Tag: covers

Live Footage: Million Miles’ Sultry and Jazzy Cover of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Beggin'”

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music. After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write music inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers. On an inspired whim, Baudry decided to make a trip to Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here and I’m a songwriter and i’m looking for people to collaborate with.” As the story goes, Baudry wound up having chance meetings with local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing material that eventually became the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter’s Million Miles debut EP, Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s Berry Hill home studio. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
Recently, Mahogany Sessions invited the French-born, British singer/songwriter to participate in their Covers series in which she contributes a sultry and jazzy soul-like cover of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Beggin'” that sounds as though it nods more towards Brown Sugar-era D’Angelo, giving the classic song a modern interpretation without erasing the song’s plaintive and urgent need. 

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Michelle Blanchard is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and alt pop artist, whose recording project Madyx draws from P!nk, Katy Perry, The DistillersBrody Dalle and Melissa Etheridge — although Blanchard has received attention for pairing earnest and socially relevant lyrics with crowd pleasing, infectious production. Adding to a growing profile, her debut EP was recorded with Grammy nominated producer Brian Howes, who has worked with Daughtry, Simple Plan and Hedley among others. Her latest single is a bold cover/re-imagining of Modern English‘s iconic “I Melt With You,” turning the familiar song into a contemporary singer/songwriter guitar pop – and although the melody and the tempo have been slowed down, Blanchard cover manages to reveal a subtly different take, while retaining it’s essence.

 

 

New Video: Meshell Ndegeocello’s Soulful and Atmospheric Rendition of TLC’s Smash Hit “Waterfalls”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndegeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.

Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men. And interestingly enough, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years. But perhaps more important Ndegeocello has been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement — thanks in part to a sound that routinely draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz, and singer/songwriter/balladeer-like pop. She has also written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others, which add to her iconoclastic and difficult to pigeonhole reputation. 

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. And if you had been following this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about her folksy Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac-like cover of Force MD”s smash hit “Tender Love,” a rendition that eschewed the 80s keyboard pop cheesiness of the original, which made it so beloved and awkward — while retaining the song’s earnestness, pointing out that well-written songs can be interpreted in countless ways and still be as wonderful as we remember.  Ventriloquism’s latest single is a slow-burning, atmospheric cover of TLC’s smash hit “Waterfalls” that manages to slow the tempo and the melody down to the point that it turns the song into something familiar yet kind of alien, all while retaining the sense of loss and confusion of the original. (I should note that Left Eye’s verse is removed — perhaps for obvious reasons.) Much like it’s predecessor, Ventriloquism’s latest single continues Ndegeocello’s larger commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what Black American music should sound like, be like and thematically concern itself with. 

Produced by Inga Eiriksdottir, directed by Damani Baker and featuring gorgeously cinematic work by director of photography Thor Eliasson, the recently released video for Ndegeocello’s rendition of “Waterfalls,” features a diverse, international cast and although shot in Iceland, the video consists of surreal yet symbolic visuals that at points nods at the original. 

JUICEBOXXX s a Milwaukee, WI-based emcee, who has developed a reputation within underground circles for a sound that draws from rock, punk rock, hip-hop and a disparate array of other influences that frequently finds him attempting to walk a difficult tightrope between appealing to the avant garde-leaning artist fringe and a pop sensibility.

Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland, OH-based punk band The Pagans were a major influence on the Milwaukee-based rapper’s work. “I rarely do covers, but The Pagans classic ‘Dead End America’ always seemed like a great fit, and a good b-side for my coming ‘Freaked Out American Loser’ single,” JUICEBOXXX explains in press notes. “It was recorded last summer in LA with my backing band (The Thunder Zone Band — Rocker Mike and Willy D) and Aaron Espinoza. I had a blast going crazy in the studio and trying to remember why I do this shit in the first place. ”

“I was saddened to hear about the passing of Pagans singer Mike Hudson,” JUICEBOXXX says in press notes “Coming from the Midwest, I can’t help but think of this thread of punk rock as heartland music, born in rustbelt basements and dive bars out of desperation and boredom. Freaking out to stay alive.” And although it’s a fairly straightforward and loving JUICEBOXXX’s cover manages to evoke the same sort of furious and desperate urgency of the original — while suggesting that throughout the years kids everywhere are practically the same.

 

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

Rosie Carney is an up-and-coming, 20 year-old, Hampshire, UK-born, Downings, County Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter, who has started to receive international attention for pairing mature beyond her years songwriting with vivid lyricism paired with minimalist arrangements and her effortlessly gorgeous vocals. Recently, the British-born, Irish-based singer/songwriter released a hauntingly spectral cover of Cigarettes After Sex‘s “K,” which features gently strummed guitar, swirling feedback and Carney’s gorgeous vocals singing an equally gorgeous melody — and although her cover is a bit more straightforward, sonically it bears a resemblance to Mazzy Star and Widowspeak.

As Carney explains of her decision to cover “K,” “I wanted to record a song that was released by one of my favorite artists this year. I chose ‘K’ by Cigarettes After Sex because, firstly I’m a huge fan of this band and their music and aesthetic, and secondly because this song definitely resonated with me the most from their new record. It’s such an honest song and I just love the message it carries. I love how relaxing and transcending the melody is. It’s one of those songs that I wish were mine.”

 

Perhaps best known as a member of James Arthur’s Manhunt, Sean Morales is a Norfolk, VA-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who started working on his Stuart Sikes-produced solo debut effort, Call It In while he was living alone in Houston. When he returned to Austin, he enlisted several of the city’s most accomplished and renowned musicians to assist him in completing the album, including his wife Erica Barton, a drummer in Faceless Werewolves, who helped shape the songs; Jonathan Horne, a jazz guitarist, known for his work with The Young MothersIchi Ni San Shi and Knest; OBN III’s and Manhunt’s Orville Neely III; Golden Boys‘ Bryan Schmitz; and James Arthur.

Reportedly, Morales wrote and recorded the album with a particular mission in mind, more than an artistic vision —  or in other words, the record was written both as a way to celebrate the ease of life, and much like a comfort to those who feel as though records are like old friends, who provide a little bit of wisdom from time to time, and who you’d like to catch up with when you haven’t thought of them in a while. Slated for a January 12, 2018 release through Super Secret Records, the album’s first official single is a fairly straightforward cover of Chris Spedding‘s easy-going, jangling and twangy “Video Life” that possesses the same, loose, easy-going vibe of a bunch of friends jamming and bullshitting while passing around a bottle of bourbon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback: DMX Performs “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Usually, the holiday season is a very difficult period for me. Many of the happy memories of Christmas were when I was much younger and those have been marred to some degree by bitterly unpleasant memories as a young man and as an adult. And while things are difficult, I try.  Now, as you may recall throughout the years, there have been some semi-regular traditions including DMX’s  rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” that he did while being interviewed at Power 105.1 back in 2012 and for years it was arguably one of the most absurd yet most endearing moments in hip-hop history. 

New Audio: Finnish Pop Trio Beverly Girl Returns with a Sleek and Sultry Cover of 80s Hit

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you may recall that with the release of “Contagious” the Helsinki, Finland-based trio  Beverly Girl received national and international attention for a 80s-inspired synth funk/electro pop/electro pop/R&B sound reminiscent of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Cherrelle, The Gap Band, Cameo, Atlantic Starr and a lengthy list of others, but with a highly contemporary take that brings the likes of  Rush Midnight, St. Lucia, Dam-Funk and others to mind.

Interestingly, the Finnish trio’s latest single is a cover of Millie Scott’s “Automatic,”  and while their version is fairly straightforward, retaining the original’s swooning sultriness, it possesses a heftier bass line and sharper, arpeggiated synths, all of which will further the act’s growing reputation for crafting sleek, dance floor friendly tunes. 

Comprised of Jay Sillence (vocals), Max Watt (guitar, vocals), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums), the up-and-coming York, UK-based hardcore metal act SEEP AWAY cite Black Flag, Cancer Bats, Bongripper, Turnstile, God Damn, Soulfly and Marilyn Manson as influences on their sound and approach. And in a relatively short period of time, the York-based quartet have begun to develop a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands — and for a sound that may remind many listeners to Follow the Leader-era Korn and others.

Building on a growing profile, the band’s debut effort, The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude is slated for an early 2018 release, and the album’s first single is an explosive and feral cover of what may arguably be one of the greatest songs in the history of hip-hop — Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” And I suspect that it would make ODB very proud while being mosh pit worthy.