Singer/songwriter Ane Brun recently recorded her own acoustic version of Alphaville's 'Big In Japan' for a Swedish documentary called 'Stor I Japan'. It's currently sitting atop the iTunes Sweden chart. The simplicity of her cover reminds me of her sublime collaboration with Koop for 'Koop Island Blues'.
Ane Brun - Big in Japan (Alphaville Cover)
Angie Hart has a remarkable musical output that's enough for a whole week (or more) worth of coverage. Either when she was with Frente!, Splendid, or on her own, she proved that her voice is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. Her cover of The Cure's 'Pictures Of You' was produced for the Transport Accident Commission's anti-speeding campaign ad (which you can watch here), and when put into that context, it's pretty mesmerizing and touching. It's now available as a single on iTunes Aussie, but since I don't have access to that, this 96kps rip from her MySpace has to do. I really wish I could do a feature on her 'oeurve' someday.
Angie Hart - Pictures Of You (The Cure Cover)
Aww...Those Dancing Days! I've been quietly following them ever since Swedesplease introduced me to them with 'Hitten'. These girls are like the antithesis to the Disney empire, they're still in high school, and yet they already show more credibility and potential than those Jonas brothers or whomever Disney Channel starlets that are raping my ears by butchering the classics for dvd bonus features could ever dream of. Um, awkward comparison? Maybe I'm just biased because the lead singer reminds me of Molly Ringwald in her heyday. All of them are adorable, though! Here's their cool version of Britney Spears' 'Toxic', a b-side to their latest single 'Home Sweet Home', which is quite good by itself!
Those Dancing Days - Toxic (Britney Spears Cover)
Surprising listenable! I normally detested the idea of 'indie bands legimitizing pop hits by ruining them' but this is actually quite decent. This song is just that good.
Guillemots - Black And Gold (Sam Sparro Cover)
Last but not least, a ridiculously awesome Latin-flavored cover of Daft Punk's 'Around The World'. Senor Coconut is just one of the many aliases of German DJ Uwe Schmidt. He has done a remix for Jamie Lidell in the same style. It's great fun to listen to, a very interesting interpretation it is.
Señor Coconut and his Orchestra - Around The World (Full Version)
Friday, September 26, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to make an annual summer mix, and this year is no exception. So here comes the third. I've spent quite a lot of effort on this, as I want it to be capable of capturing my mood, the music I frequently listen to in the summer of '08, like a time capsule, so that one day I can look back and reminisce (and weep and moan about the good ol' days). I'm really satisfied with the results, I think I'm getting better at this, and I hope you will enjoy it, too, though it's kinda late by now, isn't it. I planned to make a muxtape, too, but the site's in trouble now, too bad. You can either download each track by choice or just grab the whole zip for convenience. Either way, here's my way of waving goodbye to an eventful summer.
1. The Sundays - Summertime
The definitive summer song. This summer, I found myself listening to this song while going for a walk quite a lot, with the chorus constantly ringing in my head ("And it's you and me in the summertime..."). No one can sing like Harriet does. And the guitar slide at the end. This deserves its opener spot in every way. Classic.
2. Nine Black Alps - Bitter End
A jaunty, catchy number I discovered last year. I don't know much about the band and I doubt their other materials are as good as this track, but this really is a good one.
3. Irene - By Your Side
Probably the cheeriest song on the mix. From the mighty Swedish label Labrador. Wait 'til the singalong climax - I fell for it every single time. Oh, there it goes in my head again...
4. The Billionaires - The End Of Summer Song
I've been saving this one for this mix - very relatable lyrics. Great spirit, if by great you mean 'Let's get drunk by the campfire like we don't give a shit about tomorrow'.
5. Aimee Mann - Ghost World
Inspired by the graphic novel of the same name. I watched the film and read the book a few months ago, and I already declare it one of the greatest teen movies I've seen. So much angst & bitterness. I'm still in the process of coming of age, you know, and I don't think I'm coping well with it.
6. The Cardigans - Pooh Song
One of the best Cardigans b-sides. I think it is indeed named after Winnie The Pooh. There's not a note gone to waste in this track. So wonderfully twee. This is way before Nina started to drink too much and penned sad sad songs.
7. Club 8 - Heaven
More lovely Swedish indie pop. Club 8's last album was my number one album in 2007, which is not surprising as I became quite obssessed with twee pop last year, and this gorgeous single is one of the highlights of that album. So uplifiting, though there's a slight melancholy undertone.
8. Beth Orton - Central Reservation (The Then Again Version)
Remixed by Ben Watt, the other half of Everything But The Girl. Sweet slice of '90s electronica. I like the part when she says 'It's like...'.
9. Ivy - It's All In Your Mind
A short instrumental track, a very rare bonus from 'Long Distance'. Ivy is one of my favorite bands ever, I just had to include something by them. This one is a summery, relaxing groove, suitable for a stroll down the beach/along the park.
10. Texas - Say What You Want
A rediscovered gem. I didn't like Texas enough to feel the need to listen to every album and single they put out, but still I can't believe I missed this one. I saw my mistake and it's been on rotation ever since.
11. Goldfrapp - Caravan Girl (Live Choral Version)
Overlooked summer song of 2008. This version can be found on the single. The choral crescendo is eargasm.
12. Jens Lekman - Your Arms Around Me
I wish I could write love songs as easily as Jens does. An awkward tale about cutting off your fingers while slicing an avocado in a hot day in August. So silly, yet so romantic. This is movie-ending-soundtrack fodder, imagine lovebirds walking together as the camera pans to the dreamy skyline. Somebody hire me!
13. Caribou - Irene
A tad more leftfield. Psychedelic ambience. With a video full of National Geographic footage to boot.
14. Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Mysteries
Now this is just too beautiful for words. Almost hymn-like. I would have chosen this as the closer...
15. Alphaville - Forever Young (Hamel Album Remix)
...but I gave this one the honor instead. A sublime mix from Bill Hamel, probably the best one of this classic yet. No other track would do. Yes, I'd like to live forever, please, at least until I got bored of it. With this I bid adieu to the summer of '08, and say hello to what possibly will be the busiest quarter ever...Time doesn't wait for no one...
DOWNLOAD THE ZIPPED FILE WITH ALL 16 TRACKS
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I was having sort of a bad moment and then down from the sky came a miraculous ray of light in the form of some Pipettes news with a brand new track to cheer me right up. I knew subscribing to Pitchfork News will pay off someday. The track's called 'The Shoe That Fits', and they're generous enough to offer you a free download at their new remix Myspace page. So what's the catch? Well, it's acappella only since this is for a remix contest, but if your submitted version is the best, it will get to appear on an upcoming tour CD. Here's the version with Gwenno, Anna & Ani, and you can get the versions with seperate vocals of each Pipette here.
The Pipettes - The Shoe That Fits (Vocal Mix) [alt. link]
The smart move is now you get to hear and judge for yourself how good are the two new Pipettes' pipes. It seems that Gwenno stepped down a notch here to give the new member more singing time. Vocally, Anna & Ani are doing a goob job, but personality-wise, guess we'll have to wait and see. It's a nice little track to tide us over for now. There's still a whole floppy forest ("tee-hee") before them, The Pipettes
V2.0 V3.0, but I'm quite sure their sweet harmonies will continue to thrive. And best of luck to the former Pipettes, Rosay & Riotbecki and their solo projects.
A little confession: I still can't tell Ani and Anna apart. :-(
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I once posted about the magnificent Susanna & The Magical Orchestra here. And now, Susanna has left the Melody Mountain (oh I'm funny) to make a solo debut with original songs this time. It's wickedly entitled 'Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos', released in August last year. She may be without the Magical Orchestra (Morten Qvenild), but she still makes strictly nocturnal music. The understated production gives the record an old-fashioned, sparse feel, and Susanna's hauntingly beautiful and quietly powerful voice's still capable of giving me the chills. The tone is still quite sombre, so it's best to listen to it at night, in solitary silence, as you're winding down after a stressful day. To be honest, her lyrics follow a certain pattern that gets repetitive after a while, but then for this kind of music, lyrics are allowed to come second to the mood it creates. All in all, for those of you looking for new music to listen to in the late hours, this would make a tasteful choice. You can sample the two cuts below. The album was released by Norwegian label Rune Grammofon.
Susanna - Born In The Desert
Susanna - Better Days
(Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos, 2007)
Swing by her MySpace for more song streams.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Lotte Kestner is the current solo project of Anna-Lynne Williams, the singer of one of my favorite bands, Trespassers William. 'China Mountain' was quietly released earlier this year, so quietly that I wasn't aware until I passed by the band's website for some updates on their new album. The project sees Anna heading for a different direction, gone are the shoegaze tendencies, in favor of a more stripped-down, acoustic sound. Very little percussion was used, and Anna's bewitching vocals flow like a stream through the woods in the moonshine. The overall mood is drenched in melancholy, not that I'd expect anything else from her, but there's also a certain meditative quality to it. With 'China Mountain', she has managed to walk the fine line between beautiful lo-fi bedroom pop and Starbucks coffee table music. Although the album could have used a bit more variety, overall it's a respectable effort, the kind that could easily be overlooked but shouldn't be. If you like the two tracks below, then the rest is definitely for you.
Lotte Kesner - Crush The Bird
Lotte Kesner - Compasses
You can find the album on iTunes, order it from the band's website or CDBaby.
The album cover was done by Japanese illustrator Heisuke Kitazawa, who was responsible for the beautiful artwork for Trespassers William's last album 'Having'. You can check out his website for more of his amazing works.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Cibo Matto was ace. 'Sugar Water' is one of the true '90s alternative classics (and so is the video). After the disband, both Yuka Honda & Miho Hatori continued to pursue their solo careers. Honestly, I haven't heard Yuka's stuff, but I remember Miho's latest album 'Ecdysis' being quite decent. So here's what slipped through the cracks. In 2002, Miho Hatori lent her vocals to a track by The Baldwin Brothers (no, not those two) called 'Dream Girl'. I only got wind of this a couple days ago. It's worth the search, though, because I absolutely love it upon the first listen. It's a splash of fun, upbeat, bubbly, dreamy offbeat electronica with a dash of psychedelic grooves (sorry for the puns). Nothing boundary-breaking here, but lovely nonetheless. 'Lost gem' stamp approved.
There's a nice track featuring one of my fave vocalists, Angie Hart (Frente!) on that album, too.
The Baldwin Brothers - Dream Girl (featuring Miho Hatori)
(Cooking With Lasers, 2002)
Here's the video:
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Remember Lillix? They were this Avril-lite, Disney-friendly version of The Donnas that hit it big once with their cover of 'What I Like About You' that seemed to appear in every chick flick back then. I didn't even know it was a cover of The Romantics until a couple weeks ago. That shamefully late discovery made me wonder if they had actually had any good punk-pop songs on their own, and so off to Youtube I went. The singles from their debut weren't any good. But the lead single for the flopped second album really is something. On 'Sweet Temptation (Follow)', the girls switched from generic teen-punk-pop to faux-glam-pop-rock. A major pop number with a monster of a chorus. Really, it's insanely catchy. I had no idea what went wrong, was it the label's disinterest in promoting, the dull video, or what? What was supposed to help them rejuvenate their career and gain more exposure ended up pushing them into oblivion instead. I know the life span of bands like this is not long, but still, such a shame that this was overlooked. Were this to be released now, it'd have the potential to become a big hit. What happened happened, the band was dropped, 2 members left, a guy was recruited and apparently they're working on new materials, though I doubt if they'd ever find a way back into the limelight again. Well, those royalties from 'What I Like About You' should be enough to fund another album, I guess. So if you enjoy your pop with big hooks and miss this like me, give it a chance. A new addictive guilty pleasure of mine.
Lillix - Sweet Temptation (Hollow)
(Inside The Hollow, 2006)
I'm no longer a kid, nor am I in America. Doesn't mean I can't still sing this out loud and pretend to be both.
Okay the first part was a lie. I'm still a kid.
The Muffs - Kids In America
(Clueless OST, 1995)
The Donnas - Kids In America
(Nancy Drew OST, 2007)
LEN - Kids In America
(Digimon The Movie OST (!), 2000)
Can you spot a pattern?
And here's an electric updated version from Kim Wilde's 2006 album 'Never Say Never', featuring Charlotte Hatherley of Ash.
Kim Wilde - Kids In America (feat. Charlotte Hatherley)
Everyone lives for the music-go-round...
Oh almost forgot this part. Apparently, those freaking Jonas Brothers have covered this, dubbed as 'Kids Of The Future'. And this idiot actually thought that they ripped off Len. Oh the hilarity.
Friday, July 25, 2008
So I'm on a roll. Another spontaneous post. It's been raining outside all day, and that's how the idea for this post was conceived. As a little playlist for a rainy day. So here you go - famous themes, remixed by cool people. Good background music for a summer night.
Paul Oakenfold - James Bond Theme
Mark Snow - X-Files Theme (UNKLE Remix)
Another '90s phenomenon that I didn't get to know. By the I was old enough to care for it, it had already gone. The only episode I remembered watching is this rerun in which this guy imagined the Brady bunch living in his house and when he met the agents, he changed his surrounding to this place that looked like the Windows XP default wallpaper (why the hell could I remember it so specifically?). Anyways, the new movie's out this week in the US and I planned to watch the first movie this weekend as an introduction. And then maybe search that hilarious The Simpsons episode in which Mr. Burn got all alieny and googly-eyed on YouTube. If this proved a success, then hopefully it'd pave the way for more 90s TV series to come back on the silver screen. Like Buffy. Or Xena?
Pink Panther Theme (Fischerspooner Mix)
Not from that rather stupid Steve Martin movie version, but from a surprisingly decent (and totally uncalled for) chillout compilation Pink Panther's Penthouse Party. Yes, I didn't make that up.
Thomas Newman - Six Feet Under Main Theme (Rae & Christian Remix)
Another show that I heard nothing but praise for, yet I never watched it. It seemed to have impeccable taste in music, though (hello, Sia?).
The Sims Theme (Ralph Myerz and The Jack Herren Band Remix)
Yes, this actually exists. They do remixes for game tunes now. Fortunately, it's not shit, actually quite a laidback groove.
The Landau Orchestra - A Place In Time (Instrumental Arrangement)
The 4400's not of my interest, but the theme song is so damn sweet in a dream-pop, Ivy-esque kind of way that I eagerly awaited for a soundtrack release for a full-length version of the song. There is one, but those lazy bastards just phoned in the same one-minute theme. Epic fail! (Yay, an excuse to use hip slang!) At least, there's this smooth "instrumental arrangement" by The Landau Orchestra to get me by.
That's all for today. Enjoy.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Inevitably, with the anticipation of a new Bond film comes the anticipation of a new theme song. For 'Quantum Of Solace', ever since Amy Winehouse was officially considered out of the picture, speculations have begun making their rounds. Among the fans' favorite candidates are Leona Lewis, Duffy, and Alicia Keys. Personally, I'm rooting for Goldfrapp, but we all know it ain't gonna happen. I just like rooting for the underdog like that. Anyone would sure be better than Chris freaking Cornell, though. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they chose Chris Daughtry for the part.
Anyways, now here's a real unlikely candidate.
Nina Persson, the voice of The Cardigans.
Odd choice? Not convinced? Just me being a good fanboy? Well, listen to this ultra-rare gem, her very hard-to-find collaboration with James Bond composer David Arnold.
Nina Persson/David Arnold - Deceased (Theme from Randall and Hopkirk)
Gorgeous. Is there anything she can't do?
One day, I might gather up a fraction of my Cardigans rarities collection and make a week-long special, possibly maybe.
Update: Apparently, there's a music video for it, too.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The marvellousness of Lily Allen strikes again. She recently leaked another new demo, 'Who'd Have Known', which apparently didn't make the cut for her new album, supposedly called 'Stuck On The Naughty Step'. So far, all the leaked demos have been very very good. I like the new direction. I like vulnerable Lily. And she has dyed her hair black again. If a throwaway is this amazing, and I'm prepared to be blown again all over again. ('Alright, Still' was my number one album for 2006, fact!)
Lily Allen - Who'd Have Known
Sunday, July 13, 2008
...by contemporary artists. The songs most people once knew and loved, with a slight modern touch. Enjoy.
Carla Bruni - You Belong To Me
(Comme si de rien n’etait, 2008)
Beth Orton - I Love How You Love Me
(Mojo OST, 1997)
Eels - Can't Help Falling In Love
(Useless Trinkets: B Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2007, 2008)
The Wallflowers - I Started A Joke
(Zoolander OST, 2001)
Fiona Apple - Tonight You Belong To Me
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Hope my fellow readers from the United States of America is having a fantastic holiday weekend. Here's a little something for the covercentrics, 3 latest covers from BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge show.
Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris - That's Not My Name (The Ting Tings Cover) [alt. link]
The Last Shadow Puppets - S.O.S. (Rihanna Cover)
The Kooks - Violet Hill (Coldplay Cover)
Interesting covers from Live Lounge are quite far and few between these days. Somehow it seems to become a place for NME-type bands to do ironic covers of hit pop songs. Few get it right, though. But of course I still got to keep my eyes and ears open. My fave is the Dizzee Rascal one, which is actually great fun and makes me chuckle a bit. Enjoy.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Jens Lekman - Sipping On the Sweet Nectar (Ultracity Vocal Dub)
Jens, say hi to italo disco. Italo disco, meet Jens. I can tell you two are gonna hit it off just fine.
Jens Lekman's 'Sipping On The Sweet Nectar', my fave track from last year's 'Night Falls Over Kortedala', finally got the 'epic' remix treatment it deserved. The digital EP is out now digitally with three fantastic remixes by Ultracity and Bogdan Irkük of Rollerboys Recordings. Hear Jens like you never heard him before. Check out the taster above, and stream/purchase the whole thing here or on Sweden iTunes. It's worth it.
I didn't hear much of Rilo Kiley's pre-major-label music, so I wasn't as enraged as everyone with 'Under The Blacklight'. Sure, there are some truly cringeworthy moments like '15 Again', or that horrendous 'Smoke Detector', both of which I'd never want to sit through again, but there are some good ones worth returning to, like 'Silver Lining' and 'Breaking Up'. The latter is probably the best one that spun from their new direction, so summery and catchy, especially with that hands-wave-in-the-air gospel choir bit 'Ooh, it feels good to be free'. So when I heard Hot Chip was commissioned for a remix a while ago, I immediately thought of a wonky electropop treatment as per usual. But instead, we've got 8 minutes of yearning ambience. And it reminded me that: ouch, breakups can be quite painful, too. Included in the Breakin' Up EP available on iTunes.
Rilo Kiley - Breakin' Up (Hot Chip Remix)
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Now I've heard me some Broadcast, but none was from their early output, so I had no idea they actually had some real songs. Like, song-based songs. I bumped into this track, 'Come On Let's Go', from their 2000 album 'The Noise Made By People', and man, was I dumbfounded. It was such a beauty. The sly spy film vibe, the dreamlike melodies, and most of all, Trish Keenan's voice, which bears close resemblance to Helen Marnie's of Ladytron in that ice-queen, deadpan, unaffected vocal delivery. How come a song released 8 years ago still sound this fresh? I really feel like giving this album a go, who knows, maybe there are other gems like this waiting to be unearthed. If there's one thing I'll never get tired of, it's frosty pop. Fans of Goldfrapp or Stereolab ought to dig this, if you haven't already.
Broadcast - Come On Let's Go
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I'm horribly late to this, I know. New Buffalo's second album "Somewhere, Anywhere" was released in August last year, and I only got around to it this week. This means I'm almost one year behind, and that equals to at least 10 years in blog years! Needs some name-dropping? Okay, New Buffalo, aka Sally Seltmann, shared co-writing credits for Feist's '1234'. There you go. In my opinion, the album fell into that 'quite nice and tasteful, if uneventful' category, however, the first track on it, 'Cheer Me Up Thank You', is so sweet it lead me to checking out the whole album in the first place. The song has summer written all over it. Who said Australia only gives us electro acts? Watch the video for more indie adorableness.
"Cheer Me Up Thank You" (mp3)
from "Somewhere, Anywhere"
(Arts & Crafts)
Buy at eMusic
Buy at Amazon
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Alright, I'll be frank: I'm whoring out for traffic boost a bit here. But CSS did turn in a decent knob-twiddling job for this wicked song. Check it out if you're bored of the original by now. Speaking of CSS, I really dig their new single, 'Left Behind', which is probably their poppiest yet. Lovefoxx and co. sure are busy these days...
Lykke Li - Little Bit (CSS Remix) [alt. link]
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Okay, I won't be at home for the next few days, so this is probably my only post for this week. For that reason, I double the treats. So I've got not only 5, as per usual, but 10 covers, collected from various compilations. You know, cover compilations are always hit-and-miss, of course you're not entitled to like every cover they slap on the tracklist. Well, here are the good bits. There's something for everyone, so I hope these will tide you over until I come back. Sorry if I sound hasty, it's just that I haven't packed anything for the trip yet and the flight is about 10 hours from now. Aww summer. I know this place has been lacking lately, and to be honest the blogger in me is losing steam a little bit but hopefully after my vacation, I'd come back refreshed and inspired, ready to cook up some nice posts for you guys. Enjoy.
from Tom Middleton Presents Crazy Covers 2:
Anna Maria Jopek - Don't Speak (No Doubt Cover)
Tina Turner - Unfinished Sympathy (Massive Attack Cover)
The Fratellis - Ooh La La/Hot Love (Goldfrapp/T. Rex Cover)
from The Saturday Sessions - The Dermot O'Leary show:
Willy Mason - Careless Whisper (George Michael)
Nerina Pallot - Confide In Me (Kylie)
from Radio 1 - Established 1967:
Mutya Buena - Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
Maximo Park - Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake)
from Radio 1's Live Lounge - Volume 2:
The Enemy - Hung Up (Madonna)
from NME Awards 2008 Compilation:
Manic Street Preachers - Umbrella (Rihanna)
Lightspeed Champion - Back To Black (Amy Winehouse)
Saturday, June 21, 2008
In what appears to be one of the most amazing bits in music videos this year, the band's strutting on the sunny side of the streets, spitting trashy brassy verbal disses like "What a ho. What a tramp. What a slut". A short pause. Then BAM! The smashing chorus is on repeat, along with synchronized tap-dancing moves! Nothing short of amazing. See it for yourself.
MP3: Tilly And The Wall - Pot Kettle Black/MySpace
After the quite decent one-off electropop single 'Beat Control', it looks like Tilly & The Wall embraces their punkier side on the new album, 0 (with make-your-own-unique-cover and all...). I haven't heard it, but I'm definitely looking forward to.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Let's get this out of my system first: I'm not really fond of this new electro movement. I tried, but I just can't seem to understand the appeal. I still can't tell Cut Copy from Van She or The Presets or The Midnight Juggernauts or whoever from down under these days. The abundance of remixes and such from these acts pouring down on music aggregators everyday don't help the case much either. I know it's supposed to be all hip and 'now', and apparently I just don't belong to those circles. So it's sensible for me to be skeptical upon another new artist on the Modular roster, Ladyhawke. The initial reaction after watching her vid for 'Back Of The Van' was 'Okay, it's all silly and tongue-in-cheek, I get it, but really, why would she want to revive this look/sound?'. Never would I expect that a few days later, the chorus 'You set me on, you set me on, you set me on fire' just randomly popped up in my head and wouldn't let go. I therefore came to accept that song is a quite-alright, 3/5 one.
Well, her latest single, 'Paris Is Burning', is a solid 4/5. This time, I love it from the first listen, and I just have to listen to it at least once a day. It's that catchy. The '80s vibe is still prominent, but I've learnt to live with it. I've officially put my armor down. Ladyhawke, you won me, now let's hope you have a few more tricks up your flannel sleeves.
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning [alt. link]
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
...Or so it seems. One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
The Postmarks' version
Dame Shirley Bassey's
Nancy Sinatra/John Barry - End Title (from the original score)
Robbie Willams - Millenium (Sample)
Monday, June 16, 2008
Seriously, just how awesome is Jens Lekman. He made the second best album of 2007. He gives away tons of mp3s from his self-releases on his site. He has a cool, witty blog, which he calls 'Smalltalk' instead. And he covers obscure songs I never heard of. 'Me On The Beach' was on his 2005 US tour EP, and though it's a fairly simple recording, just him and a piano, Jens really made it his own. And he sang in Japanese! Despite not understanding a word, the melodies are just way too beautiful to resist, it even has this almost meditative quality to it. Wouldn't sound of place in a Studio Ghibli movie. The next step is inevitable: me seeking out the original to see if it rivals his version.
In my mind, I imagined the song as this little-known traditional Japanese folk song. It's not. It's a song by his labelmate, a psych-folk duo named Nagisa Ni Te, from their 1995 album On The Love Beach. In stark contrast to his cover, the original is an 8-minute blissed-out track, with a whole 2 minutes of instrumentation. It's experimental, but still, listenable and melancholy. Thanks for this one, Jens. One for the summer, certainly.
Jens Lekman - Me On The Beach
Nagisa Ni Te - Nagisa No Watashi (Me On The Beach)
Which one do you prefer? Leave a comment, then.
Visit Jens' site for more mp3 'presents'.
Visit Nagisa Ni Te's.
Rough English translation of the song.
Norwegian-born Ida Maria has a husky tone in her voice, which at times makes it sound like her throat is being torn open (ouch). Perhaps fully aware of this feature, her materials are decidedly more rock-n-roll than I'd expect. However, it really is just pop at heart, i.e. proper singalong melodies and all. Her latest single 'Queen Of The World' is a jaunty, rollicking, youthful number, which should propel her to moderate popularity in certain crowds. The chorus goes a bit like this: "I'm the queen of the world. I bump into things. I spin around in circles. And I'm singing." Very nice stuff. Could be a potential drunk anthem!
Ida Maria - Queen Of The World
Another one of her single is called 'Stella', and the titular character is a "43-year-old hooker from downtown". Cheeky! She took her rough vocals to great effect in this one, which is actually a bit sad. Her next single is entitled "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked". Lazy Kate Nash/Lily Allen comparisons would follow, but she's not that similar. Her debut, "Fortress Around My Heart" was already out in Norway, and will soon be available in the UK on July 28.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Nowadays, in the saturated singer/songwriter market, it takes more than a nice voice/a quite good song/a good-looking video to effectively grab attention from me. There are just so many around today that if the first one or two tracks didn't impress me, I'd move on, which is kinda harsh but that's just the way it goes. UK indie-folk darling Laura Marling used to fall into this unfortunate category. I heard a couple of her early singles, found them quite alright but nothing outstanding, and I wasn't patient enough to let them grow, so I passed. Months later, she had a new single out and I again gave it a try out of curiosity. And finally, she has wisely released 'the song'. 'The song' that managed to get me this time. 'The song' I can see myself coming back to regularly. That song is 'Cross Your Fingers'. I know this comparison won't do it justice, but her voice sounds like a cross between Keren Ann's and Regina Spektor's, subdued and silky. And the lyrics are among the most optimistic I ever heard yet.* What makes the video special (beside the stopmotion tricks as usual) is that it incorporates 2 songs (the other one being an interlude) seamlessly, which clearly works, as now I can only the two in pair. It's a great song, though, so if you missed her like me, try this.
Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers
Laura Marling - Crawled Out Of The Sea (Interlude)
Actually, my interest in her was first regained when she sang on Mystery Jets' single 'Young Love', which came so close to being the 2008 'Young Folks', but fell short because the chorus sounds unfinished and lacking a little bit of something to me. Anyhow, overall it's a lovely song that's also worth corking an ear to.
Mystery Jets - Young Love (feat. Laura Marling)
Her debut 'Alas, I Cannot Swim' is out now. And here's her MySpace. And yes, I'm truly back this time. Well, I hope.
*no it's nothing of the sort. rather the opposite.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Finals are approaching worryingly near. Which means more concentration on my academic career. It won't be over until mid-June, and I'd better get prepared from now, so I'm afraid time between posts will grow longer than usual. I'll still drop in from time to time to phone in a cover post or two, though. Oh who am I kidding, covers are this blog's specialty. You guys made that clear. So here are 5 more great ones to add to your collection. Enjoy!
Yael Naim - Bachelorette (Bjork)
Robyn - Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)
Groove Armada - Crazy For You (Madonna)
Cibo Matto - Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
Coldplay - Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Kylie)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The random shit I run into on the internet. Yesterday I was checking Cotton Mather's Wikipedia page, which noted that an ex-member is now in Farrah, one of my fave discoveries of 2007. So by instinct I clicked on Farrah's page to see what's new in their camp. Apparently, they're working on materials with a J-pop starlet I've never heard of before, Kimura Kaela. And to return the favor, she covered their song 'No Reason Why' as a track of her new album "+1". There you have it - a J-pop starlet covering a song by a band relatively unknown in their homeland. Oh how I love the Japanese! Her cover's actually pretty good and faithful to the original, in a jangly, happy-go-lucky power-pop Shonen Knife way. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though only after 30 seconds in did I realize she was actually singing (or trying to sing) English! Do cork an ear to her sunshine-filled cover, or watch the appropriately stop-motion visual companion, if you like watching a kawaii Japanese girl fooling around.
Kimura Kaela - No Reason Why (Farrah Cover)
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Sometimes, the right cover can embody the music within without ever speaking a word. Such is the case of the cover above. A sepia-toned old photograph of a young woman standing in the middle of a static field with both eyes closed. The first time I saw that image, I felt so strongly inclined to find out more about the music, even though I knew nothing about the artist in the first place. Turns out there's a very interesting story behind the release of this album, 'Colour Green' by Sybille Baier.
In the early '70s, Sybille Baier was working as an actress in Germany. After an inspiring road trip experience, she came back rejuvenated and started recording her songs on a home recording device. They never saw the light of day as Sybille decided to give up her career for domestic bliss, and later moved to the US with her family. More than 30 years later, her son, Robby, now a musician, compiled a CD worth of her early works to give out to friends & families as a gift. The Orange Twin label got a hold of a copy and in 2006, 'Colour Green' was officially released. I am not too familiar with these circles of music, but I have to say I'm glad I gave it a listen. Sibylle's voice is mesmerizing and alluring in its own way. Most of them time, it's only her and an acoustic guitar, and that stripped-down setting allowed her voice to be the main instrument, carrying the simple melodies and little stories from another time. It's a kind of record you would prefer to appreciate in solitude, you know, like sitting still in your room and wallowing for hours. It's more about the mood, the mood that evokes nostalgia and quiet, undescribable feelings. A lost gem, I'd say. In some ways, the story of an unreleased record made by your mom many years ago managing to find its way to a certain audience 3 decades later, it's quite moving, isn't it?
The good part is that inspired by all the positive feedback, Sibylle is now writing songs again with her son, and an all-new record is to be expected this fall. I know this is not the kind of music I would usually cover, but give it a try, and who knows, maybe it will inspire you to grab a flashlight and go up to your attic in hope of finding a record of your mom hidden somewhere. I asked her, she said 'No. Never happened', so no cashing-in for me :-(.
Sibylle Baier - Tonight
Sibylle Baier - I Lost Something In The Hills
Sibylle Baier - Softly
(Colour Green, 2006)
Visit her official site or herSpace, made by her son.
Oh, and Happy Mother's Day.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Chamber-esque piano pop tune from Sweden with a soaring, addictive chorus consisting entirely of "ah-ahs". I love this song, and feel compelled to find more about her music. This one is from an old album, the latest one is 'Kill Hollywood Me', out last year.
Britta Persson - Winter Tour
(Top Quality Bones and A Little Terrorist, 2006)
Watch her in motion:
Visit her MySpace.
PS: A little experiment of mine. These brief posts were born because sometimes I really like a song, but can't bring myself to write a whole passage about it. In the future, I might do more of these types due to my time restraint. Hope this is okay and you like what I posted today.
Melodic soft rock with a layered, dreamy chorus. Just the kind I like.
Think: The Shins, Midlake, Keane.
The Republic Tigers - Buildings & Mountains
(Keep Color, out soon)
Here's a well-shot visual companion:
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Let's get this out of the way first. I was a nutty Coldplay fan. That's a pretty well-documented fact. "Trouble", my first proper introduction to the band, came out at just the right time, I remembered watching the video for the first time on MTV and being completely blown away and moved by it. Life-changing, even. Coldplay paved the way for me to invest further in the alternative world. 'X&Y' was my solid album of the year it came out.
These days I barely listen to their music on a regular basis anymore. I couldn't explain whether I've grown out of it or the lack of new materials from them led me to prefer other artists.
I just feel a bit guilty that I don't feel as excited as I think I should be. The whole album campaign so far, from the tedious artwork (boobies visible, "oh gosh") to the 'quirky' track titles, just has this sense of 'Ooh we've sold truckloads of records now we can do whatever we want mwhahahaha". They earned that spot fair and square, and now no matter what they do, people will still eat it all up. Today, my reactions towards the lead single 'Violet Hill' premiere proved that their theory partially correct. Here's what going on inside my head the last few hours. I was pretty much camping next to my notebook, waiting for the track to unleash on their site.
"Oh it's now 1PM in London. Refresh. Woot. Email address required? I just entered a fake one then, haha sucker. This is painfully slow. Oh damnit they're supposed to send a link to my email! Blerb. Back back. Oh come on, move along. Finally. I bet it's shimmering in my inbox by now. Weird. Wait a couple more, I guess. Maybe it's the spam filter. Nope. Last time it didn't take this long for Radiohead. Are they playing tricks on us? Still no reply. Aaargh WTF? Stupid techonology. Time for another Veronica Mars episode...One hour later: it just popped up, at last! How exciting! Downloaded, unzipped, voila! Ready for a lifetime experience. And. Press. Play."
Well, that was...okay. Different for them. I bet it's a grower. I like the title, though - that I'm sure of. Maybe it'd sound better on 7" vinyl. I'll go take a look at the fridge.
And in case you can't access their official site, here's a mirror. I keep it up here for a week - if it stays that long. What's your reaction on the track? Does Chris Martin finally lose it? Would love to hear them.
Coldplay - Violet Hill
Monday, April 28, 2008
"They call me quiet girl, but I'm a riot." Well, a riot, indeed! In an unexpected turn of events, it looks like The Ting Tings will blow up in a big way this week. Their track "Shut Up And Let Me Go" has just been used in a new iPod commercial, and 'Great DJ' is scheduled to be the next free Single Of The Week for the US iTunes store. A tremendous push from Apple, and to think that 'That's Not My Name' is not even out in their homeland yet! This is really exciting news, as I LOVE both 'Great DJ' and 'That's Not My Name'. They're like a reverse pop version of The White Stripes - albeit for a hipper demographic. They make insanely infectious pop that's full of energy and fun. It takes a few listen to get used to the sounds, but once it grows, it's pretty hard to shake if off. Their debut album, "We Started Nothing", is out in May 20 in the UK. It'd be real cool if they got an overnight breakthrough in the US market, too.
The Ting Tings - Great DJ
I can do the 'the drums' bit quite well, I tell you. I always look like an idiot when I play this while walking on the streets.
The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
This is an early version from their 7" single before Columbia snatched them, so the album version may differ a bit.
And here comes the quasi-exclusive part. Most of you have probably seen this video for "That's Not My Name" that looks a bit cheap. You may not know that there exists a Sophie-Muller-directed version that cost 6 times of that! Apparently, the band found the Sophie one 'nondescript', so the label commissioned a reshoot - but it's out of the bag now - and you can watch it below. This version's definitely an improvement, in my opinion. If anything, it succeeds in shedding their pop sheen a bit and giving them a more authentic, serious proper-band look - not that they need that.
Oh, fuck it's gone. Fuck Youtube.
You probably don't need me to point this out, but yes - Katie White is Hot! And I'm shallow.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I'm still mourning over the departure of Riotbecki & Rosay from The Pipettes. Funny how two of my top artists in '06 both resurfaced in the news this week, one leaked 2 brilliant demos on her MySpace, and one announced the most unexpected lineup change. On the bright side, a new Pipettes album is in the works, and I have two more solo outputs to look out for. It's gonna take me a while to get used to The Pipettes version 3.0, though, sigh.
Anyways, as usual, here are 5 fantastic covers, for the weekend. Collect them all.
Grovesnor - With Every Heartbeat (Robyn Cover)
The Puppini Sisters - Crazy In Love (Beyoncé Cover - The Real Tuesday Weld Remix)
The Tough Alliance - Lucky (Lucky Twice Cover)
Beachwood Sparks - By Your Side (Sade Cover)
Ben Barnett & Ben Gibbard - Joga (Bjork Cover)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
THIS. IS. IMMENSE.
Seriously. Girlfriend can bust a move. So refreshing for the hopeless hipster in me.
Awesome song, too. Too much wickedness.
There's also a cool live acoustic performance of 'I'm Good I'm Gone' with a cameo from Robyn, so do watch that if you haven't.
I predict 2008 will be a big year for her. She's now signed with major label Atlantic for representation in the UK market. For those in America, do not worry, 'cause a 4-song EP, named after her breakthrough single 'Little Bit', will come out there in May 6, along with a string of North America tourdates. A track from the EP, 'Dance Dance Dance', is now available as a guilt-free download. Take a bite.
Lykke Li - Dance Dance Dance
Here is her MySpace. Hop on.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Chances are you already heard about that Stereogum Bjork tribute album? Well, as a blogger, I do appreciate them taking time and effort to gather artists and release the whole thing for free, which is a very noble gesture, however, as a cover enthusiast, there's only about 2-3 tracks that managed to convince me to import them to my library. If anything, this, along with the groundbreaking visual masterpiece that is 'Wanderlust' (seriously, don't watch it on YouTube - buy the dvd single when it comes out - best video of 2008 so far!), have inspired me to check the album tracks from Post, because to be fair, I'm no vivid fan of Bjork, as I'm only familiar with a majority of her singles only. Then I came across 'Hyperballad'. It didn't have much of an impact on me, until now. I then decided that it's one of Bjork's best songs, musically, lyrically, and visually. The next step is inevitable: me setting on a quest to find all cover versions of it. I harvested this lot, and ended up feeling a little more proud of my nimble fingers and my honed googling skills. The re-interpretations, below.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Hyperballad
Evidence that Karen O can also sound pretty when she doesn't growl.
Blanket Music - Hyperballad
(Read: Interpreting Bjork, 2004)
Boy/girl vocals backed by a bossa nova beat. Shouldn't work, but it did. From a tribute album by the Portland-based Hush Records. There's a Ben Gibbard take on Joga on that album, FYI.
Big Heavy Stuff - Hyperballad
(Like A Version, 2005)
Whitley - Hyperballad
(No Man's Woman, 2007)
Two acoustic versions from down under. Both is sung by men, both involves a guitar, and both is available exclusively on cover compilations. What are the odds, huh? Which one is better, well that's up to you.
The Twilight Singers - Hyperballad
(She Loves You, 2004)
The band's a side-project of The Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli. They're also labelmates with Bjork.
Mocca - Hyperballad
A piano-based one by an Indonesian indie band which I've never heard of before "researching" for this post. To be honest, the same can be applied to all of the bands featured in this post (bar YYYs, of course). There is a nice bit of horns at the end, but this version is just too easy listening for a Bjork song.
For good measure, I conclude this post with a strings version of Hyperballad performed by the Icelandic herself. My favorites among the bunch are of YYYs, Blanket Music and Big Heavy Stuff, by the way. Enjoy.
Björk - Hyperballad (Brodsky Quartet Version)
Watch the Michel-Gondry-directed video
Learn more about the song
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I'm currently trapped in the middle of a midterm mayhem. 3 more to go, and I'm done for the week. Maybe after that I will actually get around to checking the 250+ emails piling up in my inbox, in which there must be some decent stuff I might not know about yet.
Anyways, in the meantime, I really could use some aural "chill pills". Here's another mix created strictly for the night-time. Enjoy. (Note: non-direct links this time)
Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)
The Engine Room - A Perfect Lie (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
Natalie Walker - Quicksand (Thievery Corporation Remix)
The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize (The Postal Service Remix)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
These are the more recent ones that have been making their rounds in the blogosphere lately...Novelty ensues.
Duffy - Ready For The Floor (Hot Chip Cover)
I had a little rant about the new US video for 'Mercy' but perhaps that's for another time.
Tristan Prettyman - New Soul (Yael Naim Cover)
Awww, Tristan. Nice move. Her new album 'Hello' is out now on iTunes Japan. Might give it a listen soon.
Hot Chip - Sensual Seduction (Snoop Dogg Cover)
Pelle Carlberg - Grace Kelly (Mika Cover)
Estelle - She's So Lovely (Scouting For Girls Cover)
I think I heard the original once back then but wasn't too bothered. Estelle's cover is really, um, lovely, though. Who would've thought that both Estelle & Sam Sparro are now outselling Madonna on iTunes UK? Not complaining, both singles are excellent ear candy. Way to go, underdogs!
Mobius Band - Digital Love (Daft Punk Cover)
The best cover version out of the inexplicable surge of acoustic cover versions of this song for the past few weeks.
Yes, I'm back, baby!
First of all, thanks for all the comments and emails regarding the matter of the previous post which lead to my quite prolonged absence. To be honest, last week, after weighing all the options and well-prepared for the worst outcome, I finally found the time to go downtown and get my external hard-drive a professional check-up. Well, well, as much to my surprise, it turned out that it was just the box that is dead, and there's absolutely no harm done to the contents of the hard drive. I felt so relieved, and to be honest a little mortified that I couldn't figure that out and made such a fuss about it. Then I decided to take a little more time out to tidy up stuff in my library, went on a short leisure trip, and got totally obsessed with this little "new" show.
How inscrutable. Yeah, I gave in to the hype and checked out the pilot. Since then, I've been watching one episode per day religiously. Quite a little intriguing show, isn't it? (plus, love the phrase 'neo-noir'!). My only complaint so far's that if only it had a stronger supporting ensemble cast, as even Kristin Bell can't possibly carry the show on her own. Can't believe it took me so long to finally jump on the bandwagon.
Anyways, I came back to the blog yesterday and felt like a big jackass. I really should have informed you guys sooner. Really really sorry. I promise I will make it up to you as I already have a plethora of ideas for upcoming posts in mind. How about a batch of nice cover versions to kick start things again? Glad to be back.
Ivy - Sing (The Carpenters Cover) (a must)
Taken By Trees - Sweet Child O' Mine (Gun N' Roses Cover)
Kings of Convenience - Free Fallin' (Tom Petty Cover)
Fiona Apple - Tonight You Belong To Me (Cover)
Emiliana Torrini - Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel Cover)
Lavender Diamond - Chiquitita (ABBA Cover)
The Sugarcubes - Top Of The World (The Carpenters Cover) (with Bjork on vocal duties)