Category: Soundcloud Saturday

‘Tube Tuesday: Soundcloud, Bandcamp, & Youtube covers
from Ted Leo, Gibson Bull, Lotte Kestner, Laura Gibson & more!

October 23rd, 2012 — 04:20 pm

Are you one of those people who keeps a million tabs open on your web browser? Yeah, me too. And although we continue to drop streaming bonus tracks, video delights, and other finds on the Cover Lay Down Facebook page throughout the week, the new and newfound tracks which find their way to our attention via mailbag, blog-surf, and just plain luck are often good enough to merit full feature status. Today, our ongoing collection reaches a critical mass, spilling over onto these pages. Enjoy.

The new cover series from the Deschutes River Brewery is framed around a great concept: artists perform songs about moving water by an actual riverside to raise money to support and restore the local watershed, “and forge new solutions for water sharing issues everywhere.” The outdoor setting brings an organic feel to the resulting tracks; I’m especially enamored of Laura Gibson’s gentle indie-gospel take on traditional track Down By The Riverside, but earlier tracks – a languid, soulful Ballad of Easy Rider from Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats complete with authentic frogsounds and birdcalls, and a funky Up On Cripple Creek from Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper – are worthy delights, leaving us eagerly waiting for more. As with most Bandcamp-distributed music, full streams are free, and downloads worth it; it’s hard to pass up the pay-what-you-want model, but give a bit if you can.

We featured UK singer-songwriter Gibson Bull’s beautifully deconstructed indiefolk rendition of Corrine, Corrina just a few weeks ago, comparing the tree-surgeon-turned-artist to both the No Depression crowd and modern indiefolkers from Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes to Bruce Springsteen. But we can’t resist sharing his newest cover right away, because this time it’s Bat For Lashes’ Laura, released in video form and then subsequently pushed to Soundcloud for free download after garnering 2000 hits in the first 4 days online, and it’s achingly good.

Since the coverage and its recording was reportedly a self-driven distraction from recording a new EP, and since we celebrated him so well when we first heard him, we’d like to think we get some of the credit for both the coverage and its viral spread, but let’s be honest: musicians like Gibson Bull come along rarely enough; to find such an evident master of his own pain and performance without even a major label album to his name, and to have the privilege of sharing it, is the reason we started blogging in the first place. Help us continue to celebrate him by sharing his work with your friends, in turn – and don’t forget his name, so when the EP emerges in the coming months, and starts showing up on all the big-name blogs, you can say you heard him first.

Gibson Bull: Laura (orig. Bat For Lashes)

Following memes is a hobby and vocational extension of my daily life as a teacher of mass and social media – one that seldom dovetails with our work here as curators and celebrants of the coverfolk world. But every once in a while, the twain meet, and this delightfully subtle cover of PSY sensation Gangnam Style, found accidentally during a search for the original video while teaching a lesson on the passive gaze last week, is a perfect exemplar: where the original drips with radio bombast and carefully placed pop pauses, the cover, which has received over three million hits since it first popped open on my computer, is smooth, hushed, and delicate; jazzy, sexy and bright. Kudos to young UC Berkeley K-rock ensemble Ra-On, who are duly stunned by the attention and newfound fame.

Ra-On: Gangnam Style (orig. PSY)

Many less hits on this misty-eyed solo Ted Leo cover, which was just released a few days ago to little fanfare. Those in the know remember Leo as the indie-punk singer-songwriter fronting Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, but we’ve often celebrated his stripped-down side here, which trends towards electro-acoustic grungefolk, a la the solo singer-songwriter work of Evan Dando, Beck, Richard Thompson and others. Listen as, with ringing electric guitar and ragged voice, this re-appropriated torch song, originally written by lyricist and composer Francesca Blumenthal and recorded by a vast spectrum of jazz divas and pop chanteuses from Blossom Dearie to Maria Muldaur, becomes an apt and maudlin commentary on the US election season, which comes to a close in just a few weeks.

I get a lot of mail, frankly – so much, it’s hard to track it all well. So I owe an apology to Pete Crossland, aka antiqcool, who sent me a few videos last year, which I never got to. But kudos to the determined, because when he sent along this year-old cover of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, it all came together. The track comes across as a bit easy-listening at first, but it’s got a sweet acoustic charm worth sharing all the same…and though the other covers in the antiqcool Soundcloud collection are worth sifting through, with gem-quality versions of Cat Stevens and Dylan in the mix, this one’s from a charity collection which was put together to raise money for animals in distress, which gives it a boost in my book. Plus, it’s hard to pass up a self-proclaimed musical tinkerer who promises to “blab about [us] incessantly to the whole world” if I post a cover good enough to stand on its own. Pete, you’re on.

Last time we heard from Scottish fiddlefolk experimentalist and Berklee College graduate Hannah Read, we found her new EP stretching the borders of jazz and indie electropop – a surprising turn, after following her early evolution through chamberfolk and solo folk balladry. Now the evermoving artist has a new all-girl folk trio based out of Brooklyn, along with fellow indiefolk explorers Wilsen and M. Lui, and they’re calling themselves THEM, making them the umpteenth new band to come up nigh ungoogle-able. A skim of her Facebook page nets a new Tumblr, with photos and a few live videos; if the three currently up are any indication, the lovely ladies are digging deep to find influence, and coming up roses.

THEM: Rambling Man (orig. Laura Marling)

Lotte Koestner just doesn’t stop. Her newest Bandcamp collection, released in the first week of October and aptly if unimaginatively titled Extra Covers Collection, is a huge compendium of influences and obscurities redone as echoey slowcore, with tracks compiled from both of her 2011 covers EPs and supplemented with more; her new Soundcloud page has been christened with one original and yet another brand new cover, and both are eerie delights. I’m especially enamored of her Billy Idol and Gotye covers (tracks 2 and 17 below), which transform the anger and frustration of the originals into something wistful and delicate, revealing the breadth of emotion available to beauty; her latest, a take on A Perfect Circle’s Weak And Powerless, is an equal triumph. Check out new and newly collected tracks from both sources below before heading back to our late-year 2011 featurette on her coverage both as a solo artist and in her role as one half of shoegaze duo Trespassers William.

1 comment » | Soundcloud Saturday, YouTube

SoundCloud Saturday: Streaming coverfolk from
Frazey Ford, Brian Vander Ark, Bon Iver & The Chieftains, and more!

January 21st, 2012 — 02:48 pm

Winter has finally arrived in mid-New England, dropping just enough snow on the ground to keep us inside while the kids head out for sledding and snowplay. And so we spend a mellow Saturday at home by the pellet stove, coffee in hand and slippers on our feet, letting soft music serve as the soundtrack for our lives. Why not listen in with us?

The Chieftains ft. Bon Iver: Down In The Willow Garden (trad.)

The list of featured collaborators on upcoming 50th anniversary Chieftains album Voice Of Ages makes it the most anticipated album of the year for hipster folkies. Bon Iver turns his familiar shush and whisper to Irish murder balladry to get us started; you can also hear an amazing Irish-influenced original from The Civil Wars at The Chieftains’ Facebook page. Look forward to the Punch Brothers, Low Anthem, Carolina Chocolate Drops and more to come as the mid-February release date approaches.

Frazey Ford: Lovers In A Dangerous Time (orig. Bruce Cockburn)

The recent solo output from Be Good Tanyas founder Frazey Ford is fast finding itself among my most-listened-to tracklists. Here, she totally transforms a Cockburn classic into slow, syrupy Americana blues; if you like what you hear, head over to the Cover Lay Down Facebook page and scroll down for a YouTube Dylan cover posted earlier this month

Message To Bears: Wolves (orig. Phosphorescent)

I’ve already posted this over at Facebook, too, making it a repost, of sorts. And it’s nothing new, though it was Slowcoustic’s recent feature which brought it to my attention. But the stillness and quiet here are an apt reflection of the quiet snow outside, and the beauty of the whitewash world. Stream the new album from Message To Bears for more delicate indiefolk soundscapes from composer and multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander.

Brian Vander Ark: Children’s Crusade (orig. Sting)

Brian Vander Ark: Maybe I’m Amazed (orig. Paul McCartney)

Singer-songwriter Brian Vander Ark is far better known as the frontman of The Verve Pipe; unsurprisingly, his 2011 solo album Magazine is highly produced, albeit good stuff if you like radiopop. But his solo acoustic take on one of my favorite obscure Sting songs, released yesterday via his Twitter account, is soulful and polished, a perfect example of the unplugged subgenre at its best, and an apt opening act in his new commitment to social media as a driving force behind his solo career. Combine it with his live version of Paul McCartney classic Maybe I’m Amazed, and you’ve got a harbinger of some great work to come.

Jessica Leanne Middleton: Bring Me Down (orig. Miranda Lambert)

Jessica Leanne Middleton: More Like Her (orig. Miranda Lambert)

Lest we forget that SoundCloud isn’t just a vehicle for the pros, budding Texas-based “singing siren” Jessica Leanne Middleton brings us a pair of beautiful, intimate, aching Miranda Lambert covers that would sound equally at home on folk radio or an in-studio County Music Channel session. Here’s hoping someone picks her up and gives her the full Mindy Smith treatment sometime soon.

Maya Laner: Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love (orig. The Ronettes)

Raining Jane: Love Is a Battlefield (orig. Pat Benatar)

Finally, Cover Me already posted this pair of tunes, but I can’t resist passing them along anyway. Berkeley-based Maya Laner’s layered uke-driven take on mid-century classic is cute and dreamy, pushing us to pursue more from her acoustic folkrock band Local Hero; Raining Jane belies their LA roots, combining Celtic elements with folkpop greatness for a solid, enjoyable take on a well-known Pat Benatar wailer.

Comment » | Bon Iver, Frazey Ford, Soundcloud Saturday, The Chieftains