In advance of the release of A Carnival of Sorts: An R.E.M. covers compilation by Various Artists on Friday, we are outlining who the artists are behind the covers and why they chose the R.E.M. tracks.
The entire album is now available to purchase for a very reasonable £6 on Bandcamp and all profits will go to Help Musicians (www.helpmusicians.org.uk) who have done great work especially over the last few years funding musicians when they couldn’t tour due to the pandemic. If you pre-order now you will get four tracks to download instantly, awesome covers by Desperate Journalist, Taffy, Body in the Thames, and Celestial North.
The eclectic 40 strong tracklist was mostly recorded for this project, featuring artists from across the globe, from Wales, Athens, London, Edinburgh, Sweden, Japan, Australia and beyond – each act taking on R.E.M. in their own distinct styles, affectionately paying tribute to one of the most important alternative rock bands of our era.
I am astounded and really pleased at the outcome, there are superb versions of classic R.E.M. songs here, in really unique styles. It also includes covers by The Darling Buds, Mark Morriss, Bugeye, Ritual Cloak, Bandicoot, I,Doris, Aderyn, Quivers, GodNo! and many more.
We would like to thank each and every act who have specially recorded a version of a R.E.M. track for our compilation album and the producers who lent their time to mix them. Plus the labels such as Libertino, Reckless Yes, Fierce Panda, Bubble Wrap recordings, and Mike Turner at Happy Birthday To Me Records plus Samantha Chamberlaine and Chris from the Waiting Room podcast, who have helped and worked with us and or allowed their artists to appear on the release! Also to artist Kevin Alvir who is a big R.E.M. fan and worked with us to create this beautiful artwork for the release. Read about the artists behind the covers and why they chose to cover their R.E.M. songs too.
1. Desperate Journalist – Finest Worksong
Desperate Journalist have been raging against the corporate machine for what feels like aeons with their melodramatic blend of traumatised guitars and artbroken vocals. In fact, Maximum Sorrow! will represent their fourth full album release in the six years since the devilish Desperate Journalist debut appeared in 2015. Stroppy second effort ‘Grow Up’ stormed out in 2017, while 2019 saw the search for the stellar The Search For The Miraculous spread far and wide.
Throw in a couple of lively five-track EPs (‘Good Luck’ and ‘You Get Used To It’) and their melody-shattering proficiency is apparent for all to see. Add a litany of ten-out-of-ten media reviews and utterly devotional followings from desperate fanboys and fangirls from Birmingham to Berlin and Desperate Journalist’s incredibly credible status is more bulletproof than ever before.
Their version of the ‘Finest Worksong’ pays tribute to the original but brings Desperate Journalist’s formidable sound and Jo Bevan’s trademark fierce intensity. They say: “We call it Finest WFH Song.”
2. Mesmerized By Avon – Get Up
Scott Creney is the co-author of the forthcoming book Neon Side of Town: The Story of the B-52s. “Mesmerized By Avon is the current recording project of former Tunabunny members Brigette Adair Herron and Scott Creney. They’ll be recording their debut album as soon as some more people in Athens get their goddamned Covid vaccines.”
3. Quivers – Near Wild Heaven
Sam, Bella, Michael and Holly are Quivers, a band which make cathartic guitar pop that jangles and shimmers somewhere between 1980s Australia and 1990s America and somehow sound like the present. Started in Hobart before moving to Melbourne, the band first toured their life-damaged but hopeful debut, We’ll Go Riding on the Hearses (Hotel Motel Records) around Australia, Canada and NZ. It lyrically deals with love and loss after losing a brother in a free-diving accident. KEXP’s John Richards described it as one of the best he’d heard “in years” and invited the band to perform a filmed live session in their studio. It also led Seattle label Turntable Kitchen to commission the band to record a song by song re-imagining of R.E.M.’s Out of Time album, which came out in October 2020.
Their life-damaged but hopeful jangle pop has only sharpened since then, and while 2021 follow-up Golden Doubt conjures up R.E.M. or The Clean there is a lyrical directness that sets this record apart as always its own.
“Quivers got to choose a ‘classic’ to cover for Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl series and selected R.E.M.’s Out of Time (1991). We hope you like our re-imagining of the record and we hope Mike Mills doesn’t sue us (I had a dream he would, twice).”
Golden Doubt is out now and is a co-release between Ba Da Bing, Spunk and Bobo Integral Records.
4. Body In The Thames – So, Central Rain
Body in the Thames lives in Stockholm and has previously lived in Manchester, Paris and London. His music is undeniably informed by the musical and artistic culture and heritage of all four of those cities. For ten years he has been making electronica influenced by everything from afrobeat to prog to post-punk, gaining fans in Nemone and Tom Robinson and airplay on BBC Radio 6music. Since 2011 he has released two albums, one mixtape and more than a dozen singles and EPs, including a remix for Django Django feat. Self Esteem.
“As for why I choose So. Central Rain, I saw a video on the net that someone shared and it was their first ever TV performance I think. It was a bit before my time and the image I have of R.E.M. is the post-Automatic for the People 90s band. It was quite an eye-opener to see them with Rickenbackers looking like high school/college kids.
I have a piano at home and I just started fooling around playing a kind of ‘Satellite of Love’-style version of the song. So then when I saw your fundraiser I figured I’d do a version. I ended up in my studio (where I don’t have a piano) doing this dance-pop version with an 808 (clone), a Moog Matriarch and a sequential OB-6. It’s quite a departure from the original I guess.
There is a piano version too but only as an iPhone memo, maybe I’ll do a proper Reed/Ronson/Bowie version at some point.”
5. DUNKIE – The One I Love
Dunkie is the music project of Welsh singer/songwriter Anthony Price and Welsh songwriter/Producer Wayne Bassett. Hailing from the South Wales Valley town’s of Mountain Ash and Aberdare. Having written and recorded songs for many years, in Nov. 2020, they collectively released the Ltd Edition CD Box Set debut album Working to Design (presented by Swansea based Record Label ‘SWND’), featuring 17 tracks exploring the universal subjects of life, love, the passage of time, death and loss, but also healing, hope and rebirth” (ECLECTIC MUSIC LOVER, WTD review). Working To Design, is a concept album, with songs partially inspired by the books and works of author Richard Matheson, has been considered an ambitious and deeply personal labour of love.
Dunkie covered ‘The One I Love” and recorded a studio version of the track. Its available digitally for the first time on this compilation having only been available on 30 copies of one of their CD singles from their album Working To Design (currently long listed in the Welsh Music Prize and we were recently reviewed in God Is In TV with our latest EP ‘The Vanishing and Other Stories.’
6. Celestial North – Nightswimming
Scottish solo artist Celestial North brings you her shimmering and ethereal post rock-pop. Her music is a stunning detour into a land of impossibility, terror and beauty, often brewing with tension and drama. Her songs are regularly played on BBC Introducing Shows and Tom Robinson played ‘Olympic Skies’ on his BBC 6 Music Mixtape show.
“I picked Nightswimming because it is so full of wonderful imagery, I felt totally transported to this little private, nighttime moment. I love songs that trigger imagination and a sense of deja vu. It feels full of yearning and youthful abandon. It was a lot of fun to rework.”
7. I, Doris – It’s The End Of The World as we know it (and I Feel Fine)
London women I, Doris are unmissable, they take a glittering disco-punk meat cleaver to the gender challenges that no one else is talking about.
Band leader Cassie Fox says: “I’ve rewritten the lyrics to It’s the End of the World … to make it relevant to world events in the past couple of years. I hope Stipe doesn’t mind!”
8. Taffy – Hairshirt
In 2011, self-produced and recorded in Tokyo, Taffy released the 1st album Caramel Sunset in the UK and the EU in May 2012.
For the band who’s been described as Art Punk, Brit Pop, Grunge and so on,and being from Japan, Taffy had received enormous positive reviews from more than 100 media in the UK, including NME and the Guardian.
The band released 2nd album Lixiviate in 2013, and “plus+++”, a compilation of B-sides and rarities in 2014, and did several headline tours in the UK and the EU, including the support of The Wedding Present and some festivals.2015, An EP ‘Darkle‘ which includes a remix by Brian Jonestown Massacre, was released.
The band did another UK tour including festivals such as Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, invited by Tim Burgess, and the US tour, which was well accepted and was followed by playing at Beach Goth in October.
Taffy supported The Charlatans on their Japan tour in 2016. The album NYCTOPHILIA was released in April 2017 and did another UK tour including the festival, Kendal Calling.
In 2019, with the new guitarist Nao, the album Deep Dark Creep Love was released, along with the 1st single “Inner Nerd” which was premiered on The Clash Magazine. And was followed by a UK national headline tour.
They say “I was able to imagine the Taffy version of this beautiful song instantly, and.. I’m loving it the way it turned out.”
9. Bugeye – Crush with Eyeliner
Bugeye are a sequin-drenched all-female four-piece hailing from the concrete shores of Croydon.
Re-imagined in 2018 with dirty guitars, disco beats, sizzling synths and exploding bass riffs that accelerate into the catchiest hooks south of the river, be prepared to hit the dancefloor and join the revolution. With lyrics touching on subjects from the mundanity of modern city life, to global issues such as racism and climate change, tunes come wrapped in a riotous optimism that demands you to dance. While Bugeye have one foot in pop’s past – think 70s dance floor meets post-punk meets noughties optimism – they certainly look towards a future, one that is theirs for the taking.
With live shows that embrace both music and the art of performance, Bugeye are embarking on a new world – one where the arts collide. Building on a string of DIY releases, Bugeye signed to @RecklessYes to release their debut album Ready Steady Bang in 2020.
Produced by Paul Tipler, Angela from Bugeye says of their version:
“It was extremely tough picking which song to cover from one of my favourite bands growing up. I decided to revisit their albums and shortlist from there, however, the one that leapt out at me was ‘Crush with eyeliner’ – I can remember hearing this song for the very first time at a rock night in a club in Ilford called The Island. Fake Id allowed me entry. Remember those fake ID student cards? 14 passing for 18! Anyway, I fell in love with its dark smouldering undertones and its surface upbeat but swaggering guitar parts. Lush tremolo effects and a very simple vocal melody, more spoken than sung, stuck with me and, at the time, it certainly became a regular feature on my stereo. Hearing that song after so many years really transported me back to that time when anything seemed possible, guitar music breaking in the UK pushing pop to the side for change. It was also a time when I was just starting out in the world of music and had bought my first guitar. So I suppose it felt fitting to pay homage to it but with a current Bugeye twist.”
10. Ritual Cloak – Orange Crush
Ritual Cloak is comprised of Daniel Barnett, formerly of the band Samoans, and drummer / producer Andrew Sanders. The duo met in 2013 after Daniel answered an ad for a guitarist to join the backing band for singer Jemma Roper. An instant kinship was struck, with both Daniel and Andrew embracing experimentation and a shared love of electronic music. After the split of Samoans in 2018, the pair began playing around with instrumental textures and piano-led ambient soundscapes, all resulting in their well-received self-titled debut in 2019. They followed this with their second album, ‘Divine Invasions’, released on Bubblewrap Collective in 2021. Their ethereal version of ‘Orange Crush’ is intoxicating and enveloping.
They say: “I remember seeing R.E.M. play Orange Crush on Top of the Pops as a kid and being blown away by Michael Stipe’s performance, using a megaphone to sing (actually mime!) He looked so free dancing on stage. The song hooked me. I was a R.E.M. fan from that instance.
I mean how could you not love this song? The vocals, that bass line, the guitar, the political undertones. It ticks all the boxes for a perfect song. I hope we did it justice.”