Dear Miss Lucia,Iron and Wine, Mates of State, Nada Surf, The Bird and the Bee, and The Flaming Lips are just a few band that have recently released, or plan on releasing entire albums of cover songs. It is disheartening to see some of indie rock's heavy hitters reduced to cover bands. I have always looked to "indie" music as a beacon of creativity compared to more mainstream music and, perhaps foolishly, held higher standards for their output. While cover songs are wonderful in the arena of live music for their spontaneity and homage to influences, releasing an entire albums worth of over material is nothing but a two-bit vanity project designed to do nothing more than make some quick money without putting in the time to actually write the songs. Not only does this erode the integrity of the recording artist, as well as the original song writers, but selling an album of cover songs grossly panders to a gimmicky capitalism that completely negates idea of "independent" music.
Even if we are to believe that the intent of the recording artist is to, as suggested by the Mates of State website, expose their fans to music that they, the recording artists, like, there is no reason why these artists can't just compile a mix "tape" of the original recordings and post them on their websites.
The question also arises as to how a band is supposed to tour in support of such albums and how, apart from perhaps a larger budget for laser lights, are they going to be any different that the cover band that just played at my cousin's wedding?