Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Covers 3: Nada Surf on the hi-fi

Nada Surf is one of those bands that became great when I wasn't paying attention. The 1996 album High/Low contained a single, Popular, that pigeon-holed the group for me. With clever, ironic lyrics, chunky guitars and a catchy feel that sat somewhere between tunes like Weezer's Buddy Holly and Nerf Herder's Van Halen, Popular didn't make me a lifelong fan. But in the last few years, I've been catching up on the albums I missed, and every one is full of compelling melodies, strong harmonies, and subtle beauty. I think it's hard to make records this pretty without sounding wimpy, but Nada Surf seem to be carving out their own niche of power pop glory.

Nada Surf are selling their new cover song album, if i had a hi-fi(album art pictured above), at their shows at the moment. The record won't be out for sale anywhere else until June 8th. I love that cover art, don't you? Made for a pretty gatefold sleeve, looks like, but I don't know if it will be released in that form (gatefold, I mean - it is coming out on vinyl).

Track listing:

Electrocution (Bill Fox)

Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)

Love Goes On (The Go-Betweens)

Janine (Arthur Russell)

You Were So Warm (Dwight Twilley)

Love and Anger (Kate Bush)

The Agony of Laffitte (Spoon)

Bye Bye Beaute (Coralie Clement)

Question (Moody Blues)

Bright Side (Soft Pack)

Evolution (Mercromina)

I Remembered What I Was Going to Say (The Silly Pillows)

Nada Surf - Electrocution by Royalty Central

This OMD cover's not on if i had a hi-fi, but it's pretty good.

If you leave- nada surf by 0agal0

The songs below are Nada Surf originals, but Scruffy loves them, maybe you will too.

01-Nada Surf-See These Bones by felixrey

Nada Surf - Weightless by ByronMittens

Nada surf's web site will let you hear a demo of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Covers 2: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

photo by Tom Brogan

You can always tell fellow music obsessed types by the music they listen to themselves. Ted Leo clearly loves music, as evidenced by the gargantuan amount of cover songs he's unleashed upon us fellow music geeks. You Ain't No Picasso has amassed a startling collection of covers you can snatch up here. How did he know I love Nick Lowe? How did he guess my fascination with Split Enz? Has Mr. Leo been spying on me and my current fixation with The Replacements? Maybe not, but if he starts doing Son Volt, Hardship Post, and Robyn Hitchcock or the Soft Boys, I'm gonna get worried. Here's a sprinkling, download them all and much, much more at YANP.

So It Goes (Nick Lowe)

Six Months in a Leaky Boat (Split Enz)- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Can't Hardly Wait (The Replacements)

I'm Looking Through You (The Beatles)

Joey (Concrete Blonde)

Outdoor Miner (Wire)

The Onion's A/V. Club are putting 25 video cover versions out there, and Ted Leo did the first. Tears for Fears? The other covers sure look interesting, with Scruffy favourites like R.E.M., Guided By Voices, and Pavement all making the cut.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have a new record out called The Brutalist Bricks. Here's a couple from that one.

Ted Leo And The Pharmacists - Even Heroes Have To Die by Royalty Central

Ted Leo - The Mighty Sparrow by nmemagazine

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Covers 1: Bill Janovitz, Part time Man of Rock

I've never devoted a whole post to someone else's blog, but Bill Janovitz's part of our digital world has often had a stranglehold on my attention. Janovitz may be mainly known as the frontman of Buffalo Tom. Few people seem to know that he has continued to make great records; for example, his first solo cd, Lonesome Billy, should be hailed as an American classic. And Buffalo Tom has put out some good music fairly recently too.

But Janovitz's blog, Bill Janovitz - Part Time Man of Rock, is a mixture of good blogging, great art, fine writing, occasional history lessons (always relevant), and personal experiences, and it always comes back to the music. Well-chosen covers for his Cover of the Week (The Replacements, Radiohead, Big Star, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, and so on) acoustic versions of Buffalo Tom tunes, some requests, it's all good, all free mp3s. I wanted to post this quite a while ago, but Janovitz suffered a personal tragedy recently, and it didn't seem right for me to be pointing at him or pointing you towards him.

But now you should do yourself a favour and check his blog out. You can also buy his music or his book here, you might even be able to buy the t-shirt pictured above and support his blog (try the link on the right side).

I Ain't that Lonely Yet- Dwight Yoakam Cover (download here)

American Girl - Tom Petty cover (download here)

Hardly Getting Over It - Husker du cover (download here)

Shoulder (from Lonesome Billy)

Gaslight (from Lonesome Billy)

Girl's Club (from Lonesome Billy)

Red Balloon (from Lonesome Billy)

Buffalo Tom - Three Easy Pieces (download here)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Weakerthans live, Smallman is dead(?)

Today The Weakerthans released Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre, a cd/dvd package celebrating the band's 13 years and 4 albums. I missed the April 2009 show(s) (I think they played two nights) at which they recorded this stuff, but I did make it out to an aftershow party at the Albert, which was doubly good because the band played for fun and The Wind-ups opened up in their regular wildly energetic fashion.

Here's the track listing, you can stream the whole thing at Spinner.com.

01. Everything Must Go

02. Tournament of Hearts

03. Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris in 1969)

04. Night Windows|Reconstruction Site

05. Aside

06. Civil Twilight

07. Bigfoot

08. Plea From A Cat Named Virtute

09. The Reasons|Sun In An Empty Room

10. Left and Leaving|Wellington's Wednesdays

11. Benediction

12. Manifest

13. One Great City!

14. This Is A Fire Door Never Leave Open

15. Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure

In somewhat related news, John K. Samson's former band Propagandhi has announced a search for a new label and disclosed that Winnipeg's Smallman Records is closing down. I have not yet seen an official announcement and am anxiously awaiting a confirmation that it is not true, but sites such as Exclaim.ca are reporting it as reality. I sure hope it ain't true. Besides Propagandhi, Smallman's brought us fine recordings from Sylvie, Sights and Sounds, Comeback Kid, Sick City, Choke, Our Mercury, and Moneen, among others. It was also set to release Greg MacPherson's Mr. Invitation album March 30. Say it ain't so, Smallman!

Greg MacPherson - First Class (download here)

Greg MacPherson - Outside Edge (download here)

Propagandhi - Humane Meat (download here)

Sights and Sounds - The Only Time (download here)

Sylvie - Dark Ages (download here)

Our Mercury - Shawna Don't Wanna (download here)

Sylvie - Rise and Fall from Smallman Records on Vimeo.

Sick City - Smiles and Cries from Smallman Records on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sloan Wins Again

Sloan has unleashed their second digital only release, B Sides Win. When they put out their "hits" collection A Sides Win a few years back, I wondered when this one would rear its head. I really wanted them to put the rare stuff out, and I really wanted them not to do it. I mean, I love this band, and at the moment, their first two records from back in the early 90's are competing with 2006's Never Hear the End of It (the mammoth 29 track try-everything-we-can epic) for my favourites. But, like many aging collectors, the digital age has trumped our personal passions. I worked hard to amass my rare Sloan tunes, bought rare 45s, German cd-singles, magazines with flexi-discs or cd-singles, compilations...and now for $9.99 you can get 26 of those hard-bought gems.

And it's good, too. From the early semi-grunge/shoegaze stuff to the genius pop that followed to the rock-radio-ready riffers to the newer let's-take-a-stab-at-greatness clasic songcraft showcases, it's all there. If you haven't been paying attention to these guys lately, remember, these are the B-sides, the cast-offs, the rarities - not every band can pull together a collection like this and still have good stuff left over. I think my fave that didn't make it on here was a cover that came out in 1992 - can anyone guess what it is? Click on "learn more" in the player below to buy or get more details.