by larrybob at 12:23 PM on April 10, 2019

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