Song of the Week – 22 (OVER S∞∞N)

22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver

This song makes me immensely satisfied. Bon Iver are back working their magic and 22 (OVER S∞∞N) is the best reward to a long wait for new material.
In typical Justin Vernon fashion this song showcases eclectic production. Right from the get go the base line fades in and out, a woman’s auto-tuned voice sets the theme – ‘it might be over soon’. She sounds almost chipmunk-like and the fuzzy base line drops off from time to time as if going in and out of reception – sounds crazy right? Well it is, but it works. As always Bon Iver have taken crazy ideas and made them into something wonderful.
Of course this isn’t all about modern instruments, the stunning vocals of Vernon and backing members like Sean Carey are the key component to this song which builds and builds throughout. The entrance of the horn section and electric guitar brings all the pieces of the puzzle together and by two minutes in this song really takes off.
It’s a tricky one to explain but 22 (OVER S∞∞N) is one hell of a song. I’m dreaming of seeing it come to life live on stage.
Now to get working on a plan to get Bon Iver back to Wellington….
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My 15 Favourite Song Covers

  1. Justin Vernon and Sean Carey – I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

Recorded live at AIR Studios and released on YouTube in 2012. This song is one of my most favourite ever, in both original, and cover form. Listen, it doesn’t need explaining.

2. Angus Stone – River by Joni Mitchell

Recorded for the 2007 compilation album No Man’s Woman. A fresh, modern and emotional take on one of Mitchell’s most covered songs.

  1. John Mayer – Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

Included in the 2007 live album Where The Light Is, Mayer turned one of the most iconic air-punching singalongs ever into a tender ballad, all without losing the spunk of the song.

  1. Eva Cassidy – Songbird by Fleetwood Mac

Released on her posthumous compilation album of the same name which reached number 1 in the UK in 2001. A slowed down, slightly country sounding take on Christine McVie’s famous hit. Had a real affect on me during that melt your heart dance scene between the co-workers in Love Actually.

  1. Muse – Feeling Good from the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, the song was made famous by Nina Simone.

From 2001 album Origin of Symmetry, it was also released as a single. Only Muse could manage to take one of the most covered soul songs of all time and turn it into a rock number which just makes you “feel good”. Especially during Matt Ballamy’s spine-tingling falsettos.

  1. Adele – Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan

From her 2008 debut album 19. Dylan’s version was sweet, but Adele’s version is epic.

  1. Ryan Adams –Wonderwall by Oasis

You know it’s a good cover when the author of the song -Noel Gallagher (who’s notorious for ripping on other peoples work) – says this about it:

“I went to see Ryan Adams in Manchester… So he’s playing away and he just does ‘Wonderwall’ right in the middle of the set. The fucking place went silent. It was so beautiful. I was just like, ‘Fucking Jesus Christ what a fucking song!’ Afterwards, I told him, ‘You can have that song, man, because we could never quite get it right.’ 

  1. Sarah McLachlan – Blackbird by The Beatles

One of the many beautiful covers from the I Am Sam soundtrack, which was made up entirely of Beatles music.

  1. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Always acknowledged as one of the best covers to ever exist, this take on Hallelujah is how I fell for this song and I know I’m not the only one. When do you ever hear Leonard Cohen’s original popping up on every radio station imaginable? Answer = never. Why? Because Jeff Buckley’s version is the go to.

  1. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton

She recorded the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. It spent 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is one of the best-selling singles of all time. Is there anyone questioning why? I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love this song. 

  1. Alex and Sierra – Gravity by Sara Bareilles

The American X-Factor duo and real life couple were favourites in the 2013 season. When you listen to this song you’ll no why, their take on this song is emotion invoking in every way.

  1. Neil Young – A Day in the Life by The Beatles

This has become a staple on every Neil Young set list. I’ve seen him twice in concert and both times I’ve been completely blown away by this amazing cover. He takes one of the most iconic songs of all time and blows it out of the water with his grungy take.

  1. Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse – Valerie by The Zutons

Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse took what was a funky little indie track by English rock band The Zutons, and turned it into a super hit in 2007. It’s on the playlist of every bar DJ and gets everyone on the dance floor singing along with each play.

  1. Ben Howard – Call Me Maybe by Carley Rae Jepsen

Performed in the Radio 1 Live Lounge in 2012. Only Ben Howard could take the girliest pop song of the year and turn it into a slow, crooning masterpiece. My friend and I used to laugh that Jepsen’s version is for the hitting the dance floor while Howard’s cover is there to help you recover from your hangover the next day.

  1. Ed Sheeran – In My Life by The Beatles

Performed as part of the 2014 tribute show The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY Salute. Sheeran takes a famous Beatles love song and puts his own delicate spin on it with this stripped back version that had Paul and Ringo nodding with pleasure in the audience.

 

Song of the Week – Neptune

Neptune – Terrible Sons

This last week I’ve been a happy girl. I’ve been impatiently waiting for some new material from the wonderful Kiwi star LA Mitchell for a while now. Granted, Neptune might not be quite the same powerhouse soul-pop I’m used to from LA (aka Lauren Barus) but this offering from side-project Terrible Sons, is just as spine-tingling, albeit in a different way.

Terrible Sons is the moniker for Lauren and her husband, Matt Barus. Of course these two aren’t newbies on the New Zealand music scene, the pair are both part of rock-band Dukes and each have stellar reputations. This is the first track from their soon-to-be-released album which brings together a bunch of songs telling the tales of life in Christchurch after earthquakes destroyed much of the city.

Neptune is a mellow offering which resonates with me. I’m certain this is due to the lovely contrast in the voices of Lauren and Matt. I’m used to hearing Lauren’s voice booming in her solo work, I love that style of hers, but this I love too. Neptune showcases a different side to her which is just as compelling, even if it’s not in such an attention grabbing manner. Her vocals take on an ethereal quality as they float alongside Matt’s silky and soothing accompaniment.

The delicate song is carried by a gentle acoustic melody which is brought alive in the chorus with the introduction of a chilling violin. With this, Neptune ebbs and flows in tempo and volume, creating a melancholic magic much like the beautiful ocean scenes depicted in the video that goes with it.

You also can’t go past the stunning lyrics in Neptune. Lauren and Matt Barus are poets as well as multi-talented musicians:

“black is the storm, ill-tempered and too hard to please”

“pain is so sharp, sharp as a lover can be”

If you like the works of Sean Carey and RY X, you’ll love Terrible Sons. Neptune has a similar tone to their works and is the perfect track for a bout of easy but compelling listening. I’m now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the duo’s new album.

Song of the Week – I Can’t Make You Love Me

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I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt

Today I stumbled across a video of Kiwi artists Ginny Blackmore and Stan Walker performing a cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me. The link flashed up on my Twitter feed and a moment of panic ran through me as I clicked play on the video – what if it’s not any good? This is easily one of my most favourite songs ever, I love it with a passion and I am terrified by the thought of someone butchering it. But actually, this Kiwi duo did a superb job. Blackmore’s voice is pitch perfect, soft but strong on the important notes, and well controlled. As for Walker, his falsetto is unreal. His performance in this song showcases a new side of him as a muscian for me. Despite a few too many trills for my liking, I think he sings this song with the passion and poise it deserves. A round of applause for the pair!

Check out their cover here: http://www.maifm.co.nz/VIDEOGAMES/GinnyBlackmoreStanWalkerExclusive.aspx

Then I started thinking about another special cover of this song. It gets me every time. In February 2012 Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Sean Carey did a live recording of five songs at AIR Studios Lyndhurst Hall. As a big fan of the group I was first in line to check out the new video. It’s a spectacular performance of their hits Wash, Hinnom, TX and Beth/Rest (well worth a watch in its entirety on YouTube if you have a spare 25minutes). But the most exciting part about it was when I saw I Can’t Make You Love Me on the playlist.

The pair bring this song to life in such a different way. It’s a very personalised, unique version but in no way does it lose the heart of Raitt’s song. Sean Carey and Justin Vernon each play a beatuiful Steinway and Sons open-top grand piano and the sound quality is chilling. Carey takes the first verse and chorus of the song and performs it in a higher key than Raitt would, complimenting his voice and giving the song an entirely different sound while still maintaining it’s unique slow pace and haunting piano.

Then in comes Vernon. Prepare yourself for the spine tingles, he blows it out of the park. In his classic falsetto he takes the song up a notch and as Carey joins him on the piano the song continues to build and build. The tune is perfectly Bon Iver-ised. It’s impossible not to love.

Watch their AIR Studios performance here (Skip to approx 8 minutes for I Can’t Make You Love Me) :

But of course nothing tops the original, ever! Bonnie Raitt is a true legend for writing such a beautiful song and singing it with such powerful elegance. This song will forever be a favourite and I’m sure many more people will cover it in years to come. I just hope they do it as much justice as the lot above because it don’t get much better than this!

The original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW9Cu6GYqxo