Who would’ve thought that Hooverphonic‘s still got it, 17 years plus into their career? I thought Geike’s departure marked the end of the Belgian band, but I was surprised at how easily the new vocalist Noemi fits into the band and holds the fort admirably. It seems they did well with some young blood, as their last album “The Night Before” was certainly one of their strongest efforts. On the strength of that album’s success, Hooverphonic just released “Hooverphonic With Orchestra”, with re-workings of old and new songs since the beginning. I always have a soft spot for well-crafted orchestral pop music, and the album made a lovely listen indeed. The string arrangements were wonderfully grandeur, especially on “George’s Cafe” and the lush new version of “Mad About You”. They even breathed new life into what was one of my least favorite singles, “Expedition Impossible”. Beside a new track “Happiness”, the album also contains a fantastic stripped-down cover of Massive Attack‘s classic “Unfinished Sympathy”, which you can check out below. I highly recommend this album if you’re not quite familiar with the band’s catalogue, or in need of a soundtrack for spring evenings.
STREAM: Hooverphonic – Unfinished Sympathy (Massive Attack Cover)
You can stream their recent liveset for Studio Brussel in full length on Soundcloud.
British newcomer Emeli Sandé made her debut Live Lounge session last Tuesday on BBC Radio 1 with Fearne Cotton. Instead of choosing to cover a current chart-topping hit like most would do, she picked the old school 1995 Blur single “Country House”, and it was a lovely moment. With some clever chorus swapping, she turned the jaunty original into a brooding affair, beautifully sung and interpreted.
Her album “Her Version of Events” drops this week in the UK, and is set to be number one come Sunday. If you are hoping a whole album in the style of “Heaven” and “Daddy”, then prepare to be disappointed, for they are red herrings. I guess either “Heaven” was meant to be the buzz “tastemaker’s single” that unexpectedly became her big break, or she and her team decided to go after Adele’s market rather than Katy B’s. It was not the album I expected, but it still is a strong, solid effort. I’ll save the details for a later post, as the album will reach our shores on June 5. For now, watch the video for her latest single “Next To Me” below.
Back in late 2010, when Lana Del Rey was still relatively unknown and blond, she made what was possibly her first European TV appearance on Mandio Diao‘s MTV Unplugged show. Backed by the Swedish rock band themselves, Lana gave an acoustic rendition of “Chet Baker”, an obscure 2007 b-side named after the jazz legend. The show was later released on CD/DVD, and footage of her segment has been floating around since, but I only managed to discover it a couple days ago. Her voice was a good fit for the jazz-tinged track, and it was certainly fascinating to witness the soon-to-be pop star in progress, just a year before the big break. Not that much has changed, vocally and aethestically. A lovely listen, anyhow.
What I find interesting is that Juliette Lewis, who previously tweet-bashed her SNL performance, was also a guest star on the same show. I wonder if she remembers that they might actually have met before?
“Born To Die” is out now worldwide.
I was first alerted to Ren Harvieu when she was longlisted on the BBC Sound of 2012. Forewarning: she makes music for Radio 2. BUT it’s damn good Lite FM gold. The Mancunian chanteuse possesses an enchanting jazz/soul voice with a drawl that lulls you in effortlessly. Her debut single “Through The Night” is an exquisite, languid, elegant tune, conjuring up an expensive, widescreen kind of sadness. I suddenly found the song creeping its way back into my head on a misty Thursday morning, and it’s been lingering there since. In a nutshell, if you secretly like Rumer but think she’s too mumsy, or have a fondness for Norah Jones circa 2002, then Ren Harvieu is for you. Lovely stuff.
STREAM: Ren Harvieu – Through The Night
“Through The Night” is OUT NOW in the UK.
Sky Feirrera might still be spending her sweet time perfecting her debut album, but she’s been appeasing the fans by sporadically posting snippets and demos on her Soundcloud. Her latest gift comes in the form of a raw, angsty acoustic piano cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, deliberately renamed as “Berlin Jeans”, referring to where it was recorded. Allegedly done in one take, it’s a far cry away from her fizzy electro-pop stuff. Despite sounding a bit rough during the middle eight, she did an admirable job with the song.
Sky’s album “Wild At Heart” is set to be released later this year, and that she’s been working with producer Jon Brion only fuels more Fiona Apple comparisons. While it’s quite disappointing that her old electro-pop materials get scrapped, I’m certainly intrigued by her new direction. She’s a very promising artist who well deserves a breakthrough. Check out her cover below and let me know what you think.
MP3: Sky Ferreira – Berlin Jeans (Lana Del Rey Cover)
It occurred to me the other day that it’s been a while since I heard from Maia Hirasawa. After all, she’s responsible for one of the finest, catchiest indie pop songs ever made. So I decided to do some catching up and to my surprise, not only had the lovely Swedish/Japanese singer/songwriter relocated to Japan, she also released a new album over there last year! Her self-titled Japan-only album is a collection of new songs in English and Japanese, as well as assorted tracks from her second album and Swedish EP. The lead single “It Doesn’t Stop” also serves as a sort of introduction to the land of rising sun, and it’s classic Maia at her best – robust, bright and sprightly. The song’s bursting with life and sheer joy that it couldn’t fail to bring a stupid grin on my face. Most of all, it took me right back to 2007, when I first discovered the super talented female roster of Swede lavel Razzia Records, including Maia among Hello Saferide, Firefox AK, and Jonna Lee. Those were the days…
View the sailor-themed video for the song below – you will really dig this if you’re a fan of Regina Spektor or commercial-friendly Feist. For good measure, I’ll throw in her harp-laden cover of Ne-Yo’s “Because Of You”. As you can tell by the choice, it’s a quite old one but still sounds fantastic.
A cheery bunch Veronica Falls ain’t. The UK indie band is known for their gloom-laden, gothic lo-fi guitar-pop, and their self-titled debut album released last year makes great music for cold, grey days. They carry their aesthetics well on this fantastic cover of Eurythmics‘ 1986 hit “Thorn In My Side”. Released on a limited covers 12″, it’s a cleverly reimagined version of the original, with which I wasn’t familiar before hearing their version. Their rather bleak-sounding take hints at a sense of desperation beneath the kiss-off bravado. What I like about Veronica Falls is that they do not forget the tunes and harmonies. Do check out their own songs if you have the time, they’re so underrated.
Can you believe 2012 is just around the corner? Last minute gift shoppers need not be reminded. If you still have the time for some jolly new music to add to your playlist today, check out this poorly timed roundup of this year’s holiday highlights.
She & Him‘s holiday LP “A Very Merry She & Him Christmas” is pretty much the essential release this season. Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward’s seasonal offering is a charming collection of lovely old-timey fireside tunes.
Birdy‘s debut album is a delightful collection of songs beautifully interpreted by a voice and talent beyond her years. However, one of my favorite tracks are not even on the standard version. Hidden away as a bonus gem on the deluxe edition is a peculiar choice of cover, Mew‘s 8-minute arena-rock epic “Comforting Sounds”. At first I was quite curious and a little worried upon seeing its inclusion on the tracklist, and fortunately, Jasmine’s version does not disappoint. It’s a bold move to not only keep the original length, but also play up the scale by filling the latter half with a stirring widescreen string arrangement and Bjork-esque broken beats. Her weary, aching delivery evokes an quietly devastating kind of melancholy. It is just what I expect it to be: a sublime, orchestral piece of end-credits-worthy wallowfest. It’s a great interpretation that I didn’t even think could exist, but I’m glad it does. If you’re down for some pre-holiday gloom, click play. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
STREAM: Birdy – Comforting Sounds (Mew Cover)
It’s been quite a busy year for French songstress Émilie Simon. Back in April, the now New-York-based chanteuse finally dropped her most recent album “The Big Machine” in the US after nearly two years of its original release. The album saw her leaving behind trip-hop soundscapes to explore ’80s electro-pop, and spawned two fantastic singles/visuals, namely “Dreamland” and “Rainbow”.
The project goes on as she just released a new US EP, “The Cycle”, featuring the album cut & new remixes. The remix by Midnight Sun (Midnight Magic, Jessica 6, Hercules & Love Affair) is quite something special. They transform the song into a throbbing ’80s disco affair. I rarely say this but I actually prefer it to the original! Download it for free, along with her own remix of “Rainbow”, and her cover of Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy” below.
But wait! A brand new album is on its way very soon. Entitled “Franky Knight”, it’s the soundtrack to the new Audrey Tautou vehicle “La Delicatesse” (Delicacy). It’s not the first time Émilie does the soundtrack for film either, having scored the March of the Penguins documentary back in 2005. This time, she’s back to singing French on lead single “Mon Chevalier” (My Knight), which is dedicated to her fiance who passed away in September 2009 after catching the H1N1 flu :(. You can watch its music video right below.
UK’s pop-noir duo Alpines have joined forces with DJ/producer Maya Jane Coles for a spooksome cover version of Carly Simon‘s 1980 hit “Why”. They managed to turn the sunny reggae-lite original into a strictly nocturnal, bass-heavy trip. Expectedly, it’s moody and dark, but still quite danceable.
STREAM: Alpines + Maya Jane Coles – Why (Carly Simon Cover)
There’s no word yet on whether the cover will see an official release soon, but for now, in case you’re not yet familiar with the duo’s work, start with “Cocoon” or “Drive”. Check out the video for their most recent single “Cocoon” after the jump.
Despite not having blogged about her at all, I have slowly developed a soft spot for Birdy, aka Jasmine Van den Bogaerde. The English 15-year-old has got herself quite a unique niche in delivering stirring covers of indie faves like Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, and The xx’s “Shelter”. With her debut self-titled album out on November 7, she is giving away a free download of album track “White Winter Hymnal”. Such good timing it is too, considering the Northeast’s unfortunately early winter this year. The Fleet Foxes cover boasts a fuller production than her more minimally arranged singles, and it’s a reliably lovely, soothing ditty. Download it below.
I must confess to thoroughly enjoying all her singles so far. There’s something special about Birdy that sets her apart from your average Youtube bedroom warbler. I like her quietly subversive practice of picking these supposedly low-key, marginally obscure indie songs, belting them out for the unfamiliar masses, and granting them new life as future X Factor audition staples. I couldn’t care less if her cover choices are of her own picking or painstakingly narrowed down in a dungeon somewhere by A&R monkeys. At the end of day, it’s melodies being beautifully sung, and that’s enough for me. I expect the album to be essential winter listening.
Watch the video for her latest single, a version of Cherry Ghost’s “People Help The People”, and peep the tracklist after the jump.
Cult discopopstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor has dusted off her rock-band-fronting persona for an unpredictable Arcade Fire cover, in the good name of charity. Recorded for a compilation album in aid of Samaritans, the cover is like a throwback to her theaudience days. Her version traded the quite cacophonous original for a more straightforward alt-rock arrangement. Of course, with this being Sophie, she couldn’t help but sneakily adding some synths at the end of the track. I have to say that I find her rendition really pleasant and tastefully done. Sophie has strongly hinted that her next album will be a departure from her usual sad disco flair, and if this is an implication of the change she’s got in mind, I can’t wait to hear more! Memo: more stuff like “Hello Hello” would be great.
As it’s for a good cause, I highly recommend purchasing it if you like what you hear.
STREAM: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Rebellion (Lies) (Arcade Fire Cover)
When Lykke Li was on tour down under, she popped by Triple J HQ for an acoustic live session. For the station’s “Like A Version” segment which is basically an Aussie version of Live Lounge, she delivered a haunting cover of The Righteous Brothers‘ 1965 classic “Unchained Melody”. The perennially brooding Swede’s got that uncanny ability to sing like she’s alone in a cavernous cathedral, even if she’s just sitting comfily in a studio. With this melancholy performance, Lykke has officially joined the Melody cover club, previously inhabited by the likes of Gareth Gates, Clay Aiken and Air Supply. I quite like how she bluntly answered “No” when asked if she likes the movie “Ghost”. Lykke’s got no love for claymaking doomed lovers! Listen to her version below, and grab it for free if you like.
MP3: Lykke Li – Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers Cover)
It’s a well-documented fact that British pop songstress CocknBullKid enjoys covering songs. During her live session on Radio 2 with Jo Whiley, the self-proclaimed All Saints fan chose to pay her tribute by contributing her own version of “Pure Shores” to the station’s ongoing Great British Songbook project. And what a brilliant choice/sublime rendition it was! She totally breathed new life into the track. This is bringing back all the memories, bar the unpleasant reminder of how unbelievably shit the original music video was. That unfortunate setback couldn’t taint the classic William-Orbit-produced pop perfection, though. This is not the first time CocknBullKid showed her appreciation for late ’90s R&B either, having covered Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills” with Eliza Doolittle before. Did you know Shaznay Lewis actually co-wrote the album track “Distractions”? Surely a duet between the two sounds like a good idea? I would also be genuinely interested in hearing her cover “Black Coffee” next, please. Either of those options would suffice, Anita, I’m not fussy!
You can download her amazing All Saints cover below.
Are you still clinging to what little’s left of summer sunshine? Well, the new Kings of Convenience video won’t make things easier. Here’s what Erlend & Eirik have to say about this rather unexpected present:
“This song is from Declaration of Dependence, that was released almost 2 years ago. We thought it deserved a video and 2 weeks ago the weather-forecast was good. We called up our friends (who has got some rather advanced video shooting equipment) and made this one-take video, on top of Eirik’s roof. The audio is the album-recording of the song. Bergen is not always as nice as this, but it’s days like this that makes us want to live here.”
Now that’s a lovely way to bid adieu to summer.
For the occasion, how about a nice bonus b-side? Here’s their rare cover of Badly Drawn Boy’s “Once Around The Block”, originally released on the Toxic Girl single back in 2001. That’s 10 years ago!
Nearly 8 months after releasing her last single “Stop Hey”, Sunday Girl is finally back with the follow-up. The fashionable pop star’s 4th single happens to be a cover of Sunscreem‘s 1992 trance hit “Love U More” (well there’s a Steps version, too, click at your own risk). While I’m not previously familiar with the original, her version is quite ravey, and definitely her most radio-friendly yet. I don’t mind a bit of chart-chasing action, as long as the album gets released soon! “Love U More” is out October 30.
Sunday Girl – Love U More (Sunscreem Cover)
After the jump, you can listen to her old but still delectable cover/remix of Everything Everything‘s “Photoshop Handsome”, and “Let’s Not Play Games”, her most recent collab with Martin Solveig for his new album “Smash”.
UK’s mum-friendly pop crooner Will Young delivered a lovely piano cover of Kate Bush‘s classic “Running Up That Hill” for Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday Sessions on Radio 2 yesterday. His cover cemented the fact that he’s still one of Britain’s best contemporary male pop voices. His forthcoming album, the Richard-X-produced “Echoes”, will see him heading for a long-awaited dance-pop direction, and if lead single “Jealousy” is any indication, pop fans will be in for a real treat, even those who weren’t fans of his music before. You can download the balladry performance below. “Jealousy” drops on August 21, and the album follows a day later.
Radio 1’s Live Lounge seems to revolve around Robyn these days. A couple weeks ago, she was on the show to perform her new single “Call Your Girlfriend”, and now Noah And The Whale has picked it for their mystery cover. The alt-folk band totally transformed the ebullient original into a Tom Petty-style track. They shouldn’t have bothered changing the words though, it could make a cool twist. Stream/download their take below.
Noah And The Whale – Call Your Boyfriend (Robyn Cover)
I don’t have much to say about their own output, except that “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” was quite a guilty pleasure of mine.
Fresh off the oven, here is Robyn‘s cover of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, which just aired on Radio 1’s Live Lounge with Fearne Cotton today. At first I thought it was an odd choice, as I think the original is not quite one of Coldplay’s finest moments, but I really do like Robyn’s synthy take of it. Then again, like Coldplay, she has always proudly worn her heart on sleeve. You see, it’s a good thing tears never show in a pouring waterfall… (okay that needs a bit work). I have ripped both the cover and the live performance of “Call Your Girlfriend” for your convenience. Download away!
I’m glad Radio 1 is supporting the new single, she deserves another bonafide hit. Have you seen the Greg James parody of the video yet? Good viral promotion!
As a bonus, I’ll throw in her earlier Live Lounge acoustic performance of “Dancing On My Own”. It’s a shame it wasn’t included on Body Talk to complete the acoustic trilogy. You can find it on the Live Lounge Vol. 5 comp, though.
Robyn is currently on tour with Katy Perry in the US.
Danish songstress Fallulah stopped by Dermot O’Leary’s show on BBC Radio 2 yesterday to perform a live session, which included a special folky rendition of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Gold Lion”. I never thought about how the song would sound like with banjos and accordions, but she and the band did a splendid job covering it! Apparently, her debut UK single is “I Lay My Head”, out in late August, and the album “The Black Cat Neighbourhood” should follow by next year, even though it’s been out in Denmark for a while now. She said she’s not even signed in Britain yet, but I suppose this will be rectified soon. Stream/download the cover below, and check out two of her latest videos after the jump.
The latest to join UK’s new wave of pop inspired by the ’90s, vocalist Jess Mills seems to opt for a new spin on the pulsating, melancholy sound of late-’90s trip-hop. She previously sang on Breakage‘s dance hit “Fighting Fire”, and has since been working with the dubstep producer for her album. Her debut single “Vultures” is a piece of atmospheric, dark but subdued electronic pop, a grower that guarantees repeated listens. It’s a fitting soundtrack, should you decide to take one of those contemplative walks in desolate streets at night. For remixes, she managed to recruit all the familiar names of yesteryear: Photek, Nu:Tone & MJ Cole. You can download MJ Cole’s soothing dubstep take below, though the Photek mix is probably my favorite of the bunch. I’m anxious to hear more from her, because… let’s face it, people, it’s about time for a new Dido (and I mean that in a good way!). Watch the suitably moody video for the track, then stream her cover of The Cure’s “A Forest” after the jump.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Madonna‘s 1986 album “True Blue”, Canadian indie label Paper Bag Records has called upon their roster to cover the album in its entirety. The best part is they’re giving it away for free, in return for your email address. I haven’t heard all the tracks, but the acts seemed to be having fun recording them. My favorite cover so far is the Montreal-based band Winter Gloves‘ reading of her sugar-sweet single “True Blue”. They brought the song closer to its ’60s pop spirit, and sprinkled it with synths and a special saxophone solo! A lovely listen. Check out the cover below, and get the album if you’re interested. Now if only they could have roped in Sally Shapiro to contribute…
Franz Ferdinand’s “Covers E.P.” was just released yesterday for Record Store Day, featuring an all-star list of veterans covering their songs, including LCD Soundsystem, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Stephen Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Peaches & ESG. While the recently-retired LCD Soundsystem’s contribution will most likely get the most attention, the highlight for me is Debbie Harry‘s sublime cover of “Live Alone”. There is just something about her seasoned voice and delivery that makes the song much deeper and sadder. I might actually prefer it to the original for now. Stream both Debbie and LCD Soundsystem’s takes below.
Debbie Harry – Live Alone (Franz Ferdinand Cover)
LCD Soundsystem – Live Alone (Franz Ferdinand Cover)