Ryan Adams’ full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album 1989 is easily derided in concept. What benefit would Adams fans get from the cultish, prolific artist seeking inspiration from a pop singer as young and ubiquitous as Swift? Plenty, it turns out. Adams hasn’t sounded this directed in ages. “Welcome to New York” is perfectly suited to Adams’ Springsteen-ish heartland rock tendencies (think of it as a cousin to his own “New York, New York”). Musically, 1989 is gorgeous; the reverb-rock take on “Style,” mandolins as strings in “Out of the Woods,” chiming Smiths guitars in “Wildest Dreams” and ’80s rock pulse of “All You Had to Do Was Stay” give 1989 an immaculate sheen worthy of its pop predecessor. Some of Swift’s lines and singsongy melodies sound a little silly coming through Adams’ world-weary lips (“Shake It Off’s” “Haters gonna hate”), but he also has a way of revealing not only the darkness underneath most pop lyrics (“you look like my next mistake” sound sad rather than impulsive in “Blank Space”), but the universality of the emotion behind them. Part of the record’s success can be attributed to Adams’ chutzpah; the rest comes from the fact that these were solid hooks and entertaining lyrics to begin with. It’s clear from listening that 1989 is no cash-in; Adams may have been 15 in 1989, when Swift was born, but he uses that to his advantage. The youthful emotion present in these songs still courses through him, and the tinges of regret and nostalgia he adds makes the material all the stronger.
One of the most prolific and idiosyncractic songwriters of his generation has covered an entire album from one of the most ubiquitous pop stars of her generation, and soon you can own the results on LP or CD!
Ryan Adams' full-album cover of Taylor Swift's megaselling 1989 album was an welcome surprise, as Adams filtered Swift's maximalist radio pop into his world-weary Americana style. The album will be released by Blue Note on CD Oct. 30 and on LP Dec. 11.
Reviews for the album have been overwhelmingly positive, with Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt claiming, "If turning the biggest, shiniest pop record of the past year into a survey course in classic rock economy sounds like a novelty, it is. But it’s also the best kind—one that brings two divergent artists together in smart, unexpected ways, and somehow manages to reveal the best of both of them."
Like Tame Impala? Nuts for Drake? Sure, they're great. But a big part of Coachella also has been the chance to see legendary bands reunite and take the stage, as well as long-established artists alongside the newcomers. Here are 10 great albums by reunited or established artists you should know before heading to the desert next weekend.
The album that started the Brian Johnson era of AC/DC (following the death of lead singer Bon Scott) is their biggest and has many of their best-loved hits, including “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the title track. It’s good to know the rest of the songs, even if you’re not especially sober by the time AC/DC goes on (which is probably how they’re best heard anyway).
Fences is the brainchild of Brockton, Massachusetts native Christopher Mansfield. In 2009, Mansfield released his debut EP, Ultimate Puke, online via his MySpace page. The songs caught the attention of Sara Quin of popular Canadian band Tegan & Sara. Quin later produced and contributed vocals to the debut full-length, Fences (2010). Mansfield has since collaborated with fellow Seattle artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis both contributing to each other's projects. Mansfield co-wrote the song "10,000 Hours" from Macklemore's break through hit record, The Heist.
Now part of the Elektra roster, Fences just released Lesser Oceans this week. Mansfield and his cohorts - guitarist Benjamin Greenspan, drummer Elliot Chaffee and bassist Lindsey Starr - deliver 10 perfectly written folk-pop songs with help from producers Ryan Lewis, Chris Walla and Jacquire King. Macklemore drops in for a guest rap verse on "Arrows" that works magically with the non-hip hop stylings of Fences. Mansfield has a knack for tapping into simple lyrics while still being entertaining and drawing in the listener. Conviction and emotion is what drives this stellar batch of songs.