100 best covers: #97 The Raveonettes “My boyfriend’s back”

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In October 2005, a video game called Stubbs the Zombie was unleashed upon the world. Being the world’s sorriest excuse for a gamer, it’s no surprise that I have neither seen nor played this game. (I should like to ask fellow blogger Sarca if she’s played and has thoughts on said game.) I assume it takes for its protagonist a zombie called Stubbs, given its title, but of its plot, I know nothing. I would posit, however, that it takes place in or about the 1950s or 1960s, having listened to its soundtrack. Yes, you heard that right. A soundtrack was made for this game (maybe this is a regular occurrence Sarca?) and it’s the music therein with which I am much more familiar.

Released on the same day as the game, the soundtrack boasts twelve covers of classics from the golden age of rock and roll and an original theme, all by indie artists that were popular in the mid-2000s. We have Cake performing “Strangers in the night”, Death Cab For Cutie doing “Earth angel”, and this lovely take on “My boyfriend’s back” by The Raveonettes.

The original number by The Angels is a bubble gum pop number from 1963 complete with handclaps and cheeky backup singers. It is kind of dark looking at it through today’s PC lenses, the singer threatening a guy with assault at the hands of her rather large boyfriend. It would seem that back in the day this guy would be seen as getting his just desserts since he had first harassed the girl for a date but once rebuffed (several times as it sounds), had spread rumours about her. But it’s all okay, you say, it’s a cheerful and fun song. They’re clapping their hands, fer chrissakes!

But then we listen to The Raveonettes’ cover, which also appears on their album from the same year, “Pretty in black”, and the mood is slightly different. Sure, it’s still boppy but the handclaps are replaced by electronic beats, the guitars are roughed up and raw, and Sharin Foo’s vocals are sassy, channelling Debbie Harry and almost insinuating that she doesn’t really need her boyfriend to defend her. It probably goes without saying that I enjoy this version better with all its noise and angst, while still hinting at the era of soda parlours and poodle dress, but I can certainly understand any nostalgic bliss directed at the original.

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Vinyl love: Belle And Sebastian “Girls in peacetime want to dance”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Belle And Sebastian
Album Title: Girls in peacetime want to dance
Year released: 2015
Details: black vinyl, 2 x LP, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: The Glasgow-based indie pop collective returned after five years with album number nine and to my ears, it’s their best in a decade. It’s fresh and rejuvenated and shows that Stuart Murdoch hasn’t quite found the end of his tether yet.

Standout track: “The party line”

Best tunes of 2010: #21 School Of Seven Bells “I L U”

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True story: In 2004, two bands embarked on a US-wide tour as opening acts for Interpol. Three years after the tour, a new band was formed from members of these two bands. Secret Machines would attempt to carry on without their lead guitarist, Benjamin Curtis, releasing one final album in 2008 but On!Air!Library! could not survive without twin vocalists, Claudia and Alejandra Dehaza.

School of Seven Bells was the name of said resulting band, a title they took from a legendary and perhaps fictional training school for pickpockets and thieves in a South America. They released two full-length albums, 2008’s “Alpinisms” and 2010’s “Disconnect from desire”, before Claudia quit the band, leaving behind a duo. There was another album released and they were working on a fourth when Benjamin Curtis was diagnosed with lymphoma and died suddenly in 2013. Alejandra finished his work and released the final album last year. But that’s a story for another day.

I got into School of Seven Bells because I was rather enamoured with Secret Machines’ first two albums and wanted to see what it was that could drag Benjamin Curtis away from such a good thing. As it turned out, I really liked his second band as well, though they were quite different. Where his first band was all about the big and epic prog-influenced, guitar rock, Curtis’s direction with School of Seven Bells takes his listeners on a dreamy, electronic voyage through mysticism of many different stripes.

“I L U” is, in my mind, the undisputed standout track on “Disconnect from desire”, the band’s second album. It a song of longing and regret and immobilizing sadness set to an incredible beat and irresistible waves of synths and guitars. The Dehaza sisters’ vocals are there, clear and strong, floating above the ether and threatening to delve deep into your soul. It hints at left of the dial eighties but there is something so very fresh about it at the same time.

And something otherworldly too. Indeed, “I L U” could be a dance floor filler at a dance club for ghosts. Lovely stuff.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.