Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Girls make pretty songs

What can be said? I've been bored today, feeling a bit under the weather, and without much sense of purpose or agency. I've taken to reading journal articles about areas of psychology and neuroscience that intrigue me, purely because I can. Athens is an excellent system that lets you read all the online journals your university/institution has subscribed to and while my subscription with Southampton is still active I may as well get the most out of it (and by that I mean get the most out of the thousands of pounds of tuition fees I've paid over 3 years!)

Anyway *ahem* I digress. Last week I made the observation that many songs written about girls are extremely good. Specifically it seems, songs which have a one word title, that of the girl. I noticed this after hearing the song 'Kate' by Ben Folds Five which features the superb lyrics

'Every day she wears the same thing, I think she smokes pot, she's everything I want, everything I'm not'

Quite simply the evidence speaks for itself:

Mp3: Kate - Ben Folds Five [info]
Mp3: Sarah - Thin Lizzy
Mp3: Brandy - Red Hot Chili Peppers (Looking Glass cover) [info]
Mp3: Aurora - Foo Fighters [info]
Mp3: Claudia - The View [info]

..Also there's this exquisite piece of acoustic finery by the acoustic guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel [info]:

Here's some more I have thought of but am not posting for whatever reason:

Layla - Eric Clapton
Velouria - Pixies
Valerie - The Zutons
Jacqueline - Franz Ferdinand
Denis - Blondie
Xanthein - Symposium

....And here's a couple of girl's name songs which contain more than one word but are still very good and worth posting while we're on the subject.

Mp3: Believe me Natalie - The Killers [info]
Mp3: Kelly watch the Stars - Air [info]

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Arctic Monkeys Glasto Triumph

Arctic Monkeys proved themselves as worthy of the top slot on Glastonbury's Pyramid stage on Friday night with a superb and well-rounded performance which saw them playing a wealth of material off their past two LPs as well as these fantastic Glasto-only bonuses...

Temptation greets you like your naughty friend (Brianstorm flipside, feat. Dizzee Rascal)

MP3: Temptation greats you like your naughty friend - Arctic Monkeys

Diamonds are Forever (Shirley Bassey Cover)

MP3: Diamonds are Forever - Arctic Monkeys (ripped from youtube clip)

Full set list (thanks to smashmusic.co.uk)

'The Sun Goes Down'
'Still Take You Home'
'Dancing Shoes'
'Ritz To The Rubble'
'Teddy Picker'
'This House Is A Circus'
'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'
'Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend'
'Old Yellow Bricks'
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
'If You Were There, Beware'
'Flourescent Adolescent'
'Mardy Bum'
'Do Me A Favour'
'Leave Before The Lights Come On'


'The View From The Afternoon'
'Diamonds Are Forever'
'A Certain Romance'

Be better!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

under the covers

This is inspired by one of my favourite blogs Say Anything Syndrome from a post about alternate versions or 'covers' of songs. I've always held a torch for bands who can reinvent songs into something special and new, and this post was the catalyst I needed for me to dig around my music library for some examples of these.

After scouring my music library I came up with nice selection of covers which radically manipulate the originals in each case, performing perhaps ethically-questionable experimentation to their original rhythms, phrasings and melodies.

(If you download only 1 track make sure it's this one by Nada Surf)

On review of the tracks I chose I believe these to all be excellent examples of what is to be gained by considerate reorganisation of the track's core structures. It is my firm belief that some songs are more easily re-moulded into alternate versions, or to borrow a concept in neuroscience; they have greater reorganisational 'plasticity' (as the infant brain does, seen in it's better ability to recover function after injury compared to that of an adult - interested? See Wikipedia here).

This is not to say that the efforts of these artists has not required immense skill to reshape these songs, but rather that they have been able to do so because the potential has existed in the first place. In some cases I would say I prefer the reorganised versions, with which you are more than welcome to disagree with me. Well without further ado here they are,I hope you are enlightened.

First up, setting the standard very high indeed is a cover of a pretty middle-of-the-road Dylan song by the god-like-genius of Jimi Hendrix. For me this cover completely gives a new life and meaning to a song which in it's original form plods along like any of Dylan's less-acclaimed work. It's no wonder that it's topped best ever cover listings before; from the heavily-accented intro beats, to the immediacy of Jimi's vocals and the cosmic guitar solos - Hendrix sounds as majestic as ever. This cover is simply a masterpiece, never mind what is considered of the original.

MP3: All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan
MP3: All Along the Watchtower - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I've been waiting for ages for a good opportunity to post this next song. Whilst not technically a cover, it's a live re-working a song by the production genius of LCD Soundsystem. In it's 'shallow' version, LCD show how the indie-dance vibe of Tribulations can be stripped to it's bare bones and still work quite beautifully. A very nice example of re-phrasing vocals too.

MP3: Tribulations - LCD Soundsystem
MP3: Tribulations (shallow version) - LCD Soundsystem [infos]

This next cover is of a very sexy song and by a very sexy lady too. I'm talking about Gwen Stefani of course, and the song 'what you waiting for?' which I stumbled upon in a covered version in a CD that came free with Q magazine. This is an admirable effort by the boys in Franz Ferdinand. Especially nice is the intro riffs they add, the heaviness of the bass and the splicing-in of Billy Idol's White Wedding at the end.

MP3: What you waiting for? - Gwen Stefani [info]
MP3: What you waiting for? - Franz Ferdinand [info]

I heard this next song for the first time in it's covered form as I expect many others did in an episode of series 1 OC. It's the bit when Anna is leaving Newport for good, she's at the airport with her bags, Seth has only just found out she's leaving and him and Ryan rush to the scene to stop her. As he runs through the airport he catches sight of her and calls her name. She turns around, startled. He tells her she can't leave, that he needs her - he thinks she loves him but is mistaken. Still he pleads for her to stay.

As the chorus of the song kicks in, she turns around and tells him goodbye with her final advice: 'Confidence, Cohen'. The song playing in the background 'if you leave' is co-ordinated perfectly with what's happening on-screen and makes for a very emotional goodbye scene. This is all thanks to arranging genius of Nada Surf, who took what sounds like a throw-away 80's pop track and made it something so beautifully heartfelt and emotional. The building of layers upon the simplicity of a pulsing bass-line lifts this song to a higher plane.

MP3: If you leave - OMD
MP3: If you leave - Nada Surf [info]

And now I've talked about all that whoosy emotional stuff, how about we end on a cover by a ballsy punk legend? Joey Ramone turns this sensational jazz classic into his own with the help of chugging rhythm-guitar and well-placed riffing. Joey is keeping the same message of the song, he's still saying 'what a wonderful world', it's just in a very different tone to Loui. It's one with the certainty of a rock n' roller whos been through it all, survived it all, and is still sure: it's a wonderful world.

MP3: What a wonderful world - Loui Armstrong

MP3: What a wonderful world - Joey Ramone

Monday, 18 June 2007

The only place that I can look is down

The mood of this song perfectly mirrors my feelings at this moment.

MP3: The only place that I can look is down - The Bishops [info]

On a lighter note I saw this the other day over on Neil's Life and found it hilarious:

Post-uni life is depressing... I need to leave the country! Korea in August, fingers crossed.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine

Last night = The Graduation Ball!

There was..

Sophie Ellis-Bextor (not as hot in real life I've got to say..)

Cool-looking old dudes playing jazz..

Lots of fun had by all! (looking quite drunk here)

To be frank I was rather dissapointed by Sophie's performance (though to be fair, I wasn't expecting much). It was simply lacklustre. She shimmied and wiggled a little bit but didn't look like she was really enjoying herself. My biggest complaint however was that neither she nor her band appeared to be singing or playing live.

To be fair to the girl though, playing to a roomful of pissed-up students who mostly don't like her music can't be the kind of gig she really wants to be playing, so perhaps if you want to see the real enthusiastic Sophie (the one the programme described her as) then you need to see her live. Though I'll give her this, she does have some damn catchy songs; set opener 'if I can't dance' has been stuck in my head since she sang it (or rather, didn't sing it!)

MP3: If I can't dance - Sophie Ellis Bextor [info]

The next act were clearly a really talented student band who tore their way through covers of some favourite student anthems. These were some real classics, songs that'll remind us all of our university years for many years to come I'm sure.

Mr Brightside is one of my favourite songs of all time. I think something about it makes it especially appropriate for university too. For instance the lyric:
'Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine'
That's a feeling I'll definitley associate with coming through university.

MP3: Mr Brightside (Live XFM Session 2004)- The Killers

This one is another favourite at student cheese nights the band also played.

MP3: Sweet Child O'Mine (Live Era 87'-93') - Guns N' Roses

Next to take the stage was Edith Bowman, who played a very pleasing set of indie favourites, and by this I mean more student anthems. When she played Basket Case by Green Day I suddenly felt this feeling of connectedness between my disparate years of university life. I recalled hearing it in the very first week at the freshers ball and being happy to see that everyone could enjoy a good song with self-depricating lyrics. I felt like I'd come full circle.

MP3: Basket Case - Green Day

And finally I feel compelled to post some songs which I think aptly sum-up the feelings associated with coming to the end of an era, and songs I generally associate with my years of student-hood.

MP3: End of the Road - The Bombjacks [Highly Recommended]
MP3: End of a Century - Blur
MP3: Sit Down - James
MP3: Just Like Heaven - The Cure

This is a sad one :'(

MP3: This is the last time - Keane