Coming off her well received 2011 album Follow Me Down, Sarah Jarosz is squeezing in a mini-tour before returning to Boston to complete the 2nd half of her junior year at New England Conservatory. During her stop at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston, TX, the new face of Americana picked and strummed a handful of fantastic covers throughout her set.
UK-based electronic musician Graeme Coop aka Birkwin Jersey has a knack for building soundscapes from snippets and samples from YouTube clips. Recently he was featured on NPR’s World Cafe Next promoting his first release on his DIY collective label Absent Records with two friends in the United States.
This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.
Today’s set features covers of a couple hairy-dude bands, a couple beautiful blonde singers, and Bloc Party, who are in some other category (pretty-scruffy/hipster-alternative maybe). Download ‘em all below.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.
The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.”
Earlier today NPR posted a live set by Yellow Ostrich. They noted that though little-known, these guys are going places. Darn tootin’. Well, really, this one guy is. Alex Schaaf provides most of the direction for Yellow Ostrich, and we’re pretty sure he’s the only one playing on these covers. Sure doesn’t sound like it though.
Last year Schaaf unleashed a torrent of intimate indie-minded covers, reworking blog favorites like “Zebra” (Beach House), “King of Spain” (The Tallest Man on Earth), “’81” (Joanna Newsom), and a ton more. He’s since tacked a few more onto the list, most recently releasing a warped mostly-a cappella take on Sharon Van Etten’s “Love More.” Each tune offers moments of pure pleasure. Check out the joyful tambourine on “Androgynous” or the “ooh ah ah”s that replace “Fake Empire”’s beloved horn breakdown.
Most musicians would find the task of covering Joanna Newsom daunting. The songs are not uncoverable, but she infuses each performance with a uniqueness and delicacy such that each track becomes almost untouchable. Fortunately, some artists possess more vision and creativity than the rest of us.
Due in December, Versions of Joanna (thumbs-up for the title) collects 22 Newsom covers to benefit Oxfam. The usual suspects turn up – if you want to compile a tribute album to anyone, you call M.Ward. That Owen Pallett takes on “Peach, Plum, Pear” isn’t shocking either; he seems to occupy similar artistic and intellectual space to Newsom. More surprisingly though, folk-punk legend Billy Bragg turns in a cover of “On a Good Day”.