What would you do for a Klondike bar?
OK, I’m not a huge fan of covers. I’m even less of a fan when a band butchers a song by one of my favorite groups.
Luckily, Division Day does not incur my wrath on its cover of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Every Shining Time You Arrive. (I’m pretty sure the guys in DD were worried what I thought, too.)
The cover is part of an eight-week promotional assault – a new cover or unreleased track every week – by the band and Eenie Meenie, which is rereleasing Beartrap Island on iTunes Sept. 18 and in stores Oct. 2. (Look at what Bishop Allen started.)
Anyway, I can appreciate Division Day not taking the safe route here; I don’t believe I’ve heard Sunny Day covered before. Plus the song choice – Every Shining Time You Arrive – doesn’t really stand out as one of Sunny Day’s more popular/accessible tunes.
One of the unwritten rules of covers – at least in my head – is to not totally mimic the original. What fun is that? And Division Day obeys that, reimagining a drum-less Shining with more lo-fi, tempered vocals compared to Jeremy Enigk’s upper-register/dramatic style.
I’m here to say that I’m a fan of this cover (mark this date in history).
Thanks to my man Dusty, who posted this Queens of the Stone Age cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding that apparently comes on the Best Buy version of Era Vulgaris.
This falls in the I-like-the-cover-better-than-the-original category. Although, it could be because of my immense man-crush on Josh Homme. If you read this story on Homme and aren’t convinced of his coolness, then I don’t know what to say.
With a little prodding, Homme (rhymes with “mommy”) will admit he is still on probation after pleading no contest to two counts of battery against Blag Dahlia, the lead singer of a punk outfit called the Dwarves. It happened at the Dragonfly club in Hollywood three years ago; an incident Homme regrets not one iota. “I went there to attack and humiliate him,” he said. “That’s what I did.”
But what Homme, 34, who has the imposing physique of a longshoreman, standing nearly 6 feet 7 inches in his motorcycle boots, really wants to talk about is his new hobby. “Sewing is the best thing!” he exclaimed. “I can feel my heart rate going down when I do it. I forget everything else. It’s great when you’re on the tour bus.”
About his confrontation with Dahlia: “Everyone in this world deserves to be slapped – not too hard – and I hope they are, because it’s a great teaching tool.”
Queens of the Stone Age | White Wedding
If ever there was proof of Jonah Matranga’s prolific output, it’s all here in one nice package on The Three Sketchys, a collection of three homemade EPs that were self-released and distributed in various ways.
This release combines all three (19 tracks) and includes a bonus remix of The Big Parade by Ian Sefchick, formerly of Creeper Lagoon. For some reason, the eMusic version includes a 20th track 14-41 (Prom-style)+Thoughts that doesn’t appear to be on version at Jonah’s store.
And if we weren’t already aware of Matranga’s keen ability for choice cover songs, he adds three more here: I Want You Back (Jackson 5), Got My List (7 Seconds) and, my favorite, Savory (Jawbox).
The Three Sketchys collection is available at eMusic or through Matranga’s online store, where he allows a very progressive and fan-friendly “pick your price” purchasing plan.
Also, Matranga is at Modified on March 18 with Frank Turner and Joshua English.
I Used to Love H.E.R.: Jonah Matranga.
Jonah Matranga/Frank Turner split 12″.
Lupe Fiasco/Jonah Matranga: Never Lies.
Jonah Matranga live CD/DVD: There’s A Lot In Here.
Rob Dickinson, former frontman of (The) Catherine Wheel and a favorite in these parts, is returning to Arizona for a Jan. 26 show at Anderson’s Fifth Estate, where he played acoustic exactly one year ago to that date (a show I recorded – Parts I and II – though mp3s are no longer active).
That means he’s been on the road for the better portion of the past year to promote his solo debut Fresh Wine for the Horses, an album that, despite its unfortunate cover, has found a comfortable spot with me as I continue to come to grips with Catherine Wheel’s dissolution. In situations like Dickinson’s, it seems easier to cling to the nostalgia, but I’ve found Fresh Wine seriously enjoyable when I’m able to separate it from the Catherine Wheel days.
Of course, that’s hard to do when the latest issue of Filter offers a somewhat random retrospective on Catherine Wheel, including an interview with Dickinson and recollections from Tim Friese-Green (of Talk Talk and CW’s producer) and Belly’s Tanya Donelly. A nice Q&A with Dickinson offers some valuable insight:
“As I’ve been touring for my solo record, I’ve been really gobsmacked with the longevity of the music … These people have reignited my pride in what we did. We made some really good music and that’s what I remember first.”
At any rate, I swung by Dickinson’s newly designed Web site after hearing the news of his upcoming Arizona stop, and in the downloads section is an mp3 of him covering the children’s lullaby Hush Little Baby, which only seems fitting as we will be welcoming our third little niece into the world on Saturday (congrats to my bro and Linds).
For more on Dickinson, go search the Chromewaves archives, where Frank’s exhaustive work is always appreciated here. Dickinson’s site even uses some of his photos, which is just freakin’ cool.
Filter also filmed Dickinson doing an in-office performance, which is posted here.
- Rob Dickinson |
Hush Little Baby
- Rob Dickinson |
Heal (Live on WOXY Lounge Acts, 8/16/06)
As previously mentioned, James Brown made eight albums for Smash Records, five of which were instrumental. Handful of Soul, released in 1966, was the fourth (via). The album features covers and originals.One of the covers is a pretty interesting take on When a Man Loves a Woman.
Even if you’ve tired of the song (thanks, Michael Bolton), Brown puts a great twist on it. Female backing singers hold down the familiar chorus, but Brown’s organ takes the place of a lead singer, almost as if he’s doing a call and response between the backing vocals and the organ.
And if my elementary research is correct, Percy Sledge came out with the song in 1966, which means Brown’s cover likely was one of the first.
James Brown (at the organ) |
When a Man Loves a Woman
Also, thanks to Covert Curiosity for pointing me in the direction of this Detroit News remembrance of James Brown, which includes this great tidbit:
“There was a reason Brown’s band was so tight: Brown was known as one of the strictest bandleaders ever. He didn’t wait until the end of a show to dock someone’s pay if their shoes weren’t shined or if they played something he didn’t like.
“[Allan] Slutsky, who worked on ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’ with Bootsy Collins, who was a bass player for Brown, says if a trumpet player hit a bad note, Brown would dance over to the musician and, with his back to the audience, flash the fingers of both hands at the player. ‘That meant he was fining the guy $10,’ he said.”
I can’t decide if this is going to be one of the lamest things I’ll ever have posted or, possibly, one of the more unique. (Based solely on the cover, I might be inclined to go with the former. Her fingers … they’re smoking! Guns! And there’s roses in the background. Guns and roses!)
Music Broker’s previous “Bossa N” series – Bossa N’ Stones and Bossa N’ Marley – apparently were huge in Europe. I suppose if you can’t stomach Axl in his original form, this is a little easier to digest. I was actually just out at a bar with co-workers over the weekend, and Paradise City came on. I think I’ve heard that song enough for a lifetime – and then some – so I suppose some creative interpretation of the Guns N’ Roses catalog isn’t a bad thing. I sort of feel numb anymore when old GNR songs (circa Appetite for Destruction) come on: They aren’t good, they aren’t bad. They just exist.
This version of November Rain is calm and loungy and not nearly as epic as the original (oh, how I love that video, though). This is good for background, atmosphere-type music. Probably also a good conversation piece among friends. I’m not going to argue whether it’s actually good or not. As the athletes like to say these days, “It is what it is.”
Gheto Blaster Ltd. | November Rain (B&H Version)
Stereogum has two more tracks: Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City.
A story in Monday’s edition of The Arizona Republic featured local musician Mat Weddle (of local group Obadiah Parker; he’s on the left in the photo), who concocted an acoustic cover of OutKast’s Hey Ya. A performance of the song was videotaped at an open-mic night at a coffeehouse (*cringe*). It found its way to YouTube, and now it’s a smashing success, or so we’re told. Weddle told Spin.com, “It’s all been a big accident.”
This bothers me a little bit, though not as much as the Republic writer calling the original Hey Ya “little more than get-out-of-your-seat melodic fluff” (more on that in a sec). I don’t want to be too much of a naysayer here because Weddle’s version is pretty nice and the video – edited to mix the original video and Weddle’s performance – is clever and fun. (The original video apparently was slowed to 80 percent of normal speed to match Weddle’s tempo.) Hell, this is the first time I – and possibly a lot of other people – have heard of Obadiah Parker, which I’m guessing might be a small part of the motivation to do this cover. If we’ve learned anything from OK Go’s treadmill stunt, it’s that gimmicks bring publicity.
I’m mostly annoyed by the perpetuation of this trend of indie/folk rockers covering hip-hop songs, which, next to trucker hats, is just the pinnacle of irony. Off the top of my head, I can think of Ben Folds’ cover of Dr. Dre’s Bitches Ain’t Shit, Nina Gordon’s cover of N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton (mp3) and Dynamite Hack’s cover of Eazy-E’s Boyz-N-The-Hood.
I admit: That Ben Folds cover is pretty funny. But even my own reaction is part of the problem. Hip-hop songs that were conceptual and meant something in their original form are taken out of that context and reduced to parody because, hey, it’s funny to hear a square white dude say “bitch” or an adult-pop songstress sing “crazy motherfucker.”
Back to the Republic article, written by a guy I know who is in his mid-40s and white, which, sorry, has to be a little relevant to this conversation. He says of Weddle’s take on Hey Ya: ” … his graceful voice adding measure to a song that was little more than get-out-of-your-seat melodic fluff.” Just a tad patronizing to a song that was voted best single for 2003 by the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll, no? You can’t tell me that Weddle’s voice is what unearths the greatness of Hey Ya. I’m really disturbed by the comments on the video at YouTube, including this one: “oh man!… such a better version of that song!!!” … or this one: “I love this! No offense to anyone but the original is crap compared to this” … or this one: “…You made Hey Ya bearable to listen.” … or this one: “Go white boy!”
I suppose this conversation could head in different directions: talk of appropriation by white artists (“Go white boy!”) or maybe a discussion of what makes a good cover. Regardless, this whole concept seems to mock the originals and maybe, by extension, hip-hop culture as a whole. Do these covers exist to promote the art of rap and hip-hop or to prey on the convenience of irony (and publicity)?Mat Weddle | Hey Ya (OutKast cover)
Video on YouTube.
UPDATE: I was sent another acoustic version of Hey Ya, this one by an artist from Iceland who goes by the name My Summer as a Salvation Soldier. I’m posting, if only to help prove my point that these covers are becoming a) unoriginal and b) tired.
My Summer as a Salvation Soldier | Hey Ya (OutKast cover)
You’ll see no shortage of posts about the Walkmen, especially because they’ll be in Tempe next Saturday. And I’m off of work. Oh, that is such good news.
So, I’m listening to the new album, A Hundred Miles Off, and I’m thinking that Another One Goes By sounds awfully familiar. … Oh, yes. Mazarin. Of course. Such a good song. So the Walkmen cover a song from an album that came out in 2005 and put it on their new album. What do you think about that?
There seems to be a lot of that going around: current indie band covering another indie band. At the least, it seems like a great idea for a B-side. That the Walkmen put this cover on their album, I think, shows a great respect to Mazarin. And all very well deserved because Mazarin’s We’re Already There is fantastic.
In a way, when the Walkmen cover it, Another One sounds like a song that should have been a Walkmen song from the get-go. Their rendition, all slow and groggy, falls right in line with the Walkmen’s catalog. It’s the same song – only after you’ve had a few beers and stumble out of the bar a little slow to the senses. I can’t decide which I like more.
Whatever the case, the Walkmen’s cover of the track seems to be the ultimate tribute to a band they admire. In either case, the chorus is immediate and emotional:
“I don’t know what to offer you /
I’m only broke and lonely”
Another One Goes By
The Walkmen |
Another One Goes By
Related: The Walkmen, live on NPR Webcast, Part I and Part II.
So I have this cool page-a-day calendar next to my computer that my good friends Jay and Carrie got for me as part of a birthday gift last year. This one is the 365 Tunes Calendar, which is basically what it says: a song for each day of the year.
This past Wednesday’s entry was for 10cc’s I’m Not in Love, and it reminded me of a great cover by former Tempe, Ariz., band Gloritone, which for a while seemed on the verge of really breaking out after the release of its debut Cup Runneth Over, released on the former RCA subsidiary Kneeling Elephant. But that’s a story for another day.
The author of the calendar, Michaelangelo Matos, a music critic who I just discovered has a blog, puts it ever so succinctly and correctly: “A cushion of sound with a shockingly hard center: The guy’s a total dog but the music exposes every word as a lie.”
Aside from the Postal Service reviving Against All Odds as a broken-hearted anthem for the modern indie sap (though I don’t envision Ben Gibbard struggling with love much these days), I can’t think of a better choice for a cover filled with emotional denial.
Gloritone (perhaps making a comeback?) pushes the issue with Tim Anthonise’s strained vocals, and the up-tempo pace stirring a stronger sense of urgency than the original.
(from the album Fainter Farther Still. Recommended.)
10cc | I’m Not in Love
Gloritone | I’m Not in Love
(Thanks to Last Sound of Summer, who had the original posted.)
Kevin’s internet service is currently down. Although I secretly think this is a ploy to get me to post, I’m stepping up again. Oh my.
Just going to do a quick spotlight on a jam in heavy rotation in my car/ipod/work right now and the dilemma I face on which version I prefer. Current alt-folk (or whatever) nymph, Joanna Newsom delivers a delicate rawness with it. Then Owen Pallett, under his Final Fantasy moniker, strings it up all hauntingly. Here are both versions of Peach, Plum, Pear
. Let me know your thoughts.
Joanna Newsom | Peach, Plum, Pear
Final Fantasy | Peach, Plum, Pear