Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part four

Good morning, good morning. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday weekend and if you celebrate them, a merry Christmas and a fruitful Boxing day… well, as merry and as fruitful as possible, given the circumstances.

We’ve finally nearly reached the end of this crazy year 2020 (give yourselves a congratulatory pat on the back). We’re now just two days removed from New Year’s eve and the unveiling of my favourite album of the year, and here I am unleashing the fourth part of my ‘New tunes of 2020’ playlist series. This is the first time in the past three years of doing these playlist series that I’ve actually managed a fourth part, even though it has always been planned in the past. And this is only partially because of life getting in the way of my blogging and playlist creation fun. In reality, one of the biggest roadblocks to managing a fourth part for the fourth quarter has, in the past, been the lack of quality new releases. I’ve always found that the new music release calendar trails off a bit after November, brand new music giving way to reissues and best of compilations, just in time for Christmas giving.

I was more successful putting together this fourth playlist this year because I accepted these limitations and decided to make this a b-sides compilation of sorts. The first half of these tracks are new tunes that came out in October and the first half of November and the rest are tracks that didn’t make the cut, for one reason or another, for the first three playlists of this year but were still great enough to share. You may want to check out the other three mixes first (here, here, and here) but I think you’ll find this one just as excellent.

So let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this ‘b-side’ playlist:

      • “Hold my hand”, a raucous psych-rock mess by Death Valley Girls, aka a song pulled from the pages of a book called “Why haven’t I heard of this band before?”
      • A heavy-duty, jangly bundle of energy called “Love comes in waves” off the debut solo album by Ride’s Andy Bell
      • “Stay out”, a banjo barn stomper off “Keeper”, the latest album by Canadian alternative country trio Elliott Brood
      • Isobel Campbell’s soft touch cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a dream”
      • A super fun, eighties throwback called “On division st.” by Brooklyn indie pop act, Nation of Language
      • “Vibrant colours”, the dreamy single off the debut album by new Canadian artist, Zoon, cheekily coined moccasin-gaze

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “Hold my hand” Death Valley Girls (from the album Under the spell of joy)

2. “Trade it” Slow Pulp (from the album Moveys)

3. “Waving at the window” Travis (from the album 10 songs)

4. “For sure” Future Islands (from the album As long as you are)

5. “Impossible weight” Deep Sea Diver with Sharon Van Etten (from the album Impossible weight)

6. “Worth it” beabadoobee (from the album Fake it flowers)

7. “Distant axis” Matt Berninger (from the album Serpentine prison)

8. “Say less” Nothing (from the album The great dismal)

9. “Love comes in waves” Andy Bell (from the album The view from halfway down)

10. “Stay out” Elliott Brood (from the album Keeper)

11. “Weight of the world” 5 Billion In Diamonds (from the album Divine accidents)

12. “Barcelona” Twin Atlantic (from the album Power)

13. “Runnin’ down a dream” Isobel Campbell (from the album There is no other…)

14. “Southwark” Yumi Zouma (from the album Truth or consequence)

15. “Electric roses” Basia Bulat (from the album Are you in love?)

16. “I got the hots for Charlie Watts” The Exbats (from the album Kicks, hits and fits)

17. “What I’ve done to help” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (from the album Reunions)

18. “Can’t get out” Woods (from the album Strange to explain)

19. “Shake your diamonds” The Rentals (from the album Q36)

20. “Chaos and confusion” Venus Furs (from the album Venus Furs)

21. “Party with the kids who wanna party with you” Bad Moves (from the album Untenable)

22. “The way things are” Porcelain Raft (from the album Come rain)

23. “On Division st.” Nation Of Language (from the album Introduction, presence)

24. “Bad girls forever” Pins (from the album Hot slick)

25. “Vibrant colours” Zoon (from the album Bleached wavves)

And as I’ve said before, I’ll say again: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #76 Weezer “The weight”

<< #77    |    #75 >>

A year or two ago, a teenaged girl started a social media campaign on Twitter calling for American 90s alt-rock icons Weezer to cover Toto’s hit from the 1980s, “Africa.” Six months later, the band relented, releasing their almost note-perfect cover, and because of it, have seen something of a resurgence, scoring their first big hit since 2009. Of course, the success of this one-off cover inspired a whole side album to be released in tandem with an album of new material. That so-called “Teal album”, an album full of covers of 80s tunes (among others), was released electronically in January of this year and pressed to teal coloured vinyl for Record Store Day. This release got people wondering if it was all some big joke but I didn’t think so. Weezer has always been retro leaning, always having fun, and never one to shy away from recording covers. One such cover was included as a bonus track on the UK release of their 2008 album, one of their many self-titled long players, nicknamed for the cover’s colour, which in this case was Red.

Canadian-American rock collective, The Band, released the original version of “The weight” in 1968 as part of their classic album, “Music from the big pink”. It is considered by many to be one of the best, most influential rock songs ever recorded. It is by now looked at as a standard and has been covered so many times, by so many artists, that it might as well be as such. Thus, I won’t even bother asking my usual question of “which do you prefer?”, though I give you full permission to debate the issue in the comments section if you so choose.

As great as I feel the original is in this case, Weezer’s cover might have it beat in one category: that being, the length of the recording. I always felt the groove could’ve been played out much longer in the original and I imagine it must’ve been every time The Band performed it live. It just has that awesome jam vibe. Both Weezer’s and Travis’s cover (another version I quite enjoy and that you can check out here), seem to slow it down a beat and drag another 30 seconds or so out of it. The Weezer cover starts out sounding much like the original with the rough pull on the acoustic but then, the raunchy guitars kick in, replacing the rag-timey piano of the original, and the blues turns to rock.

Purists might sneer but I really like it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The cover:

The original:

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

Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #82 Travis “Baby one more time”

<< #83    |    #81 >>

So here’s one that you can place firmly in the fun column.

I came across this particular cover during a brief period in 2001 where I was a bit obsessed with Scottish alt-pop band Travis and I was on the hunt for everything they’d recorded. Appearing as a B-side to the 1999 single “Turn”, it was recorded live and you can actually hear the laughter from the audience as they start to recognize the song. The band themselves can be heard snickering at the beginning, especially at the forced falsetto moments, but by the end, they are indeed performing it in earnest.

I also didn’t recognize the tune at first during my first sampling of it. It’s slowed some, performed stripped down to only an acoustic guitar with Fran Healy being joined, gang style, by the rest of the band on vocals. When it clicked, I still couldn’t believe what I was hearing and that’s what I think is so wonderful about it. It’s the surprise factor. A teen pop song performed by a pop band of a different sort and it works. I think so anyways.

As for the original, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to work too hard to jog your memory about it. Which is good because I can’t say I know much about Ms. Spears. However, I certainly have been overexposed to a bunch of her songs over the years and this one was particularly ubiquitous at the end of the nineties. I remember watching the video for the first time in disbelief. It was so obviously a ploy, a riff on the catholic school girl fantasy, but it worked. The song was huge, making her over from a former Mouseketeer to a pop star in the blink of an eye. Still, she likely got too big, too fast, given her tabloid ready lifestyle, and has had to forge more than one comeback over her career.

It’s probably pretty obvious by now which version I prefer. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a hate on for the Britney, nor her version of the song. It’s well written and has a great hook. Her style and sound is just not to my taste.

Do you have an opinion on the matter? I’d love to hear it.

The cover:

The original:

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