Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Greetings: Rudolph/"Roxanne" Mashup

In response to my previous post on covers, my friend Nick turned me on to a clever mashup of Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Police's "Roxanne." A funny and clever mix complete with video featuring cuts from the 1965 stop-motion tv program that is still popular today.

Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N4EFVgtB0Y

You can also see my friend Nick covering the mashup at a live performance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMB8qGB7dnc

What's your favorite holiday cover?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Paul Wisner Rates "Kids in America" Covers

Occasionally, and much to the dismay of our keyboardist/guitarist Paul Wisner, my band covers a song. In fact, we (Miskatonic) played an entire set of unlikely cover songs at our singer's wedding. But aside from that, I can only recall three that we've played out: "Do It Clean" (Echo and the Bunnymen), "I Was Made for Loving You" (KISS) and "Kids in America" (Kim Wilde).

Paul thinks we shouldn't cover any songs; but if we had to it should be a unique version, "based on the the original words and melody - as opposed to mimicking a particular recorded performance." He points to Sonic Youth's haunting interpretation of The Carpenter's "Superstar" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y21VecIIdBI).

In this spirit, he recently shared with the band his ratings of "Kids in America" covers ...

MxPx (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QuuKqwRpCc)

The Muffs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31amCrgicbI&feature=related)
Pennywise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFuWMXxpf5M)
The Bloodhound Gang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxtvwd-2lw)
The Donnas (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu-8soqGK-U)
Len (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dxkF-GWwCQ)

Lawnmower Deth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJz6_PEu6Iw)

Cascada (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRLxeiBzSJQ&feature=related)
Kim-Lian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieyU4F76EYU&feature=related)
Hannah Montana (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7o_aateAsE&feature=related)

The Jonas Brothers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOZxpCyGxF8)
No Secrets (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYAPDCEaJ80&feature=related)

I'm sure he didn't capture all of them ... any others worth consideration??

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sheila Divine Reunites to Record a Fan-Funded Album

The Sheila Divine, much beloved Boston-based band of the '90s, has reunited to record a new album. (For background, they were previous written about in this blog here.) That's great news in and of itself, but what's more insteresting is that singer/songerwriter - and digital marketer - Aaron Perrino, has used the project-funding site, KickStarter, to finance this project. In his own words:

"Well it's 2010 and The Sheila Divine has decided to join the party. We want to try and recreate that lightning in a bottle. The original 3 piece line up of Aaron Perrino, Jim Gilbert, and Shawn Sears are teaming up with Brian Charles producer of New Parade to have another go at creating a piece of work that we can be proud of."

Setting an initial goal of $5,000, the band has proven that they are fondly remembered - and still relevent - raising more than $13,000. Pledgers of $1 or more get a digital download of the album, which is now in progress. Pledge $15 and add a signed photograph from the recording sessions. Increased generousity gets you t-shirts, limited edition vinyl presses, visits to the recording studio, tickets to a concert, etc. Then, starting at $500 it gets really interesting:
  • Pledge $500 or more and they will record any cover of your choosing and give you the exclusive rights and ownership to it.
  • $1,000 or more gets you an original song that you are the exlcusive owner of. (You can even have your wife's name in it.)

  • For $1,500 or more: "What do you want from us? Dinner at an amazing restaurant? A date with Jim? All the options above are fair game or email us your pitch."
  • And, finally for $5,000 they will perform a concert in your town. 
They have two backers at $500, but none above that. I wonder what covers they will be recording! ...

It's a great idea succesfully implemented by Aaron. As a small-time pledger I have been receiving regular updates from them with links to downloads of just-finished songs. Surprise gifts delivered to my inbox!

You can read more about their project on Kickstarter here. And you can listen to some of the songs they've recorded here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Danielson: Not Your Father's Christian Rock

When I was young and someone referred to Christian rock, I thought of Stryper and other third-rate bands who would never have had an audience if there didn't exist a group of Christians who were intent on hearing their faith expressed by big-haired hard rockers. I also thought of Godspell, a favorite of my parents. Now I know that's not a fair association and that Christian rock is not a genre of music ... but that was the association I grew up with.
Daniel Smith, the singer/songwriter behind the band, Danielson, hates it when reviews of his band begin with disclaimers about "Christian rock." He wonders why reviews of reggae albums don't begin with disclaimers about the writer's views on Rastafari. He has a good point. But the reggae albums I've listened to tend not to push their religion on me ... and I am not accustomed to being evangelized by Rastafarians. I have, however, had Christianity pushed on me. But that's not Danielson's fault.

Danielson's overarching message is the healing powers of Christianity. In fact, they are known for wearing nurses outfits during concerts to visually represent this message. Yet, Danielson has attracted an indie audience while largely being ignored by the fledgling Christian rock scene. Their innovative songs and performances are challenging even for the indie listener. Smith often sings in a squeaky falsetto, with family members responding high '50s-inspired backing vocals. The structure of the music can be complex - and the instrumentation is varied, ranging from Smith singing alone with an acoustic guitar (often while wearing a nine-foot-tall textile tree costume), to arrangements that involve string and horn sections. The result is hard to put into words, but let me try: The Pixies on acid playing children's songs at a Christian revival meeting. 

Danielson formed almost inadvertently in 1994 when Smith performed his musical thesis at Rutgers University with his siblings, the youngest just 12 years old. The project received an A, the family became a band, and the 24-song album was later released as A Prayer for Every Hour. Smith continued to write and perform songs with his family and other rotating members, releasing increasingly ambitious and impressive albums. They were helped along the way by famed indie icons Kramer and Steve Albini, who produced some of their early albums. This gave them indie cred, and they found themselves performing alternately at small town churches and hip NYC venues such as the Knitting Factory.

Where should you start your listening? I'd suggest Ships, Danielson's most recent full-length, or Brother is to Son, a sort-of best-of collection. They are band that is easy to rule out, but stick with it. Danielson is one of the most innovative, inspiring, and interesting bands playing today.

Recently the band has been chosen by Matt Groening to perform at the edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival he is curating in May 2010 in Minehead, England. They have also recently released a two-song EP, Moment Soakers

Below is the video for "Did You Step On My Trumpet" from Ships.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Video: Cleveland Hardcore Scene Circa 1986

In 1986, Brad Pedinoff (b. mossman) and I were paired to do a project for our ethnomusicology class at Oberlin College. Since we shared an interest in alternative music we decided to make a video of the Cleveland hardcore scene, which I was familiar with from growing up outside of Cleveland. We trekked into the city for the weekend and ran around town filming as much as we could. It was a productive 48 hours. We interviewed record store owners, fans, bands (The Guns, Spike in Vain, and Knifedance) - and filmed Knifedance in their practice space.

It was the first video either of us had made, so the filming and editing is rough - and it is narrated from an enthnomusicological perspective. But it captures a moment in Cleveland's music history that has received little documentation.

Since then, much has happened. Sadly, some of the people we interviewed died at young ages. Dave Araca, drummer for The Guns and Knifedance, a talented tattoo artist, and really nice guy, suffered a brain aneurysm in 1994 at age 26. Scott Eakin, guitarist for The Guns and Knifedance (and a childhood friend of Dave's) died in 2007 of a heart attack at age 38. On the brighter side, Bob Griffin (Spike in Vain) went on form the band Prisonshake and to become the president of Scat Records, a successful label that produced Guided by Voices and My Dad is Dead among other notable bands. I'm not sure what became of the other people we interviewed. Please share an updates you have.