May 30, 2010

Modcast #166: Mr. Suave's Got You Covered

Welcome to Mr. Suave's big cover lay down. That's right, I've got it all covered with great cover tracks from the Hot Rats, Graham Coxon, the Scissor Sisters, Oasis and more. For the most part the songs here are almost all completely reinterpreted in fresh new ways, making them a joy to listen to. Again. There are a couple that aren't remade, but rather done pretty straight as tributes I guess, and they're pretty damn good ones too. I love covers, the good, the bad, and the ugly even. Good covers are like those by the Hot Rats, either its a totally unique take on an old song, or it's just a great tribute.

Cover bands are nothing new. Symphonies have been covering Mozart, Beethoven and Bach for hundreds of years. The Rolling Stones and lots of other sixties acts started out covering the blues. But the modern rise of cover bands from tavern corner dwellers and wedding singers to chart topping hit makers seems to me to date back to the mid-90s and the arrival of Me First & The Gimme Gimmes who started releasing punk covers, that is covers of songs done by punks. That was also nothing new if you think back to Sid Vicious covering Frank Sinatra, or The Jam covering Marthe and the Vanellas. But where in the past acts had usually done one-off cover songs, here was a band that did only covers. And not at weddings (bar mitzvahs yes, weddings not so much).

Still, since then it seems that the cover genre has exploded with Reel Big Fish doing ska covers, Richard Cheese doing lounge covers, Nouvelle Vague doing ... well whatever the hell it is that Nouvelle Vogue does.

Anyhow, I've tried to pick covers that hopefully will surprise you in one way or another.

The Hot Rats -- (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party (Beastie Boys)
Oasis -- To Be Someone (The Jam)
Garbage -- Butterfly Collector (The Jam)
Graham Coxon -- All Mod Cons (The Jam)
The Editors -- Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads)
Scissor Sisters -- Take Me Out (Franz Ferdinand)
The Muffs -- Kids In America (Kim Wilde)
Matthew Swee & Susanna Hoffs -- And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles)
Oasis -- Here Comes The Nice (Small Face)
Mad Parade -- Mother's Little Helper (The Rolling Stones)
The Ramones -- Substitute (The Who)
The Hot Rats -- Lovecats (The Cure)

Dynamite Hack -- Boyz in da Hood

Green Day -- My Generation


May 25, 2010

Me Likey Likey The Like

With echoes of The Bangles and Elastica ringing throughout their songs The Like are very likable. The band came together almost a decade back, and considering their age it's not inconceivable that their first "gigs" were in somebody's family room. But, when you consider who their parents are you realize that their first full play sessions were probably in fully loaded state of the art studios.

The original trio of young lady musicians sported an impressive pedigree. Charlotte Froom (bass), Tennessee Thomas (drums), and Z. Berg (vocals) were all the respective get of some of the music industry's finest: producer Mitchell Froom, drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) and A&R impresario Tony Berg.

Their first album Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? dropped in 2005 and showed a lot of promise, with a very polished sound that would have once been called alternative and which showed occasional glimmers of genius. There was an unmistakable Bangles likeness throughout right from the get go. And Berg's vocals are reminiscent of Elastica's Justine Frischmann, no more so than on "What I Say And What I Mean". You could also detect other notable influences such as The Sundays, The Pretenders and even The Sugarcubes. The album was good, but not great.

Flashforward five years and things have changed. Berg seems to be the only remaining original member, the trio is now a four-piece combo, and The Like have just released an EP "Release Me" as a precursor, a teaser of sorts, for their forthcoming full-length disk of the same name. The biggest change though is the band's thoroughly mod style and sound. The Like's embrace of all things sixties is as delightful as it is surprising. Typically groups tend to have those retro moments early on and slowly move away from the derivative styles and sounds. Not so The Like. Presumably under Berg's tutelage, the band has produced a very sixties styled EP, and one killer video ("He's Not A Boy") to go with it. The title track is a rather all-too-typical girl group sound, but has just enough vocal intensity that it doesn't sink into sickeningly sweet but rather bounces along in an excellent pop vein. With The Pipettes having jumped the shark, you might think this is too little too late, but I think The Like have enough of a rough edge, and more than enough talent, complimented with a pop sensibility that keep the songs fresh and modern. Let's hope the album follows suit.

The Like -- Fair Game (2010)

The Like -- what I Say And What I Mean (2005)

The Like -- He's Not A Boy

May 23, 2010

Modcast #165: Back In The Saddle Again

As Nina Simone might have put it, I've been gone too long baby. It's been almost a full month since the last modcast. (It's been so long, that back then Seattlites were still thinking the Mariner's might go to the playoffs. How quickly things change.) Part of that time was just a much needed vacation for yours truly -- sadly, not a real vacation, just a vacation from producing the modcast, blogging, etc. Part of it was also a minor computer melt down that led to reformating my main machine as well some spring cleaning for all my hard drives and servers. All of which means, this show should really kick some ass. Here's hoping.

This is modcast #165. Modcast #1 was produced and posted online away back in May of 2006 if you can believe. So, I'm celebrating the show's fourth birthday this month and kicking off season five. To do so I've dug out a few mod deep cuts, some more recent indie pop sounds, a bit of soul here (and hear) and there, and am rolling out what I think is a very listenable and likable show. Again, here's hoping.

Eddie Mooney & The Grave -- Zombie (1978)
Haircut 100 -- Calling Capt. Autumn (Live NYC 1983)
Andy Lewis -- Till I Lost You (2006)
James Taylor Quartet -- Come See About Me (2007)
Back Seat Romeos -- Zero Ambition (1981)
The Risk -- It's So Strange (1987)
The Dansette -- This Is Your Life (1986)
Teenage Fanclub -- Slow Fade Pictures (2005)
The Icicles -- Chasing Fireflies (2007)
Sparkle Jets UK -- Sorry (2002)
Ministers Of The Groove -- Getting Our Of Your Life (1986)

The Risk - "Inside Straight" (from "Live at New Sounds" -1986)

James Taylor Quartet - Love Will Keep Us Together


May 21, 2010

The School Graduates To Full-Fledged Indie-Soul Status

Twee bands of yesteryear, indie-popsters in today's terms, have always had a healthy dose of soul to help their music get down. The School has been no exception. They've just recenlty released their debut full-length player, and as expected they have put together a charming blend of girlishly delicious soul music, with sunny pop music. It's a mix that is often attempted, and seldom achieved with more than mediocre success.

The School however have gone above and beyond mediocre to be sure. The album bounces along from their 2008 single "Let It Slip" to the jaunty, girl-groupish "Hoping And Praying", to the very twee-like "I Want You Back".

The songs are tight and dancable. The vocals are light and sweet and seem to almost float along atop the music itself. There's nothing terribly deep about the album --a seemingly familiar love story-- which adds to its charm and makes it work all that much more. And while it's not deep, the last song --featuring the only male vocal-- is poignant in its title statement, "I Don't Believe In Love." The song is also the moodiest and most captivating in that respect.

All in all a very enjoyable album on many levels. Fans of Camera Obscura, Duffy, The Icicles, The Pipettes (the real original Pipettes not the poor knock-offs wearing the name of late), Birdie and so on will probably love this album. So will everyone else who gives it a whirl.

The School -- Hoping And Praying

May 8, 2010

Modcast #167: Classic Songs Ska'd For Life

Welcome to Mr Suave's Mod Mod World, the big ska covers show. I don't know when exactly it happened, but at some point covers ceased to be just a ska band staple as they were for Madness, The Beat, The Specials and so on back in the two-tone era. Then, covers were soemthing that rounded out a band's performance, a nice little extra that was the musical cherry on top of each band's original ice cream sundae. Now, not so much. You practically can't be a ska band these days if you aren't doing a slew of covers of classic songs in a ska style. For better or worse, the modern ska catalog owes as much to covers as it does to original composition. There are ska styled covers of everything from the Village People's "YMCA" to the Star Wars theme song.

Listen Now

So, here then is a whole bunch of ska related covers. This whole modcast is either songs done in a ska style, or a cover of a ska band made new, or something along those lines. There's even a cover of a cover of a cover of a commercial buried in here.

Reel Big Fish -- Mama We're All Crazy Now (Slade)
The Selecter -- The Tide Is High (The Paragons)
The Hot Rats -- Mirror In The Bathroom (The Beat)
Skanatra -- Come Fly With Me (Frank Sinatra)
The Rifles -- Rat Race (The Specials)
Amy Winehouse -- Monkey Man (The Specials)
Lily Allen -- Gangsters (The Specials)
The Ordinary Boys -- Little Bitch (The Specials)
The Pepper Pots -- Be My Baby (The Ronnettes)
Bad Manners -- Music To Watch Girls By (Andy Williams)
The Specials -- Sock It To 'Em J.B. (Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers)
Pete Townsend -- Save It For Later (The Beat)

Reel Big Fish -- Take On Me