Run For Cover is a weekly music column comparing cover songs to the original version. Prepare for a major bending of rules as we hear musicians throw around genres, tempos, style, and intent. Whether they’re picking up another’s song out of respect or boredom, the results have impressed us.
A number of bands see success due to their association with a season. Acoustic crooners like Sufjan Stevens often get paired with fall; sad, pensive Icelandic fellows Sigur Rós get paired with winter; folk-meets-pop bands like Okkervil River beckon spring easily. But summer? It gets all the carefree, lo-fi musicians like Wavves or Best Coast. That’s a no brainer.
Los Angeles duo Best Coast proudly represent their state of California, as well as west coasters in general.
2009 saw singer and guitarist Bethany Cosentino bring her lo-fi garage rock out into the sunlight alongside bassist Bobb Bruno to later put out their debut album, Crazy For You. Cosentino’s teen years were spent writing lyrics, many of which seemed to have been unaltered, about whiney girl problems of which nearly everyone can relate to.
In true teen fashion, she gained a following on MySpace, which pushed her, and later Best Coast’s music, into record labels’ eyes.
Crazy For You is one of the more recent quintessential summer albums, and its last track, “When I’m With You,” is an older fan favorite. The song was originally released on one of Best Coast’s series of EPs before being rerecorded for Crazy For You. It starts out slow before morphing into a ’50s dance song, complete with lyrics you can learn on the spot.
Over on the east coast, Virginia Beach’s trio We Are Trees were busying merging that lo-fi aesthetic with crisp overtones.
Though with each listen, it’s hard not to mention the elephant (or bear) in the room: their ridiculous resemblance to Grizzly Bear.
Their song structure, with its emphasis on hushed vocals and warm crescendos, is so similar to them that it seems like it could be their pseudo name. Many of their songs have call-and-response sections, also in the beachy ’50s music category, and yet they never covered Grizzly Bear’s music.
Instead, they chose Best Coast.
We Are Trees’ cover of “When I’m With You” stays lo-fi but swaps surf garage rock for indie folk intimacy. The repeated chorus of “But when I’m with you, I have fun” is sung with a tinge of longing instead of Cosentino’s freedom. Now with violin and softened drums added, the song becomes unlike any of the trademarks it was known for: reckless, youthful, and simple.
This being the internet age and all, their disappearance is a bit eerie.
Search all you want, but you’ll find little of an online trail left behind them. Thankfully We Are Trees’ cover is one of their leftover highlights, making them all the more mysterious.