When last we heard from Alyson Greenfield, she was using her glockenspiel to record one of the best covers EPs of 2011. Now she’s finally back with a new cover, and while there’s no glockenspiel, there is a plethora of other unlikely instruments: omnichord, casiotone, and chord organ. She’s also left behind the hip-hop sources on that first EP, instead taking on the Cranberries deep cut “Dreaming My Dreams” (not to be confused with the ‘berries similarly-titled megahit “Dreams”). The swirling textures of her oddball keyboard arsenal bring an appropriately dreamy backing to the lilting melody.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Hard to believe, but almost ten years have passed since Kelis released her biggest hit, “Milkshake.” Harder still to believe, it didn’t peak on the charts until December of 2003 – it seems like the quintessential summer song, full of the life and braggadocio of youth who’ve got it and know how to flaunt it.
Memorable as the music and Kelis’s vocal are, it’s that opening line that drives its hook the deepest into your brain. Odds are quite good that nobody had ever spoken the words “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” in that order before, and the sheer strangeness of that boast made a distinct impression on all who heard it. It’s the sort of line that can be adapted by any musician into any genre and still make an impact. Some may choose to mock (we’re looking at you, Richard Cheese), but more are inclined to turn the song toward their own means, and the results tend to turn out to be just as head-swerving as Kelis’s. See for yourself…
I have no hard data to back this up, but I suspect that EPs play a larger role in the world of cover songs than they do elsewhere. In the wider world, EPs tend to be an afterthought, a set of rejects or remixes that may or may not be worthwhile. People pay little attention to EPs, and artists act accordingly, saving their real statements for the full-lengths. In our world, though, we see as many EPs as we do proper albums, and they’re every bit as good. An artist may hesitate to put out a “cover album” – still a loaded term in some circles – but in the age of Garageband and Bandcamp, it’s only too easy to record a half dozen covers and toss ‘em out between albums. Therefore, in honor of the EP’s prominence in our world, we present our favorite EPs of 2011 (with an MP3 from each).
While some cover artists re-interpret known songs, Alyson Greenfield is one who goes for full on re-inventions. Her new EP of glockenspiel and piano-centric hip hop covers, entitled Rock Out with Your Glockenspiel Out, offers exercises in juxtaposition that work on many levels. Not only is she using an instrument straight out of third grade music class to play songs with adult lyrical themes, but her shimmering, simple sound and inflected vocals oppose almost every convention of hip-hop. This version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” shows her angle, putting such an unexpected twist on an otherwise fairly conventional track that it even transcends appeals to novelty.