Category: covers

New Video: Black Marble Releases a New Wave-like Synth Cover of Mariah Carey’s Christmas Smash Hit

Black Marble is an acclaimed synth pop/coldwave project founded by its creative mastermind Chris Stewart in 2012. Initially started as a duo featuring Team Robespierre’s Ty Kube, the act has released an EP and three full-length albums — with 2012’s Weight Against the Door EP and A Different Arrangement, and 2016’s It’s Material recorded as a duo.

Interestingly, It’s Immaterial reflected several major changes for the acclaimed act: the album marked Kube’s departure from the project, and Stewart’s move from Brooklyn to the West Coast. And since relocating to the West Coast, Stewart has released his third Black Marble album, last year’s Bigger Than Life and this year’s I Must Be Living Twice EP, a covers EP featuring covers of Wire, Robert Palmer, Lives of Angels, The Field Mice, and Grouper.

Closing out 2020, Stewart, along with an impressive array of indie synth pop stars took part in a charity video compilation Synthmas: A Holiday Special, which encourages donations to two important and worthy causes:

Alexandria House: Founded in 1996, Alexandria House is a Los Angeles-based transitional residence that provides safe and supportive housing for women and children — particularly women and children of color — who are in the process of moving from emergency shelter to economic stability and permanent housing, They also serve the broader Mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles by providing educational and enrichment opportunities for their neighbors, as well as for their residents.

In response to the needs of the women and children living in Alexandria House, as well as the larger neighborhood, Alexandria House’s goal is to be community-orientated and intentionally multicultural and anti-racist.

More than 92% of the women who have moved through the Alexandria House program have succeeded in securing financial stability and permanent housing.

Save Our Stages : Created by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and its 1300 member venues, NIVA’s mission is to preserve and nurture the important ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters across the US. As a result of their efforts, NIVA was able to win crucial federal funding as part of the most recent COVID relief bill. But while the federal funding was desperately needed, indie venues across the country could still use your help during one of the most difficult economic periods in recent memory.

Stewart’s contribution to the Synthmas compliation is a decidedly 80s New Wave/New Order-like cover of Mariah Carey’s ubiquitous smash hit Christmas anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that turns the song into a lonely and bittersweet ode to longing for the family and friends we can’t see because of the pandemic — and for the hope that we’ll be able to do the very human things we all miss so much right now.

“Given all that’s happened in the last year It struck me as likely that many of us are in the same boat right now and thinking about this idea of missing our friends and loved ones and wondering when we will be able to gather together again,” Black Marble’s Chris Stewart says in press notes. “I usually take it for granted that I’ll be able to see my family for instance at this time, but for me and a lot of us this year, those plans were put on hold. The original intent of the song seems more playful, but because of these ideas, it took on, for me, more of a tone of longing and wishing to be with the people you care about and not having much appetite for the usual more commercial trappings of the season in light of this thing we’re all going through. Also, I mean who doesn’t love some Mariah Carey around this time – and I thought it would be fun to do a more synthy take on such a well-known classic pop song as well as update it tonally to reflect this current reality.”

Co-directed by Ashley Leahy and Stewart, the recently released video for “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was shot in Los Angeles and features Stewart unwrapping his gifts — a synthesizer and guitar — and performing the song in a bare green-walled room and in front of Christmas-themed sights across Los Angeles. Additionally, we see Stewart rocking out and passing out gifts. There’s a restlessness and boredom throughout that should feel familiar — like the restless boredom we’ve experienced over the past few months.

“For the video we wanted to get across the idea of this character who is sort of restless and longing for someone who’s not there and doesn’t really have the time or headspace for the usual holiday festivities,” Stewart explains. ”
That’s why we shot the scene of presents being passed from hand to hand and sort of discarded as if they are unimportant or an afterthought, and why we shot the exteriors all over town as if the character is in search of someone or something. Or this idea that wishing for someone or something is universal right now and not confined to one particular place.” He adds: “In addition we wanted a humorous offbeat tone and took inspiration from the classic ‘80s video ‘You Can Call Me Al’ that Paul Simon did with Chevy Chase. I wanted two versions of me and for them to have distinct personalities, with one character really feeling the sentiments of the song and the other kind of aloof and absent minded and sort of breaking the fourth wall with all these technical problems.”

Before I forget, the single is currently available through Bandcamp and additional digital retailers — and will be widely available on Christmas Day.

New Video: Complicated Animals Release a Gorgeous animated Visual for Their Acoustic Take on Foo Fighters “Times Like These”

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that.”

The recently released video for the Complicated Animals “Times Like These” cover features some gorgeous, hand drawn and old-timey storybook-like animation by Brazilian visual artist and animator Karla Caprali. The video manages to capture some of the tragic and inspiring events of what may be one of the more difficult years humanity has seen in some time — from the fear, uncertainty and stress of a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Armaud Arbury and others and more. And while we may have gone through so much together — and apart — it feels like there’s a cautious optimism that we can get things right for once.

“Brazilian artist Karla Caprali created this beautiful video to go with our track. She used a traditional animation technique, and drew each frame by hand,” the members of Complicated Animals explain. “She helped us to realize our vision, by featuring some of the major world events of this year. We have all been through a lot, and we could all use some healing.

Superstaste — rising DJ and producer Hundreds Thousands and Slug Father — are a Brooklyn-based electronic music production and artist duo . The duo have a unique artistic mission: bringing the 80s sound and aesthetic — i.e., Walkmen and mixtapes — to the 21st century while evoking the feeling of heading to your local bodega for a chopped cheese or a bacon egg and cheese after a night of partying.

The duo’s debut ep Breakup Disco is inspired by the music that got through heartbreak — funk driven, club bangers. And since its release, EP singles have appeared on Spotify’s Soda Playlist, and on playlists curated by Goldroom, The Knocks, and JOVM mainstay Washed Out. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based duo signed to Kitsuné, who released “Comedown” earlier this year.

Supertaste’s latest single finds them tackling Kylie Minogue‘s slinky, smash hit, club banger “I Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” While retaining, the overall slinkiness of original, the Supertaste cover turns the song into a sultry and slow-burning 80s Quiet Storm-inspired jam with a soulful horn line.

“We both remember hearing this track on our hometown radios when we were 11/12 years old,” the members of Supertaste explain. “It was such an instant classic and we’ve honestly had this on repeat all summer. We had to do it right and keep this rendition as subtle and sexy as possible, while also doing our best to keep those iconic melodies and hooks intact. Our only hope is it finds its way to dancing feet in living rooms all across the globe.”

New Video: Acclaimed British-born, Irish-based Singer-Songwriter Rosie Carney Tackles Radiohead

Acclaimed Hampshire, UK-born, Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Rosie Carney began writing music inspired by the rugged and picturesque of her hometown. When she was 15, Carney left school to showcase her work in New York and Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter was signed to a major label. After performing on Ireland’s leading live music TV series Other Voices, the British-born, Irish-based artist experienced a rapidly growing profile, which led to sets at Bushstock Festival, Latitude Festival, Electric Picnic Festival, Seven Layers Festival and SXSW. Additionally, Carney opened for Haux on a 28-date tour of 12 countries that included stops in the US and Canada.

Without the ability to tour and with her career plans stalled as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, Carney much like countless other people across the globe found her mental health suffering as a result of forced isolation and boredom. Carney’s JMAC-co-produced The Bends finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter tackling Radiohead’s The Bends.

Slated for a December 11, 2020 release through Color Study, Carney’s forthcoming isn’t the first time that her own struggles with mental health have dovetailed with her love of Radiohead: Carney recalls seeing the band as a teenager and having an anxiety attack in the arena. She blacked out and woke up in the venue’s first aid room. And for the British-born, Irish-based artist, covering her favorite band has acted a much-needed form of therapy.

The Bends’ second single finds Carney releasing an atmospheric cover of “Black Star.” Centered around an arrangement of Carney’s achingly tender vocals, strummed acoustic guitar, brooding strings and gently padded drumming, Carney’s bare boned yet straightforward cover manages to pull out the bitter and uneasy heartache at the core of the song in a way that feels personal, lived-in and almost uncomfortable.

“One of my favourite things about this song is the non-sugar coated realness of it”, Carney explains in press notes. “It’s very bleak and sad when you start to realise a relationship is on its way out. I feel like everyone has been in that situation where you just kind of aimlessly fill your day with crap to distract yourself from thinking about someone (even though you are the whole time). Throughout the record I tried to keep as many songs in their original key as possible, but when I started learning Black Star, I wanted it to feel like I was almost talking in the verses, so I purposely lowered it to the point it was nearly uncomfortable for me to sing. The words are so direct and bleak and honest I didn’t want to risk them going unheard.”

Directed by Carney, the recently released video features intimate footage shot in Donegal that manages to fit the song’s brooding and uneasy aesthetic.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Kills Cover Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10+ year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink covering the critically applauded and commercially successful duo The Kills. And with the release of albums like 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side, 2005’s No Wow, 2008’s Midnight Boom, 2011’s Blood Pressures and 2016’s Ash & Ice, the duo — Alison Mosshart (vocals) and Jamie Hince (guitar, production) — have cemented a reputation for crafting a scuzzy and swaggering power chord-based blues and garage rock sound and approach.

Some time has passed since I’ve come across new material from the JOVM mainstays. Individually, the members of The Kills have been busy with their own creative projects — Mosshart published a book of poetry and photography and released solo material while Hince has been busy with production work. But interestingly enough, earlier this month the acclaimed duo announced that they would be releasing a career-spanning B-side and rarity compilation titled Little Bastards.

Slated for a December 11, 2020 release through Domino Recording Company, Little Bastards consists of material that date back from the band’s first batches of 7 inch singles released in 2002 up until 2009. The material has been newly remastered for release on CD, digitally and on LP — and it makes the first ever vinyl pressings for some of the tracks. A great deal of the compilation features covers — including the album’s second and latest single, a somewhat straightforward cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ oft-covered Halloween classic “I Put A Spell On You” that bristles with a feral sensuality.

Edited by the band’s Mosshart, the recently released video for “I Put A Spell On You” features live footage from shows in Portland, OR; Pomona, CA; and San Francisco. While capturing the duo’s live energy, the video makes me miss live music so very much. Sigh.

Throughout the course of their wildly successful 20 year run together, which included the release of seven full-length albums — 2002’s Dap Dappin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 2005’s Naturally, 2007’s 100 Days, 100 Nights, 2014’s Give the People What They Want, 2015’s It’s a Holiday Soul Party! and 2017’s posthumously released Soul of a Woman — the acclaimed soul act Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings built a reputation for being one of the world’s best bands live — and in the studio. (I had the pleasure of seeing them live three times, including a powerfully uplifting night at The Apollo. They were one of the best soul acts in the entire world.)

Although the acclaimed soul act have a lengthy and prolific catalog of originals, they have made forays into covers numerous times. Some of those covers were contracted or use in commercials, movies, TV shows and even samples, while others were recorded of their own volition and desire. Their earliest covers included a completely re-invented rendition of Janet Jackson‘s “What Have You Done for Me Lately, which convinced more than a few fans that Jones’ version was in fact the original after a counterfeit news article surfaced claiming that Jones was suing Jackson for copyright infringement.

Slated for a Friday release, the act’s soon-to-be released album Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Rendition Is In is a compilation of both previously released and previously unreleased covers, which showcases the act’s eclectic tastes and musicality. Sadly, the album is the second album of material posthumously released after Sharon Jones’ 2016 death from pancreatic cancer.

Three singles have been released off the album so far, but I wanted to specifically call your attention to two singles off the album: a sashaying cover of Dusty Springfield‘s “Little by Little,'” was originally recorded for a tribute album to the legendary British soul vocalist — and a strutting cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” While both covers are fairly straightforward, they manage to be deceptively period specific while revealing the dynamism and ebullience of the act’s incredible frontwoman Sharon Jones and the band’s subtle yet deft touch.

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Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that. We’re collaborating with a talented Brazilian artist named Karla Caprali. She has created the song art, and is working on a powerful visual (animated video) to go with the track. We’re staying hopeful for the future. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’”

New Video: Rising Pop Artist Elizabeth Releases an Atmospheric Cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”

Beginning her musical career as the frontperson and primary songwriter of acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based pop act Totally Mild, an act that recorded two critically applauded album before splitting up, Elizabeth Mitchell has stepped out into the limelight as rising solo artist, writing and performing under the mononym Elizabeth.

By going solo, the rising Aussie pop singer/songwriter has been able to reimagine and reinvent herself — and with the release of her full-length debut, last year’s the wonderful world of nature, Elizabeth transformed herself into a sort of patron saint of anguish, heartbreak and woe, all of which have allowed her to develop a completely unique sound apart from her previously known work. imbued with desire, lust, shame, guilt, uncertainty and a glamorous debauchery.

The Melbourne-based pop artist will be releasing a deluxe edition of the wonderful world of nature on October 23, 2020 through AntiFragile Records — and the deluxe edition will feature a handful of new material, including her latest single, a slow-burning and atmospheric cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” Centered around twinkling piano and the rising Aussie pop artist’s tender vocals, Elizabeth’s version strips everything away to the bone, revealing the bitter heartache at the core of the song.

Directed by Elizabeth and Xanthe Dobbie, the recently released video is a hazy and intimate visual that follows a brooding Elizabeth, on the verge of tears.

New Video: Hifiklub Teams Up with Roddy Bottum on a Hypnotic and propulsive take on an 80s Smash Hit

Since their formation back in 2006, the Toulon, France-based experimental trio Hifiklub have developed and honed a creative approach centered around collaboration with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, The Legendary Tigerman, Half-Japanese’s Jad Fair. Jean-Marc Montera, R. Stevie Moore, André Jaume, Mike Watt, Fatso Jetson, Jérôme Casalonga, Lula Pena, Scanner, Jean-Michel Bossini, Mike Cooper, Duke Garwood, Alain Johannes and FaIth No More’s and Imperial Teen’s Roddy Bottum and a growing list of others. And through these collaborations, the French act have explores the possibilities and boundaries of expressions, frequently combining sound, image and text in new ways.

The members of Hifiklub and Roddy Bottum have collaborated together on a new album Things That We Lost in the Fire. Slated for an October 16, 2020 release on cassette and CD in the United States on Dreamy Life Records and on vinyl and CD through the rest of the world through Toolong Records/Differ-Ant, Things That We Lost in the Fire is reportedly a trance-like, spoken word-driven album. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is a cover of Survivor’s smash-hit “Eye of the Tiger.” Centered around a sinuous and propulsive groove, glistening keys and blasts of reverb-drenched guitar and spoken word delivered lyrics, the Hifiklub and Roddy Bottom rendition turn the classic anthem into an atmospheric and brooding, disco-tinged art rock jam, reminiscent of Black Strobe’s “Boogie in Zero Gravity.”

Directed by Léna Durr., the recently released video for the Hifiklub and Roddy Bottum cover follows bodybuilder Benjamin Rostaert as he lifts weights and prepares himself for a major bodybuilding competition. Fittingly, much like Rocky III, we see the dedication and lonely routines and preparation lead to Rostaert’s success.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Washed Out on SiriusXM’s “Live for SirusXMU Sessions”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ernest Greene, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded synth pop/chillwave project Washed Out.

Earlier this year, the Perry-born, Athens-based artist released “Too Late,” a track that sonically was a return to form: a swooning yet bittersweet bit of synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, Greene’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — but with a subtly Mediterranean feel.

As it turned out, “Too Late” was unofficially the first single off Greene’s fourth album Purple Noon. Written, recorded by Greene with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen, the album’s production followed a brief stint of writing with other artists — most notably writing with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena. Those collaborations allowed Green to explore R&B and modern pop and those sounds have made there way into Purple Noon‘s material. Not only is the material reportedly the brightest and more robust sounds he’s ever worked out; it’s also a decided step forward: unlike his previous released work, the vocals are placed front and center at the mix, with slower tempos, bolder, harder-hitting beats and a more comprehensive dynamic depth.

Deriving its name from Rene Clement’s 1960 film Purple Noon, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mister Ripley, the album’s material is deeply inspired by the coastlines of the Mediterranean — with Greene paying tribute to region’s island-based culture, elegance and old-world charm. But the surroundings serve as the backdrop to stories of passion love and loss — with a deeper, perhaps more urgent emotional intensity: the album’s unofficial first single “Too Late” is a tale of a first meet, with all the confused and swooning emotions that come about.

Recently Greene recorded a live session for SiriusXM’s Live for SiriusXM Sessions with his backing band shot in his candlelit front room. The session includes a live version of one of my favorite tracks off Purple Noon, the aforementioned “Too Late,” and a slow-burning, shimmering and absolutely fitting cover of Sade’s “Cherish The Day,” which points at the lush, Quiet Storm-like R&B influences of the album — while reminding the viewer of how great Sade really is.