Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist produces a special cover for this blog. The song to be covered is usually chosen by blog readers via a poll or suggestions form. Any artists interested in participating in a future installment, please email me at the address on the right.
A month back we debuted Cover Commissions here with a cover artist extraordinaire, James Eric (read the original post). You readers were invited to vote from ten songs, covering everyone from Vampire Weekend to Gladys Knight. Well vote you did, in droves, and one song emerged the clear victor: Devo’s “Beautiful World.”
Well James took that song and has been camped out in his cover lair for the last few weeks cooking up a special new offering for us. His cover cup runneth over however, and he emerged with not one but three new tunes! Not just two drastically different versions of the winning Devo tune, but also a take on one of the runners up he just couldn’t resist tackling. Before we debut them, let’s hear about it in his own words:
Whenever I record a cover song (which is about once a week these days), I set aside about four hours in one day to complete two versions. One is a stripped-down acoustic ‘demo’ of sorts just to get a feel for the song, and the other is a tad bit more produced. I’ve always heard the argument that any song should take its time to fully develop, but I’m of the opposite opinion, especially for the cover songs I choose. The more output the better, even if the final version isn’t exactly ‘perfect,’ I actually admire recordings that leave the imperfections in tact. Whether it’s an off-key note or something strange buried in the mix, I just like the idea of putting something out there, warts and all. I know I could sit down for any recording, whether if it’s a cover or an original, and take a long time with perfecting it, but I feel it loses its raw essence when it’s re-recorded over and over. I know my mixing/mastering skills aren’t exactly spectacular, but I feel that I work very well with my limited knowledge use of loop-based software and an 8-track mixer.
I have perfect pitch and a gift for recognizing chords upon hearing any song for the first time. So I can almost learn any song, within reason. Granted, it can’t be something like improvised jazz or death metal because my ears and brain can’t travel that fast. I grew up with The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Cars, so my songs always need a poppy hook to really take up residence in my memory. I do like weird noisy stuff too, but I’m more inclined to listen to oldies than newies because most musicians back in the olden times didn’t take themselves seriously. They just found a melody, four chords, and turned it into a simple love song. Devo is a weird band that I definitely enjoy and feel as if choosing to record MGMT also complements Devo’s style just a bit with the synthesized electronica style that I enjoy on occasion. For a really interesting homage to Devo, people should relisten to Weird Al’s brilliant song “Dare to be Stupid.” Stay tuned for a side project where I collaborate with a female singer – the CD will be pressed and released in late May. I think people will enjoy the cover song selections we choose. Thanks so much for listening/downloading and all the support for any of my many uploads :)
First off, I will second the Weird Al recommendation. In fact, James even has an Al cover up at his site, a rare occurrence indeed. Check it out and many of his other tunes here.
Without further ado, I am proud to present the debut results of Cover Commissions. First though, a site disclaimer (ok, so I guess a little further ado). These mp3s may be freely shared with the artist’s blessing. Post them on your blog, send them to your friends, burn ‘em for your office mates. When you do share these however, please include a link to this site. Cover Commissions is a monthly occurrence on this site, and the more traffic this project draws the more exciting we can make these.
James Eric – Time to Pretend (MGMT)
Take a listen and thank James in the comments! Then head on over to his site and learn more.
Stay tuned for more Cover Commissions excitement coming your way (starting, let us not forget, with John Anealio).