Category: Tube Thursday

Mailbag Mayhem: New covers of
The Beatles, Beyonce, Teenage Fanclub, The Grateful Dead & more!

August 11th, 2016 — 9:56pm

How lovely to return from two weeks in the folkfields soaked in sun and song and find the mailbag bulging with transformative takes on songs we love. We’ve sifted through and found the very best of a set that covers the gamut from tender indiefolk and solo singer-songwriter fare to bluegrass, roots, and Americana; now read on for some very new coverage from a diverse set of international artists working in and around the folkways – all recorded or released in the last few weeks, and all very much worth your time.

Revolver turned 50 last week; in its honor, a set of mostly Brazilian artists have spent the week performing songs from the album for a mostly-live project called BH Beatle Week, and the results are just divine. Our favorite project contribution: this bright, dreamy, gently psychedelic cover from contemporary folk duo Lindsay and Isaac (and friend Vini), perfect for wistful summer’s end. See also Junk, recorded back in January by the same trio of artists – a beautiful, tender rendition of Paul McCartney’s best post-Beatles lullaby.

Indie-slash-antifolk singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, who has been pretty quiet since her last release in 2012, covered the Beatles recently, too, for the soundtrack of new animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings. Fittingly tinged with neotraditional Japanese instrumentation over orchestral strings, the cover, which hit the ether over the weekend, is both stirring and strange, a fitting match for a film that promises much, and seems poised to deliver.

Wisconsin-based, classically trained multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter and CLD frequent flyer Anna Elizabeth Laube sent along this Beyonce cover almost a month ago, but it’s well worth bringing forward: hushed, beautiful, and truly folk, with unexpected horns and a pulsing vibe that soothes and sways. At this point, we’d listen to Laube the sing the phone book; that she’s managed to wring such depth and dynamic tension from such an unusual source is both typical and praiseworthy.

New on Noisetrade, this previously unreleased Teenage Fanclub cover serves as 1/4 of a sampler EP re-introducing the world to the throwback California country sounds of Detroit “guitar-pop” band The Legal Matters. And what an introduction it is, too: perfect for those last lazy summer afternoons, and sure to please fans of The Jayhawks, The Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson, and other folk-pop radio hitmakers that still populate classic rock radio.

Released in June but now rising to the top, Don’t This Road Look Rough And Rocky, the “focus” track of Someday The Heart Will Trouble The Mind, was put up on Youtube at the end of July: like much of this collection of old-timey “cheatin’ and hurtin’ songs” from BC-based septet The High Bar Gang, it’s a slow piece, and gentler than the Flatt and Scruggs original. But it’s the high-driving energy of traditional album opener Silver Dagger, a translation that owes much to Dolly Parton’s 1999 take on the song yet with a bright and busty energy all its own, that grabs us and pulls us in, hard and grinning, to spin and whirl.

It’s been a while since we last featured contemporary Hudson Valley singer-songwriter Susan Kane here on these pages, naming her sly, bluesy take on the Grateful Dead classic Loser as one of our top 20 coversongs of 2012, but we’re thrilled to have her back on the radar with two new Dead covers and a set of potent originals that reveal a rich and eminently human inner world through the superimposition of the mundane and the magic. An acoustic Americana album with guest musicians galore, new album Mostly Fine is enjoying a soft release; snag it now via CD Baby before folk radio beats you to it.

Just three albums into a promising career, London ex-pat vocalist and composer Joanna Wallfisch is hard to categorize, but everything’s good about near-perfect new CD Gardens In My Mind, which yaws wide as it swings from a playful, stuttering barrelhouse pianojazz title track to lush world-and-classical folk a la Jean Rohe (Satin Grey). Though mostly comprised of vibrant, contemporary originals, the album also includes a crooner’s soft pianopop Tim Buckley cover and this completely deconstructed string-quartet take on All I Want that just blows our mind…and then does it again, in a gorgeously layered, looping a capella reprise of the same song that leaves us aching and breathless.

Most folks move from folk to Broadway, if anything. But with debut album Somebody, Ryan Vona – who appeared there in folk musical Once, and currently stars as Joey in the Cirque Du Soleil musical Paramour – isn’t so much moving backwards as he is forging ahead into new territory in pure, potent voice. New single The Letterbox is an earnest, playful newgrass revelation, with an adorable video featuring an animated grasshopper in a paper bag world; add in an arrangement of Danny Boy which dances around the “original” tune composed by his ancestor Rory Dall O’Cahan, and we’re pleased to welcome him to the folkways with open arms and accolades.

  • VIDEO: Lucy LaForge, Katie Ferrara, Kaitlin Wolfberg: Dreams (orig. Fleetwood Mac)
  • VIDEO: Lucy LaForge & Evan Blum: Just A Friend To You (orig. Meghan Trainor)

Last but certainly not least, we close today with a pair of darling YouTube covers from Lucy LaForge, the whimsical indie frontwoman of Lucy & La Mer who has already brought us such joy this year through covers of Tainted Love and Bad Blood. Dreams, a raw, ragged, sparse and oh so sweet new Fleetwood Mac cover, was mixed on the same board as Rumors, the seminal 1977 album which brought us such well-covered delights as Go Your Own Way, The Chain, Dreams and Gold Dust Woman; as a bonus, it also features fellow LA-based artist Katie Ferrara, whose absolutely delightful cover of Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes featured here just a few weeks ago in our flavor-laden Popsicle Mix. Add in one of the sweetest boy-girl uke covers I’ve heard this year, and it’s easy to see why we’ve fallen in love.

Comment » | Mailbag Monday, New Artists Old Songs, Tube Thursday

‘Tube Thursday: Videos and Streaming Coverfolk
with covers of Elliot Smith, The Beatles, The Louvin Brothers, and more!

January 23rd, 2013 — 10:48am

Though we share videos and other streaming singletons over at the Cover Lay Down FaceBook page throughout the week, a critical mass of open tabs has made it needful to share the most recently discovered crop of one-shot releases, recordings, and new finds all-at-once, if only just to clear the air and move on. Read and click below to hear why we collected these top-notch songs and songwriters in the first place.

The Chapin Sisters, who we’ve previously featured filtering Britney Spears and Madonna into their haunting indiefolk harmonies, are among the first singer-songwriters who have committed to our “dream project” (a full album of second-generation artists covering their famous fathers to support inner city youth and family initiatives). Though we’re still soliciting musicians to fill the roster, these raw and twangy live videos from a January “classic country covers” residency at Brooklyn hipster hangout Pete’s Candy Store offer more than a hint of what we’re in store for when the project finally gets off the ground – and explain why we’re so excited to have them aboard.

  • The Chapin Sisters: I Never Will Marry (orig. The Carter Family)

  • The Chapin Sisters: While You’re Cheatin’ On Me (orig. The Louvin Brothers)

Retro-alternative trio-turned-quartet The Living Sisters aren’t sisters, but they, too, sport a second-generation connection: Inara George, daughter of Lowell and one-half of co-ed indie duo The Bird And The Bee, features prominently in the band’s classic girl-group harmonies, alongside equally hip indie names Becky Stark and Eleni Mandell, and new addition Alex Lilly. We’ve shared their work before, and celebrated 2010 collection Love To Live, but the lower-fidelity of this live take trades their usual hi-fi-era warmth for a raw authenticity that comes much closer to folk and offers huge promise for their new Run for Cover EP, which – although it has drawn sneers from Paste for an admittedly sparse and stuttery Funkadelic cover that never really comes together – is easily worth pursuit nonetheless for gems including a much stronger pair of Patsy Cline tunes and a quite aggressive take on Parton classic Jolene.

  • The Living Sisters: Que Sera Sera (orig. Doris Day)

Speaking of faux-sibling groups: I wish I could remember where I found this great knee-slapping version of traditional folksong Haul Away Joe from kindie up-and-comers The Okee Dokee Brothers, but no matter: the titular duo that comprises the core of this group are hardly a secret. Denverite outdoorsmen and childhood friends (but not brothers), Joe and Justin get a bonus boost from parents and critics alike for being unapologetically pro-nature, but get core recognition for crafting and performing cheerful, celebratory music for all ages; with their most recent album Can You Canoe? (composed on a rafting trip, natch) garnering top honors on so many parenting blogs’ 2012 Best Of lists, the first-time Grammy nominees are bound to make some sort of splash as the days close in on the awards ceremony.

  • The Okee Dokee Brothers: Haul Away Joe (trad.)

We celebrated Irish singer-songwriter Heidi Talbot back when the blog was new, as a part of a feature on Compass Records, and featured covers from her award-winning breakthrough 2008 album In Love + Light in more recent features; we’ve probably mentioned, as well, her earlier years as a singer in popular Irish-American folk supergroup Cherish The Ladies. Now, on the cusp of release for her newest solo album Angels Without Wings, Heidi’s website is temporarily down pending the usual PR push – a trend, incidentally, which breaks the web, but we won’t take that out on the blond Irishwoman whose confident, understated delivery first captured our hearts. But you can pre-order the album there, and probably should: if this cover of Carter Family standard When The Roses Come Again is any indication, we’re in for another great record. And her newly-recovered version of Tom Waits’ Time, recorded last April, is a perfect bonus, more subtle and sad than ever.

  • Heidi Talbot w/ Tim O’Brien: When The Roses Come Again (orig. The Carter Family)
  • Heidi Talbott w/ Boo Hewerdine & John McCusker: Time (orig. Tom Waits)

It’s a perfectly constructed hipster’s dream: an artist named LP, from LA by way of NYC, recording with uke and warble (and whistle!) in an echoey stairwell – and, as such, it had high potential to cross the line. But the newly-signed Warner Brothers recording artist, who has earned her indie cred playing Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza on the strength of 3 million YouTube hits and a hit track (Into The Wild) on a single EP, presents us with one of the most centered-yet-soaring Beatles covers we’ve heard in a long, long time. Her other covers, which include a take on In The Pines which would do Leadbelly and Janis Joplin proud, a haunting Mars Volta cover in a cave, and a live Beyonce cover with full band, are just as echoey, and equal parts lightness and depth; join her mailing list to download the last for free.

  • LP: Something (orig. The Beatles)

  • LP: In The Pines (trad.)

NYC-bred and newly UK-grounded singer-songwriter Annie Dressner‘s 2011 debut Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names offered a catchy set with strong indie/alternative influences and a hint of contemporary twang in the production; her upcoming EP, the Pledgemusic-driven project East Twenties, which drops in April, is a teaser, but on first listen, it seems to represent a shift to a folkier, smoother side which should slide smoothly through the indiefolk blogs upon release. Her delicious one-take recording of Elliot Smith’s oft-covered Between The Bars is a rarity, the only cover she’s recorded in any form to date, but even in demo form, it’s crisp and clear and raw, with sweet soaring coffeehouse vocals – a solid indicator of album strength, and a promising harbinger of more to come.

  • Annie Dressner: Between The Bars (orig. Elliot Smith)

Sarah Jarosz’ live cover of Kathy’s Song from early 2012 never got posted here, though I kept coming back to it: her interpretation was beautiful, with singer and song seemingly a near perfect match, but the quality of the video which resulted was too wan and warbly to be worth passing on (unlike, say, her recent take on Dylan’s Ring Them Bells, which is sweet and simply gorgeous). A year later, here to the rescue is UK’s own Sam Sallon, whose version is pure and fluid, and who – with subtle changes in chord progression and a faithful, gentle combination of both originator’s voices combined into one – manages to produce his own stunner of a song. The track comes from an EP of the same name; Sallon’s upcoming debut, which drops in May, sounds like it’s going to be a wild ride of catchy roots-to-pop indie-Americana, but don’t take my word for it – head over to his music page to sample the tracks, and hear for yourself.

  • Sam Sallon: Kathy’s Song (orig. Simon & Garfunkel)

Last, but certainly not least, in our streaming set today comes this pair of delights from young up-and-coming Philly-based folk artist Brittany Ann, who certainly knows how to take on the here-and-now and make it her own. The Shovels and Rope cover is countrified and twangy, with a touch of Brandi Carlisle; the Robyn cover is flowing and warm, with pulses of subtle folkpop and shades of early Lori McKenna in her voice; both were released with little fanfare last week, and we’re pleased as punch to be the first to pass them along, ’cause despite the easy comparisons, this girl from the suburbs has got a tenderness and soul all her own.

  • Brittany Ann: Dancing On My Own (orig. Robyn)

  • Brittany Ann: Boxcar (orig. Shovels & Rope)

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