But just when I’m coming to grips with this, I see this cover of “The Modern Leper” by the English folk/punk rabble-rouser Frank Turner, who tackled the song at a Record Store Day in-store performance, and I’m reminded again of just how great Midnight Organ Fight is – my favorite of 2008.
Just as my blogging ennui threatened to extend into its third week – my god, have I really not posted since Aug. 27? – it was going to take something pretty special, something different to snap me out of this. Thank you, Calexico.
I’m not sure how a band manages to inject so much earnestness into such ’80s pop cheese, but Calexico has done it here with a cover of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as part of the Onion A.V. Club’s excellent Undercover series. A song that possesses such a cartoonish quality has been transformed into something with a touch of sincerity, and the finishing flourish feels inspiring. It would have been too easy for any band to cover this ironically. Calexico is too damn good for that.
Says frontman Joey Burns when asked if he knew “any of the other lyrics” before tackling this cover: “I didn’t know the lyrics, no. But I had fun learning the lyrics and looking at what I could do to shape ’em. So I just kind of edited out a bunch of lyrics. Then I wound up having fun figuring out a melody I could sing them with. So we kind of went the O Brother, Where Art Thou route.”
Calexico, a band all Arizonans should be proud to call their own, released its new album, Algiers, on Tuesday. The band will be at Crescent Ballroom for a two-night stay Oct. 27-28.
Let’s be honest: Recording any cover song takes some level of ballsiness. You have to be respectful of the original but confident in your own spin on the song. And tackling a Grammy-nominated song within about a year of its release … well … that’s pretty bold.
But Knesset obviously knew what it was doing. The Phoenix-based band took on “Holocene” by Bon Iver, a track that was up for Record and Song of the Year at the 2012 Grammys. Also, this is a song that white butlers are way into. Be respectful.
Seriously, though, Knesset shows the proper reverence here and infuses an already-great song with the sort of energy guaranteed not to put Blue Ivy Carter to sleep. Stream it below or download it at RCRD LBL.
It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the Gin Blossoms’ hugely successful album New Miserable Experience.
I am and forever will be curious about how time treats this album and its well of pop hits, especially because the band is from my home state. The whole thing gave me pause when my wife and I were in Henderson, Nev., a few months ago and randomly flipped around the local FM stations in the car — and what should pop up on the radio but a Gin Blossoms song. It really offered a bit of perspective and got me thinking about how the Gin Blossoms are viewed outside of my sometimes insular take on the Phoenix/Tempe music scene. How many times a day in countless other cities, big and small, will you hear Gin Blossoms on the radio?
It’s interesting to consider, and this cover of “Hey Jealousy” for the Onion’s A.V. Undercover series by a “one-off supergroup” made up of members of Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars sort of speaks to the general sentiment of the Gin Blossoms. As Jason Woodbury pointed out at New Times, you’ve got Cursive frontman Tim Kasher offering the elitist indie vibe: “I love that you guys put these types of songs on this list … I’m the kind of person who pounces on that brand of humor.” Then there’s Cymbals Eat Guitars’ Joseph D’Agostino, who says: “If Teenage Fanclub played it, it would be like ‘Oh, it’s a classic.'”
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?
Friend of the site Scott Hessel left his gig as drummer for Source Victoria to tour with Gin Blossoms, so I’ll have to check with him to see if the band has any thoughts on this deconstructed cover.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that, after listening to Sam Means’ cover of “I Will” – recorded straight to his cell phone – my greatest accomplishment on the iPhone for the day was playing another game of Words With Friends.
This is the first song of what Means (formerly of the Format) is calling a “potential series,” cleverly titled Live From My Cell Phone. “Partly because the songs are recorded straight into the FourTrack Recorder app on my iPhone 4S, but mostly as a cheap attempt to hide the fact they kind of sound like crap.” Come on: “Crap” is a little harsh. Let’s go with “lo-fi.” But seriously, this is a great idea, another way technology closes the gap a little more between artist and fan.
Means, who designed the album art for Source Victoria’s Slow Luck and played piano on the song “I Know You Well,” is teaming up with Photo Finish Records to release a 7-inch, titled Nona, on Record Store Day. So be on the lookout for that.
I’ve long pestered my brother about his band doing an INXS cover – preferably something off Welcome to Wherever You Are (such a good album) and preferably the song “Not Enough Time.”
Maybe that’ll happen in the future, but in the meantime The Twilight Sad is offering a dark, lo-fi version of the INXS song “Never Tear Us Apart,” from the equally excellent 1987 album Kick. It’s available as a free Christmas gift – inspired by its appearance on the soundtrack to Donnie Darko, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary – though the typically bleak and simmering emotions from these angry Scots will undoubtedly dampen your holiday spirits.
Head to the band’s site to send an e-card to that special mope in your life.
I’ll never forgive myself for loaning my cassette of Nirvana’s Nevermind to a so-called friend because, of course, I never got it back. Twenty years later, I’m still bitter. And, wait … it’s been 20 years?? This one is gonna start making me feel old.
To celebrate the anniversary of what few would argue to be the most influential album of our generation, Spin cooked up a covers album — Newermind — to complement coverage of the event in their August magazine (that’s that thing with glossy pages that also was influential 20 years ago).
I’m just starting to make my way through the album after downloading it for free at Spin’s Facebook page (you have to “like” Spin and then cough up your email address). Naturally, I had to start with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” not only because it’s the leadoff track but because it’s handled by Arizona’s Meat Puppets, who were famously covered by and played with Nirvana for MTV Unplugged in 1993.
The Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood tells Spin: “It wasn’t daunting. ‘Teen Spirit’ is just a few chords. It’s easy to play — slap some reverb on there and it’s good to go. This was a cool, weird opportunity — like playing with Nirvana on MTV Unplugged — so we’re happy to take it.”
I’m starting to really miss that cassette tape again.
Tracklist for Newermind:
1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Meat Puppets
2. “In Bloom” Butch Walker
3. “Come As You Are” Midnight Juggernauts
4. “Breed” Titus Andronicus
5. “Lithium” The Vaselines
6. “Polly” Amanda Palmer
7. “Territorial Pissings” Surfer Blood
8. “Drain You” Foxy Shazam
9. “Lounge Act” Jessica Lea Mayfield
10. “Stay Away” Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band
11. “On A Plain” Telekinesis
12. “Something In The Way” JEFF the Brotherhood
13. “Endless, Nameless” EMA
If you’ve listened to England, a slow-burning favorite from last year’s High Violet, and thought, “What this song really needs is some furious acoustic strumming that will really make the panties drop,” well, then, you’re in luck.
Mumford & Sons – whose foot-stomping folk has won over the record-buying public, specifically females (I saw first-hand at the Railroad Revival Tour and was inspired to cash in on some merch) – tackled this cover of the National track for VH1’s Unplugged (which airs next week), though they admit they’re not sure what to make of it:
Says the vested Marcus Mumford, the group’s singer and unlikely heartthrob: “Still trying to figure out whether or not it’s offensive towards English people, but yeah, we’re making it non-offensive.”
I love England, as I’ve expressed a couple times before, so I’m wary of anyone attempting to cover it. But I will say this: For better or worse, Mumford & Sons certainly stay true to their style with this version. The tempo is kicked up a tick and you can feel halfway through that the strum-gasm isn’t too far behind.
At the very least, the National – and a tremendous song – will benefit from the exposure.
Low can be so suffocatingly bleak at times – OK, most times – that even the slightest moment of lightheartedness can feel so much more than that.
In the latest edition of the Onion A.V. Club’s Undercover series, the Minnesota-based slowcore outfit tackles Toto’s “Africa” with results that are both unintentionally hilarious (Alan Sparhawk’s breathy grunts on the opening beat) and beautiful (Mimi Parker’s voice is amazing).
Low’s great new album, C’Mon, was released last month and I encourage you to read Scott Tennent’s great analysis of it at Pretty Goes With Pretty.
It’s been almost four years since we’ve last heard from David Terry’s solo project, known formally as Aqueduct. But Terry is out on the road for the next month with the Posies and Brendan Benson and getting ready to release a new album – the follow-up to 2007’s Or Give Me Death – so the wheels of publicity are turning.
To work his way back into the indie-rock conscience, Terry has posted two new tracks as free downloads on his website. And both songs work as a primer for the Aqueduct beginner or as a nice reintroduction for longtime fans.
The first track is a cover of Bob Wills’ Take Me Back to Tulsa, a 1940s Western swing tune about Terry’s hometown. Only Terry takes the liberty of framing his version of the song around a slowed-down sample of Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’, a fun marriage that shows Terry’s irreverent side.
Then there’s Past the Point, a track that keeps up the bittersweet breakup theme from Or Give Me Death. Here, Terry anguishes over whether he should burn a photo of he and his ex: “We were together, but now forever the remains of us stay in this picture frame. I couldn’t burn my most precious memories.” Set against Terry’s buoyant, synth-tinged pop, heartbreak never sounds all that depressing in his hands.