Friday Five: New Wave

Juli Thanki | March 7th, 2014

With its punk influences and generous use of synthesizers, New Wave is pretty far removed from country on the musical spectrum. However, in the past decade or so, several roots artists have been putting out some damn good New Wave covers. Here are six of my favorites; what are yours?

Bonus Track: Sturgill Simpson – “The Promise”

The song that inspired this week’s Friday Five – originally recorded by one hit wonders When In Rome – is an unexpected choice for Simpson’s sophomore album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (out May 13, but there’s a good chance you’ll hear it before then if you’re lucky enough to catch one of Sturgill’s live shows), but a damn good one. Turning the ‘80s pop hit into a stark country ballad allows the lyrics, which are rather lovely, to shine in a way that they didn’t when buried under the original arrangement.

5. Calexico – “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

Putting your own spin on a classic like this Joy Division song is never easy, but Americana rockers Calexico do a solid job here.

 

4. Laura Cantrell – “Love Vigilantes”

From Kitty Wells to New Order – is there anything Laura Cantrell can’t sing? Based on her diverse cover selections, she’s got killer taste in music too; not that we’d expect anything less from WFMU’s Radio Thrift Shop proprietress.

 

3. HillBenders – “Talking in Your Sleep”

The HillBenders grassed up this early ‘80s Romantics hit for their 2012 album, Can You Hear Me, proving that every song can benefit from the addition of a Dobro.

 

2. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – “Psycho Killer”

The world needs more alt-country Talking Heads covers; this one — featuring former 400 Unit member Browan Lollar singing lead – is a good start.

 

1. Johnny Cash – “Personal Jesus”

Cash was no stranger to New Wave – he recorded multiple songs by Elvis Costello and one-time step-son-in-law Nick Lowe  – but this version of a 1989 Depeche Mode single might be his best effort.

  1. Juli Thanki
    March 7, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Also, The Meat Purveyors recorded The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” for Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse: http://www.amazon.com/Dont-You-Want-Me-Baby/dp/B000UPO2CC

  2. Jack Williams
    March 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Drive-By Truckers – People Who Died (Jim Carroll)
    Dwight Yoakam – Train In Vain (The Clash)
    Los Lobos – Uncomplicated (Elvis Costello)

  3. Henry
    March 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Goes the other way, tool, with the late great Alex Chilton–during a Punk period for him–singing “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” on “Electricity by Candlelight.”

  4. luckyoldsun
    March 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Isn’t “Hurt” the key Johnny Cash selection in this motif?–That’s the song that made the big impact, with the award-winning video and all. It also was more interesting lyrically than this cut–even if the lyrics were a bit esoteric.

  5. Donald
    March 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    But, Hurt isn’t a new wave song. On the other hand, Lydia Loveless covering “They Don’t Know,” written and performed by the brilliant Kirsty MacColl, is.

  6. Jack Williams
    March 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Forgot this one:

    Richard Thompson – Tempted (Squeeze)

  7. Stormy
    March 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    A little more glam rock than New Wave, but here is Kenneth Brian covering David Bowie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJhfD77QOLY

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