Over the course of her nearly twenty-year career, Mississippi songstress Garrison Starr has taken up a number of side bands and projects on top of her prolific output as a solo artist. As a token of appreciation to her fans she recently released a free EP entitled Not for Nothing that includes this beautifully tender acoustic treatment of The Killers’ 2006 single “When You Were Young,” which is the lead track from the band’s fantastic sophomore effort Sam’s Town; younger audiences may also recognize it from Guitar Hero III.
Swedish singer/guitarist Kristian Mattsson, better known as The Tallest Man on Earth, has made a name for himself worldwide with his unique brand of jagged-edged acoustic folk. After leaving his Swedish rock band to be a folksinger, Mattsson gained a following with his powerful hoarse voice and intricate acoustic guitar work, before mostly switching to hollow-body electric guitars on his last few tours. This shift away from an acoustic sounds seems to be developing even more now, as earlier this week he appeared on Swedish game show På Spåret with a full band to cover the classic rock hit “Dancing In The Moonlight” by Irish rockers Thin Lizzy.
After conquering Nirvana and then releasing an album of orchestral indie rock covers in September, the Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra have set their sights on hip-hop, starting a project that they call “Four Strings and an 808.” Their newest release features a medley of hits from hip-hop’s most recently newsworthy family, Beyonce, Jay-Z and the newborn Blue Ivy Carter. In the video they point out that listening to classical music helps development in infants, so they made it their mission to provide baby Blue with classical takes on her parent’s tracks. I’m not sure how beneficial “Big Pimpin'” could be for an impressionable child, but for adults it sounds pretty impressive.
Mysterious London electronic wizards Strangers have uploaded some great melodic electro-pop originals and covers to YouTube, including a recent take on Lana Del Reys’ “Video Games”. Explained as a cover that occurred to them “on a whim in a writing session,” their most recent video offers their take on the 1984 hit “Shout” by fellow Brits Tears For Fears, a song that fits their own style quite naturally, and not just because of their London accents.
When choosing a song to cover for a recent “Pop Cultures Collide” session, Their Ocean’s Keith Kreuser explained that they simply wanted “something that had lyrics that didn’t suck and that we could possibly update a little.” Using these criteria, they settled on one of the most legendary pop songs of the ’80s, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. Applying their own electronic style to the cover, Kreuser says they approached the track “as if we were underwater in a spaceship filled with peanut butter.”
Once an artist decides to interpret a cover rather than perform it faithfully, they generally opt to either increase or decrease the energy of the original performance, instilling it with either more rock drive or quiet intimacy. In their original songs, Providence folkies The Low Anthem sit decidedly on the most delicate side of that spectrum, to the point that it wouldn’t seem possible to make their songs more mellow. Much to my our surprise, though, Brooklyn-based Firehorse frontwoman Leah Siegel pulls off that exact feat in her new video for The Voice Project, with strikingly beautiful results.