Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nina Nastasia

I've been a quiet follower of Nina Nastasia for a couple years now, and last week, to my surpise, I realized she was never mentioned here. How could it slip my mind?
Nina's music is quite stark, stripped down but poetic. Her short story-songs conveys raw emotions. My entry point was actually her 4th album, 'On Leaving'. One highlight was definitely track 8, 'Treehouse Song'. Growing up, I was fascinated with the idea of a treehouse, though we never had one. There was just something neat about having your own little space, to escape to and be by myself, to gaze upon the surroundings from a different view. So I guess the song just struck all the right chords with me. And everytime the cascading piano keys arrived at the chorus... it was astounding.
Her follow-up a year later is a collaboration with Jim White, a more experimental effort. The artwork was fantastic as usual, and there were good songs, but I felt something missing from this album. Nevertheless, I remain a fan and am really looking forward to some new materials by her. For now, you can try a few samples below.

Nina Nastasia - Treehouse Song
Nina Nastasia - Settling Song
(On Leaving, 2006)

Nina Nastasia & Jim White - Our Discussion
(You Follow Me, 2007)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Covered: Kate Bush

Kate Bush is one of those trail-blazing artists that are so often cited as influence, and yet never properly investigated by me. And then on this fateful night, I was bored enough to make a routine check of Youtube, and decided to view her video for Wuthering Heights. Oh my, it was a revelation. I had heard that she has a reputation for being kooky before, but after viewing that, I know she's a total cuckoo! (in a good way, of course). That video was so amazingly shot and choreographed that it's still refreshing by today's standards. To think that it was about 30 years ago! It took me a while to get used to her voice, but once I did, the song becomes superb and addictive.
Well, I'm convinced. Consider me converted. I shall investigate more about this delightfully bonkers woman's music. In the meantime, here are some covers of two of her most popular singles, 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Running Up That Hill'.

Chromatics - Running Up That Hill
(Night Drive, 2007)
Italo disco!

Placebo - Running Up That Hill
(Sleeping With Ghosts (Special Edition), 2003)
Androgynous alt rock!

Within Temptation - Running Up That Hill
(Single, 2004)
Dutch symphonic rock!

The Puppini Sisters - Wuthering Heights
(Betcha Bottom Dollar, 2006)
'40s cabaret!

The Sweptaways - Wuthering Heights
(CDR, 2006)
Gleeful Swedish a cappella choir!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Songs For Sunday

I've been saving these for a day like today, for it's the perfect time to spin them. I'll let the tunes speak for themselves. Enjoy your weekend!

Fionn Regan - Be Good Or Be Gone
(The End Of History, 2007)
Lay Low - Last Time Around
(Farewell Good Night's Sleep, 2009)
Alexi Murdoch - All My Days
(Away We Go Soundtrack, 2009)
Ian Broudie - Song For No One
(Tales Told, 2004)
Little Joy - Unattainable
(Little Joy, 2008)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Simone White

Simone White possesses a lilting, mellifluous voice. She crafts songs that sound much better on rainy days. Her bittersweet mellow ditties are unobtrusively pleasant, but alluring enough to draw me in and keep me coming back. Because sometimes, that is all I need, beautiful, acoustic music to make the day seem a little less longer.

Simone White - The Beep Beep Song
(featured in an Audi commercial)

Simone White - Why Is Your Raincoat Always Crying?

Simone White - Sweetest Love Song

Her new album, entitled "Yakiimo", will be released soon in June, which gives you just about enough time to catch up with her solid 2007 album "I Am The Man". Other highlights include 'I Didn't Have Any Summer Romance' & 'We Used To Stand So Tall'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Covered: Jens & Tracey

Jens Lekman and Tracey Thorn
recently teamed up for the 20th-anniversary Merge Records covers compilation "Score!". As I'm a big fan of both, I was psyched when Tracey first announced this on her blog. It literally just came out of nowhere. And I can confirm that it's indeed excellent. Their voices just entwined so well together, and it's deceptively sweet for the wry, deadpan lyrics. Definitely one of the best covers I've heard in 2009.

Tracey Thorn and Jens Lekman - Yeah! Oh, Yeah! (The Magnetic Fields)
I always meant to check out Magnetic Fields' stuff, actually, but I got intimidated by their hefty discography. It doesn't help that the most recommended album to start with is called '69 Love Songs'!

And while we're at it, here are some more fine covers courtesy of Jens & Tracey:

Jens Lekman - A Little Lost (Arthur Russell)
Damn you and your kalimba, Jens.

Jens Lekman - Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death (Scout Niblett)
The build-up here is amazing. Instruments along the way with Jens' crooning make the lyrical content less grim. Almost. :(

Jens Lekman - Water Runs Dry (Boyz II Men)
Wait for his explanation at the end.

Tracey Thorn - King's Cross (Pet Shop Boys)
The Hot Chip Mix is probably more popular, but here's the original version of the cover, a b-side to 'It's All True'. Earlier this year, there was a period when the chorus lyrics of this song really resonated with me.

Last but not least, check out this brilliant collaboration of Jens with Swedish choir The Sweptaways, called 'Happiness Will Be My Revenge'. So so good. Jens has got the Midas touch, everything he does is essential. His collabs? I'll save that for another time.