Tuesday Covers 29/12/09

I hope all your livers are recovering well from the holidays.

This will be the last Tuesday covers segment for this year and the entire decade (bring on 2010 and not being 17) and I have a few exciting things to post for you today.

I also hope to have a best-of list up sometime this week, or early next year. I got a bunch of CDs for Christmas and want to give them time to sink in before I go list making.

When I was younger, my dad used tp play Darkside of the Moon in the car. At the time I was living on a steady diet of Kylie Minogue and manufactured pop groups and  while I would like to be able to say that it changed my life and I spent the rest of my childhood listening to classic rock, the truth is that I thought it was weird old music. There was however, one song that I didn’t mind so much  and that was Money. I think it was because it was the closest thing to a pop song and I remember looking forward to hearing it on long drives.

Today I have two covers of Money for you.

The first is from The Flaming Lips. This isn’t a live cover that a die-hard fan has recorded and posted on the internet or even a cover done for a radio station. This is a studio version that was recorded as part of the band’s cover of the entire Darkside of the Moon album, which I think is now available on itunes. Enjoy.

The Flaming Lips-Money.mp3

The other cover of Money I have for you was released a few years ago and is by The Easy All Stars who cover classic albums in the style of reggae. My personal favourite of these albums is Radiodread a cover of Radiohead’s Ok Computer, however Dub Side of the Moon is still an interesting listen, even if you aren’t a reggae fan. And it is fun to see how many puns they can come up with for album titles.

Easy All Stars-Money.mp3

I’m sure most of you would be familiar with the Magnetic Fields and their 69 Love Songs album. For those of you who don’t know, The Magnetic Fields recorded a triple album made up of 69 songs about love and love songs. Of course, having Stephen Merrit as the main songwriter meant the songs were generally sad, bitter or witty rather than sappy. Which is definetly a good thing.

As you can imagine, having such a large number of songs, most of them pretty good, has led to a number of covers. This one is a cover of Book of Love by Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes, who are pretty much responsable for making folk music cool again.

Robin Pecknold-Book of Love.mp3

Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More

Little Lion Man by English folk band Mumford and Sons could quite possibly be one of the year’s best singles. It has a hoedown, features banjo and has a soaring chorus that uses the word “fuck” to express vulnerability rather than just for the sake of it. And when played on the radio alongside the likes of Lady GaGa, it is a breath of fresh air.

The problem with Mumford and Sons’ debut album Sigh No More is that while all the aforementioned elements are brilliant when used together in moderation, when applied to twelve tracks they become heavy and repetitive. That’s not to say that it is a bad album, because it isn’t. But whenever I listen to it all I think about is how great the album could have been rather than how good it is.

There really are some great moments on the album Aside from Little Lion Man the second track on the album The Cave is driving folk song with great banjo plucking and the verses contain some of the most poetic lyrics on the entire album. The horns on Winter Winds help lift up the catchy but repetitive chorus making it  one of the album’s better songs and the hoedowns throughout the album set them apart from many of today’s folk bands.

The album is far form perfect though. While it would be ridiculous to suggest that all folk bands should have the lyrical prowess of say, The Decemberists, but at times Mumford and Sons leave a lot to be desired in the lyrics department. The lyrics are very heartfelt and deal with love, hate and anger. But after twelve tracks it all becomes too heavy and boarders on cheesy. Another problem is that this old style of folk music often relies on good storytelling in the lyrics, which is something the band is yet to perfect.  Luckily Marcus Mumford’s gravely voice manages to keep the album afloat.

The production is very polished, which is great for mainstream appeal but not so good if you like your folk music a little bit grimey. Even the hoedowns seem a bit restrained, which is a shame because if they had been a little less controlled they would have made the album great.

Sigh No More had the potential to be a great album and shows that Mumford and Sons are very capable musicians who just need to let loose and lighten up. That said, any release that can get the general public interested in folk can’t be a bad thing.

6.5/10

Christmas Songs That Don’t (Completely) Suck, Part 2

Christmas. Two more sleeps and it will all be over. Thank god.

Christmas is stressful in general and for us folks working in retail it is even worse. In the words of one of my colleagues “At Christmas everyone turns into grumpy pricks.”

So to celebrate this wonderful time of year I think we need another dose of half-decent christmas songs.

Bah, Humbug.

First-Aid Kit- Blue Christmas.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: I posted the Bright Eyes version of this song a few days ago but this one is much better because they actually sound blue, rather than mildly depressed.

Noah and the Whale- To Cyril At Crunkmas.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: While it may not be the coolest genre, I am sucker for a good folk song. And there seems to a be a bit of a shortage of good Christmas folks songs. This track from Noah and the Whale has a bit of a demo-ey feel about it which adds to it I think.  I’m willing to forgive the annoying bells in the background of  because it is one of those Christmas songs that can be enjoyed at other times of the year, mainly because it doesn’t mention Santa or reindeer.

Camera Obscura- The Blizzard.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: One of the problems with Christmas songs is that they are almost always happy and after spending three hours battling the crowds at Chadstone, having an argument with your family and witnessing your cousin block the upstairs toilet causing poo-water to drip into your living room(true story) the last thing you will feel is happy. Camera Obscura’s cover of  The Blizzard, a tale of a man and a horse being found dead in the snow, is as far from a happy Christmas song as you will get.  So when it all goes wrong, open up a bottle of gin, sit on the couch and listen to this marvelously depressing track. Thanks to Aaron Underground for sharing this one.

Fun.-Believe in me.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: Remember The Format? Well they broke up last year, but luckily one of the members has formed a new band called fun. who make indie-pop music that suit Disney movies. And I say that with the utmost respect. Belive In Me is written from the perspective of Santa. Kind of like Santa Claus is Coming To Town for people with taste. They even manage to incorporate Jingle Bells without making you want to kill someone, which is an achievement in itself.

Eddy Current Supression Ring

Earlier this year Australian Idol judge Ian “Dicko” Dickson appeared on morning television and proclaimed:

“The kids who know, know this band are the coolest band on the planet right now.”

He wasn’t talking about Human Nature, Wolfmother or even an Australian Idol winner. No. He was talking about Melbourne’s Eddy Current Supression Ring. These guys play the kind of unpretentious garage punk music that never grows old. There’s no emo fringes, no gimmickry and no fake English or American Accents. Just great simple rock music. I’m sure these guys are totally explosive live.

After winning the Australian Music Prize last year for their brilliant second album Primary Colours the band have released Anxiety from their upcoming third release which is said to have cost next to nothing and been recorded in six days.

Despite the short recording time, Anxiety is probably The Eddy Current Supression Ring’s most polished song. But fans shouldn’t panic because the band’s DIY edge is still very much there, and at the very respectable length of 3:23 it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

If you’re sick of hearing bands with elaborate back stories, over produced pop songs and phony American accents give these guys a try.

Eddy Current Supression Ring-Anxiety.mp3

Christmas Songs That Don’t (Completely) Suck

It’s less than one week until christmas and if I hear Jingle Bells one more time I’ll end up punching the entire Salvation Army band.

So to get into the spirit of the world’s most stressful holiday, I thought I would share a list of Christmas songs that don’t (completely) suck.

Okkervil River- Listening To Otis Redding at Home During Christmas

Why it doesn’t suck: This is by far my favourite Christmas song of all time and not just because I am huge Okkervil River fan. While most Christmas songs are just about Santa and snow, this one incorporates the warmth and familiarity of coming back home. There no mention of reindeer or santa and it doesn’t even feature sleigh bells, which seem to be reoccurring theme with Christmas songs. And let’s face it, Will Sheff could write a song about what he ate for breakfast and still make it sound poetic.

The Lucksmiths- The Thought That Counts

Why it doesn’t suck: This is one of my other Christmas favourites focuses buying gifts, which  is a side of christmas that many Christmas tunes seem to neglect and for many of us can be a bit of a chore. The Lucksmiths were one of the most reliable bands around and like most of their song songs it’s  a little bit twee and contains some great lyrics, my personal favourite being even an unwanted gift is a gift. So true.

Julian Casablancas- A Christmas Treat

Why it doesn’t suck: Well, for a start, it’s Julian Casablancas who fronts one of the most influential bands of the decade. Aside from that, the music is suitably catchy and the chorus has the kind of intensity you would expect from a regular rock song. The lyrics however, leave a lot to be desired. No deep poetry or imagery here, just a bit of fun. And sleigh bells.

AC/DC- Mistress For Christmas

Why It Doesn’t Suck: It’s AC/DC. Let’s face it, even if you haven’t heard this track you know what to expect. It’s a little bit wrong, but it’s also more than a bit good. This is one to break out after a few drinks.

Bright Eyes-Blue Christmas.

Why it doesn’t suck:Seriously Conor, are you ever happy? In this cover of Elvis’s Christmas song Bright Eyes does his usual “woe is me thing” which usually works well when he’s the one writing the lyrics, which is probably why I’ve never liked any of his covers. He doesn’t really sound blue, he just sounds like he’s wallowing in self-pity. Still it has more indie-cred than Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, mind you, my Grandma has more indie-cred than that song.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby- Little Drummer Boy

Why it doesn’t suck: I wasn’t going to post this song, but when I asked my mum about her favourite Christmas songs she said it was her favourite Christmas song of all time because the combination of David Bowie and Bing Crosby shouldn’t work but it does. I’m not really sold on it but David Bowie makes it bearable.

Are there any songs I’ve forgotten? Do you think the ones I’ve posted do, in fact, completely suck? Let me know by posting a comment. There might even be a part 2.

Tuesday Covers 15/12/09

Woah. Ten days til Christmas. Looks like I’ve got some serious shopping to do.

I haven’t really got a theme for today’s post, just a couple of cover songs I’ve been enjoying lately.

First up is a cover of Sarah Siskind’s Lovin’s  for Fools by Bon Iver and Bowerbirds. I haven’t heard the original version of the song but like most of Bon Iver’s music, it’s slow, pretty and strangely mesmerising.

Bon Iver- Lovin’s For Fools.mp3

The second song I have for you today is a cover of Buddy Holly by New Zealand band Little Pictures. They manage to turn Weezer’s slightly cheesy geek anthem into something that’s even more fun to listen to.

Little Pictures-Buddy Holly.mp3

Yae!Tiger: Songs From…Casualty of the Avalanche


One of the most exciting things about music blogging is coming across great new music and sharing it with whoever happens to stumble across your blog. However it is even better when the band discovers you. This was the case with Sydney band Yae!Tiger who were nice enough to send me a copy of their limited edition(there are only 100 of them) self-produced double A-side Songs From…Casualty of the Avalanche.

Yae!Tiger formed in 2007 as a home recording project between Brooke Cotton(bass, vocals) and Vincent Scagnetti (guitar, vocals). They recorded two EPs before heading off to South America. When they returned they got some friends together and became a six piece.

It is impossible to write about this single without mentioning the fantastic cover art. All 100 CDs were hand packaged by Brooke Cotton and her hard work has definitely paid off. The attached photo really doesn’t do it justice and I spent at least 10 minutes before even playing the single admiring the cover art. Everything about the handmade cover from the label-maker track list to the pasted on bio make this single seem like something that deserves to be treasured, rather than just another CD.

Although their bio suggests that they sound like Pavement and Sonic Youth, their use of male and female vocals and catchy choruses also give off  a Los Campesinos! or  an Architecture in Helsinki vibe. This can be heard on the first track Calling All Ghosts, which starts off slowly before launching into a catchy pop song complete with hand claps and keys.

Sleepworking is not as immediately catchy as the first track but after a few listens it is the better song . The song is buried under a layer of feedback and the female vocals really bring out the song’s catchy melody. The bass line is also rather impressive and rumbles along quite nicely. Despite the songs fast-paced beginning, it slows down towards the end and eventually fades out, without dragging out or overstaying its welcome.

The single also comes with an animated video by two of the other band members Jack Hanner and Dwayne Barry of their track Waging War At The Carnival. The video features a dog battling cabbage monsters and is a really cute addition to the CD.

While this single may not change the world it is a very enjoyable listen, especially for people who like their pop music to come with a bit of an edge. I have a feeling that we are yet to hear the best from Yae!Tiger and in a few years they could definitely be one of Australia’s most exciting bands.

8.5/10

Note: If you would like a free copy of this single, head over to the band’s myspace or see them live. Also, if you are a band and would like to send in a CD for reviewing purposes send me an email at: electricskeleton@live.com

http://www.myspace.com/yaetiger