Sunday, March 22, 2009

Covered: Timo Räisänen

Timo Räisänen's cover album '...And Then There Was Timo' must be one of the oddest of its kind in recent memory. The selections are literally all over the place. Rarely can you find covers of AC/DC, Dolly Parton, Sonny & Cher, Josh Groban, Whitney, Mariah, and the obligatory Radiohead all in one tracklist. His approach is tongue-in-cheek, and a bit 'Let's throw all at the walls and see what sticks', but there are some gems here. His surprising cover of Sugababes' "About You Now" is certainly a highlight. I didn't know that song did well in Sweden, or did it? Certainly miles better than this disasterous, Americanized monstrosity of a cover for the tweens (click at your own risk!).
However, the most unexpected one goes to his cover of New Radicals and their only hit 'You Get What You Give'. Seriously, that song is so much fun to sing along to! How come no one had covered it before? Take note, musicians. Timo delivered a faithful version that I found very enjoyable.
Timo is currently on the roster of very cool Swede label Razzia - the home of Hello Saferide, Maia Hirasawa, & Firefox AK. Sample a few below.

Timo Raisanen - About You Now (Sugababes Cover)
Timo Raisanen - You Get What You Give (New Radicals Cover)
Timo Raisanen - Creep (Radiohead Cover)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Covers Coming Your Way...

collage by Julien Pacaud

Another batch of covers. I'm not really in the mood to write some new artists-centric posts, so this should suffice for now. I was having a dreary day that seemed to drag forever, so here's hoping yours is going more smoothly. Besides, if those stats were to be trusted, you guys do love covers. Scoop 'em up, folks!

Rio En Medio - Let's Groove (Earth Wind & Fire) (Let's Groove/Staying Alive 7", 2008)
A simple, yet addictive groove. Her own music is not too dissimilar to what Bat For Lashes is doing.

Tara Busch - Let's Go To Bed (The Cure) (Various Artists - Perfect as Cats: A Tribute to the Cure, 2008)
One of the better ones from an uneven compilation. I really dig this psych-folk take. It appears that Tara's bed may be way up there, among the clouds.

Tricky - Slow (Kylie) (Knowle West Boy, 2008)
Unexpected. His version verges more on electro-rock. Did you know Emilíana Torrini co-wrote this track, and won a Grammy for it? Didn't see it coming either.

Bryn Christopher - Sour Times (Portishead) (My World, 2008)
Bryn was an unfortunate case of buzz over quality. He can sing, and wears nice trenchcoats, but his debut single was rubbish, and the follow-ups didn't fare so well, either. There was a Portishead cover on his album and it wasn't even mentioned in the press releases.

Ingrid Michaelson - Creep (Radiohead) (Live Sessions EP - iTunes, 2009)
The standard Radiohead cover song. Ingrid has a pretty voice and an uncanny resemblance to Lisa Loeb. Her songs are a bit too coffee-table-friendly for me, but this cover is lovely indeed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cover Ahoy!

collage by Julien Pacaud

An assortment of covers for the weekend! 5 excellent ones, as per usual. They're not exactly new, but still on high rotation for me. Enjoy.

Lily Allen - Womanizer (Britney Spears)
Recorded live for KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic. I really like her acerbic take on this. 'It's Not Me, It's You' is a stunning follow-up, by the way.

Jonna Lee - Human (The Killers)
A lovely acoustic take from Swedish singer/songwriter/Razzia-signee Jonna Lee. She's got a newsingle coming out called 'My High'.

Jem - Yellow (Coldplay Cover)
This was on the Starbucks compilation Sweetheart. Her last album was a mess, bar about 3 good songs. Sigh.

Solange - Destiny (Zero 7)
It's the cool, hip Knowles! Her Twitter is quite entertaining, in between showing affection for her son, she also revealed her taste in music, mentioning acts such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, and Zero 7. This sweet performance was for the Spotlight Sessions, which you can watch here. When will she lend a few from her record collection to her big sister?

The Bird And The Bee - Don't Stop The Music (Rihanna)
A lush & playful cover. The Bird And The Bee can do no wrong in my eyes. Their new album 'Ray Guns Are Not Only Just The Future' is an absolute delight, a step-up from their debut, combining Greg Kurstin's slick production skills with Inara's gorgeous vocals. Do check out 'Love Letter To Japan', possibly their most accessible, poppiest track to date.

It's been such a long week for me. May next week come with some good news, I can be so impatient sometimes...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hollywood, Mon Armour

Hollywood, Mon Armour is the latest project of Marc Collin, the man behind Nouvelle Vague. This time around, he relies on several chanteuses like Skye Edwards (former Morcheeba singer), Cibelle, Yael Naim, Juliette Lewis... to reinterpret '80s movie theme songs. The idea sounds promising on paper, but the actual practice turned out to be not as thrilling.
My main problem with the album is that the novelty has lost its sheen. It sounds exactly like what I'd expect it to be. The production is too repetitive to listen to all in one sitting. The tone is just so...monotonous.
Now that we get that out of the way, the album actually has a fair share of worthy moments, like Yael Naim's balladry take on 'Flashdance...What A Feeling', or Skye Edwards' enticing reading of Blondie's 'Call Me'. The treatment of 'Eye Of The Tiger' eerily reminds me of another cover version by Olivier Bernet for the soundtrack of Persepolis, though. Overall, in my opinion, Hollywood, Mon Armour would benefit from cutting off a few tracks (to later use as bonus tracks, perhaps). Marc's approach is just too safe and treading old ground now, he needs to take some new tricks up his sleeves. The formula's not broken, but it would help if things got shaken up a bit more.

Yael Naim - Flashdance...What A Feeling (Flashdance)
Skye Edwards - Call Me (American Gigolo)
Leelou - Don't You (Forget About Me) (The Breakfast Club)
Katrine Ottosen - Eye Of The Tiger (Rocky III)


Here's the tracklist:

01. View To A Kill (feat. Skye)
02. Call Me (feat. Skye)
03. When Doves Cry (feat. Nadeah)
04. Eye Of The Tiger (feat. Katrine Ottosen)
05. Cat People (feat. Dea Li)
06. Flashdance (What A Feeling) (feat. Yael Naim)
07. Footloose (feat. Cibelle)
08. This Is Not America (feat. Juliette Lewis)
09. Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) (feat. Nadeah)
10. Together In Electric Dreams (feat. Nadeah)
11. Reality (feat. Nancy Danino)
12. Forbidden Colours (feat. Nadeah)
13. It's Wrong For Me To Love You (feat. Bianca Calandra)
14. For Your Eyes Only (feat. Dea Li)
15. Don't You (Forget About Me) (feat. Leelou)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Covered: Girls Aloud

Everybody wants a piece of Girls Aloud nowadays.

First, Scottish musician Malcolm Middleton recently put up his cover for 'Call The Shots' for free on his website. Also included is his take on The Saturdays' hit 'Issues'. Malcolm's tactic is nothing new, which is to strip it down, dissect the melodies, strum the guitar and put on a strong accent. Still, it's interesting to hear such meticulously-produced pop songs in such context. The Saturdays cover might even be better than the original - the lamest single of the pop group so far (their pedestrian charity cover of Depeche Mode's 'Just Can't Get Enough' already counted).

Malcolm Middleton -Call The Shots (Girls Aloud Cover)

Malcolm Middleton - Issues (The Saturdays Cover)

Bloc Party had also covered 'Call The Shots' for Radio 1's Live Lounge. The intention is good, but let's say Kele's voice is not best suited for the song...

Bloc Party - Call The Shots

The latest British up-and-coming act, Florence & The Machine (pictured above) had a go at 'Can't Speak French', too. I still remain undecided on her own music, but her folk-infused cover is quite alright. She's clearly a nutter, which is great. I wonder whether Nicola and Florence would meet to share fashion tips?

Florence & The Machine - Can't Speak French (Girls Aloud Cover)

It's funny that only after 6 years in the business that Girls Aloud finally reached their peak, thanks to no small parts from Cheryl Cole's current X-Factor judge stint. My unashamed fascination with the group is also at an all-time high. 'Out Of Control' might not be their best album, but it still is an amazing pop confection. They even came close to dethroning The Cardigans as the most listened to band on my iPod (yikes)! It's great to see them getting the recognition they deserve, and here's hoping for a couple more albums before the eventual split.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Beast - Mr. Hurricane

How do you like the spanking new layout? I finally caved in yesterday and decided to upgrade from the classic Blogger template. Closed the blog for about 2 hours, meddled with codes, refurbished this and that. And I'm very pleased with the result. It looks so much nicer, isn't it? I particularly like the rounded corners and the fixed background. That dusty, dull, unsightly old one can retire now, phew. On to the music...

Beast is a new Montreal duo, consisting of Jean-Phi Goncalves and Betty Bonifassi. Now Betty came as a big surprise, as I remembered her singing on the soundtrack for 'The Triplets Of Belleville', one of my favorite animated movies ever, and also one of the most bonkers I've seen. Never would I have guessed that, since her vocals on the following track is so much...rawer.
'Mr. Hurricane' is a fuzzy mix of soul, rock, and electronic. Betty coined their sound as 'trip rock', so let's stick with that for lack of a better description. The track got me bobbling head and tapping toes instantly, and that is always a good thing. There's a certain '90s flair to the driving beats, but with a more updated touch. Also, there's a choir in the chorus! Plus one! Actually, I think the choir made the song.

TRY: Beast - Mr. Hurricane

The music video for the song is very cool, if a bit uneasy. Beast has a recurring obsession with bees, apparently. Not just a few, thousands of swarms of them. You're best advised to not click on the play button if you have apiphobia.
Beast - Mr. Hurricane from MapleMusic Recordings on Vimeo

Beast's self-titled album was released in the US on March 3. I find this taster decent and very likable, so I will probably give it a spin. You can purchase it here or on iTunes.

P.S. I was going to make 'Beety and the Beast' the headline. Thank goodness I did not. Ummm...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Loney Dear - Airport Surroundings

Loney, Dear and I got off on the wrong foot back then, as I made the mistake of viewing the rather disturbing video for 'I Am John' first. I was put off and decided to pass.

2 years and minus a comma later, Loney Dear's back with a new one. Luckily this time, the second first impression hits all the right chords.

'Airport Surroundings' is his new excellent single, in that it's properly catchy indie pop and also managed to, in risk of sounding cheesy, "pull my heart strings". The first listen was a bit manic with all the frantic layers, but soon all came together. The earnest lyrics demonstrated the quiet wreckage and the despair so well I half expected him to have a nervous breakdown at the end of the song. The moment the crescendo came, and the harmonies kicked in before the chorus was sung once more - Wow. So much emotion packed in just over 3 minutes. Can you imagine driving to this after a not-so-good day? My mouth was singing along, but my head hurt, in a good way. Had I heard this 2 years ago, I don't think I would have enjoyed this as much. I guess I'm at a different place now, and my taste expands with time. Sad, sad music for lonely nights.

Avoid the radio edit that reconstructs the song into the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. Fail. Just listen to the original in all its glory.

TRY: Loney Dear - Airport Surroundings

Oh, need I mention he's Swedish?

Watch the apt driving-themed video.

Visit his MySpace.
Buy the album.