Hidden among the many mediocre covers of Lorde‘s “Royals” floating around was this little gem. The Kite String Tangle does a lovely, atmospheric, dream-pop rendition of Lorde’s “Tennis Court.” You can stream the song below.
One of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts is this one featuring Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow.
If all that isn’t enough for you, McMorrow also recorded an awesome “Wicked Game” cover. You can hear and download a remix of it below.
You can stream and download a free, legal mp3 of Mahler’s hearbreakingly beautiful final complete Symphony thanks to the National Youth Orchestra of Canada below.
Seesaw is the follow-up to Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s 2011 album, Don’t Explain, and features a diverse selection of covers originally recorded by artists such as Tina Turner, Al Green, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Ultimately, it’s a hit and miss collection, but the hits will knock you out.
Seesaw includes a superb version of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” and powerful performances of Al Green’s “Rhymes” and Buddy Miles’ “Miss Lady.”
I much prefer when the duo lets loose on the bluesier tracks. The decision to use nature sounds in the “Strange Fruit” cover feels like a misstep to me, and something more than a strong voice is needed when tackling a song made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. .
Variations of Chopin is a compilation featuring modern interpretations of works by my favorite classical composer, Fryderyk Chopin. Released by the small Scottish (by way of Poland) indie label Too Many Fireworks, Variations of Chopin puts an ambient and electro-pop spin on Chopin’s classical melodies.
The album is bookended by interpretations of “Prelude Op. 28 No. 7 in A Major.” Neil Milton’s straightforward but nonetheless pretty piano take is a very brief 48-second opener. Thankfully, Clem Leek’s magnificent, mindblowingly lovely finale of the same piece has an almost three minute life. But we’ll get to that later.
It’s during Black Antlers’ somewhat eerie rendering of “Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2 in D Flat Major” that you slowly become aware that this is not your standard classical album. Though the work’s central melody is tightly woven into the cover, there are just enough electronic embellishments to give it some extra oomph.
Miaoux Miaoux then completely abandons the classical realm for a full-on electro-pop cover of “Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1 in F Minor.” You would never guess all those beats and blips were born from a Chopin arrangement.
deSelby gives a beautiful, somewhat Baroque acoustic guitar cover of “Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E Flat Major.” Even if you don’t know the original Chopin composition, you may recognize the melody from the end of Muse’s “United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage.“
Some of the other covers are a tad too experimental for my taste, though I still admire the concept.
And then we have that spectacular finale. Clem Leek’s rendition pf “Prelude Op. 28 No. 7 in A Major” swirls with ghostly vinyl scratches, distant sparse piano, harmonica and creaky violins. It’s absolutely fantastic.
Allison Crowe has been a very busy girl this year. After a surprise cameo in the summer blockbuster movie Man of Steel and the release of her exquisite traditional folk covers album, Newfoundland Vinyl, Allison quickly rushed back into the studio to write, record, engineer, produce and create the cover art for her upcoming album, Heavy Graces. She only announced the album’s existence at the end of last month and Heavy Graces will be released tomorrow, October 15th, via Allison’s own Rubenesque Records.
Heavy Graces is comprised of five new, original Allison Crowe songs, a cover of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and two versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat.”
Allison’s delving into traditional folk music for Newfoundland Vinyl seems to have influenced her own songwriting. Songs like the opener “Through These Heavy Graces” and “You All Haunt Me” layer Allison’s lovely voice over simple but heartfelt folk acoustic arrangements. You can see the premiere of the “Through These Heavy Graces” video, featuring footage from Buster Keaton’s classic film The General, below.
Though Allison apparently only took up the fiddle for the recording of this album, she already sounds like a folk fiddle pro in the standout track “Words.” What a lush piece of work that song is! There’s a touch of Celtic folk in the instrumentation, haunting backing vocals and a slow building, seething tension until Allison unleashes her wail toward the end of the song. I’m very happy to be able to premiere and share the mp3 with you below. Update: I also created and premiered a new video for “Words” on November 22, 2013 and added it to the review below.
As I wrote when we premiered the video for her choral version of “Famous Blue Raincoat,” I couldn’t imagine even someone as talented as Allison successfully matching, let alone improving, Cohen’s original or Tori Amos‘ beautiful piano rendition. Yet where Cohen took the song to a melancholy depth and Tori gave it a bittersweet wistfulness, Allison gives the song a new feeling of suspense with a slightly faster pace and choral embellishments. Her cover at times recalls the elegance of Joan Baez‘ operatic folk rendering. And, as always, Allison’s vocal is gorgeous, multi-faceted and full of emotion and grace. You can stream the track and watch the video below.
Allison’s piano makes a very welcome return on her striking cover of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man.” I’m a Pearl Jam fan, so I don’t say this lightly: Allison Crowe’s cover of “Better Man” is better than the original. You can watch the video, featuring footage from the classic silent film Broken Blossoms, below.
On those two covers as well as the captivating original “Dissolve,” Allison once again uses layers of her own voice to mimic a backing choir. It’s a technique she developed for Newfoundland Vinyl, but she seems to have perfected it on Heavy Graces.
The original song lyrics on Heavy Graces seem to deal most often with regaining control of one’s own life, venting anger at and breaking free from oppressive influences and starting fresh with integrity intact. Whether such fierce and independent themes were born from the death of a relationship or Allison’s brief brush with Hollywood, it seems our favorite independent singer-songwriter is more determined than ever to forge her own path. I predict we’ll be seeing Allison Crowe not once but twice on our best of the year list.
Allison Crowe’s upcoming album, Heavy Graces, will feature two covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” and the video for the “Choral” version has just been released. The video sets Allison’s music to scenes from the classic Marlene Dietrich film, The Blue Angel. As much as I love Allison’s voice, I really couldn’t imagine any cover of “Famous Blue Raincoat” surpassing Cohen’s original or Tori Amos‘ beautiful piano rendition. Yet where Cohen took the song to a melancholy depth and Tori gave it a bittersweet wistfulness, Allison gives the song a new feeling of suspense with a slightly faster pace and choral embellishments. Her cover at times recalls the elegance of Joan Baez‘ operatic folk rendering. And, as always, Allison’s vocal is gorgeous, multi-faceted and full of emotion and grace. You can watch it below….
Buy @ Amazon (Available Oct. 15th)
Allison Crowe only announced her new album two weeks ago, but she’s already revealing the track list and setting a release date. Heavy Graces will be released on October 15th and you can view the track list, which includes not one but two covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” as well as a cover of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man,” below…
Heavy Graces Tracklist
1. Through These Heavy Graces (Allison Crowe)
2. Famous Blue Raincoat (choral) (Leonard Cohen)
3. You All Haunt Me (Allison Crowe)
4. Words (Allison Crowe)
5. Better Man (Eddie Vedder)
6. Control (Allison Crowe)
7. Dissolve (Allison Crowe)
8. Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen)
Buy @ Amazon (Available Oct. 15th)
“Naïve Melody (This Must Be The Place)” is one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, so I always enjoy hearing other artists cover it. I was especially excited to hear the new cover by The Lumineers, since I loved their self-titled debut so much. The cover is one of four previously unreleased tracks featured on the upcoming “Deluxe Edition” of their album – I really hate the “Deluxe” edition gimmick…just record a new album already! A great song covered by a great band should be great, no? Sadly, it’s a bit of a disappointment. It’s by no means bad, it is The Lumineers after all. But this particularly cover is lackluster compared to the Talking Heads’ quirky original or Shawn Colvin’s heartfelt cover (which remains the definitive version for me). You can stream The Lumineers’ cover below. If you like it, I highly recommend you check out Talking Heads original and Shawn Colvin’s cover (better yet, get Shawn’s entire Cover Girl album).