Hotel Mexico have so much exciting news to share with the world today, that a cover of a song by Ed N.Stead (an artist who, based on a Google search, released one album) isn’t the most exciting. The Kyoto group have launched a new web page which looks quite nice, and even better, they have a show lined up in America for this August. They will travel to New York to play The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (look here), so if you are in the area you best go to watch them and make me immensely jealous. And yeah, a cover of a song from an obscure artist, which is fine and all too. Watch that above.
This might be face-palm obvious, but the music media moves in cycles. Genre A might be popular this month, but give it some time and Genre B will be the one suddenly being upped by Diplo and written about by the New York Times. Funny thing is, the same applies to the contemporary music media discussing older artists. Case in point – My Bloody Valentine, who recently reissued their beloved catalog to a flourish of 10.0s and interviews. It isn’t shocking that lots of people are writing about My Bloody Valentine, yet what happens is MBV start seeping into other features and reviews that shouldn’t need to – like, oh, this one. My Bloody Valentine are the cool throwback of the moment.
At one point, Galaxie 500 sat in that position. Pitchfork wrote this oral history about them, and for a second they seemed to be the new “influential” group. Yet, like all of these revivals, that passed. Nagoya’s Pop-Office covered Galaxie 500’s Twinkie-anthem “Strange” recently, and it’s a fitting move for a group intent on doing what they want rather than what the blog-world demands. Their take on “Strange” sounds rougher, a little louder and more coarse, but still graced with the same floating beauty as the original. Galaxie 500 aren’t the cool sound of this instance, but their music remains great, more than an ABA throwback jersey. Pop-Office similarly don’t sound “cool,” but they sound great, so this is a lovely crossing. Listen below.
Osaka indie-pop outfit Wallflower posted a cover of The Field Mice’s “This Love Is Not Wrong” online over the weekend, and its definitely worth taking a listen to. For the most part, Wallflower’s take on the track doesn’t break new ground – something something jangle something something twee – save for the vocals. Whereas The Field Mice original leaves the singing untouched and in the open, Wallflower’s vocalist gets pushed a little deeper into the mix and surrounded by sparkles, which is me trying to describe Wallflower sounding “dreamy” without using the word “dreamy.”
The current boom in Japanese indie-pop has resulted in a lot of good music…this cover being a fine example…but at the same time the whole thing comes off as a bit too backward looking, a little too content to stare wide-eyed at the past and replicate those times. I like the original songs these groups do – Wallflower’s “Cure For Your Heart” is a good example, or just as recently Post Modern Team’s “Never Let You Down” – but there has also been a rise in cover songs that just don’t add much to the conversation besides “remember this, that was great.” I like The Field Mice and The Smiths and all the stuff covered on the JPN C86 tape as much as the next melancholy blogger, but indie-pop is all about creation, of picking up whatever instrument you have and creating something with it. I love the original stuff coming out as they really represent the DIY nature of indie-pop, but all these covers seem a bit too nostalgic.
Or cover “Emma’s House,” I wouldn’t whine about that.
I guess this is the week lots of folks in Japan decided to make acoustic covers. Yesterday, three loveable people turned Perfume’s “Laser Beam” into a guitar-powered slice of cuteness, and today indie-pop outfit Traffic Light tackled Teenage Fanclub’s “I Don’t Want Control Of You.” The Scottish group’s 1997 single proves to be right up Traffic Light’s alley, though, as the Tokyo band just remove everything but the acoustic guitar and go to work. This take is also a step slower than the original – watch the Teenage Fanclub version here, by the way – but ultimately not that huge a diversion. Unlike, say, turning a technopop song into a campfire sing-a-long. Listen below.
Usually, I hate these sort of YouTube videos of people armed with acoustic guitars and sub-college-a-cappella singing covering pop songs. Yet, I am OK with Goosehouse’s take on Perfume’s “Laser Beam,” which you can watch above. I am not willing to go as far as one YouTube commenter who wrote “might just be better than the original” (wrong-o) but it’s a cute and catchy take on the original that stays true to the source material. Karmin, take note. Shouts out to J-Rock Explosion for posting this first.
This also serves as one final reminder that I spent a week of my life writing about Perfume’s music over at One Week, One Band. Check out my posts…in chronological order!…right here.
In which pop-spazz EeL looks at all the people disappointed in the forced zaniness of last year’s For Common People by giving them something truly zany and out of nowhere, a cover of “All That She Wants.” OK, she probably didn’t pay any attention to the folks let down by her last album, but her take on one of Ace Of Base’s most popular tunes restores faith. It follows up her late-2011 single “Fuwafuwa Pink Jellyfishes Floating In The Sky,” which also saw EeL edging back towards a more enjoyable craziness. Her version of “All That She Wants” finds EeL singing the words in a way barely different from the original, but with the background gone wild. The music jumps from drum-n-bass inspired jittering to steel-drum accented portions back to the jittering. This is vintage EeL, jumping between aggressive and melodic segments but in such a way it still feels like a cohesive song. Watch the video below.
Perfume’s “Chocolate Disco” describes Valentine’s Day through the eyes of a high school student, the narrator observing how her classroom turns into a dance floor on the 14th. The music, appropriately, is a confectionery bop capped by a adorable chorus. Zana Caroline takes the chorus of “Chocolate Disco” and transforms it into “Schokoladige Disko,” a song that is certainly not conjuring up the feeling of purchasing peanut butter cups at Target for your fifth-period crush. This is shadow-draped dance music with a sinister streak, the chorus that Perfume delivered with such glee turned into this dead-eyed thing that is really quite hypnotic. The lyrics on Caroline’s version stay pretty faithful to what the lyrics in the original focus on, but delivered in an icy way that turns them from innocence to desperation.
Yet what prevents “Schokoladige Disko” from being a clever gimmick and rather a really good song is that it remains just as dancey as Perfume’s version, albeit with an entirely different mood swapped in. Yeah, Caroline’s Valentine’s Day drops the candy-shell of Perfume’s take in favor of chewing on icicles, but you can still move to it. Listen below.
Go here for the original post, and the song. Zana Caroline songs here.
When talking about Friends, it’s usually easiest to say something about how this Tokyo-based group takes lots of cues from surf rock. I’ve done it countless times…see The Japan Times today…but the funny thing is Friends don’t just worship at the temple of Brian Wilson. They’ve covered The Suicide Machines before, and they’ve professed a deep love for Japanese punks Hi-Standard. Now comes a new cover song that finds them tackling a surprising song. Turns out…Frineds got the moves like Jagger (sorta).
Yep…they covered Maroon 5’s “Won’t Go Home Without You,” a 2007 single. Truth be told, I never would have noticed this was a Maroon 5 joint because 1. Friend’s feedback-blasted take makes it sound more in line with the songs on Let’s Get Together Again and 2. I completely missed the Maroon 5 song…it came after “Makes Me Wonder” which I’ll cop to liking a bit (great chorus)! So for the most part this sounds like another jaunty Friends’ song that happens to have Maroon 5 lyrics. On the band’s Facebook page, they wrote “a girls pop band’s playing maroon 5 in my head. then made it.” Nice little surprise. Listen below.
Posted in Music
Tagged cover, frie, maroon 5
Dear Spangle Call Lilli Line,
I’m an incredibly stupid person and I thought you should know this.
See, I listened to your New Season EP a few weeks ago and raved about it. And that still stands…great little EP! Problem is, I was not aware that IT WAS MOSTLY AN ALBUM OF COVERS. Well, not completely…opener “Seventeen” and third track “Summer’s End” seem to be originals (listen to both here!), but I also assumed EP standout “For Rio” was also a new track. Nope, and nope. This is the THIRD time you guys have covered it, though I’d argue this version stands as the best yet. Still, I made some bad bad assumptions.
Thankfully, your recently released Piano Lesson album helped me to catch this error. The title, coupled with New Season’s mission, clued me into what was going on – a collection of piano-centric covers of Spangle Call Lilli Line songs. The album itself sounds fine, slightly moody takes on songs that help make them feel softer, like putting a pillowcase bought from Etsy over an already-nice pillow. Some songs even come out better – the vocal rippling on “Limi Side Schedule” replicating the muffling of the original but in smaller doses of weird. Plus it just sounds more…fragile? I prefer the driving force of New Season overall, but Piano Lesson is a fine-enough listen. And a great way to get familiar with a song catalog that is more sprawling than a jabroni like me expected.
If we run into one another, I’ll buy you a drink. Take care!
The above is a clip of a relatively recent song courtesy of Australian pop singer Che’Nelle? Listen to the whole thing here. Notice anything strange about it? Well, give it a second and if it still doesn’t click…
Yep, Che’Nelle actually recorded a sunshine-jacked cover of Moumoon’s creepy 2010 single “Sunshine Girl.” I initially heard the Che’Nelle version while sitting in Osaka’s new Burger King, and when I focused on those lyrics something in my head said “uhhhhh, dude, put the chicken sandwich down, this sounds familiar.” And then that chorus…except in the hands of Che’Nelle (real name Cheryline Lim) all the bizarreness of Moumoon’s original gets whited out in favor of typical summer bubblegum. Not to say it’s devoid of charm…instead of awkward Lynchian English, Che’Nelle gives us the unintentional gutbuster “9 to the eight/I feel so great/7 to the 6/need my hair fixed/5 to the 4 whatcha waitin’ for/3 to the 2 to the 1/let’s go have fun!”
Switching gears a bit…how often do Western artists cover Japanese pop songs? And I don’t mean in a vaguely ironic Andrew W.K./Marty Friedman way…I mean straight-up seriously like what Che’Nelle does here. Plenty of J-Pop stars cover American tunes, but the other way around? Any examples? A Google search of “Western artists covering j-pop songs” just gives me Wiki pages about J-Pop and something ominously titled “K-Pop>J-Pop.”
Oh and Moumoon’s version really does kick the crap out Che’Nelle’s tarted-up take. The way she says “holiday” gets me everyday…and it sounds cool!