10 Perfect Cover Songs for 10 Houston Bands

Every one of the acts listed here writes fine, original music. They're too busy creating Houston's sound to be bothered with cover songs. That's a good thing.

Still, a man can dream, right? In fact, this whole exercise began when I fell asleep listening to a song and dreamed a local band performing it. In the light of day, I wondered which songs might fit other area bands.

Here are my choices. If even one of these happens, prepare to read about it here again later.

THE FREAKOUTS/THE DIVINYLS "I'll Make You Happy" Before the late Chrissy Amphlett and her band got MTV-friendly with that song about touching stuff, they were unglamorous, snarling punks. So, it only seems fitting that some glamorous snarling punks take a stab at their grungiest work. I'd love to hear Freakouts front woman Ash Kay deliver this one with all the verve she and her band bring to their live performances.

NICK GREER & THE G's/BILLY PRESTON "Will It Go Round In Circles?" They have the chops to deliver this classic with the fun -- clown nose, anyone? -- and energy it deserves. You got a dance that ain't got no steps? No problem. These guys are funkier than a grease trap at the KFC. You'll be dancing like no one's watching once they're done with you.

SAY GIRL SAY/ZERO 7 "Destiny" I was in the throes of insomnia one night when I dialed this one up to see if it would help me sleep. I drifted off to Sia's soothing voice and the supervisor of the dream factory gave the go-ahead to go with the rhythm. There were the women of Say Girl Say, perfectly harmonizing as always, to this Zero 7 cut, faces painted, joined by their percussionist, all beneath the giant backyard tree at The Doctor's Office.

THE SUFFERS/IKE & TINA TURNER "Nutbush City Limits" What's love got to do with it? Well, everything. I wouldn't trust any karaoke warblers to The Queen of Rock and Roll's homage to her birthplace, my favorite of all her songs. I know the band can rock steady, but I'd want to hear them play it as it was recorded, so their animated, soulful front woman Kam Franklin could do her best Acid Queen.

TALK SICK BRATS/RAMONES "Wart Hog" "It's a sick world,...sick, sick, sick!"... and so would this cover be. The Brats have such an awareness of '70s \ punk you might need a Ramones-like leather jacket to warm that chill up your spine just listening. But the band's own snide, sarcastic track "Coverband" suggests you won't be hearing this soon, or ever.

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AMERICAN FANGS/RISE AGAINST "Like the Angel" A lot of the lustre of the Vans Warped Tour has chipped away over the years, so I'm not sure a summer-long stint on that circuit would really help the exciting upward arch of this band. I guess any paying gig playing for new fans is good, even if it is on the hot summertime pavement of the Warped Tour. My first spin of their 2013 self-titled album had me thinking they could hold their own with bands like Saves the Day and Mayday Parade, already committed to the 2014 tour.

That made me think of the few times I braved the heat for Warped; I was stopped in my tracks by Tim McIlrath's voice while passing the Rise Against set. Maybe I'm just a homer, but I feel Gabe Cavazos could do this one justice and maybe even sing it a little better.

LION AMONG MEN/SIMON AND GARFUNKEL "The Boxer" The first time I saw Lion Among Men was a couple of years ago when the band -- now a quartet -- was just a duo. Andrew Dethloff and Austin Clark harmonize with such beauty and emotion, you have to recall predecessors like S&G or Seals and Crofts. Come to think of it, a "Summer Breeze" cover would be a treat, too.

"The Boxer" has the right feel, though, starting gently as it does, feeling you out before raining "Lie La Lie" haymakers on you. LAM has that ability to go from understated to thunderous in its live performances.

SPAIN COLORED ORANGE/THE BAND "Tears of Rage" I was sharing a couple of Saint Arnold's Bishop's Barrels recently with Spain Colored Orange front man Gilbert Alfaro and was excited to learn the Orange is planning to play more gigs in 2014, beginning Friday at the Continental Club. I also learned Alfaro is a fan of The Band. Not really that surprising -- good musicians gravitate to good music.

The Band's multiple vocalists all had that bluesy wail that sounds like a direct shot to the heart. Spain Colored Orange are much sneakier villains, killing you with more subtle weaponry. Hearing Alfaro take on a track like this one or even "Yazoo Street Scandal" would be loads of fun.

NINE MINUTES/THE JONBENET "Behold the White Whore" Current Houston hard hitters covering Houston noise-rock from a decade ago? Yes, please. If Nine Minutes, made up of west Houston and Katy rockers, wasn't influenced or inspired by The Jonbenet I'd be surprised. They certainly have the skills to do their hometown hardcore predecessors proud.

BIGG FATTS/FAT JOE "What's Luv?" South side of Houston meets South Bronx. Something about Fatts' delivery reminds me of the Terror Squad CEO, especially on "Darkside" and "Receipt," a couple of the numerous tracks on his stellar mixtape Fast Food. Oh yeah, I'm also imagining Beyonce, hanging on Bigg Fatts like sweet, ripe fruit, singing the Ashanti parts.


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