For the last few years, the folks at Cokemachineglow have marked the end of the year with a Fantasy Covers Podcast. In the latest edition, they give the Podcast a twist by making it a contest– they encouraged artists to submit covers that “re-contextualize” a track with an unexpected new genre. As they predicted, the results are both strange, creative, and occasionally hit-or-miss, but the overall result is a set of imaginative covers with some terrific standouts. Unfortunately the Podcast format means that the 13 covers are only available in one massive file, but it’s one worth downloading.
You may have heard of the unbelievably-talented Jasmine Van den Bogaerde, better known as Birdy, after her gorgeous piano and vocal cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” spread around YouTube and even made the singles charts in the UK. If not, then prepare yourself for another overwhelmingly beautiful piano cover from the rising cover star, her interpretation of the xx‘s “Shelter.” The 15-year old has a knack for choosing simple compositions and coaxing the beauty out of them while keeping a sense of intimacy and delicacy. And yes, you read that last sentence right, this girl’s only 15!
Although artsy Brooklyn denizen and Jealous Girlfriends frontwoman Holly Miranda hasn’t released any new original material since 2010’s The Magician’s Private Library, she has kept herself busy recording covers. Now she’s posted a large collection of both live and studio-recorded covers for your listening pleasure. Miranda has received critical praise from the likes of Kanye West and Scarlett Johansson, and it’s easy to see why.
The xx‘s brand of arresting, atmospheric gloom-pop quickly gained an audience on the release of their debut in 2009. Appearances at large festivals followed, with the band playing to large, but amazingly still and respectful audiences. How often do you see that at a festival? The music throbs, but stops short of nudging you toward the dancefloor.
Who knew Shakira was such an indie trendsetter? Ever since she took on the xx’s “Islands,” hip musicians have been tripping over themselves to follow suit. Admittedly, only the Pretty Reckless chose the same track, but still, we like to think Shaki’ had something to do with the xx cover flood.
The latest crop of xx covers comes from three unlikely sources. Over the weekend, Damon Albarn led Gorillaz on a piano-and-xylophone “Crystalised.” Watch a video of that one below. Then keep the dark mood going with OMD’s slow-jammed “VCR” and Various Production’s dubstepped-out “Infinity.”
As we pointed out last month with her Metallica samba, Shakira is becoming a cover force to be reckoned with. She began performing the xx’s “Islands” live back in May, but the studio version just leaked…sort of. The track has not seen official release, but some enterprising fans pieced together the fragments floating about the web to create a studio version. Her concert performances (like the one at Glastonbury) dictated what went where so this fan mix is probably accurate.
What’s striking is how close it sticks to the original. And the original sounds nothing like a Shakira song. Turns out you only need to add a stronger beat and a few extra guitar tweedles to turn morose indie into a pop single. She moves the song’s spacey outro into the intro position, giving the tune a lengthy lead-in before the vocals hit.