Jun 182021
 
skatune redbone

Skanking holds a small place in my heart as one of the only styles of dance I can not only do, but don’t feel self conscious doing.  Thank goodness then that Skatune’s version of Childish Gambino’s hit track “Redbone” gives me an excuse to skank again!

While Gambino’s version is a slow, deep funk track, Skatune’s version is…well, that typical upbeat ska sound. The track is given a sense of urgency, moving the song away its slow dance roots towards a belter for skanking to in a mosh pit. The original melody isn’t really even there – you’d only know the track is “Redbone” after a few lines of the lyrics. There’s even a horn section solo in place of the original synth portion of the track to fully complete the Ska takeover. Continue reading »

Jun 162021
 
sunset rollercoaster

Sometimes reinventing a track means finding a new sound from the elements of old ones. This is certainly the approach that Taiwanese rock group Sunset Rollercoaster took with their cover of  ‘小薇’ (translated to ‘Xiao Wei’), which was originally popularized by Taiwanese singer Huang Pin Yuan. The original track was written and performed by Adi ‘N’ the Brothers in 2000 before Huang’s cover in 2002 brought it to mainstream attention. It remains one of his most well-known songs in Taiwan. Continue reading »

Jun 152021
 

The Shins’ debut album Oh, Inverted World turns 20 this month. To celebrate the release of the remastered edition, the band commissioned several covers to be released as part of the celebration. First, the band Skullcrusher covered “New Slang”; then Buzzy Lee aka Sasha Spielberg covered “Caring is Creepy.” Most recently Frankie Cosmos covered “Girl Inform Me.” Frankie Cosmos began simply as the stage name of Greta Kline, but now the project has expanded into a full band, including Luke Pyenson on drums and vocals, Alex Bailey on bass guitar and keyboards, and Lauren Martin on keyboards, synthesizers, and harmonies. Continue reading »

Jun 142021
 
black midi nothing compares 2 u cover

Buzzy UK math/prog rockers Black Midi just released their second studio album, Cavalcade on May 26, 2021. As part of the release the band polled their fans about which covers they should include on a bonus flexi disc available from record stores. The results are in are the covers are

At first, Black Midi feel sound like they might be taking the piss on their”Nothing Compares 2 U”. Lead singer Geordie Greep’s falsetto is flawed and goofy, almost as if he’s doing a bad Roland Gift impression, and there’s just his voice and a synth. But, whether or not he’s goofing off, once the rest of the band chimes in and the tempo picks up, it really feels like they are trying to put their spin on it. Yes, the vocals are extremely silly, but the musicianship is great – of course it is – and the sense of fun is palpable.

After the guitar solo, things get really weird, with manic interpolations of Frank Zappa’s “Keep It Greasy” from Joe’s Garage and “Let’s Go Crazy” from Prince’s own Purple Rain. (Listen for the reference to Tim Burton’s Batman, which Prince soundtracked, during the “Let’s Go Crazy” segment.)

Yes, it’s goofy, it’s bizarre and it’s possible that the band don’t actually like the song. But it’s a lot of fun, perhaps because of the irreverence. This is pretty hallowed ground after all, and it’s enjoyable to see a band just tearing into such a famous song and not worrying about whether you like it or not. It’s not streaming anywhere, but a Reddit user preserved it on Dropbox.

Jun 102021
 
Donner Night by Night

Norwegian guitarist, composer and producer Jacob Holm-Lupo is a chameleonic musicmaker. As the chief songwriter/vibemeister of ensembles The Opium Cartel and White Willow, Holm-Lupo has created an oeuvre that includes dozens of records made across three decades. His music draws from a broad palate of ‘70s & ‘80s prog, jazz and art-rock influences. Chief among these is the venerable Steely Dan.
Continue reading »

Jun 082021
 

So Low by Lowland HumIt might seem like an obvious choice to perform a minimalist version of Peter Gabriel‘s So. Gabriel’s fifth album, and the first with its own name, So is the most ’80s of albums. It features so many of Gabriel’s career trademarks: Fairlight and Prophet synthesizers (and many others), sequencers, early drum machines, gated drums, etc. If there is any one album that captures the sound of ’80s record production, it’s So. (And that’s only fair since Gabriel invented so many of those conventions during his solo career.) So stripping it all away to focus on the songs might seem like an easy and obvious approach.

But whether or not it’s simple or obvious, “minimalist modern folk”  husband and wife duo Lowland Hum has created a powerful record with their song-for-song cover of the entirety of So, cleverly titled So Low and released on May 19. The band mostly use few instruments, Daniel and Lauren’s voices, an acoustic guitar, a few loops, and a few judicial overdubs. It feels like the exact opposite approach to the material that Gabriel took when he wrote the songs.

But don’t mistake this for a record like Gabriel’s own New Blood, where Gabriel reinvented his own songs as orchestral pop. There’s way more space here and so few instruments that some moments are almost spartan. Lowland Hum play with Gabriel’s songs just enough to make some of them sound new, but mostly they adhere closely enough the originals that they are easy to place.
Continue reading »