Indaba Cover Contest winners

Thank you all so much for being a part of this. I’m sorry it took me so long to pick winners but, honestly, I really hate doing stuff like this. I’m just not a fan of choosing winners. All you artists involved already know the value of the sweat and the heart you put into this. You shouldn’t let anything detract from that. All you listeners know what you like as well and I hope to hell that nothing anyone says ever takes away from that enjoyment.

There are just a ton of great recordings here. At a certain point, picking between them is meaningless. Getting it down to 18 was murder for me. I’ve picked 6 out of the 18 and I’m going to call them the winners but, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure there’s any difference between six & eighteen at this point. I just know I’d be making stuff up if I told you that I could pick three out of these six for any legitimate reasons. The other thing I am certain of is that I’m attached to these 18 tracks and I’ve listened to them enough to know that you should ALL listen to all 18 of them. They’re actually a pretty great playlist. So here are the 6 prize winners along with my complete notes on all of the 18 playlist winners.

Thanks again,


Click HERE to listen to all the tracks and scroll down to listen to the winning playlist..


Colorblind – Joshua Cuthbert
Lovely. I can’t say enough about how much tone matters. Singing a sing means singing the song. Vocal mannerisms, unless they’re really an emotional part of it, make pretty songs disjointed sometimes. I can’t say exactly what does that and what doesn’t – you just have to feel it – but it can be so jarring and it can take a listener right out of a song. emotional thru-lines are such fragile things. This song builds in such a nice way. Everything contributes to and is part of the emotional thread that runs through the song. Really well done.

Holiday In Spain – Sophie Morgan
Here’s an example of someone with a really pretty voice but the song doesn’t become a showcase for vocal tricks. Where the are tics or flickers on the melody, they’re used to show emotional things like fragile vulnerability on the vocal flutter on “We got airplane rides” or “He’s my angel” or just the mental exhaustion/relief that shows through every time she sings “And fly away to someone new” (love the melody slur on “Someone/somewhere). The thread holds absolutely true throughout the song. It’s a starkly simple version of the song and, believe me, after so many, it was hard to impress with straight acoustic versions of these songs but this one is just lovely and honest and true. I could say this about any of the songs I’ve listed here but it’s what makes them all good: I’d want to hear the rest of the story.

Recovering The Satellites – Tony Memmel
I love the vocal treatment, technically, musically, and just emotionally It makes it all very personal. The melodic choices do that too. I was working on an acoustic version of this song with Dave Gibbs and Chris Seefried last year and this reminds me of that – not the actual sound but the exploration of some of this song’s more intimate themes. You take it to some very cool places. Love the resignation/melody you went for at “You’re everybody’s satellite…I wish you were mine”. It’s heartbreaking. The outro is brilliant. Waiting that long in the song to come with the kick drum makes it kinda devastating. It really means something by the time it comes in and it never goes too big and outstrips the song. Restraint is tough at moments like that but it’s a good choice. Makes you ache for it.

Anyone But You – Fluorescent Darlings
I didn’t think I was going to like this version at first but that only lasted a few secs. After that, I just loved it. My only complaint is that the recording level is so low. I just wanted it to be LOUD. It deserves to own the room it’s played in. Love the drums. Just want them to crush the room whenever they enter. Loved the passing chords you added. Needs a good mix and mastering but it’s awesome.  Big points for choosing a tough song and then absolutely going for it. Loved that late gtr solo. Listened to this one early on and later, when I saw it didn’t do well in the voting, I wondered if I would still like it as much when I came back to it. I like it more. Great crashing chaos rock and roll

Hard Candy – Her & Everything
Love this version. You really get the song and you made it utterly your own. The guy singing this could have written the song. You establish a personality and everything just builds on that. Fucking excellent. Once again, a whole new look at the song. You found your own way inside it and it’s very cool. Love that crazy harmony treatment on the later verse with the high vocal and the way you follow that up with the fiddle, the toy piano sound, and the canned “Lalala’s”. That harmony part sounds like someone talking on a phone – like it’s the other half of a conversation we can’t hear. Does a crazy cool thing to the song right there.

Goodnight Elisabeth – Jeronimo
Haunting. Love the tone and the mood. Love the changes you made to the melodies and rhythms of the vocal. Love that they’re real choices about THE SONG, not vocal mannerisms. They’re not something you did because you don’t have a thru-line in your melody; they’re choices you made that affect the whole song and the whole song reflects those choices. They’re original and they’re all your own. More than that, they’re very good choices. The song declares its personality in the first 10 seconds and then holds it together for all four minutes. It’s a great version of “Goodnight Elisabeth”.” />


Have You Seen Me Lately – Andrew Pacheco
Really loved how you made your own arrangement. You took parts of a lot of versions but you also came up with a lot of parts that were your own and then you made it all into one cool new version. Nice work with the changing dynamics and the harmonies.

Raining In Baltimore – Classroom Craig
Just really original. I especially loved the way the drums keep insisting on coming back throughout the bridge. Excellent.

Colorblind – Ethan Bowe
I thought your take was beautiful. I like the way you came up with your own signature guitar melodies for the song. The ones in the 1st & 2nd verses were especially good.

Accidentally In Love – Ghosts of the Tiltawhirl
Dig the dual vocals. reminds me of Fairport Convention on “Meet On The Ledge”. And the chorus treatment. And the way Chorus 1 transfers into the next verse is wonderful. Great choice on that chorus after the bridge – making it just “Come on”. More than anything else, I love that you completely made the song your own. It’s a completely original interpretation. That’s huge. Plus, it’s a really good interpretation that explores other sides of the song and opens up a bunch of different emotional doors & windows into it.

A Long December – Good Luck Modern
Really dig the sad echoey feel of this. It really works. Love the chorus melody you chose and I LOVE the down melody/tone of repeated line at the end of every chorus “I guess I should/I wish you would etc..”. The way your voice changes but doesn’t come up in tone as the 2nd verse enters along with the drum loops – perfect. The exhausted tone the chorus takes coming into it as you do straight out of each verse is genius. It opens up a whole different emotional palette – it’s very cool. That’s a big choice and it’s killer. It makes the deadpan “NaNas” into a perfect accompaniment behind them. They build the song emotionally w/o building too much dynamically. Well, it makes it build up inside you as a listener. Great. I say this to people a lot but restraint can often be bigger than BIG.

Colorblind – Jessica Fine
Something about this vocal kept reminding me of my friend Gemma – not because it copied her in any way, just because it had something to it. That vocal that repeats in the background is really cool. Actually, all the BVs are really cool. The slow build in this song is wonderful. When the full drums finally kick in, it’s great. Really great. I got chills. Nice choice to play around the piano line too instead of playing the piano line. I loved that. Love how all the accompanying parts are really a part of the loop feel. The loops feel and sound great.

Raining In Baltimore – Jme Mann
Your voice and vocal delivery are just beautiful. Makes me want to hear the record. Just wish I could think of what it reminds me of. Oh, I know, your voice has this really interesting quality that reminds me a little of the quieter moments in Feargal Sharkey’s solo work. Sharkey was the great and unique lead singer of The Undertones. I’m curious how you work on songs that aren’t as soft or open as “Raining In Baltimore”. You’re doing beautiful work here. I’d love to hear you stretch yourself. You know, there’s a little echo of some Alex Chilton in there too. It’s a unique voice. Very cool.

Perfect Blue Buildings (A Murder of 1) – Joe Beleznay
Nice guitar lines. I bought this. I started listening to this guy’s story. That’s everything. That’s all you ask of any song: tell me your story. When this becomes YOUR story and stops being mine is what makes this a really good track. I like your voice and the way you sing. You invest us in the mood YOU’RE in and the you bring us there too. great.

A Long December – Mike Harrison
Great composition. Love the take on the track. I really dug the vocal too. I  believe the guy and I want to know the story. Great breakdown for the top of Verse 2 and love the synth part you came back with. It’s pretty brash right there. It should be. When the chorus comes back in after that verse with all those arpeggios, it’s awesome. The solo is killer and the way it disintegrates/morphs into an arpeggiating synth part is even better. I love the whole drum loop/rhythm part. I wish I knew how to do that. I gotta say it again: the high arpeggio synth part on the “NA NAs” is great.

Monkey – Nuno Saturno
I couldn’t stop listening to this track when I first heard it. Something about it really reminded me of the space I was in when I wrote “Monkey”. Finally realized it’s because it brought back all these fond memories of my favorite music back. It’s got all the flavours I loved about bands like Sparklehorse and Ween. It makes me smile nonstop. Love the tone of the “It’s a shame etc…” BVs peeking out through the lead vocal and the gtrs.

Accidentally In Love – Shutup n’ Clap
Love the feel and the way you adjusted the feel of the chorus to match the lighter way Ansley sings the “come on”. Not crazy about the drum sound but it only really affect things when the toms hit. It’s ok the rest of the time. Bass and Drums could be better but the arrangement is good and the way the whole feel matches the vocals is just really sweet and winsome. I dig it. It’s got the feel the song should have. The “mm hmm” at the end is classic.

Colorblind – WolfkingST
The melody lines you chose to play on keyboard really provide this great sad commentary on the song in the 1st verse and the “doo doo doo” that follow the 1st chorus and signal the 2nd verse are really cool too. I like the way they all build on each other.  The washy feel/tone works. Everything compliments everything else. The melody instruments respond to the loops and rhythm sounds just as they should, opening and closing the dynamic envelopes really nicely. The songs runs back and forth btwn BIG and SMALL in ways that move the song along emotionally. It never feels like pointless motion. Everything serves the song. It’s very cool.



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