Monday, April 27, 2009

Cover 2 (Vol. 1)

Here are some of the “better” Covers that we’ve come across. We’ll try to periodically go through a few batches that stand-out to us.


The Corrs - "When The Stars Go Blue" ft. Bono (2002) [Ryan Adams 2001]

OK, I'll admit I'm a big softie because Andrea Corr and Bono dancing is a major reason why I like this cover. But to be clear, I prefer the VH1 Live In Dublin version, not the link above.

Franz Ferdinand - "All My Friends" (2007) [LCD Soundsystem 2007]

Though it sounds like a New Order homage for the most part, the last 30 seconds go haywire, Franz Ferdinand-style.

Girls Against Boys - "She's Lost Control" (1995) [Joy Division 1979]

In a word: HEAVY. If the original was a hospital - clinical, sterile - then the GVSB version would be a strip club. The drums kick hard, the guitars are like nails on a chalkboard - the whole thing is (don't know if I'm using the term correctly) a hot mess. GVSB flip the lyrics around somewhat, and Scott McCloud comes up with this line @ 1:37 mark: "and you turn around and took me by the hand, she said... uh!" which then leads into the main melody... so cool.

Ted Leo - "Since U Been Gone/Maps" (2005) [Kelly Clarkson 2004 & YYYs 2003]

After living in Taiwan for several years, I remember coming back to the US and hearing the original for the first time, pleasantly surpised that it was the work of an American Idol. Leave it to wiki to school me on exactly why these 2 songs mash together so nicely: the transition... of course! Leo's hard and fast strumming is a welcome change to the YYYs' slower, gentler acoustic version, and the "Wait, they don't love you like I love you" lyric is an absolute classic.

The Vandals - "So Long, Farewell" (1998) [Rodgers and Hammerstein 1959]

Pretty straightforward pop-punk cover of the original that loses none of its charm in the translation. Dave Quackenbush totally nails the "Goodbyyyyyyye." Creative fan-made (?) video.


Radiohead – “Nobody Does it Better” (circa 1995) [made famous by Carly Simon 1977]

I actually prefer this version linked than the MTV version which actually shows them performing. But not sure if I prefer this cover over Anna Faris’ version in Lost in Translation.

Ben Fold – “Such Great Heights” (2006) [The Postal Service 2003]

Ben occasionally lags a little on the vocals but I guess he has to catch his breath sometime. I like the arpeggios and the “Macarena” is definitely a bonus. There’s also a decent cover by Rilo Kiley but I can’t tell whether Blake Sennett or Jenny Lewis is singing.

We are Scientists – “Hoppipolla” (circa 2006) [Sigur Ros 2005]

Singing in Icelandic and Hopelandic is no easy feat. Props to Keith Murray for his mimicry or hey, maybe he’s always been familiar with Icelandic. I prefer the live BBC version than the one I have linked. The one linked sounds a little “too clean” as compared to the version that I have which has some imperfections that I appreciate.

The Spinto Band – “I Think We’re Alone Now” (2006) [made famous by Tiffany 1987]

A very-underrated band (which gives me an idea of another post) – see: “Oh, Mandy”. Interesting video: it appears as if they were performing at a wedding. I like how one of the band members has to stand over and play the piano part while the actual guy in front of the piano has to sit there and just watch him. Clever drumming.

Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) – “This Modern Love” (circa 2005) [Bloc Party 2005]

When I first saw this, I was totally blown away by what he did with looping and still am. Owen bears an uncanny resemblance to Matthew Modine (see Gross Anatomy).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

He Said, She Said

I wanted to include Weezer’s “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” and the Lost Patrol’s “Alright” but they simply don’t apply to the rules. Nor do any songs by the Raveonettes or Mates of State. And this has to be the first time I sat down with all the songs and took another listen to the actual lyrics (I’m actually looking at individual lines and not necessarily how everything pieces together – which doesn’t make sense, I know).


Crooked Fingers - "Call To Love" (2005) [with Lara Meyerratken]
Like Matt Sharp, Eric Bachmann is not the purest singer in the world, so he knows to surround himself with ladies who can pretty things up, and Meyerratken's contributions on Dignity and Shame are superb. Her first verse is colorfully direct and awesome (great lyrics in general though):

It's true I heard a birdy say your name
But I'm a straight-talk woman, got no time for games
Don't need my heart kicked around the block no more

u may be a smooth-talking daddy, but I've heard it all before

Jason Collett - "Hangover Days" (2005) [with Emily Haines]
Anything with Emily Haines is gold, so the fetching bass line just adds to this song's luster. It's rare to find bass parts that stay continually interesting throughout, but there's a real sense of whimsy that, even as the notes fade, I begin to miss already. Totally agree with Hobag's "vacationing in Mexico" description. If you like pina coladas...!

The Jesus & Mary Chain - "Sometimes Always" (1994) [with Hope Sandoval]
As far as I'm concerned, THE archetype for the he said/she said genre. Great contrast between the 2 leads: Reid's conversational style and Sandoval's melancholy cooing. Though the song is rather upbeat in pace, there's a certain gloominess in both voices that make them a perfect match. She HAD to take him back... who else could stand them?

The Postal Service - "Nothing Better" (2003) [Ben Gibbard & Jen Wood]

Props to Jen Wood for a fantastic vocal showing on record, but I saw this performed live at The Parish in Austin with Gibbard and Jenny Lewis struttin' around onstage like a modern-day Travolta and Newton-John that totally ruled. I do think that Wood's voice, pretty but sharp and straightforward - as opposed to Lewis's lush, romantic pipes - suits the song better. Nice imagery, with my faves being:

And I will block the door like a goalie tending the net
In the third quarter of a tie game rivalry

I've made charts and graphs that should finally make it clear
Prepared a lecture on why I had to leave

Stars - "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" (2005)
I forgot about this song until Hobag brought it up and was all set to use Smashing Pumpkins' "...Said Sadly" with James Iha and Nina Gordon (super-underrated), but in the end felt Iha's elementary school lyrics really hurt it. "Your Ex-Lover..." on the other hand, with its strings, whispered "live through this" refrain, and guitar-driven ending is dramatic without crushing the story they're telling. They will attempt to repeat the formula on 2007's "Personal." Quite apt that Millan sings about being porcelain since that's how I'd describe her singing: bright and pristine.


The Blood Arm – "Do I Have Your Attention?" (2007) [with Anais]
I think I originally heard this off of Cloverfield with just the lead singer singing. But now check out the duet – with Anais singing in French and wha-la! It’s now 100x better. Actually, it’s the piano that drives this song.

Lush – "Ciao!" (1996) [with Jarvis Cocker]
I love it: Hate is in the air! From the album Lovelife, which also featured the Matt Sharp-referenced “Ladykillers” and the bouncy “500”. I like the way Miki sings this song, with such conviction. You get a feeling she really hates this bastard (oh snap). Check out how she sings:

Well, I've felt better since I slammed that door
You always cramped my style, I never noticed before

It's been a non-stop party since I flew the coop

can't believe I fell for such a loser like you

Good luck, mister, do you think I care?
Since you've been gone the offers have been everywhere

I've got a million guys just lining up for me
I've turned a corner, boy, my life is ecstasy, well

By the way, is that a harmonica or an accordion? I say harmonica but not entirely sure. And here's an old clip of Miki B
erenyi showing she's got some stage presence.

Jesus and Mary Chain – "Sometimes Always" (1994) [with Hope Sandoval]
Hmm, Jim Reid sounds kinda like J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr on this song. When this originally song came out (I was a freshman in Austin – was I listening to K-NACK? can’t seem to remember), but I think I was more familiar with Mazzy Star with “Fade into You”, “Halah”, “Flowers in December”. Their songs can only be described as lazy but I mean that in a good way. But anyways, here in the end, the guy gets the break, but not always…keep reading.

Postal Service – "Nothing Better" (2003) [Ben Gibbard and Jen Wood]
I’ll be the first to say again that I typically don’t listen to the lyrics in a song. But now thinking back, Gibbard wrote 2 memorable opening lines to 2 great songs on Give Up:

Will someone please call a surgeon
Who can crack my ribs

And repair this broken heart

I am thinking it's a sign
That the freckles in our eyes

Are mirror images and when we kiss

They're perfectly aligned

Ok wait a minute, maybe it’s a little too saccharine. But anyways, this time the girl (Jen Wood, not to be confused with Jenny Lewis) gets the last laugh in the end.

Stars – "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" (2005)
When coming up with this list initially, I had it ranked as the weakest but now I think it stands out alone. I like how they sing about a moment they are physically sharing together but they are really internalizing their thoughts or actually externalizing since they are singing, wait...nevermind. I really like the way Amy sings her first line: This scar is a fleck on my porcelain skin. In the end, when the guitars kick in and then the two sing: There's one thing I have to say so I'll be brave - really adds weight to what they finally have to say to each other. I really see it as a happy ending, because at least the feeling is mutual, so no one gets hurt in the end, right? Their video was shot with a nod towards Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Tally of the winners:
Nathaniel vs Anais: ?
Jarvis vs Miki: Miki by a landslide
Jim vs Hope: Jim by default because Hope is so meek
Ben vs Jen: Jen rocks
Torquil vs Amy: even stevens

Honorable Mention:
Positive K - "I Got a Man"