Tag: covers

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history — yes, almost 10! — I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Now, as you may recall, the duo, which is comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gussett (production, keys, synths) have developed a reputation for a minimalist approach and sound that draws from R&B, house and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s achingly tender falsetto.

Beacon’s third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs found the duo writing material that went off in a completely different direction from their previously released work. They embarked on open-ended writing sessions in which they adopted a more liner style of songwriting instead of thee loop and texture-driven method they had long used. And the initial demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of iterations, which found them looking through each individual version from a multitude of angles and directions.

Naturally, the duo expanded some songs and pared others back. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process eventually turned the material they wrote into a space in which seemingly different colors, tones and textures — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds, spreading out like a sort of spectrum. And with each iteration, the duo discovered they could easily expand upon how they presented the material within a live setting: they could play the same material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. And while pushing the duo’s songwriting and sound in new adventurous, new directions their work has remained imbued with a vulnerable and aching yearning.

Since the release of Gravity Pairs, the duo have been extremely busy. Last year they went on a successful North American tour with Nick Murphy. They shared a series of stripped-back studio sessions — and they released a remix album featured edits by Elkka, Helios, and CRi. 

Interestingly, Beacon introduced covers into the Gravity Pairs writing process as a way of breaking out of melodic patterns while discovering new sonic spaces within others’ songwriting. The JOVM mainstays start off the new year with a run of live dates in Europe, which includes a January 21, 2020 stop at the Paradiso in Amsterdam — and their first ever studio recorded cover, a cover of the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation.” Inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the original’s mutability, Beacon’s slow-burning piano-led meditation finds the duo amplifying the playfully morbid surreality of Black Francis‘ lyrics, said to be about the phenomenon of Japanese businessmen taking their own lives after their businesses fail in the 1980 while being hauntingly gorgeous.

“We wanted it to feel uncanny and have the recognition of the original unfold slowly for the listener rather than being obvious or immediate,” Beacon explains in press notes.

The JOVM mainstays will be embarking on a European tour through January. Check out the tour dates below.

Beacon Europe Tour 2020

01.17 Berlin, DE – Musik & Frieden
01.18 Hamburg, DE – Uebel & Gefährlich
01.19 Copenhagen, DK – Vega
01.21 Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
01.22 Cologne, DE – Helios 37
01.23 Brussels, BE – La Machine
01.25 Warsaw, PL – Hydrozagadka
01.26 Prague, CZ – Cafe V Lese
01.28 London, UK – O2 Academy Islington
01.29 Paris, FR – Supersonic
01.30 Bucharest, RO – Club Control

Advertisements

Live Footage: Yola on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola. The Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay has led a remarkable life — the sort that I’ve long thought should be made into an inspiring biopic, like What’s Love Got To Do With It: She grew up extremely poor — and fascinated by her mother’s record collection. And by the time she turned four, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was banned from making music, until she left home. She has also overcome being in an abusive and dysfunctional relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally walking through fire, as a result of a house fire. All of this inspired and informed her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay with an incredible array of career highlights that included:

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York 
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors 
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
and of course, as I mentioned earlier, the JOVM mainstay recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas. 
Adding to a big year, Yola made her late night national television debut last night, performing the swooning and gorgeous album single “Faraway Look” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Interestingly, over the past year, the country soul singer/songwriter has made a soulful — and just flat out amazing — cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” one of my favorite Elton John songs, a staple of her live show. Yola performed that as well. I think the live footage will serve as a great taste of her live show. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Canadian Act BADBADNOTGOOD Releases a Cover of a Slow-Burning 80s Soul Classic

BADBADNOTGOOD, the Toronto-based jazz-inspired act, currently comprised of founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty has received attention for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz and prog rock — and for jazz based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed the act to collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. (It shouldn’t be surprising that the act can trace its origins to the band’s founding members bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop — in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.)

As the story goes, the band’s founding members, which also included Matt Tavares played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who  sadly didn’t believe it had much musical value. But after they released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral. 

The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album which is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz found the Canadian act collaborating with Ghostface Killah. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Light In The Attic  Records has started a an exclusive vinyl and digital cover series — and the latest installment of the series features the acclaimed Toronto act collaborating with vocalist Jonah Yano on a cover of Majestics’ 1982 slow jam “Key To Love (Is Understanding).” Interestingly, while Jonah Yano and BADBADNOTGOOD finds the acclaimed Canadian act crafting a lovingly straightforward and soulful cover but with a subtle personal twist and a slick production. The BADBADNOTGOOD and Jonah Yano cover along with the Majestics original are available now for streaming through your favorite digital producer and will be released on “Majestic Pink” 7″ vinyl on February 21, 2020 release.

“As lovers of old soul, funk and rare recordings, ‘Key to Love’ has always been a song that has had an impact on our heart and ears,” the acclaimed Canadian act said in a statement. “We hope our version relays how special this song is and gives it some new listeners and a second life […] It’s an incredibly beautiful song that deserves to be heard, and we hope to play a small part in that.” They add, “We had met Jonah Yano about a year ago and we started to jam and make demos. After some really fun recording sessions we asked him if he would help us with the cover and we smashed the whole song out in a week.”

“It is a pleasant surprise,” Donald Cooper of Majestics said upon hearing BADBADNOTGOOD’s version of the song. “They did a good job and it was well done with their own slight personal twist […] [it’s] an honor to be recognized.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Returns with Two from Abbey Road Studios Live Sessions

With the release of their 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue the London-based dream pop act Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have developed a shimmering and atmospheric take on dream pop, centered around Murray’s smoky vocals. 

Last year, the London-based JOVM mainstays released their fourth album, the critically applauded Slow Air. Deriving its name from the sultry Texas summer days and nights that they spent writing and recording the album in Austin, TX, the album found the band making a return to early form, with the band leaning heavily towards arrangements centered around electric and acoustic guitar, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Some of this may have been inspired by the studio Hughes designed and built for the recording sessions — and by a minimalist approach in which they consciously ensured that they didn’t overthink, while using a variety of old and new microphones. 

While in the past there may have been countless takes and overdubs in an attempt to make things absolutely perfect, Murray and Hughes kept the inevitable mistakes to remind the listener of the material’s emotionality — and also to remind the lister that living, breathing, feeling humans made it. 

Additionally, the band recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done, and as a result, the material possesses a previously unheard urgency while retaining the shimmering and moody atmospherics that they’ve long been known for — especially on album single “Black Lagoon.” After completing what may arguably be the biggest world tour, including a memorable stop at Elsewhere, as well as across North America, Europe and Asia, the duo wanted to document their live sound with a live stood recording. As the band’s Tessa Murray says in press notes. “Abbey Road was the first studio we thought of when deciding where to record. It’s a beautiful and iconic place that we’ve always dreamed of. The sound and experimentation that happened there makes up much of the fabric of recording history.””Vintage consoles lined the corridors as we made our way to the Studio 3. We Could feel the weight of walking into the same studio where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon,” Greg Hughes adds. “We used microphones used on many Beatles’ recordings.” 

During their Abbey Road session, the band recorded a live version of one of my favorite tracks off the album, Black Lagoon — and while being a slightly stripped down rendition, the Abbey Road rendition retains the song’s gorgeous melody and shimmering atmospherics, while possessing a road-tested looseness. “We played this for a session at KUTX in Austin and a lot of people mentioned they would like an official audio recording, so we decided to that as well,” Murray says in press notes. 

The other track the JOVM mainstays recorded found the duo tackling Richard and Linda Thompson’s “The Calvary Cross.” As the band’s Greg Hughes explains in press notes, Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight is a personal favorite of the duo — and they covered “The Calvary Cross” during their last tour. And while the original was more of a mid-tempo stomper reminiscent of Neil Young, the Still Corners version is a slow-burning and gorgeously atmospheric take, centered around shimmering country-like guitars and Murray’s smoky vocals.  

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.