Category: covers

With the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, the Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s radio-like soulful sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. The Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to  being accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. er/“We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, the Ghanian singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a backing band and started record her original songs (which resulted in Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2).

Several months have passed since I’ve last written about Adjoa — and as it turns out, she’s been busy working on new material that is slated for a release some time over the course of 2020. But in the meantime, Adjoa’s latest single finds her tackling the legendary Ghanian-born and-based singer/songwriter, composer, bandleader, arranger and guitarist Ebo Taylor’s “Love and Death.”

Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” retains the original’s melody while being centered around an atmospheric and shimmering production and arrangement featuring a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, twinkling keys, African polyrhythms, shimmering, angular burst of guitar — and most important, Adjoa’s easy-going yet expressive vocals.  Subtly recalling, Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” is imbued with the ache of inconsolable loss, while revealing an artist, who is adventurously pushing her sound in new directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Founded back in 2014 by Jessica Louise Dye (vocals, guitar) and Jono Bernstein (drums), the New York-based JOVM mainstays High Waisted have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from surf rock, garage rock, dream pop, Riot Grrl punk and punk rock among others and for their long-running and very popular DIY concert showcase/booze cruise High Waisted at Sea.

The band’s Bryan Pugh-produced full-length debut On Ludlow further cemented their reputation for scuzzy, party ’til you drop rock — but just under the surface, the material revealed vulnerability and ache.  Since the release of On Ludlow, the the band contributed “Firebomb,” a scuzzy, ass-kicking, power chord-driven Lita Ford and Motley Crue-like single to a split single with The Coax, toured with the likes of Hundred Hounds, Beechwood, played a handful of live shows across town and been periodically working on a bunch of new material. And they’ve done all of that while going through a series of lineup changes but one thing has remained: they’re a non-stop party machine.

Throughout their history, the JOVM mainstays have released an ongoing, psychedelic mixtape series, Acid Tapes and like the preceding three other editions, the fourth edition, which will drop on Friday finds the New York-based act covering an eclectic variety of beloved songs. Naturally, the covers reveal the band’s impressive and wide ranging tastes   with the fourth edition featuring the band’s unique take on songs by the likes of The Zombies, 10cc, Kacey Musgraves, The Troggs and others. As the band explains in press notes, the covers allow them to  “dissect songs we love, throw everything we know about them away and rebuild something entirely new.” The band’s frontwoman Jessica Louise Dye adds “It changes the gravitational pull in my creative mind, often spawning a big writing period of new High Waisted material as well.” Along with covers, there are a handful of rare, previously unreleased originals.

The fourth installment of Acid Tapes may arguably find the JOVM mainstays at their best sounding. The guitars shimmer and glisten while the band’s Jessica Louise Dye sounds at her very best, beginning with a gorgeous and Patsy Cline-like take of The Zombies,” “The Way I Feel Inside,” a Pretenders-like original, “Modern Love,” a stunningly accurate 60s and dexterous take on The Lively Ones  instrumental composition “Surf Rock,” a dream pop-like take of Kacey Musgraves’ “High Horse” that nods at Still Corners‘ gorgeous Slow Air, the slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like original “Dream Sea,” and a slow-burning, straightforward take on 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love” closes out the tape’s A Side. The tape’s B side features the anthemic and alt rock meets alt country ballad “Eyes Crying,” which manages to recall Pearl Jam‘s “Dissident” to my ears, a Cars meets Phil Spector Wall of Sound-like take on Wreckless Eric‘s “Whole Wide World” before ending with a heartbreakingly gorgeous cover of Julie London‘s “Cry Me a River.” It’s a wildly eclectic grouping of songs but the mixtape reveals the JOVM mainstays’ ridiculous versatility paired with a deep emotional connection to the material.

“Our recording process has come a long way from the first cassette. Acid Tape, Vol. 1 was recorded while were on acid, all in one go, in a haunted house in Nashville. A buddy of ours threw a room mic over the chandelier and ran it through the tape deck and away we went.  Now the recording process is more deliberate, articulated and better executed.” the band explains in press notes. Vol 4 was recorded entirely in our new studio which Jono Bernstien and Stephen Nielsen built in Bed Stuy. We’re mixing digital and analog gear with vintage instruments and a little magic.”

The band is celebrating the release of  Acid Tape, Vol. 4 with a release show at Mercury Lounge with Yella Belly and Songs for Sabotage. You can check out ticket info and purchase here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/high-waisted-acid-tapes-vol-4-release-party-tickets-69052520949?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR1c18aYR2lwka706043Xe4Wu5DGHXUerQf3xwlTVR9BVzl4Asu6z36VUC0

You can purchase the pre-release of the limited edition mixtape here: https://www.highwaisted.party/merch/acid-tape-vol-4

 

 

 

Reindeer Flotilla is a Los Angeles-based electro pop act comprised of Neal Harris (vocals, keys) and Josh Brown (guitar). The duo started jamming together in the basement of an Atwater Village wine store, playing covers of John Carpenter, Brian Eno and Elliot Smith, which helped them develop their own sound centered around synths and guitar.

The Los Angeles duo’s latest single is an eerily straightforward cover of Radiohead‘s “Lucky,” that’s a bit more atmospheric and shimmering than the original — but while retaining the original’s soaring and yearning quality.

 

Laura Burhenn is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, activist and restless creative mastermind behind The Mynabirds, an act that has released four critically applauded and stylistically different albums through Saddle Creek Records — 2010’s What Was Lose in the Fire, 2012’s Generals. 2015’s Lovers Know and 2017’s Be Here Now. Burhenn also had had stints as a touring member of critically applauded and commercially successful acts The Postal Service and Bright Eyes. Burhenn has helped found Omaha Girls Rock, a non-profit that helps young girls find their creative voices — and she has given a TED talk based on her New Revolutionist photo project, which explored what it meant to be a revolutionary woman in this day and age. (Before all of that Burhenn was a member of Washington, DC-based indie act Georgie James with Q and Not U’s John Davis and released two-self produced solo albums through the label she founded, Laboratory Records.)

Interestingly, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Portishead‘s classic debut Dummy, an album that was highly-influential to Burhenn. “Dummy was my all-time favorite make-out record in high school and is in my permanent top ten, period,” Laura Burhenn says in press notes. To celebrate the occasion, The Mynabirds’ creative mastermind recently released a Patrick Damphier-produced cover of “Glory Box” that retains the original’s slow-burning and sultry nature and quietly defiant feminism — but while giving it a subtle, old-school country vibe. “That Beth Gibbons slid that feminist anthem into my teenage brain — that song completely rewired me.” Certainly, when women’s rights are being edged backwards, the song and its refrain “I just want to be a woman” would have to feel more powerfully necessary than ever before.

The track was released through Our Secret Handshake, a womxn-driven, women-focused creative strategy collective that Burhenn co-founded last year. A portion of the proceeds from the single will benefit Omaha Girls Rock.

 

Live Footage: Finnish Bluegrass Act Steve ‘n’ Seagulls Covers AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”

Steve ‘n’ Seagulls is a Finnish act, comprised of Irwin Remmel, Pukki Kaalinen, Puikkonen, Hermann and Wild Till Hiltunen that has received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for bluegrass-like renditions of well-known metal and hard rock songs, including this amazing cover of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” which has amassed over 88 million streams on YouTube. Interestingly, much like Gangstagrass, Steve ‘n’ Seagulls make a vital connection between bluegrass and metal and hard rock, reminding listeners that they all essentially come from the same source. 

 

Born Jennifer Hays, the Tucson, AZ-born, Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion can trace the origins of her music career to when she met her then-future Carissa’s Wierd bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke at the local pizza shop, where they all worked. In 1997, the trio first moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle, where the trio formed Carissa’s Wierd. The band released three albums before splitting up in 2003 — but interestingly, the trio cultivated a rabid cult following, which has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since Carissa’s Wierd’s breakup, the Tuscon-born, Seattle-based Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects such as the guitar and vocal-based pop project S, with which she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. While critics and fans have applauded and gushed over her open-hearted lyrics and willingness to eschew conventions while crafting sad songs meant to be cried to and with. Now, as you may recall, the last half or so of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards an electronic-based sound with “No One”  being a complete embrace of electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion said at the time. And although she intended to follow up Cool Choices with “a rock record — guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” her plans had changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s music publisher partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for last year’s Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least.

Turntable Kitchen has spent the past few years with the Sounds Delicious vinyl club. Over the course of its 13 previously released editions, a carefully curated collection of bands have released a full-length cover album. Interestingly, Jenn Champion has joined the ranks of an eclectic array of artists — and her cover album, the 14th of the series will find her taking on Weezer‘s 1994 full-length debut, The Blue Album. The first single off Jenn Champion’s The Blue Album cover is an icy, New Wave-like synth-based reworking of “Undone — The Sweater Song.”

Although Champion replaces the fuzzy power chords with layers of shimmering and atmospheric synths and propulsive industrial synth pop-like beats, she retains the song’s enormous and beloved hook creating a modern rework without erasing the original’s social unease, awkwardness and longing. The Jenn Champion cover reminds the listener that despite its release over 25 years ago, it’s a crafted bit of incredibly anthemic fuzzy power pop that manages to still sound contemporary and relevant, which is a rare thing for most of the material released during the same decade.

“I knew I wanted to take a synth heavy approach to this album, and in my mind The Blue Album was pretty straight-forward indie power pop,” Champion says in press notes. “But as I was deconstructing all the parts and putting the songs back together, I realized how much nuanced there is to [Rivers] Cuomo’s songwriting style. It’s a testament to his talent  that he can make an entire record of songs we want to sing along to and don’t realize just how weird those songs are.”

“I will say it was a challenge, a really fun challenge (!) to keep true to what makes these songs so great while putting them through an electronic lens.” 

New Audio: Sylvia Black’s Swinging and Noir-ish Take on Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather”

Born Sylvia Gordon, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer Sylvia Black may be best known for her work as the frontwoman of the internationally acclaimed electro pop act K.U.D.U, as well as collaborations with the likes of The Black-Eyed Peas, Moby, William Orbit, Kelis, Spank Rock, The Knocks, and Telepopmusik.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Gordon’s solo side project Betty Black, a project that received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew from an eclectic array of genres and sources including garage rock, Southern gothic blues, Ennio Morricone soundtracks and ambient electronica while thematically exploring love, lust, longing and obsession.

The restlessly creative Gordon has also released material as Sylvia Black and her forthcoming Sylvia Black album Twilight Animals (Originals and Covers for Tortured Lovers), which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release finds Gordon effortlessly hopping  back and forth between electro pop, noir-ish jazz, Texan blues and twangy country and the sounds of Morocco and India. The album reportedly is a mix of unique unique covers and interpretations of some of the JOVM mainstay’s favorite artists including Fat White Family, JOVM mainstays The Horrors, Psychedelic Furs, Van Halen and Huey Lewis and the News among others. Of course, the album features some originals — with some of the album’s tracks being collaborations with legendary No Wave Lydia Lunch. (In fact, the duo’s collaboration was so fruitful that they’ve also worked together on a full-length album.)

Earlier this month, I wrote about Twilight Animals’ firsts ingle, the slow-burning and sultry David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino-like”Walking With Fire,” a collaboration with Lydia Lunch. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single is a swinging, noir-ish jazz take on Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather” that features an arrangement of strutting horns, plinking xylophone, shuffling drums and Black’s imitable and sultry vocals. 

New Audio: Melbourne’s Karate Boogaloo Takes on an 80s Synth Soul Classic

Featuring the rhythm section of the acclaimed, Melbourne-based soul act The Cactus Channel, Karate Boogaloo have quickly developed a reputation for sitting in a their own lane, a lane they’ve proudly and defiantly created: when it comes to creating material, they follow their own rules; frequently recording and mixing on tape with no plugins and no edits, with the material released exclusively in mono. And they do so not because of an adherence to anachronism but about a specific creative manifesto — one in which they abide by a chosen set of limitations to force a specific outcome. 

Their KBs Mixtape No. 1: songs that were sampled into your favourite hits was a cult success in their native Melbourne. Building upon the rapidly growing profile, the much-anticipated follow-up to KBs Mixtape No. 1, KBs Mixtape No. 2: songs from the 80s that were sampled into your favourite hits! expands upon the theme developed from the first mixtape — while further developing their unique sound and approach. Mixtape 2’s latest single finds the Aussie funk act taking on the Mtume’s oft-sampled, slinky synth funk classic “Juicy Fruit.” While Karate Boogaloo’s version is purely instrumental take, they retain the song’s slinky melody — but while turning into a breezy mid-tempo bop with shimmering and wobbly synths and bluesy slide guitar.