I’m going to preface this post by saying that one of my favorite artists is Sufjan Stevens (but you already knew that). He uses a lot of instruments and rhythms that you will never find in your everyday pop music. Clarinets, trumpets, banjos–they’re not in every song but you’ll hear them every once in a while. On the other hand, he’s got the oboe, which, in popular music, is very, very rare. He’s also got songs written in 3/4 time (uncommon but not rare) 6/8 (a bit rare) and, apparently, really crazy things like 18+17+17+13/16. His music is an utter balderdash that somehow comes together in a unique and unifying theme, and for that, I (am in) love (with) him.
This is also the reason that I like Jeff Pianki, on youtube as pianki. I think he’s got the same creative flow coming from him in that he uses whatever instruments to create the perfect composition, even if those instruments are non-traditional. You’ve seen the rest of the covers we’ve posted here; they mainly feature acoustic guitar. Every now and then you’ll see a banjo, ukelele, piano/keyboard, or, in a recent post, a gameboy, but I’ve never seen a saw played in a cover on youtube. That’s right. A freakin’ saw. I know this is a common instrument in folk bands, but on youtube it’s difficult to come by a cover that features a saw. Pianki also uses a keyboard-type instrument, I think the ones called bells (but correct me if I’m wrong). Again–very few and far between on youtube.
This first cover is probably one of my favorites. It’s Train Song, originally by Vashti Bunyan, but Pianki and KierstenMH are re-covering the more recent cover by Ben Gibbard and Feist. This is the cover that features the saw. Additionally, this is a collaboration between two youtubers, which, as I have said before, is great because it’s two people making music because they love to make music. I love the whole spirit of this endeavor, and the video’s great. Check it out here:
This next cover’s a repeat. We’ve already posted a cover of Fleet Foxes‘ White Winter Hymnal. However, this one is also a well-done collaboration between Pianki and KierstenMH. Pianki uses the bells again, and his friend Jaytee (who was also in the cover of Decatur by Sufjan Stevens a while back) adds to the harmonies. A nice cover worth re-posting:
Although Jeff Pianki can orchestrate a great song using many different parts, he also is quite skilled at recasting a song by himself, with just the two layers of vocals and guitar. This next cover of Mona Lisa by Von Bear demonstrates that he can still create a simple yet full song on his own:
If you’re not convinced about pianki’s musical genius, then check out one of his original songs. He has many on his youtube channel, and this one if one of my favorites. It’s called Seeds in the Ground, and you can view it here:
Also check out these covers featuring Jeff Pianki by himself:
The Transifiguration by Sufjan Stevens covered by pianki
I am Trying to Break Your Heart by Wilco covered by pianki
And lastly, I really like this song done by KierstenMH, who collaborated with pianki on Train Song and White Winter Hymnal. I’m hoping to feature more by this talented musician later, but for now, I hope you enjoy this cover of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. Anyway, the scenery is beautiful (according to the URL it was filmed by her brother) and it is complemented by her voice and guitar so very nicely. Check it out here:
These are two great musicians who are making their start on youtube. I really recommend checking them out, so be sure to hop on over to their youtube/myspace pages.
And as always, I have the originals for you.
Train Song by Vashti Bunyan
Train Song covered by Ben Gibbard and Feist
White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes
Mona Lisa by Von Bear
The Transfiguration by Sufjan Stevens
I am Trying to Break Your Heart by Wilco
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen