Thursday, May 31, 2012

Even Better Than The Real Thing, Part Three

Covers, covers, covers...I could go on and fact, I have gone on and on about the beauty of a good cover (Here. Here. Here. and Here).  There's just something about hearing a familiar tune done a different way. Listening from a different angle often introduces themes and tones you never realized were there in the first place.  I've been picking up on lots of recent good covers lately.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Ryan Adams covers Danzig's "Mother"
Yes. You read that right. I swear, that is not a typo.  Ryan performed this acoustic version of the metal classic recently on his tour.  My favorite part of the audio are the "woooowwww"s that come from the audience as the realization of what song it is washes over them.  There is a lot of random background noise, which normally makes for terrible audio but in this case, it actually adds to the mystique of the cover.  Ryan's voice pierces through, showing off just how amazing his voice is, with his guitar subtly supporting in the background.  There's no video, just the random cat picture, and the occasional sound of a cough or footsteps adds to the sensation that you are there, part of the crowd, watching him perform.
(via Stereogum)

Willie Nelson and Sons cover Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe"
Willie and his sons recently visited the Sirius studios and performed this version of the Pearl Jam song- a song that is already robust with the Americana vibe, but, this being Willie Nelson, this version is even more so.  Willie's guitar adds this sudden extra layer that sounds complex but that he makes look simple in the video.  Its also an interesting take to hear/watch him perform with his sons, who he duets with on the vocals.  His son sounds eerily similar to Willie, making the vocals sound like the song is an homage to the younger and older Willies.
(via Stereogum)

Heroes - Willie Nelson

Iron & Wine Covers "One More Try" by George Michael
In a perfect example of why some covers really knock your socks off, a cover that sounds random turns out to make absolute.perfect.sense.
(via Pretty Much Amazing)

Laura Marling Covers "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers
In a bold move, Laura Marling takes on the southern rock stalwart with a funky, plucky acoustic take.  And it works- her voice is so clear and pristine it brings forth a different side of the song altogether.
(via twentyfourbit)
A Creature I Don't Know (Bonus Track Version) - Laura Marling

Fort Frances Covers "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon & Garfunkel
This is one of those covers that sounds as though they were trying to stay true to the original, except in being themselves it is completely different- its a little bit country, a little bit more loose- but it stands it own.
(via songsfortheday)

And last but not least, A Covers Mix, from songsfortheday
Somebody else loves covers as much as I do. This is amazing. As is songsfortheday.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - We Were Promised Jetpacks, Glen Hansard and Bono, The Head and The Heart, First Aid Kit

I've been slacking in the "Cool Music Stuff on the Internet" department lately, possibly from lack of inspiration, but suddenly I am finding good music everywhere.  Here is a bunch of stuff I've stumbled upon recently:

We Were Promised Jetpacks
Scottish post-punk band We Were Promised Jetpacks has been around since their debut album (These Four Walls) in 2009, but for some reason lately their track "It's Thunder and It's Lightening" has been on repeat on Spotify for me, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a post from November on A Heart is A Spade that shares the Soundcloud set from the Jetpacks' visit to KDHX.  You can check it out HERE.

While digging around I also found this video from a visit the band made to the venerable KEXP studios:

Bono Joins Glen Hansard Onstage
Last week was Bono's 53rd birthday, and like a reverse present to us, American Songwriter has video of Bono joining Glen Hansard onstage at a gig in New York, singing "The Auld Triangle", along with a great recap from someone who was there.  The video is below, and the recap is a must read (HERE).

The Head and The Heart Chapel Session
One of my all time favorite music blogs, Fuel/Friends, often showcases amazing indie singer-songwriter artists that happen to be passing through.  The recordings are done in a local chapel-allowing us all to enjoy the wonderful acoustics of the music in such a location.  The Head and The Heart recently stopped by, and you can check out the recording HERE.

First Aid Kit on World Cafe
Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit recently stopped by World Cafe where host David Dye discussed their beginnings, music, and why they speak perfect American English. Check it out HERE.  You can also check out my review on their most recent album, The Lions Roar HERE.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Acoustic Persuasion, of the Singer-Songwriter Variety

There's something to be said for acoustic music- just gentle guitar strumming and a voice.  Its a simple form of music, but one that manages to offer the soul moments of quiet calmness in the midst of every day craziness.  Listening becomes a restorative action, and can also be a stark reminder of how beautiful simplicity in music can be - there's a reason there are so many Sunday morning acoustic shows on radio across the country.  I've been in an acoustic state of mind lately, namely due to the random (or, perhaps, not so random) things I've been listening to- mostly, music of the singer/songwriter variety.

The words "singer/songwriter" evoke a particular type of music- often acoustic, although sometimes not.  Its distinction is its uncanny ability to somehow always take you back- to a time, a place, a feeling.   I suppose "singer/songwriter" can mean anything you want, but to me it means music that allows the true words and meanings of the lyrics to get across- actual poetry, set to music.  Its not everyone's cup of tea, and truthfully, it helps to be in an introspective type of mood when listening.  But if you aren't, this music will help you get there.

World Cafe Looks Back- 70's Singer-Songwriters
World Cafe recently marked its 20th anniversary, and celebrated in true World Cafe/David Dye fashion by combing through their archives for interviews with some iconic singer/songwriters.  The episode features interviews and live in-studio sessions from the pinnacle of singer/songwriterdom - Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell.
Check it out HERE

Chris Pierce
One of the beauties of living in LA is that great music is everywhere.  Most of the time, it gets lost in the shuffle, but every once in awhile, something special pokes its head above the murmur of everything else out there, and it usually happens in a random a busker on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, or, as was the case with this artist, in a yoga class.  Chris Pierce will fill your soul alright- with his velvety, wonderfully calm vocals, gorgeous lyrics, and stirring guitar. Check him out HERE. And here (starts just past the 1:00 mark):

World Cafe: Michael Kiwanuka
A British born son of Ugandan immigrants, Michael has opened for Adele and hails with a jazz background, but his music is starkly beautiful and pulls from some of the influences mentioned in the World Cafe 70's singer/songwriter piece. As a result his song "I'm Getting Ready" sounds somehow familiar the first time you hear it, in a quiet clear and stirring way.  World Cafe profiled him recently, which you can listen to HERE.

Toad the Wet Sprocket at Fuel/Friends
After initially compiling this list, I stumbled upon Heather's beautiful blog over at Fuel/Friends, who did a chapel session with Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket.  I simply cannot say it any better than Heather, so head on over to her blog HERE for an acoustic and stunning performance.