And here’s the second part of Fourteen Awesome Covers from 2008. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll most likely be familiar with a few of these entries, but they certainly bear repeating. In any case, I hope you dig the rest of the list! I’m going to take a little break for holiday stuff, but I’ll return with a new post on Friday. So, have good holidays yourselves and look for more year-end fun coming soon, including my favorite EPs and albums of 2008.
Though Justice‘s remix of MGMT‘s Prince-lite single, “Electric Feel”, may be approached more traditionally than Panda Bear’s take on “Boneless”, it remains only slightly less transformative. They don’t leave much untouched here, altering song structure, instrumentation, pacing… and even though the original vocals remain, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have upped the effects on them quite noticeably. The results absolutely destroy the original; Justice’s trademark synth and bass combo, accented by string hits, surging horns, and a syncopated, Daft Punk-style breakdown near the song’s close, provide a much need backbone to the track. This kind of sex-in-the-digital-age anthem (“Baby girl, turn me on with your electric feel”) should have always sounded like this.
And what 2008 retrospective could be complete without mention of Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit’s project, The Very Best? These guys should win any and all “blog darling” awards; they charmed the hell out of just about anyone who listens to music and puts a finger to keyboard. They also recorded a whole lot of great tracks for their self-titled mixtape that essentially amount to covers, and after sorting through them all I’ve finally settled on a couple favorites. I didn’t think Vampire Weekend‘s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” could be any more likeable, but Esau and Radioclit get it there by heading back to its roots, turning it into an all-out Afropop party jam, while The Ruby Suns lend a hand with The Very Best’s complete reinvention of “Birthday”. Ryan McPhun and Esau trade vocals over a dense psychedelic canvas, managing to breathe new life into one of the most played out Beatles songs. Check out that mixtape if you haven’t already done so and get ready for the official debut album, which comes out sometime in 2009. [Original Post] [#2]
Download: The Very Best – Birthday (Feat. The Ruby Suns) (The Beatles cover)
Buy: The Very Best Mixtape is available for free over at their myspace page.
I don’t think there’s much question that the tidal wave of tropical sounds that’s presently cresting over the West has bestowed us with some of the finest records in 2008. The peak of that crest certainly includes the releases of like-minded globalist-pop crafters The Ruby Suns and El Guincho, and considering that Ryan McPhun has already shared the stage with Pablo Díaz-Reixa, perhaps this cover was inevitable. Trading El Guincho’s set of energetic Caribbean influences for more subdued Caribbean influences, The Ruby Suns’ take on “Palmitos Park” is just one more reason I hope this wave never breaks. [Original Post]
Since the announcement of Merriweather Post Pavilion, the last few months of 2008 have turned into a waiting game for Animal Collective fans. To help pass the time until January 2009, many have delved into the number of live bootlegs circulating the internet, and some have even tried their hand at covering a few of those unreleased tracks. The output from Blind Man’s Colour (a.k.a. Collected Animals user “Pavey Bare”) has been the best by far, his sparse versions of “Taste” and “In the Flowers” became fixtures of my pre-MPP listening rounds (along with the Hove Festival bootleg). Stripped down to a bare minimum of guitar, voice, and simple percussion, these covers are more Sung Tongs than Merriweather Post Pavilion and will surely serve as interesting antitheses to the sleekly produced studio cuts. [Original Post]
Download: Blind Man’s Colour – In the Flowers (Animal Collective cover)
Buy: Blind Man’s Colour is currently looking for a label to release their debut record, but check their myspace for updates.
Here in America, 2008 was a year that signaled a distinct political shift with the historic election of Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, many bands and musicians threw their support behind Obama in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (“Noise for Obama”, anyone?). Wilco decided to encourage voter participation by offering a free mp3 of their cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”, recorded live in Bend, Oregon with support from the golden voices of Fleet Foxes, to anyone who “pledged to vote in the 2008 Election”. Yeah, it’s doubtful that this had a real impact on the outcome, but indeed we were released from another four years of guaranteed blatant condescension and international aggression. Here’s hoping that the next four years turn out to be a little better.
Download: Wilco and Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan cover)
Buy: Pick up Wilco’s latest (Sky Blue Sky) from Nonesuch Records and Fleet Foxes’ self-titled, debut full-length from Sub Pop Records in CD, vinyl, or digital format.
A Few More Awesome Covers: