Tag: covers

Toronto-based punk rock duo Vangelism features two members, who have been rather nomadic throughout their music careers with stops in Montreal, Nashville, Brooklyn, Toronto and Japan in a number projects — some really good, some really bad but all totally worth it. And through these various projects, the members of Vangelism have opened for a diverse and eclectic array of artists across three continents including The Stranglers, Death From Above 1979, Nashville Pussy, Electric Six and even Bon Jovi.

The duo released their full-length debut last fall to some fanfare: DSP’s like Spotify and Amazon featured the album and its material on a number of official editorial playlists. The album also received praise from the likes of Digital Tour Bus and Mystic Sons.

Building upon a growing profile., the duo have plans to release two consecutive EPs but before those EPs, two stand alone singles — the first sees the Canadian tackling Elastica’s 1995 smash hit “Connection.” While being a fairly straightforward and loving cover that retains the song’s melody and buzzing power chords — but delivered with a punk rock sneer.

Rising Los Angeles-based coldwave/darkwave/dark synth-riot act Violent Vickie — Vickie (vocals, production) and E (guitar, production) — have released material through a handful of labels including  Crunch PodEmerald & Doreen RecordingsRiot Grrl Berlin and LoveCraft Bar, which the act has supported with tours with Atari Teenage Riot‘s Hanin EliasThe Vanishing‘s Jessie Evans, Trans XThem Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons and others. The duo have also played sets across the US and European festival circuits with stops at Insted FestSolidarity FestShoutback Fest and Gay Prides and Ladyfests. 

Their single “The Wolf” was featured in a National Organization for Women film. Violent Vickie’s Vickie was also interviewed for the documentary GRRL as part of the museum exhibit Alien She. Adding to the band’s growing profile, their album Monster Alley was voted best album by KALX. And if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that their latest album Division, which featured the dark yet dance floor friendly “Circle Square” was released last September.

Since the release of Division, the band has been busy writing and recording material, including their latest single, a Mazzy Star-like take on Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire” centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar and Vickie’s plaintive vocals fed through gentle amounts of reverb. Sonically, the track is a marked departure from the chilly, dark and aggressive coldwave and New Wave-inspired tracks they’re known for, while retaining the longing of the original.

New Audio: French Pop Duo Toxiq Release a Club Banging Take on an 80s French Smash Hit

Toxiq is an emerging French electro pop act featuring two long-term friends: Les Matchboxx’s Claire Deligny and Yul, a producer who specializes in a subtle yet percussive sound. Their collaborative project together draws from their 20+ year friendship and the years they’ve spent dancing, eating and crying together. Because of the pandemic, the project’s earliest batches of material were written and recorded at a distance — both physical and temporal.

Building upon a growing profile in the Francophone music world, the duo’s latest single finds the tackling Bernard Lavillers’ 1983 hit “Idées Noires” with Catherine Ringer. Interestingly, the Toxiq version of the song retains the alternating boy-girl verses and melody of the original but paired with an infectious, club banging production centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, and tweeter and woofer rocking beats.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Blinker the Star Covers a Classic Madonna Hit

The past couple of years has seen an increasingly number of pieces covering JOVM mainstay act Blinker The Star, led by its Pembroke, Ontario-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind, Jordon Zadorozny. Zadorozny’s tenth Blinker The Star album Arista is slated for a July 2, 2021 release. And unlike his previously released material, Arista is a covers album that finds the Canadian JOVM mainstay tackling hits by Solange, ZZ Top, No Doubt, Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, Boz Scaggs, The Rolling Stones, Land of Talk, Aerosmith and others.

I had a daydream where I imagined Clive Davis signing me to Arista Records. He said, “Zadorozny, you’re all right. But you have no hits. And hits are the lifeblood of the artist. I’m going to sign you to Arista but I get to choose the songs”. So I let the imaginary Clive Davis in my head A&R this album, as he would have for Whitney Houston or Santana. You might say I have A&R issues.”

of my favorite Madonna songs — “Holiday.” Interestingly, the Blinker the Star version pulls turns the party anthem into an achingly wistful ballad longing for good times and easier days.

Acclaimed  Seattle-based folk/indie rock act The Head and The Heart — currently, founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Charity Rose Theielen (violin, guitar, vocals, Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys), Matt Gervais (vocals, guitar) and Tyler Williams (drums) — can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Ballard neighbor based bar, Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009: At the time, the band’s Jonathan Russell relocated from Richmond, VA — and Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were both relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Kenny Hensley, who was relocated the previous year to pursue a career in film score writing. Charity Rose Theilen, who returned from a year abroad studying in Paris became the band’s fourth member. Russell knew Tyler Williams from the Richmond music scene: Williams was a member of  Prabir and The Substitutes and he quickly relocated to Seattle after Russell sent him a demo of Down In The Valley.” Chris Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne pub and was a member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway before joining The Head and The Heart.

As Johnson explained in press notes the band’s name came from a very relatable situation that many musicians have in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.”

Since their formation, the Seattle-based folk/indie rock act have released four critically applauded albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still, 2016’s major label debut Signs of Light and 2019’s Living Mirage. And with each successive release, the band has received greater critical and commercial success while earning a rising profile: They’ve opened for the likes of  Vampire WeekendThe WalkmenDr. DogDave MatthewsThe DecemberistsIron & WineMy Morning JacketDeath Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers among a list of other equally acclaimed acts.

Back in 2017, they played Newport Folk Festival, Coachella, and Lollapalooza, and they added to a milestone year with headlining stops at Red Rocks Amphitheater,  and Central Park SummerStage among a growing list of others.

The band’s latest effort is a lovingly straightforward and gorgeous cover of the Graham Nash-penned Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hit “Our House,” which appears on the act’s 1970 release Deja Vu. (Admittedly, I’ve somehow just loved the since I was a small. I loved the harmonies — and the melody is an earworm, man.) But most important, The Head and the Heart’s cover is a reminder of two things: Graham Nash is an amazing songwriter and that “Our House” is a pretty song full of longing for the sort of domestic tranquility that’s sadly so very rare. Interestingly, the members of the critically acclaimed Seattle-based act recorded the part of an expansive 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Déjá Vu, which features an additional two hours of rare and previously unreleased audio.

Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the members of The Head and The Heart are huge Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fans — and that the song holds a deep personal meaning for them: “When we first started as a band, we shared a two bedroom apartment where ‘Our House’ was played so much, it became like a mantra of unity and connection to each other, as we discovered what we wanted to do within our music. To say it’s an honor to be asked to cover that very song is an understatement. Happy 50th anniversary to you legends! Déjá Vu Forever!

The single art for the cover serves as a homage to the original Déjá Vu artwork and features an image of the actual house in Seattle that was The Head and The Heart’s early home.

New Video: DG SolarIs’ Heartbreaking Cover of Marty Willson-Piper’s “I Don’t Think So”

Danny Green is a London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known for being the frontman of acclaimed British folk pop act Laish. And with Laish, Green was behind four critically applauded albums released through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States.

Green went through major life changes in 2019: That March, he met his soon-to-be wife Leanna “LG” Green. And by December, the couple had married. For their honeymoon, the newlywed couple decided to spent six months across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried with them in a backpack. The duo wound up creating the demos that would help start their collaborative project together,  DG Solaris.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” the Greens explained in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning home to London after their honeymoon, Danny and Leanna recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they demoed during their honeymoon. The end result was the act’s full-length debut, last year’s Spirit Glow, which drew from and meshed elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog rock in a unique and playful fashion — with the album’s material written as a textural journey through emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leanna Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

DG Solaris’ first single of 2021 is a fairly straightforward cover of Marty Willson-Piper’s “I Don’t Think So” that retains the original’s gorgeous melody but adds brief and subtle bursts of shimmering strings and steel pedal to the mix. Green’s sonorous baritone adds an even deeper sense of resignation and defeat to the proceedings. To me, the heart of the song are tacit acknowledgements that you play a role in your own misery and defeats — and that there are countless crushing defeats that you can’t maneuver around and are forced to accept. Along with that there’s a sense of shared past you long for that you can’t ever get back.

Green met Willson-Piper, a former member of the acclaimed Aussie rock act The Church when Green joined Wilson-Piper and Salim Nourallah for a week-long tour of Texas in October 2018. “I listened to Marty sing it every night and I fell in love with the melody and lyrical defeat,” Green says. “After the tour, Salim invited me for a day in his studio and it was still going around my head, so we sang it together.”

The recently released video is split between footage of Green singing and playing the song in his home, and singing the song’s chorus with his wife and a drunk reveler, who has gone a bit too far with the fun, fucking up to the point of having serious repercussions.

Growing up in a small island community in Florida, the Florida-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jeff White believes the experience is imprinted onto his soul and his work. Inspired by the likes of Sublime, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Jack Johnson, Barrington Levy, and Paul Simon, the Florida-born, Denver-based artist has developed and honed what he has dubbed “acoustic roots soul” with Jeff White & Soul Taxi, The Casual Strange and as aa solo artist.

White got the vision for his latest single — a recreation of Peter Tosh‘s classic “Treat You Right” — while surfing in Costa Rica. He recruited his friends and longtime collaborators JJ Grey and Morfo‘s Todd Small, Magic Beans‘ Casey Russell and Joey Lanna to record two versions of the track with Color Red Music founder and The New MastersoundsEddie Roberts: The A side is a soulful reggae version that slows the tempo down but still manages to hew closely in spirit to the original. The B side is a shuffling Motown meets Muscle Shoals-like take on the song that makes the song sound as though it could have been released in 1972 or so. Interestingly, while both versions prominently feature White’s soulful crooning, they manage to pull the hurt and betrayal at the center of the original, even more into the spotlight.

Deriving their name from the chain of curves made by the overhead cables seen suspended from pylons or above electric trains, the Kent, UK-based act The Catenary Wires — founding members Amelia Fletcher (vocals, harmonium) and Rob Pursey (vocals, guitar) with Fay Hallam (Hammond organ, backing vocals), Ian Button (drums, backing vocals) and Andy Lewis (bass, production) was founded in 2014 after its founding duo had spent lengthy stints in beloved British cult acts like Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and Tender Trap. The then-duo’s full-length debut, 2015’s Red Red Skies was a marked departure from the fuzzy, ’60s-inspired, girl-group pop of their previous work, as it featured acoustic-leaning material that was much more melancholy and emotive.

The duo followed up with a one-off 7 inch single, 2018’s “What About The Rings?”/”Was That Love.” But by the time the Pursey and Hallam began writing and recording their sophomore album, 2019’s ‘Til The Morning, the band expanded into a quintet with the additions of Hallam, Button and Lewis. The album’s material was centered around a much bigger sound while retaining the focus on the dual, boy-girl vocals of Fletcher and Pursey.

The newly-minted quintet have just completed their third album, Birling Gap, which is slated for a June 2021 through Shelflife Records here in the States and the band’s own label Skep Wax throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Their forthcoming album will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting songs for grown-up indie kids: maybe their knees and the backs hurt a bit from time to time, maybe their hair is receding or they’re bald or have some other sign of getting older. So, they’ll openly admit that their 20s are far in the rearview mirror –but they fondly remember what it was like. Fueled by their experience and wisdom, their material touches upon innocence and the loss of innocence, joy, egret, experience and so on.

The members of The Catenary Wires will be guest DJ’ing at a virtual indie pop disco held by the folks at How Does It Feel To Be Loved next Saturday — March 27, 2021 — and to promote the DJ set, the act released a cover of The Human League’s smash hit “Fascination” that sees the band rearranging the song so that the main synth-based melody with harmonium and strummed guitar while retaining the dueling boy-girl vocals. And as a result of the new arrangement, the song possesses a nostalgic feel, as though its narrators are looking back at their younger selves through the bittersweet prism of experience. Of course, the bigger point here is that great songs manage to be timeless — to the point that a completely different generation can find something of themselves in it.

You can check out more information about the DJ set here: https://www.facebook.com/events/448872316317961

 

New Audio: mxmtoon Releases an Atmospheric Cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”

Maia is an Oakland-born and-New York-based singer/songwriter, YouTuber, gamer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project mxmtoon. The 20-something artist, who’s Chinese-American on her mother’s side and German and Scottish on her father’s side — but culturally, she grew up Chinese-American. The Oakland-born, New York-based artist became interested in music at a very young age: her brother took violin lessons and while in first grade, Maia joined him. A few years later, she began playing classical cello and trumpet.

When Maia was in fifth grade, she auditioned for her school rock band. Expecting to audition to cello, she was asked to sing Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and wound up joining as a vocalist, eventually singing Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” The following year, her father taught to play guitar. The Oakland-born, New York-based first used the name mxmtoon on her Instagram account, where she drew cartoon sketches for her followers.

While in junior high school things got interesting: she started her YouTube channel and began playing the ukulele. She wrote her first song when she was 13, eventually recording her original material in her parents’ guest bedroom, creating percussion tracks with hair straighteners and GarageBand. In 2017, she began releasing her songs on YouTube as mxmtoon. After somewhat unsuccessfully attempting to write comedy songs, she started to write sincere martial that embodied her emotions and feelings.

Although she initially released material secretly to the public, Maia was compelled to tell her friends and family after her work started to go viral. Singles like “feelings are fatal,” “Falling For U,” a collaboration with Japanese producer Peachy have amassed over 55 million and 40 million Spotify streams respectively since their release. Maia released her mxmtoon debut 2018’Ss Plum Blossom EP to critical applause from the likes of Earmilk, i-D and Hypebeast — with the EP eventually amassing over 100 million Spotify streams by the following year.

After graduating from high school, the acclaimed Oakland-born, New York-based artist took a gap year to focus on music and on touring: Her first tour, which was initially scheduled for five US shows with fellow Californian Khai Dream wound up being extended to a full-fledged tours of North America and Europe, including opening for fellowYouTuber Cavetown in the UK. Last year continued an enviable run of success for the 20 something artist: she released her full-length debut the masquerade and its follow-up dawn and dusk EP to critical applause while singles like “prom dress,” “bon river” and “fever dream” were certified Gold by the RIAA.

So far, the 20-something artist has amassed over 500 million steams and more than 4 million followers including 1.4 million on TikTok, 846,000 on YouTube, 1.2 million on Spotify and 207,00 on Twitch, where she battled Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in a live-streamed game of Among Us, which wound up being the first largest Twitch stream in its history. Interestingly, the past year has also seen Maia relocate to New York — and she made her NPR Tiny Desk debut, filming her set on the world’s largest desk.

Adding to a rather busy period, the 20-something artist and avid gamer announced her involvement in the next installment of the highly-anticipated Deck Night Games created, Square Enix published gaming series, Life Is Strange, titled Life Is Strange: True Colors. Maia will provide the singing voice for the game’s central character Alex Chen and provides musical backdrop for the game. Additionally, she contributes to the Life Is Strange soundtrack with a hauntingly cover of Radiohead’s beloved smash hit “Creep,” that replaces then guitars of the original with atmospheric electronics while retaining the song’s familiar melody. The end result is a cover that finds the 20-something artist grabbing hold of and pulling out the song’s desperate isolation, longing and self-deprecation in an eerie direction.

“Really excited to share my cover of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead!” mxmtoon says in press notes. “It’s nerve-wracking to make your own version of such an iconic and established song, but ‘Creep’ is a classic and i had so much fun being able to put my own spin on it. Hopefully other people can be inspired to make versions of their own favorite songs and put them out in the world to share as well.”

New Video: London’s Mariachi Las Adelitas Cover Amy Winehouse

Rising London-based septet Mariachi Las Adelitas is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Founded in 2013 by bandleader Anna Csergo (a.k.a Anita Adelita), the act, which features a collection of exceptionally talented musicians and vocalists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK, actively shatters stereotypes in an extremely male-orientated genre. Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics in English.

In their almost decade-long history, the septet has established themselves as a highly in-demand live act. They’ve opened for Arcade Fire at London’s Earl Court. They’ve shared a stage with the two-time Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas at International Mariachi Women’s Festival, where they received a standing ovation. They’ve also played the Victoria & Albert Museum and at The Roundhouse. And they’ve serenaded Selma Hayek on her birthday.

Late last year, I wrote about the septet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Featuring a new arrangement by the band’s founder and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition revealed a self-assured and super talented band that can really play– and a vocalist, who belts like a young Linda Rondstadt. The London-based septet’s latest single finds them crafting a loving Huapango mariachi arrangement of Amy Winehouse‘s classic, heartbreaking ballad “Back to Black.” Both versions are gorgeous –but interestingly enough, the mariachi rendition somehow manages to enhance the bitter heartbreak at the song’s core.

“Writing this arrangement was a delicate and controversial issue for Mariachi Las Adelitas,” bandleader and producer Anna Csergo explains in press notes. “Mariachi is a complex traditional art form that we want to preserve, revive and bring out into the wider world. Arranging a popular song from our hometown of London had to be done with the utmost respect and authenticity for the style. We decided that if we were going to cover a non-mariachi song we would arrange it in true mariachi style.

“Of course we also wanted to do justice to the writer herself, not make a bad copy of already great music.”

Much like its immediate predecessor, the song was recorded and produced remotely as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. The recently released video was also shot and edited in a similar DIY fashion, so we see the individual band members performing — in full mariachi regalia — in their backyards, their home studios or their dens. The video is a reminder that for contemporary artists everywhere if there’s a will, there’s a way.