music

You’re Busy for a Few Hours on August 8th

Because you’re seeing Pineapple Express. Below is the red-band trailer, so technically NSFW because your job sucks.

And if you’re wondering what was that awesome song featured in the trailer, it’s “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. which I have also embedded below for your listening pleasure.

Monday, February 18th, 2008 humor, movies, music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Scala & Kolancy Brothers

I’ll wrap up this week with a slew of covers by one group. To quote their official website Scala & Kolancy Brothers are “a youth choir from Aarschot, Belgium, roughly sixty teenage girls, directed by two talented brothers, and enjoy national and international recognition.” Their game is taking alternative music and then doing it chorus-style. It’s not really a capella because they also use instruments and that’s good enough for me to make a distinction between them and the hundreds of college a capella groups around the country that make a play on the words “treble” and “trouble”.

I came across Scala when I was listening to every cover The Hype Machine had for Radiohead’s “Creep”. When it’s a lonely night and you have no one to talk to, it’s a song you can listen to on repeat till you just burst into tears. But then I heard Scala’s cover and when I saw they had other songs, I forgot all about how lonely I was and instead just jumped into their melancholy and haunting voices. Their music isn’t a downer but rather a captivating way to hear familiar songs. Here are eight of them for your listening pleasure:

“Colorblind” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Counting Crows)

“Creep” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Radiohead)

“Exit Music (For A Film)” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Radiohead)

“Heartbeats” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by The Knife)

“Everything In Its Right Place” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Radiohead)

“Teenage Dirtbag” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Wheatus)

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Nirvana)

“Yellow” by Scala & Kolancy Brothers (originally by Coldplay)

Sunday, January 20th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Smells Like Teen Spirit

As the week winds down, I’m just going to go for all out kitsch value. It’s impossible to beat Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It’s too seminal a song. It’s emblematic of so much: the 90s, the grunge genre, and the song Nirvana and Kurt Cobain will always be remembered for despite having an entire catalog of fantastic music (I almost want to upload their covers of “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam,” “The Man Who Sold the World,” and “Lake of Fire” from their Unplugged in New York album but I only have so much online file storage space and I already have another week-long music series planned for February and that’s in addition to just one-off days where I’ll keep trying to prove that I’m not completely tone-deaf when it comes to music).

It’s a song that has many interpretations and I wonder if any of them are right. It’s a great abstract painting of music and God-bless Paul Anka for covering it with his lounge-singer voice and making it swing. It’s totally kitsch value and border-line parody but it’s not a complete cover of the song and he leaves it be before he wears out his welcome. Still, after trying to give grand words to this week of covers, I thought we would have our last one-to-one comparison be fun and breezy, and Anka’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is exactly that.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Paul Anka

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Hurt

“Hurt” – Johnny Cash beats Nine Inch Nails

Since he wrote the song, I’ll let Mr. Trent Reznor have the last word:

I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.

“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash

Friday, January 18th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: All Along the Watchtower

Now we come to it where the cover completely eclipses the original. It’s the point where some people can be surprised that the one who covered the song wasn’t its original artist. Such is the case with today’s song.

“All Along the Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix beats Bob Dylan

What’s neat about this song is neither could really do it without the other. Not to diminish either artist, but I don’t think Hendrix could come up with lyrics like “There must be some way out of here/Said the joker to the thief” and “Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl/Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl”. And I don’t think that Dylan could give the music the energy and electricity that Hendrix did. It’s a timeless cover and one many others have attempted but never come close to emulating. You know it, but listen to it again to love it some more.

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Thursday, January 17th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Astronomy

The covers that will finish out the week are all songs that top the original, but it’s a matter of degrees. It’s never so much the case that the original song is bad (after all, it had to be worth covering in the first place), but these artist have such a distinct voice that they’re able to transform the original in to something fresh and make it all their own.

“Astronomy” – Metallica beats Blue Öyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult gets a bad rep because they have some good songs in their history but they’re all overshadowed by “Don’t Fear the Reaper” which only calls to mind the immortal SNL sketch. But “Astronomy” is a great song…it’s just that Metallica’s cover of it is slightly better. Now I’m no fan of Metallica, or at least, what Metallica has become. From being on the wrong side of the piracy song (where Lars Ulrich clearly misunderstood the technology and how to effectively utilize it to his benefit) to the atrocious “St. Anger” and now I hear that their upcoming album will have a heavy Middle Eastern influence, you know, because we need another reason for the Middle East to hate us. And while some would go even further back to the haircuts and the “Load” and “Reload” albums, I don’t mind those albums or the realization that long-haired rock stars and the 90s don’t mix. But no matter my feelings on Metallica now, their cover of “Astronomy” is fantastic. There really is no substitute for James Hetfield’s unmistakable vocals or Kirk Hammett’s inhuman mastery of the electric guitar. So set aside some time (both songs are about six-and-a-half minutes) and rock out to “Astronomy”.

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Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Crazy

Sometimes a cover doesn’t have to exceed the original. Sometimes different is more than good enough as in…

“Crazy” – Nelly Furtado ties Gnarls Barkley

Now I know that everyone has heard the Gnarls Barkley original and the only reason I’m going to include it below is so that you can contrast and compare without having to dig it out of your iTunes library (where it damn well better be). What I like about Furtado’s version is that it manages to maintain the life and soul of the original while completely changing it to her light, airy voice and only an acoustic guitar. It’s really a fun listen and I hope you enjoy it.

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Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 music No Comments

A Week Under the Covers: Come On Eileen

I am struck to do this week-long series on cover songs for two reasons:

1) Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts so when an idea strikes that allows you to do five, you do it, no matter how ill-conceived.

2) I worked for five hours on a video-edit that I just couldn’t find the tools for and now it’s like a coitus interruptus of creativity. I have to unload it somewhere and this is usually where the creativity goes.

I like covers because I like seeing how different musicians approach the work of other musicians. It’s just something that tends not to work as well in other media. Yes, there are remakes and adaptations, but covers are like a make-over. The person remains the same but the look is completely different. And sometimes, the looks is so different, that it can even change the personality. This week I’ll be showcasing five songs and their covers that I believe do this. Chances are you’ve probably heard a couple of these covers (I’m guessing Thursday and Friday’s) but it would be a crime not to include them. But let’s enjoy good music followed by superior music.

“Come On Eileen” – Save Ferris beats Dexys Midnight Runners

You know that scene in That Thing You Do where they’re playing “That Thing You Do” and it’s actually a slow song but then the drummer (Tom Everett Scott) decides to up the tempo and it gives the song the energy and pop it needs to be a hit? That’s what Save Ferris does with “Come On Eileen”. It’s not that the original is slow, but a quintessential 80s one-hit-wonder injected with ska is a lot more fun and worthy of a lot more listens.

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Monday, January 14th, 2008 music 1 Comment

My Lovely Mockney

Kate Nash - Made of BricksKate Nash’s new album is an album I recommend but not to everyone. I understand that what I really love about this album is what could easily turn off others. But I love Nash’s mockney accent. In reading up on Nash, I saw her constantly cited as the next Lily Allen, but after listening to some of Allen’s tracks, I think Nash is much better because her music carries a more vibrant and personal tone. Her songs explode with personality and it comes down to whether or not that personality works for you. Nash, as heard through her songs, seems like a girl who is prickly, acerbic, wise-cracking, but all of it as a kind of defensive mechanism for an admitted insecurity. So while Nash may force some rhymes and take some odd melodic detours, it all just works for me and her songs magically find substance in frivolity.

From her new album Made of Bricks, I’ve uploaded the track “Mariella” because 1) if you have heard of Nash, then you’ve probably heard her single “Foundations” and I like supplying deeper cuts that you haven’t heard before; and 2) I think this song best encapsulates the tone of the album. Enjoy!

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Friday, January 11th, 2008 music No Comments

This Song Is the Road to Awe

If you’ve seen The Fountain, you understand that title. If not, then you’re one of the many unfortunate souls that didn’t get to see last year’s best film. It wasn’t the best just because of the story, the structure, the performances, the cinematography, but Clint Mansell’s hypnotic score. I could listen to this track every day (and I pretty much do). After hearing it, you’ll understand why. Here’s “The Last Man” by Clint Mansell with the Kronos Quartet from the score to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain.

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Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 music 2 Comments
 

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