Category Archives: Covers by Lovers

Covers by Lovers — Sigur Rós

Oh-ho ho, man I just got back from a whirlwind trip around the Pacific. You may know that I’ve spent the last year in Korea, and I recently took a vacation to Guam, stopping in Japan on the way. Needless to say the language circuits of my brain are a little fried, having switched abruptly between Korean, Japanese, and English dialect, and sometimes I’m still tempted to order coffee in Korean down at the local shop–obviously to no avail. But this has had me thinking a lot about language and what I may or may not be missing when I try to eavesdrop on that foreign-language conversation around the corner.

That’s why today’s Covers by Lovers features Icelandic ensemble Sigur Rós, a group I admire for, among other things, performing in a language other than English. This is not to say that English is a horrible language or that singing in it has somewhat invidious overtones, but I really do appreciate a band that can do so well in the English-speaking market without actually singing in English. Of course there are other foreign artists who sing in English that I really admire–Peter, Bjorn and John for one, Bjork for another–but it’s nice once in a while to experience something so closely tied to the artists’ homeland and culture–the language.

Sigur Rós’s discography shifts between Icelandic and what is commonly translated as “Hopelandic”–also known as Vonlenska, “a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band.” Though the non-Icelandic-speaking community often loses out on the meaning and thus full impact of the song, a little research into translations can aid in the comprehension of the tone of the song. When all else fails, there is at least one amateur artist who covers these songs in English translation, and some of these covers can be found here today.

To ease into this bilingual escapade, let’s start with one that features no language. This is a simply- but well-done cover of the instrumental part of the song Ágætis Byrjun, from the synonymous album that really helped launch them into international acclaim. It comes from youtube user Markv86, which appears to be the online alias of a member of the band “Hangover Sunday”* The cover stays pretty loyal to the original version, but as Markv86 states on the youtube page, “it’s not 100% accurate.” Oh well, I think that can be chalked up to personalization that comes with the cover territory. Check it out here:

The next song can help my fellow Americans and basically anyone not from Iceland get a little better grasp on the full effect of the music of Sigur Rós. This is a cover of Heysátan, sung in English translation by youtuber TheRoyalRey. Now I know English and Icelandic are related, but much to my chagrin, this song is not titled “Hey Satan!” in English; rather, it means “Stack of Hay,” which becomes apparent with TheRoyalRey’s translation. All in all it’s a good cover. Where the original is heavy on strings, a xylophone, and brass, TheRoyalRey recasts the song into piano and guitar parts, along with vocals. I thought it was a rather creative take on a song with non-traditional pop-music instrumentals. Enjoy it here:

The next cover is also by youtuber TheRoyalRey. It’s an English translation cover of Hoppípolla. The instrumentals again are well done–recreating Sigur Rós’s music with traditional musical instruments. This one also shows a bit of creativity on the part of the author. The video is so interesting. According to the page on youtube, it comes from an 8mm film he found in the woods. What good luck! It fosters in me a sense of resourcefulness and makes me want to create things with the discarded (or perhaps unfortunately lost) relics of another’s life. Watch it here, then go out and find something:

Our last cover today comes from youtuber Brunchman. It’s another cover of Hoppípolla, but this time sung in the original Icelandic. Though the artist appears to be a native speaker of English, it’s nice to see a tribute to an Icelandic band in Icelandic! The video is also noteworthy because it shows the process of creating the work–multi-track vocals, keyboard, and guitar. It gives one an idea of how much work can go into a hobby for the simple love of creating music. It also gives us a look at his technical skill. Brunchman apologizes because “the vocals are extremely boy-bandish” (most likely due to the amount of reverb), but I appreciate them nonetheless. The solo guitar part in the background also adds a nice touch, though it may be a bit boyband-ish as well. In any case, it’s a well-done cover that clearly took weeks to put together, and for that, I share it with you here:

Be sure to check out the originals, too!

Ágætis Byrjun video
Heysátan from the Sigur Rós movie Heima
Hoppípolla from Heima

*end note: I know I’ve said in the past that this blog would only feature amateur covers, so I was on the fence about posting the first cover by Hangover Sunday. I looked at their youtube page, which redirected me to their website and myspace page, which claims they are unsigned. Whether or not they are considered professional or amatuer, I’m going to let it slide today because I really like this cover. Judge for yourself. Also, there’s another cover of doubtful amateur status below, but I enjoyed it so I thought I’d post it anyway. Enjoy!

Gobblidigook, covered by Appledog:

Covers by Lovers – Simon and Garfunkel

I’m on a roll, and you know what I haven’t done in a while? A Covers by Lovers post! That’s right, today’s post is dedicated to covers of none other than Simon and Garfunkel, an American classic duo who stays dear to everyone’s hearts. My favorite song by the duo is probably The Only Living Boy in New York, but they’ve got a number of other jewels as well, including today’s covers of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Mrs. Robinson, and Cecilia.

This first one is a cover of Mrs. Robinson, from the film The Graduate. Unfortunately I’ve only had the misfortune of watching this movie twice while very tired, which ended up with me yawning during the opening sequence and waking up during the end credits–don’t judge me, ’cause I’m gonna get around to watching the whole movie one day.

However, I still remember the song, and the first cover from a youtube duo named ShannonandNatalie has everything I love about the original: the folk overtones classically associated with Simon and Garfunkel and the harmonies in particular. The six-string along with electric bass provides a full sound that is hard to come by with a lot of acoustic covers. Additionally, I really enjoy the female voices in place of Simon’s and Garfunkels’. I don’t post a lot of female covers here, mostly because I think more guys post covers than girls, but their two voices have a really sweet sound that works well with the entire piece as a composition. Check it out here:

The next cover is also of Mrs. Robinson, from a duo under the name PomplamooseMusic. This cover is a more lively and modern take on the classic. I love the girl’s voice–it seems familiar, and I can’t pin down what artists exactly she sounds like, but I bet it’ll ring some bells in your head. The beat is taken up a bit and the guitar rhythm is skewed a bit from the original. What I love most about this piece is not only the additional instrumentation used–bells and a piano with hammers showing, for instance–but the multiple video tracks. It allows you to see the entire process of making a track and the work that went into creating this wonderful piece. This duo really loves music and you can tell they’re enjoying every bit of it! Here’s the vid:

The next cover is of the song Cecilia by youtubers LocalNativesBand, and what I really enjoyed about this version was the alternate instrumentation. They use everything from a tree to a chair, record it live outdoors, and have a great time doing so. On top of all that, they’ve got some great harmonies that sound really nice. I think it shows real creativity by the artists, and I hope you think the same. Check it out here:

Up next is my personal Simon and Garfunkel favorite, The Only Living Boy in New York. Trust me, I’ve tried for ages to find a great cover of this, and this is the only one I actually like. The others are good, but I like this one most because it branches out a little bit. The artist, okojim takes a lot of liberties with rhythm, and it makes it all the more fun. I also love the playful little riffs he does on his guitar. Watch here:

This next song also has a special place in my heart. It’s Bridge Over Troubled Water from their final studio album of the same name. I found a great cover of this song by Johnnie Cash and Fiona Apple on a post by our friend on the blogroll, Cover Lay Down. I like that version a lot, but I like these ones as well. The first cover comes from youtuber SmashSmay. I think he’s got a great voice which is accompanied by a rich and vibrant piano. The emotion in his singing is so full and it sounds Groban-esque at times. I hope you enjoy it as well:

This last one is my favorite. It’s another cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water from youtube user eeevee. I think it is very far removed from the original, and I think you’ll agree. It’s performed by what sounds like a live piano in the background with an electric guitar taking the lead. There are no no vocals, but only electricity flowing through this piece. There are many liberties taken, and you can tell the guitarist takes this classic hit and makes it his own. It reminds me of Lenny Kravitz’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on electric. It’s powerful and personal, but still faithful. Enjoy it here:

Now, it’s time to watch The Graduate. But first, check out the originals if you want:

Mrs. Robinson
Cecilia
The Only Living Boy in New York
Bridge Over Troubled Water

Covers by Lovers — The Postal Service part 2

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So let’s continue our first ever Covers by Lovers, this month featuring The Postal Service. They’ve received a lot of criticism, both good and bad. Among the good–they’re pretty creative, interesting use of electronic effects, ultra-catchy riffs and melodies (can you say Such Great Heights?), etc, etc. Among the bad–tends to sound whiny, possibly too melodramatic (what with all the pining for love/lost loves), annoying noises. Whatever your take on The Postal Service, I think you’ll at least find these covers of The District Sleeps Alone Tonight bearable, if not totally fall in love with them.

This first cover comes from a guy with the youtube nickname andymangold. He’s got a great tab at the beginning, and he takes a few liberties with the melody, which is definitely OK by me. He moves back and forth between a strong and steady rhythm and a more relaxed strum. An interesting composition in the end. He’s got some other covers you can watch after you watch his cover here:

BONUS!! He’s also got a video showing how he made an external hard-drive out of a moleskine notebook. As an avid moleskin fan, I have to say this rocks. Check it out here: andymangold makes an external hard drive out of a moleskine.

The next cover we have for you is by a guy from the Philippines under the alias jrdimaano07. He adds some interesting riffs, strums out the chords, and plays with the rhythm a little, making for an overall interesting cover. He’s also got some other covers, so check ’em out after watching this video:

Here’s where you can see the original: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service

Covers by Lovers — The Postal Service

We’ve hit our first major landmark here in the blogosphere: 1000 page hits! We never thought it would happen this quickly! Thanks to everyone who’s been reading and sharing our blog, and thanks to our friends on the blogroll who have linked to us. We really appreciate it, so to celebrate, we’re going to start the first of our monthly features, Covers by Lovers. Here we’ll be featuring many amateur covers of one professional artist.

thepostalservice1As this blog is meant to be a performance space for amateurs and a media outlet for covers, I think The Postal Service is an appropriate choice for a first professional artist to feature–after all, The Postal Service relies heavily upon electronic effects and electronic instrumentation. Amateur covers, on the other hand, tend to rely totally upon acoustic, non-synthesized instrumentation. There are, of course, exceptions, but most of the amateurs we feature here have just been hanging out in their bedrooms, playing the acoustic guitar, doing what they love. Rendering an electronic song acoustically and still making it sound good can be a daunting task, and this is why we’ve chosen The Postal Service for our first Covers by Lovers.

Our first cover that we will feature is of the song Sleeping In. I didn’t really like this song as much as the others on the album when I first heard it, but these covers are really catchy.

The first cover from youtuber Keyeul ends up being a composition with a full sound, despite having only voice and guitar. He sings the song an octave lower than Ben Gibbard, which I have to say, I like a lot better than the high voice that Gibbard has. What makes this better is the tabbing! It’s amazing! He even shares the tabs on the video page. Check out his song here:

The next cover I’ve got for you, from a guy on youtube called TheSlurgi also features an interesting tabbed part. The sound quality on this one isn’t as good, but it’s a good song nonetheless. Also, TheSlurgi’s got some other interesting covers, and he seems to be pretty skilled at playing classical guitar songs–my favorite is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Check out his other videos, but look at this one first:

Here’s the original (but I like these covers better): Sleeping In by The Postal Service

I know, I know, there are supposed to be many covers by one professional, but we’ve only featured one song here! BUT stay tuned for more covers of the Postal Service tomorrow!