Rufus Wainwright – Vibrate

Quick one today, but I’ve got to say that this Rufus Wainwright song, Vibrate, has always been one of my favorites of his. Again, I was introduced to this song when a friend put it on a mix for me some years back, and I think it’s especially ringing true these days. My phone’s on vibrate for a certain someone, you know who you are.

The cover today comes from youtuber satorihime. The video title says the singer is Leslie Winchester. What I love about this video is the singer’s angelic voice–complemented by the fact that, at certain angles, the picture frame in the background looks like a halo about her head. She’s got a full range that hits the high notes well and sometimes struggles a bit on the lower notes, but it’s not a desperate struggle. Rather, I think it adds a sense of anxiousness to the video, a feeling that goes well with the mood of the original. Another perk is the vibrato in her voice–no need to point out why this is an appropriate addition. Finally, most impressively, she succeeds at holding out the long note on the word “vibrate” at the very end of the video, a skillful feat considering it lasts about 5 measures through a tempo that is considerably slower than the Rufus Wainwright’s original. Enjoy the song here:

And be sure to check out the original: Rufus Wainwright’s Vibrate


Covers of Covers: Jackie DeShannon, Kim Carnes — Bette Davis Eyes

We’ve done a few covers of covers here, including Train Song, originally by Vashti Bunyan and covered by Feist and Ben Gibbard, then redone by Lovers of the Month Pianki and KirstenMH. What I like about covers of covers is that each one, no matter how similar they may be (or not), has its own unique and individual nuances that make it personal to the artist who performs it. Today’s post shows the progression a single song can make through four decades and three genres. The song is Bette Davis Eyes, originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1974, covered by Kim Carnes in the 1980s, and recently re-covered again by today’s artist, My Gold Mask.

The original version is very clearly dated in the 1970s. It makes me wanna go to the disco! The cover by Kim Carnes is even more clearly dated in the 80s–what with the synth and all–and the video’s a classic. The cover we have today could arguably also be dated in the 20-aughts, but we’ll leave that discussion for another 10 years or so. It is, however, obviously modern in its sound, using the electric guitar and bass with a steady beat in place of the 80s synth and the brass horns and syncopation of the 70s version. It’s reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I can’t help but feel the rhythm is something common to classic alternative bands today. It’s a great cover, and I really like the progression you can see in the song. Unfortunately, I don’t have a video today, but you can listen to the song here, linked from the Bandcamp website:

Of course, what would the post be without the originals? Enjoy ’em here:

Jackie DeShannon’s 1974 original
Kim Carnes’ 1981 cover

Regina Spektor – Us

The movie (500) Days of Summer has perhaps put this particular Regina Spektor song on the map and reignited my love for her 2004 release Soviet Kitsch. In fact, I’ve been on kind of a Regina kick lately and it’s been oddly refreshing to go back and listen to some of the older songs. Us was actually the first song that I heard that made me decide I really did like Ms. Spektor way back in high school and it’s still one of my favourites.

anaker09‘s cover is done beautifully. The violin in the background adds a nice touch and complements his amazing singing voice. This cover has a much more folksy feel than the original which definitely wins these boys points for originality.

Our second cover was done by the lovely and talented MKreidler. It took me a while to catch on that she was doing the piano accompaniment as well as the singing, which is talent all on its own (I was never able to sync the two when I tried, but I suppose I’m not exactly what you’d call coordinated). Her voice is beautifully rich and smooth and she stayed very close to the original tempo of the song which I liked a lot.

And here is the original: Regina Spektor – Us

Also, if you haven’t seen (500) Days of Summer or checked out the soundtrack, I strongly recommend both of them.

Under Construction

Just a heads up: we’re working on changing the design of the site. Sorry for the mess! Don’t be alarmed if things change from day to day or minute to minute. We’ve still got great covers for you!

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
The Only Living Boy in New York
Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bon Iver – Re: Stacks

Hey everyone! I’m back from my unexplained two-month (or was it three-months?) hiatus! Finally, I know you’re saying to yourself. I apologize, profusely, as I have many times before for my unexplained absences. Fact is, I’m lazy–though I’m going to try to blame this one on my recent trip to Thailand, during which I rediscovered an old favorite: Bon Iver‘s Re: Stacks.

I feel like I say this a lot: “I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of _________, but I really like this song.” I guess I have to say it again, because, really, it’s true. Re: Stacks is a great song to fall asleep to, or just to listen to at any time when somber is the dominant mood. Today I’ve got two covers that are a great imitation of the original mood, and one that is so far from the original that I have to leave you to judge for yourself.

This first cover I found comes up first when searching youtube, so it’s quite a popular one that you may have heard already. It comes from the youtuber spenpee. All around a spot on cover: great acoustics thanks to some good recording equipment, singing on tune, high-quality musical accompaniment. I really like how he does Bon Iver’s original so well, so I hope you enjoy it as well:

The second cover is high up on the number of views, though it does not have as many as the first. It comes from youtube user elevensup, and I like the female voice covering the original. She’s got a strong voice that’s a little hard to hear on the lower notes, which I believe is also the same in Bon Iver’s original, but I think it maintains a powerful effect that adds a little bit of an exasperated feeling–going well with the mood of the original. A strong voice complemented by a strong strum on the guitar always makes for a good cover. Near the end, however, they play with the guitar rhythm and tempo, and I think it sounds good. I kind of wish they had done the whole cover that way. Anyway, here it is, and make sure you watch till the end!

This last one seems to be a diamond in the rough. Youtuber qossaftw proclaims it to be an acoustic rock cover. I think he’s definitely right about that–it’s got an upbeat tempo and a modified strum pattern, as wells as a percussive background. As one youtube comment suggests, it seems to be a midi drum there in the background, but you’ve got to give the guy credit for making the most out of what he’s got. While I certainly am not the biggest fan of punk rock/acoustic rock, I really have to give props to this cover for taking a somber song and making me wanna dance to it, even if just a little bit. Here it is, so enjoy:

And of course, here’s the original: Bon Iver – Re: Stacks on youtube

Thanks everyone for reading, even though I’ve been a bit bad at updating lately. I’ll try to get some more posts in soon.

Lovers of the Month — Pianki, KierstenMH

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 FoxesWhite 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:

He’s got some other originals, which you should also check out:
Buried in Winter (Jeff Pianki original)
Hello Bones (Jess Pianki original)
More on his youtube channel.

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