15 Songs That Sound Eerily Like Other Artists
We’re sure you’ve experienced moments where you’re listening to an artist and you turn to your friend or husband or wife or dog and say, "This song sounds exactly like [insert another artist’s name]." We’ve been in that position numerous times -- and more frequently in recent years, given the sudden abundance of Springsteen-, Bowie- and Petty-worshipping indie rockers. With that in mind, we created this list of 15 Songs That Sound Eerily Like Other Artists.
When we first heard this opening track on Dr. Dog’s 2005 album ‘Easy Beat,’ we were convinced that it was some obscure ‘White Album’- or ‘Yellow Submarine’-era Beatles cover that the band had hipsterfied one pot-hazed afternoon in Philly. The bass line is un-ob-la-di-ob-la-doubtedly Paul, the lyrics just Walrus-y enough to be John, the shoo-wops gently George, the echo-effect drums right-on Ringo.
You could make the argument that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s lead singer Alec Ounsworth’s highly nasal and sung-shout vocals are all David Byrne, all the time, but this track, from the band’s debut, is the most Talking Headed of them all. It’s got the right backbeat and driving bass line, as well as that relax-don’t-do-it ’80s energy. And Byrne could be swapped in at any point on lead vox. Byrne, baby, Byrne.
This droney, reverb-laced opening track from Interpol’s debut album ‘Turn On the Bright Lights,’ always struck us as a tune that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke -- in the period between ‘Pablo Honey’ and ‘The Bends’ -- could have written. Except Thom would’ve come up with an edgier, weirder title for the song, like ‘Bird Spine Electrolux’ or something, and all the cool kids would’ve swooned.
Tom Waits is the Artful Dodger of Drear, the Noir King of Bizarro Folk, and this closing track from Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’ album, in its horny-ness and laidback delivery, makes us feel like Tom (without the ‘h’) could’ve written it in his sleep. We half expect his cigarette-stained croak to enter the song in place of Thom’s (with the ‘h’).
Yo La Tengo is another band (like list-mates Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) that you could say pretty much exude another band’s aesthetic -- in this case, it’s the Velvet Underground. This track from 2006’s ‘I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass’ is a prime example. With that snaking two-vocal lead (think Nico and Lou Reed), 12-string electric lick and driving beat, ‘Race’ is like ‘Venus in Furs’ on speed.
A great U.K. band largely ignored by U.S. audiences, Supergrass have long been compared to the Rolling Stones and the Buzzcocks. But this tune, from 2002’s ‘Life on Other Planets,’ is about as close as any modern-day songwriter has come to embodying Ray Davies at the time of ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.’ We could see this one being sequenced right after ‘Sitting by the Riverside’ on the original LP.
It’s hard not to hear Paul Westerberg and the Replacements in a lot of the stuff Ryan Adams has put out over the years, so we’re just going to go for paydirt with this Whiskeytown tune. ‘Yesterday’s News’ is one of those moments where everything seems perfectly Replaced.
Dawes has had a bit of time to study the Jackson Browne way, as the band backed him live on tour. But this track from their latest album, ‘Stories Don’t End,’ strikes us as the most Browne of them all. It’s as if singer Taylor Goldsmith snorted a line of Jackson Browne off of a toilet seat, started writing really, really fast, and this ditty popped out.
The only difference between Matthew Sweet’s ‘I’ve Been Waiting’ and anything the Byrds wrote from, like, 1965-67, is that on his recording, Sweet is singing overdubbed harmonies with himself -- rather than the David Crosby-Chris Hillman-Roger McGuinn-Gene Clark nucleus going to town. Oh, and the solo is played on a sixer instead of a 12-stringer.
When we were growing up in the ’90s, nobody ever told us about this great band called Big Star, which had basically invented power-pop. So when we first heard Big Star tracks like ‘Way Out West’ and ‘When My Baby’s Beside Me,’ we were like, "Damn, this sounds a whole lot like the Gin Blossoms." Only Big Star predated the GBs by some 20 years. To wit: Listen to the opening riff of ‘Til I Hear It From You,’ and then take a gander at Alex Chilton’s lick on ‘Way Out West.’ Hmm.
We know this song is sacred -- nobody’s supposed to criticize it -- but we’ve been wanting to call out Nirvana on this one for the longest time. Ever hear Pixies’ smashing non-hit ‘U-Mass’ from 1991’s ‘Trompe le Monde’? If you haven’t, listen to it right now and tell us what the guitar hook in the chorus reminds you of. Let’s just say it’ll be educational.
There’s this weird biosystem thing going on between indie artists Kevin Devine and Conor Oberst (and to a lesser extent, Josh Ritter): They sound like each other and Elliott Smith all at once. This is one of those songs, right down to the last F-bomb, that could’ve been written by a Heatmiser-era Smith. Maybe even a b-side from ‘XO,’ too.
As soon as we tuned into this new Kurt Vile song from his latest album, ‘Wakin On a Pretty Daze,’ we heard Don Henley, circa ‘Boys of Summer.’ Some folks (including us) aren’t big Eagles people, but Henley’s solo stuff from the late-’80s has aged like a fine wine. It’s as if KV is channeling the Hendog, updating that cheese-sleaze with that synthetic-slacker vibe.
The first time we heard Spacehog’s hit ‘In the Meantime,’ we thought it was GNR’s Axl Rose singing, and we went on thinking that until our friend bought the CD and proved us wrong. No Axl -- just some really weird, spindly British bloke. Everytime we hear that chorus, we think of Axl -- and what he could’ve sounded like had he not fired every amazing member of his band and spent years writing one of the most underwhelming albums ever.
This song, probably best known as part of 1998’s so-so ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ soundtrack, strikes us as the perfect marriage of two songwriters -- Noel Gallagher of Oasis (in the verses) and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins (in the chorus, right down to the ‘I will’ at the end of each phrase, which mirrors the SP tune ‘Mayonaise’). So much so that we’re amazed that there wasn’t more of a controversy at the time.