This section will normally be entitled “Cover of the Week” but because this is the first post, we’ve got a little catching up to do.
Angus and Julia Stone vs. DWNTWN
The song for this week was “Big Jet Plane,” originally recorded by Angus & Julia Stone and covered by DWNTWN. I have no idea how that’s supposed to be pronounced. Here’s a little bit of background on the two bands. You can find all this great info on the wonderful site entitled Wikipedia, but I’ll save you the trouble of a Google search. Angus and Julia are siblings. They have an older sister who apparently doesn’t contribute to their awesome indie band. They all grew up in Australia. Fun fact (that I find fun but you will probably find boring): They released the single “All The Boys” on the day I turned eighteen. DWNTWN, on the other hand, appears to be nonexistent in the internet world except a couple of reviews talking about how great they are. So yeah, they’re good. That’s really all you need to know about a band anyway. Now on to the cover!
So the original version of “Big Jet Plane” is pretty simplistic. What makes it so amazing is Angus’ voice—he’s a master of “The Croon”—and his harmonies with Julia are kind of ridiculous. Just sayin.
DWNTWN spins the song into a new kind of dance music that reminds me of a more relaxed Passion Pit. Rather than crooning (which would ruin the electronic vibe), the vocals are more of a whisper. I’d say DWNTWN was pretty successful in recreating the original, but you guys were unanimous in choosing Angus and Julia Stone as the creators of the superior version.
For this week: Gotye vs. Walk Off the Earth
It’s this new song I just found (I know. I’m so behind) called “Somebody I Used To Know” by Gotye. And the cover is done by this super cool band called Walk Off The Earth. They do the whole cover on one guitar. You should watch it. It’s crazy. Just a couple notes on this awesome video because I can’t stop myself.
- The guy on the far right is a boss.
- The guy in the middle seems unnecessarily angry. I’m not really sure what’s going on there.
Every week, pop workgroup shares the best additions to the pop vault. Read on!
Cheer-Accident – No Ifs Ands Or Dogs
Cheer-Accident: still looking good after seventeen
Chicago prog/avant-pop lifers continue to plough their own genre-defying furrow on No Ifs Ands Or Dogs, their 17th(!) studio album. They’ve toned down the experimentation a little bit, making this a good entry point for Cheer-Accident newbies but they still stay twisted, true to their idiosyncratic vision of rock music. Talk to metal director Charlie O’Hara about Cheer-Accident, he loves ‘em.
There are those albums that get plucked out of the pop bin and added to the shelf immediately and then there are those that waste away for months, collecting dust in a dark corner. The self-titled, debut album from Bennington College music collective BOBBY, was unfairly relegated to the ranks of the forgotten and assumed-to-be-awful. This week, though, we gave BOBBY a chance and were impressed with their rich acoustic sound and tasteful use of electronics. We’re sorry we thought you weren’t cool, BOBBY! What really matters is we’re friends now.
The tale is of a young man coming of age and facing, for the first time, the harsh circumstances surrounding his life. Feeling helpless to positively affect his abusive home life he resolves to run away, abandoning the emotional wreckage of his past in favor of a new life. On his own he quickly discovers that the outside world is not the warm and welcoming environment his youthful naivete had foreseen, but rather a cold and indifferent urban wasteland filled with specious comforts and perfidious companions. Far from achieving a paragon of success he realizes that indecision and insecurity are inextricable components of the human experience. Unable to reconcile his past, and struggling with growing regrets, his optimism is replaced with cynicism. This situation is further exacerbated by the drug induced death of his girlfriend. Then, after reaching the epitome of self-deprecating despondence, our main character awakens. His harrowing journey has been nothing more than a dream and he is left to contemplate the challenges of being a contributing and loving individual in a detached and hostile world.
This story reads like a post-modern novel exploring the growing alienated isolationism and the burden of optimism individuals face when attempting to navigate a path of goodness through the mechanics of a super-industrialized and thoughtlessly consumptive society. That this is the plot of a concept album titled “Zen Arcade” by the band Husker Du may not appear particularly striking, but noting that it is the focus of a double album by a band with roots deeply embedded in the early 80′s hardcore punk counterculture is practically stupefying. Hardcore, that bastion of youthful moral superiority, 50 second long songs, and unabashed musical inability, had never seen anything so ambitious. At the time of its release Zen Arcade was a breath of fresh air for a scene that had, in the name of nonconformity, developed a rigid and dogmatic doctrine governing the acceptable behaviors, appearances, and expressions of its participants.
In 1983 Husker Du, a hardcore band from the twin cities, began to explore melody while simultaneously experiencing a constantly expanding fan base. The band had just released their first record for Black Flag’s notorious label SST when they returned to California to lay out two dozen or so tracks for their most inspired and melodic release to date. Zen Arcade was recorded and mixed in a mere 85 hours with all but two of the recordings being first takes. The idea that a punk band could dare anything so indulgent as a double album concept record so impressed labelmates The Minutemen that Mike Watt and D. Boon furiously doubled the material they had prepared for their forthcoming album “Double Nickels on the Dime”.
The kids name is Wiki and he’s real young, you wouldn’t know that from his flow though. Its obvious that Wiki idolizes the 90′s, his rhymes and beats invoke the rawness embodied by everybody’s favorite “Old New York.” Wikispeaks is the standout track from Wiki’s EP 1993, which was released in October, just got the visual treatment and you should check it out here. If you dig the vibes cop his full EP for free off his bandcamp.
ABBA - Rivaled only by IKEA for greatest Swedish import to America
I love ABBA, and so should you.
Interested in melodies? ABBA has those. Interested in shiny polyester matching outfits? ABBA has it covered. Penchant for nonsensically referenced European history? Check. Complicated and dramatic interconnected personal lives of band-mates? Record sales in the tens of millions? Tales of jaunts to sex clubs with Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant? Catchy melodies and a movie-musical with Colin Firth? Check, check, check and check. ABBA has been recognized by the European community for their contributions to the audio arts as the winners of the 1974 Eurovision contest, and spawned one of the only commercially successful cover bands of all time, the A*Teens.
Although ABBA is a common sight in many people’s music libraries, questions about their presence almost always results in explanations and apologies, rather than excitement and acceptance. It is not far out of the realm of possibility to think of guilty shoppers hiding ABBA purchases in brown paper bags and taking furtive glances at their stash. The time has come for this to change.
In order to correct this injustice, WOBC presents, for your listening and viewing pleasure, a brief list of ABBA related resources:
For the ABBA proficient: Muriels Wedding, A fab movie that follows an ABBA fanatic on her way to the altar.
For the ABBA newcomers: ABBA Gold, the most recognizable hits.
Think you are too hardcore for ABBA? You are wrong, but until you become enlightened, try http://www.gabba.co.uk/, the website of a Ramones-style ABBA cover band. ABBA is everywhere. Long live ABBA.
“You Keep Me Hangin On,” written by legendary Motown production and songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, was originally recorded by The Supremes in 1966. Since then it has been become one of the most often covered songs in the Supremes’ catalog.
After running across the 1969 Vanilla Fudge single in the vault I was inspired to check out some of the numerous re-recordings of the song. As you can see, few live up to the high bar set by the Supremes’ version.
Every week, pop workgroup shares the best additions to the pop vault. Read on!
This week in pop workgroup we had the honor of meeting Ken “Flying Saucer Man” Rhoten. Ken ‘s only release, a collection of folksy ballads, was recorded in 1977 but hasn’t seen a proper release until now. He plays piano, he sings with the fire of a thousand 70′s folk singers, and you get the undeniable swag of listening to “outsider art.” Don’t let the unadorned Memorex CD-R deter you, this one’s a keeper.