Category: YouTube

Anti-Festival Coverfolk:
The Best of Couch By Couchwest 2012

March 18th, 2012 — 09:25 pm

South By Southwest, the hippest multi-day, multi-venue industry bash in all the land, has finally drawn to its inevitable conclusion, and all across the country, artists and music bloggers are stumbling back to their daily lives a little wiser, a little wearier, and a whole lot more hungover.

There’s a tiny fragment of my heart that lives forever in jealousy of those musicians, promotional types, and hard-core blog-authors who clutter my feed with their legendary experience this time of year. But although I have spent much of the past week living vicariously through the frantic tweet and status updates of those brave enough to waive sleep and comfort for a chance to wander the long city-wide party, I’ve also been cheating a bit on the side, lurking around over at virtual anti-festival Couch By Couchwest, a tongue-in-cheek blog-based collaborative experience designed especially for those of us who have neither the time nor the youthful energy to couchsurf in Austin this time of year.

Just as SXSW brings together musicians and industry types, so has CXCW served as a fine meeting of the minds, bringing the famous to hobnob with the fans, both of whom were invited to post and participate in the community through commentary and collaboration. Yer Bird Records, of whom we are eternal fans, were a fine sponsor, soliciting a haiku contest, and exemplary sessions from John Statz, Hezekiah Jones, and more. Most significantly, from our own nicheblog perspective, in order to best approximate the live experience, musicians were invited to post songs from their own couches and practice spaces, thus forming the nucleus of the festival experience through vicarious sessioning. And though it was a bit less sweaty in cyberspace, just as one might have found in the live venues the festival was designed to mimic, some of them chose to take on coverage.

To be fair, we’re a bit worn out from our own early weekend post – a quite popular feature that took on the folkways of the heavy metal movement through the coverage of 14 fine folk and acoustic musicians – and from our secret Facebook-only St. Pat’s set, which found us sharing 8 fine folkcovers of songs by Irish band U2, including a rare acoustic take on Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For from none other than indie goddess Sara Bareilles. But it is Sunday, after all – the day we usually share our thoughts with you, the readers and fans. So here’s an appropriately quick and dirty feature set of coverfolk highlights from Couch By Couchwest that made us proud to be part of the crowd.

Matthew Ryan: Mama You’ve Been On My Mind (orig. Bob Dylan)

John Statz: It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (orig. Bob Dylan)

Ryan Montbleau: Ain’t Nobody’s Business (orig. Taj Mahal)

Blackwater Jukebox ft. Sadie & The Blue Eyed Devils: Mr. Vain (orig. Culture Beat)

Phil Norman: Become You (orig. Amy Ray)

Paul Otteson: Curious Scar (orig. Dietrich Gosser)

Hollysdollar: Vampyre (orig. AA Bondy)

Josie Little: This White Circle (orig. Kitty Wells)

Strand of Oaks: Long Desert Train (orig. Jason Molina)

Wess Floyd: Nebraska (orig. Bruce Springsteen)

Black Twig Pickers: Going Down That Road Feeling Bad (trad.)

Cory Branan: Bad Moon Rising (orig. Creedence Clearwater Revival)
An encore performance from Couch by Couchwest 2011!

Bonus track: Hezekiah Jones’ amazing cover of Chris Bathgate’s Last Parade on Ann Street isn’t available for embedding, but it is absolutely worth the visit to the main CXCW site…and a great way to start your journey through the archives of this incredible festival.

1 comment » | Festival Coverfolk, YouTube

‘Tube Thursday: New Video Cover Projects
take on the Guy Clark, Grateful Dead, and Leonard Cohen songbooks

February 9th, 2012 — 08:24 pm

It’s not the newest trend in the webiverse. See, for example, Hangin’ Out On E Street, the Bruce Springsteen-solicited covers project we noted way back in February of 2009, or The Stand Ins project, which had Bon Iver, The New Pornographers, David Vandervelde, and other indie names taking on the tracks from Okkervil River album The Stand Ins as it was released in 2008.

But the songwriter-specific video covers project concept seems to be peaking, with several major collections in process as we speak. Today, we present our favorite submissions from three new multi-artist coverage sets, granting us new glimpses into the songbooks of Guy Clark, The Grateful Dead, and Leonard Cohen…plus a few bonus vids we’ve had kicking around from another project with a very different focus, indeed.

The modern trend towards the slow, track-by-track leak of impending albums as distributed blog-by-blog exclusives intersects with the video cover project conceit in Old Ideas With New Friends, designed to raise awareness of Old Ideas, Leonard Cohen’s newest album, among a broad set of younger listeners by connecting his older songbook to the new, predominantly indie inheritors of his dark narrative style. You gotta admire the conceit of coverage as album promotion – it worked for Peter Gabriel and Okkervil River, after all – and though the central genre connection here is broad alternative and hipster indie, not folk, after only five installments, the inevitable crossover has produced some fine versions, with more to come from Old 97s’ Rhett Miller and The New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, among others.

As a dubious bonus, of sorts, the project’s use of Vimeo’s precise sharing and embedding parameters show exactly how artists and labels can regain full control of the viral spread of media content without having to rely on broad-ranging, baby-with-the-bathwater law like SOPA or PIPA. Which is to say: you really must hear John Darnielle of The Mountain Goat’s sweet solo piano-driven cover of The Smokey Life, but you’ll have to head over to either Consequences of Sound or Vimeo to do it, as blog-embedding for the track is currently limited to that one major blog which managed to garner exclusive contract for first release. Luckily, after a similar short-lived period of exclusivity, the others in the project so far have now been made available to all of us. Here’s two that fit our mold.

Brandford Cox: Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (orig. Leonard Cohen)

Greg Dulli: Paper Thin Hotel (orig. Leonard Cohen)

As of the turn of the year, the official Grateful Dead page hosts The Dead Covers Project, a growing set of ‘tube-shared fan coverage – I’d use the term officially sanctioned, if it were not for the fact that, for a band which practically made its name through supporting the bootleg as a viable and supported mechanism of fan participation, the term seems fundamentally meaningless. The page will be featuring a new fan-made video every day in February, spreading the love…but in the end, like YouTube writ large, the project’s corporate underbelly hides a viable way to turn amateur status into gold: five of the videos will be “chosen” in March, and their artists’ profiles featured on the Dead’s online properties, and in the 2012 edition of the Grateful Dead Almanac, thus garnering VIP access to one of the largest music communities standing today.

Unlike other notables in today’s set, the Dead Covers project is truly amateur-oriented, with voting pushing fan favorites to the top of the home page; Dead fans being attuned to nuance in performance, the top of the list is quite good indeed, though the average Dead fan’s willingness to allow ragged recording quality after years of tape trading seems to favor interpretation over sound caliber. Still, a bit of digging after skimming the top of the list reveals hidden gems that linger, too. Here’s five favorites from the newest part of the vault.

Amal Bouhabib & Jeff Malinowski: Cassidy (orig. Grateful Dead)

Lauren Crow: Been All Around This World (orig. Grateful Dead)

JanelleVibes: Wharf Rat (orig. Grateful Dead)

Birdhouse: Here Comes Sunshine (orig. Grateful Dead)

Rob & Tom Wolfson: Deep Elem Blues (orig. Grateful Dead)

Townes Van Zandt contemporary and Red House Records recording artist Guy Clark’s been getting a heap of late-career recognition lately, thanks to This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, a two-disc set that finished January near the top of several major Country and Pop charts. But twelve-track companion piece Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool Ya: The Sin City Sings the Songs of Guy Clark over at Country-slash-Americana blog Turnstyled, Junkpiled is equally delightful, and a bit closer to the Americana and folk lines, thanks to a dozen LA musical acts that came together to pay tribute to the man and his music on streetcorners, stages, and studios, and in their living rooms.

We posted The Far West’s slow, boozy contribution to the project last week, claiming that its classic Gram Parsons vibe made it perfect for the No Depression crowd; it still remains a favorite. But these solo takes from Wic Coleman and Jackson Tanner are equally great in their own way, with a bit more of the dusty troubadour vibe which made Clark so vibrant in concert, for those of us lucky enough to have seen him perform in bare-bones form. And the full collection bears further note: if you like your folk on the country line, and you’re willing to accept a few tracks with the drums-and-bass so typical of barroom country among the more delicate, raw works, take a gander at every video over at the project page.

Jackson Tanner: Queenie’s Song (orig. Guy Clark)

Wic Coleman: She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (orig. Guy Clark)

In other cover project news: it’s not new, and it’s not focused around a single artist; its videos are not solicited, but sought out, and then filmed in a consistently intimate black and white style that has us zooming in on artists in their home environs as each one speaks into the camera, contextualizing our experience, before picking up their instrument and amazing us with raw beauty. But the continued great works from The Voice Project – a non-profit that uses its ongoing coverage chains to raise awareness for displaced women in Uganda – just keep on coming, and if you’re not a subscriber to their email blasts, thus ensuring that you don’t miss a single new video, you should be. Check out two fave vids from the project below, and then head on over to The Voice Project to browse, subscribe, donate, and fall in love.

Cillie Barnes: Million Dollar Bill (orig. Dawes)

Ben Sollee: Real Life (orig. Joan As Police Woman)

Looking for more video and streaming coverage throughout the week, including previews and bonuses from the blog and beyond? Don’t forget to check out and “like” the Cover Lay Down Facebook page!

Comment » | Grateful Dead, Guy Clark, Leonard Cohen, YouTube

YouTube Thursday: Noah & Abby Gundersen
cover CSNY, Feist, and Dylan with family & friends, and steal my heart

January 12th, 2012 — 10:38 pm

You know how sometimes something wonderful and new just falls out of the ether into your consciousness, and changes your life?

Ever had it happen twice in a 24 hour period?

I didn’t go looking for Noah and Abby Gundersen; they simply showed up on the radar unannounced, first in an omnibus post over at Songs For The Day, which led me to a heavenly, almost-a capella four-part take on Helplessly Hoping recorded, gloriously, in a freaking cathedral, and then tonight, alongside a few familiar and beloved faces (David Bazan! William Fitzsimmons!), in this passalong from Kirsten via Chad.

A little delving turned up a spotty half-decade of delicate indiefolk flirtations from the young pair, who have been playing together since he was 15 and she was 12, with and without siblings and other friends, under various names, in the Pacific Northwest. Of these, I’m loving some of the more recent YouTube videos out there, most especially the sparse and acoustic stuff. But I’m utterly floored by both last year’s Family, and by 2009 release Saints and Liars – two EPs built upon Noah’s songwriting, but which also feature Abby on violin and sibling vox – and plan to spend the next few days steeping in them, reveling in the intimate echoes of Fleet Foxes, Ryan Adams, and more which emanate from my speakers like overheard angels.

Check out the whole Cathedral series, and both EPs, to fall in love for yourself. But first, watch and listen in to the wholly stunning videos that made me so sure these were the voices who would be haunting my days and nights for the coming months, warming my heart in this finally snow-capped winter.

The Gundersen Family: Helplessly Hoping (orig. CSNY)

David Bazan, Chris Carrabba, William Fitzimmons, Noah & Abby Gundersen:
I Shall Be Released
(orig. Bob Dylan)

Noah & Abby Gundersen: Let It Die (orig. Feist)

Abby & Noah Gundersen: How My Heart Behaves (orig. Feist)

PS: want more coverfolk throughout your week, including bonus finds and previews of upcoming features? Why not subscribe to our facebook page…where recent posts include a delicate, sparse cover of David Rawling’s Bells of Harlem by Lisa Hannigan and James Vincent McMorrow, Frazey Ford of the Be Good Tanyas covering Dylan, Bryan John Appleby covering Paul Simon on the most recent Fuel/Friends Chapel Session, and a link to a full two-hour concert of Bill Morrissey covers from Mark Erelli, John Gorka, Anais Mitchell, Cliff Eberhardt, and more!

1 comment » | Noah and Abby Gundersen, YouTube

Triple ‘Tube Tuesday: ortoPilot
covers Oasis, Massive Attack, & Hope, with 22 more to come by Christmas!

December 13th, 2011 — 12:16 pm

After five years of streamed video coverage, three original albums, and eight LPs of downloadable covertunes, this year’s Advent Calendar from well-known YouTube coverfount ortoPilot (aka Manchester-based multi-instrumentalist Matt Hutchison) is a thing of joy and wonder: 25 coversongs, released one a day until Christmas, and though many of them come pop-polished and high-concept, already I’ve fallen in love.

ortoPilot’s folkier, stripped-down covers, represented here by takes on Tracy Chapman and Oasis, are delicate, yet bluesy. His Cure cover is a lightly electronic folkrocker, his Coldplay cover is quietly fluid and dynamic; self-comparisons to John Mayer are apt. But his incredible acoustic poptake on Who Am I To Say, a song he discovered “back in the MySpace days”, owes more to Marc Cohn, underscoring our whole existence as a folkblog. And his Massive Attack cover, endearingly framed within a gifted animation from equally pseudonymous ladyfriend AcidPeach, falls neatly between the throbbing synthpulse of the original House, MD theme and the fragile, atmospheric indiefolk cover from Jose Gonzalez that was all over the blogs an eon ago, taking the best from each, and leaving beauty in its wake.

Check out three favorites from this year’s calendar below, then head over to ortoPilot’s YouTube project page to catch up on the first 12 days of Christmas, and to subscribe to daily updates as the countdown continues.

ortoPilot: Don’t Go Away (orig. Oasis)

otroPilot: Teardrop (orig. Massive Attack)

ortoPilot: Who Am I To Say (orig. Hope)

Comment » | ortoPilot, YouTube

YouTube Thursday: Casimir Pulaski Day, on Harp and Voice

November 11th, 2011 — 12:30 am

Further evidence for the harp as folk instrument: a song I’ve always loved for its power and solace, stripped down into its core heavenly choir by Youtube amateur Mikaela Davis, a harp performance major in upstate NY who is “currently recording at Redbooth Studios” thanks to a successful Kickstarter appeal last month.

Singer-songwriter Davis is clearly influenced by Joanna Newsom, though claims for closer kinship with Elliot Smith and Sufjan Stevens are legitimized by video and audio, including a deliciously indie/classical arrangement of Sufjan’s Chicago for harps, bells, trumpet, violins, and voice. But her voice drips with the sweet irreverence of Nellie McKay, and this new arrangement is anything but derivative – rather, it is stunningly simple, effortlessly elegant, and achingly evokative, the perfect song before sleep on a pensive full-moon night.

Total bonus points for Davis’ harp-and-vox Copeland cover, too, which trades the radioready emopunk altpop setting of the original for rich layers of crisp harp and voices laid over a slightly warped electro buzz. The result is delicate and disturbing all at once: a tender lullaby for the unsettled set, and a harbinger of greatness to come.

1 comment » | YouTube

YouTube Tuesday: Prem Midha covers
Adele, Ne-Yo, Amos Lee, Ari Hest, Sesame Street & more!

August 8th, 2011 — 08:11 pm

Producer, inventor, photographer, bioengineer, and singer-songwriter Prem Midha moonlights as a casual cover artist on YouTube. But unlike the tens of thousands of kitchen-table amateurs and wanna-bes that pepper the medium, after three years honing his craft online, and more as a member of Georgia Tech a capella group SympVibes, Midha’s warm, clean tenor is pitch-perfect for both early James Taylor-esque folk crooning and acoustic boy-band vocalpop, with control that rivals some of the finest performers on the million-dollar circuit. Pair it with crisp, mellow guitarplay and crystal-clear production, and you have to wonder why a man with his talent hasn’t hit the blogs en masse before now.

I turned up Midha’s work purely by accident this afternoon while looking for tunes for an upcoming feature (a long-overdue return to the world of kidfolk), but I just couldn’t wait to share this incredible find with the folkworld. So check out this delightful twentysomething’s playfully understated Rubber Duckie, and the other covers, too: older solo takes on Ari Hest and Amos Lee, duo harmonies on the tender Adele cover, a perfect rhythm-and-bluegrass Ne-Yo cover from Midha’s new band The Rusty Boys, and the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard on YouTube will have you running to Prem Midha’s YouTube channel for the rest of a substantive batch of popcovers and originals, all of which come downloadable as mp3s.

1 comment » | Prem Midha, YouTube

TV Thursday: Joshua Hyslop
brings dark beauty, innocence to a Leonard Cohen classic.

August 4th, 2011 — 06:54 pm

Sometimes it pays to dig a bit deeper. And that’s how I discovered this surprisingly innocent, almost delicate cover of Leonard Cohen’s Tonight Will Be Fine from new Canadian whippersnapper Joshua Hyslop, whose total studio output to date appears to be Cold Wind, an absolutely mesmerizing EP of originals released in July of this year.

But if this is only the beginning, man, we’re in for a sweet ride from here.

The EP is amazing, with rich production wrapped around fluid arrangements of the kinds of songs only the young people can get away with; his press release compares him to Sufjan, Damien Rice, and Iron and Wine aptly; I hear these and something much more dreamy and poppy, plus Train, William Fitzsimmons, and other college radio indiepop radio standbys, especially in the production, and – more subtly – in the crescendoes of sound and emotion which crash through these dark, rich folkpop landscapes and dreams, pulling at your comfort, offering an unsettled, compromised resolution, until We Have Seen, a triumphant anthem of acceptance, hope and peace, ends the set.

The cover, of a song most recently taken on by Teddy Thompson back in 2006, comes from a Naked Jams session recorded almost two years ago; the bare-bones voice and solo guitar are more akin to the stripped down emotion of a slightly younger, somewhat lighter Bon Iver or Ray LaMontagne. And the solo performance is so powerful, even though I love the dynamic of the EP, I can’t help but hope for some middle ground in the next round.

Still, in both solo and produced forms, Hyslop comes out of nowhere, and hits you right between the eyes. Give Cold Wind a shot the right way, by listening to the full album stream below from start to finish; you’ll not regret it, and you’ll probably buy it. But first, listen.

3 comments » | Joshua Hyslop, New Artists Old Songs, YouTube

Monday Madness: The Hillbenders cover 80′s hit Talking In Your Sleep

January 17th, 2011 — 01:30 pm

Up-and-coming bluegrass whiz-kids The Hillbenders have just been added to the lineup for this year’s Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and I couldn’t be happier with their barn-burning treatment of The Romantics chart-topper Talkin’ In Your Sleep – notably, the first 45 I ever bought, way back in 1983. Play it loud while you dream of summer.

1,044 comments » | bluegrass, The Hillbenders, YouTube

CLD Presents: A Reluctant Video Companion, Part II
(Kina Grannis, Boyce Avenue, Jesca Hoop, The Deep Dark Woods and more!)

January 2nd, 2011 — 08:32 pm

A few years back, I took a stand on YouTube-as-songsource, providing you, the reader, with a purely subjective, typically high-horse audiophile’s argument that music was meant to be heard, not seen:

Some of this is merely about visual distraction. I like concerts – being there is its own form of communion, and seeing an artist’s fingering and facial expression can lend a permanent layer of nuance to songs previously heard. But when unavoidable fascination with the technical nuances of sound production, and the way the light bounces off a varnished guitar to become a splotch of tabletop light, come into play, it takes up a part of me I was using to listen.

Mostly, though, the issue here is distance. Headphone sound is always enveloping; live music is, too, in its own way. But when it comes to screen-based sound, the tiny rectangle of light and motion reduces that all-encompassing feeling of communion to something tinny and contained. Scale and proximity matter: to squint at music is to be apart from it. It’s like smelling flowers while looking at them through the wrong end of the telescope.

Since then, of course, even as MTV has finished the long process of banishing video programming to the wee hours of the morning, a complex of change has shifted our experience with culture: bandwidth has caught up to us, webculture has gotten more visual, and artists continue to look to YouTube and other video companions as both an entryplace into the market and a vital component of word-spreading and fan-base building. As a consequence, YouTube has become more and more viable for me as a listener: not the most important place to find new recordings, by far, and still limited as a frame for experience, but still a valuable primary source for native content produced as audiovisual first and foremost.

And since I have only 17 subscribers to my YouTube channel, and since my hosting company is starting to send me notices about bandwidth overuse on a monthly basis, the time seems ripe for a return to our look at the role of videography in the spreading of the folkways.

As a subjective listener, I still prefer the headphone and darkness approach to music – the better to let the sound envelop me, in its purest form. And just as I eschew the audiobook as something along the spectrum towards the movie adaptation – which is to say, a medium whose tonal addenda makes it an unwelcome thief of at least some of the imaginative potency of the text – as an ideal, I still maintain that recorded music is meant for the ears first and foremost.

But my respect for artists leveraging new media, and my desire to respect their chosen vehicles for that leverage, continues to weigh heavily on my mind, even as I rip the occasional mp3 for us to share, flattening its intended effect in order to isolate the sound of music. And increasingly, I find that the artists I discover come from YouTube performance – via other blogs, artist homepages, emailed links, and those same vibrant video-centric sources which prompted our original look at the world of YouTube artistry and promotion.

We’ve featured many of these artists this past year, in fact. Tom Meny, Matt Ryd, HelenaMaria, Kina Grannis: each uses the videoweb as a primary space for first release, with site-based downloads most often taken directly from performances that came to us via video first. And the strategy works: Pomplamoose, who we’ve mentioned several times on these pages, even managed to leverage their fun cut-up approach to video performance into a series of car commercials over the holidays.

And the strategy is not limited to newcomers. Jill Andrews, pregnant and newly solo after the breakup of the everybodyfields, worked hard to sustain her fanbase via a monthly video series this year. Beck, too, has joined the fray in the last two years, gathering in cadres of friends and fellow performers for one-shot full-album coverage sessions called Record Club, with tasty and often oddly reconstructed takes on everyone from the Velvet Underground to Leonard Cohen to Yanni released song-by-song in full technicolor.

A number of newer sources and sponsors have produced or continue to produce video series worth mention, too. Cases in point include The Black Cab Sessions and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, both of which, in presenting artists in small spaces, prompted both acoustic and stripped-down electric performances whose intimacy translates fairly well to the small screen.

More relevant to our ongoing focus on coverage, The Voice Project, an ongoing series of chain-connected coverage videos which bring us slowly into artist homes and recording spaces in stark black and white, showcase the artist at play, paying tribute to his influences. Both the AV Club’s Undercover and Levi’s Pioneer Sessions presented video cover series this past year, producing several strong entries for our folk archive. Even ASCAP got into the act over the holidays, presenting a page of christmas card covers in tiny video boxes from a strong set of artists – including Dawn Landes, Robbie Fulks, Jill Sobule, and more – in intimate settings. And like the projects we mentioned in our first look at the world of music videos, all of the above are worth the visit, though each also yaws wide enough to caveat the emptor.

So here’s some folks using YouTube and Vimeo well: both as a medium for layered presentation of song as something sensually encompassing, and as a platform for performance, its recaptured relevance distinct from the studio recording I prefer to imagine in my minds eye.

Kina Grannis, who like many of today’s artists we first featured during New Artists, Old Songs Week way back in February, continues to treat YouTube as a primary medium, even after her first album Stairways emerged this year, charting Billboard sans label, sans management, and sans physical product. Here, she pairs with acoustic pop duo Boyce Avenue – equally adept YouTube natives, with some strong covers on their own YouTube page both solo and with fellow YouTuber Savannah Outen – for a gentle U2 cover and a delicious take on Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, released just yesterday.

Kina Grannis & Boyce Avenue: Fast Car (orig. Tracy Chapman)

Kina Grannis & Boyce Avenue: With Or Without You (orig. U2)

Where other coverage-oriented YouTube artists such as Matt Ryd, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, and Jay Brannan have managed to retain their authenticity throughout their online evolution, earning my immense respect and fandom, I have mixed feelings about the most recent work from Alex Cornell, who started covering songs in typical amateur style on YouTube several years ago, but has turned to a slightly overpolished production in his last few videos. Still, the man deserves due recognition for the evolution of style, in keeping with our focus on native YouTube professionalism today. Here’s two covers from Alex – an oldie and a more recent take, for comparison’s sake – plus relatively new coverage from Brannan, Danielle, and Ryd, for comparison’s sake.

Alex Cornell: I’m On Fire (orig. Bruce Springsteen)

Alex Cornell: No One (orig. Alicia Keys)

Danielle Ate The Sandwich: Bad Romance (orig. Lady Gaga)

Jay Brannan: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (orig. Vicki Lawrence)

Matt Ryd: California Gurls (orig. Katy Perry)

As mentioned above, The Voice Project has become one of my favorite places to linger, most especially for the way their home-and-studio-based visits come into the environment slowly, braiding arrival, small-talk, rehearsal, and contextual intro to the song as part and parcel of the whole experience. Here’s two surprises: Andrew Bird covering Cass McCombs on his porch with some help from a friend, and Jesca Hoop taking on Bon Iver in the alleyway behind her studio.

Andrew Bird » Cass McCombs from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

Jesca Hoop » Bon Iver from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

Did we cover the HearYa Live Sessions last time we did this sort of feature? Can’t remember, but their recent all-covers set with Americana faves The Deep Dark Woods, which hasn’t even been fully released yet, includes this solid cover of the tradfolk-via-The Grateful Dead tune Peggy-O, reminding me to remind you to return to both site and artists often.

The Deep Dark Woods: Peggy O – Live Session 9/21/10 from

Looking for more video coverage? In addition the abovementioned sources and sites, it’s worth remembering that we took on many more video pieces this year than last, most especially as a way to showcase new artists who had little else to offer us by way of coverage. Here’s a few favorites that still linger from 2010: Dan Mills‘ delightful living room playlet, Frank Fairfield‘s back porch banjo-fied countryfolk live on KEXP, and Chuck E Costa playing at our very own house concert series.

Dan Mills: You Can Call Me Al (orig. Paul Simon)

Frank Fairfield: Cumberland Gap (trad.)

Chuck E Costa: No Love Today (orig. Chris Smither)

Cover Lay Down posts new coverfolk features and songsets each Wednesday, Sunday, and the occasional otherday. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

1,203 comments » | YouTube

New Artists, Old Songs:
Huff This! covers a New Kids On The Block classic

April 2nd, 2010 — 08:26 pm

I’m working on an 80′s feature for Sunday. This one just couldn’t wait.

Ah, the tongue-in-cheekiness of a New Kids On The Block cover.

It’s tempting to dismiss this sort of project as less than serious: a cheesy boyband pop song; a band named after a peer pressure command; yet another arty, lo-fi video. But there’s something oddly earnest and genuine about the way Huff This! approaches a song I thought I never wanted to hear again.

The music hovers between performance art and studio craft: sweetly casual, slightly anti-punk indiefolk, a raw and tender cover well worth sharing. And Director Ben Berlin’s video is a satirical tour de force, slowing down the cheesiness until it takes on a kind of slo-mo grace, reflecting our hungry gaze back on ourselves through the use of underage and real-bodied dancers and oddly-framed beauties, framing it all in an indie director’s angsty rooftop lens.

Dancer-slash-band frontwoman Alison Clancy, who sent the track along, is clearly both serious about her art, and playful enough to take the risk. You should be, too.

Cover Lay Down posts new features and coverfolk sets each Wednesday, Sunday, and the occasional otherday. Coming later this weekend: new and emerging artists cover U2, Toto, Chris Isaak, New Order, Tom Waits, John Mellencamp and more favorite hits from the 80′s!

2,129 comments » | Huff This!, YouTube