Los Angeles-based a cappella group SONOS is known for their “indie” song selection and liberal employment of effects pedals to enhance their vocal performance. As one of the groups performing on NBC’s The Sing Off, they had to ditch those sweet sounding effects to rely on their voices alone on last week’s cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game.” That didn’t stop them from releasing a video of the song as they would normally do it.
Sonos is not your typical a cappella group. Due to the lack of a bass voice in the group, they incorporate an octave pedal. They use a loop station in order to create sonic layers of beatboxing. In concert, they add an array of other electronic gizmos, from harmonizers to delay pedals. All of this adds up to a vocal performance more musically akin to Björk‘s Medulla than Andy Bernard’s nerdy band in The Office. Their first album, SonoSings, met with critical acclaim and received a bump due to the Glee craze and a live performance on NPR.
The first post of the month always features a look at songs covering every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
There was never really any question which album Pitchfork would pick as its #1 of the 2000s. However, a predictable conclusion to their countdown shouldn’t distract from the merits of the winner, Radiohead’s Kid A. As the follow-up to their massively successful OK Computer, Kid A’s glitchy electro beats and spacey reverb washes elicited mixed reaction at best. Suffice to say, fans and critics have come around in the ensuing nine years, these ten artists in particular.<
Sonos – Everything In Its Right Place
I’m sure a cappella Radiohead has been tried many, many times. I’m sure it has failed just about every one of them. This is the rare exception. If Thom Yorke produced a cappella himself, it would probably sound like this. [Buy]
John Mayer – Kid A
The guy responsible for “Your Body Is a Wonderland” taking on the man who gave us “Karma Police”? Surely a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that it isn’t furthers my theory that Mayer may actually be a talented musician hiding it well. [Buy]
paradigm – The National Anthem
The Louisville four-piece did an almost exclusively Radiohead covers set in ’06, all instrumental, all ass-kicking. This one comes out of a lengthier medley with the Beatles’ “Come Together” (hence the abrupt ending). Click the link to get the whole show: [Buy]
Eliza Lumley – How to Disappear Completely
Many Radiohead fans claim this as their favorite song. It’s one of my least favorites. Eliza’s quiet piano lament may make me reconsider though. [Buy]
Vitamin String Quartet – Treefingers
I’ll be honest here: I tried hard to find a cover of this not churned out by the ubiquitous string quartet. I failed. This anonymous group has literally hundreds of tribute albums out (here’s a partial list), so their street cred in the cover community is below even Richard Cheese’s. Still, the original here is instrumental, so their approach works. They cover the whole album. [Buy]
Hanson – Optimistic
Going from the Vitamin String Quartet to Hanson? If this is my last blog post, it’s because I was chased off the internet. I won’t push my luck by saying the “MMMBop” boys do a good job here. But I’m not saying they don’t either… [Buy]
Sa-Ra – In Limbo
Techno, dance, crunk. Sa-Ra combines just about every genre Radiohead isn’t and inexcusably makes it work. [Buy]
We Versus the Shark – Idioteque
The slow grind of We separates this from the many folksy covers out there, giving it a hefty call-and-response churn that ably substitutes for the schizo drum pattern of the original. [Buy]
Flash Hawk Parlor Ensemble – Amnesiac / Morning Bell
Technically this pairing is off the Amnesiac album, but the “Morning Bell” portion first appeared on Kid A. This twee-folk ditty from the Decemberists’ Chris Funk may make you forget that either album exists. [Buy]
Christopher O’Riley – Motion Picture Soundtrack
It seems fitting to close out with O’Riley, the solo piano cover artist extraordinaire. He’s got two discs of Radiohead covers out, both worth getting. [Buy]