Acoustic cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sister Morphine,” from their 1971 Sticky Fingers album.
** EDITOR’S NOTE: **
As Federico referenced above — and as you can see at the beginning of the video when he holds up the album cover — “Sister Morphine” is a deep track from 1971’s Sticky Fingers. The album has received very positive news, so this, along with the fact that “Wild Horses” hails from this record and Federico saw fit to pick from it, has made me believe I should make this my next Rolling Stones purchase.
I hesitate to admit this, but I’ve never listened to a Rolling Stones album…
Perhaps it’s time.
“Sister Morphine” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards along with Marianne Faithfull, who released the track as a B-side in 1969. It apparently took some legal intervention to get Jagger and Richards to include her name in the credits on the album.
Regardless of who had what part in writing it, Federico has brought his A-game as per usual, and has extended the great Laptop Sessions tradition of presenting an acoustic cover song that gets others interested in the original recording.
For now, enjoy his version and hurry back for more new material on the blog this weekend!
A bit raw and predictable around the edges, but an upbeat debut album with clear rock sensibilities and strong potential for the future (The Colour & the Shape, anyone?) from almost-Heartbreaker Dave Grohl…
Kicking off as it does with the a cappella “A Man Who’s Not Afraid,” it is immediately clear that House of Heroes continues to work to defy the preconceived formulas imposed on their genre. The next three tracks proceed to blow the roof off, raging with energy and literally screaming with ideas, criticisms, and hopes for change. While “We Were Giants” runs a bit predictably, “The Cop” rebounds with the rare acoustic outing by House of Heroes, highlighting their more subtle talents, primarily with vocals. Where this album falls of previous efforts, most notably 2010’s masterful Suburba, is from midpoint forward; the second half suffers from alternatingly predictable and bland moments that detract from the powerhouse opening. Still, Cold Hard Want is a strong effort that marks House of Heroes as band worth keeping track of.
Harakiri (Serj Tankian)
Producer: Serj Tankian
Released: July 10, 2012
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Uneducated Democracy” & “Cornucopia”
“We rape the earth and don’t know why it strikes,” Tankian sings early on Harakiri opening track “Cornucopia.” This sets the pace for the ten tracks that follow, ten songs driven by a critical voice that is masterfully woven into fast-paced soundscapes. As early as “Ching Chime,” there is an epic quality that Tankian achieves here, particularly on this track’s chorus. He seems to delight in continually ramping up the pacing, then alternatingly dropping back a notch to allow for some vocal breathing room and amping back up to nearly breakneck speed. The result is an album that is both fun to listen to and engaging: there is both a beat and a message to be conveyed for anyone willing to listen.
Released: July 31, 2012
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “I Won’t Go” & “The Wait Around”
When I reviewed thenewno2’s 2008 debut album You Are Here, the best description I could form was that it was what I imagine Radiohead would have sounded like if George Harrison had been their frontman. On their sophomore release, thenewno2 have maintained elements of their signature sound, yet I don’t know that this comparison holds true any longer. They seem to have progressed, developing their sound beyond the realm of handy comparison. However, there is something missing here on thefearofmissingout that helped to drive You Are Here and enabled its strong sense of cohesion. Still, it is rewarding to see the band stretching out a bit, incorporating new elements (rap, for instance), and maintaining an overall sense of experimenting with what will be their signature sound.
Hello and welcome to a very special Monday edition of the Laptop Sessions! What makes tonight so special, you might ask? Well, for the first time in months, I’m bringing you a cover song music video of a song that has yet to be released. No worries, though — if you like this song, then you’ll be able to buy it in stores tomorrow.
The song I’m bringing you tonight is “Who Says,” the first single from the forthcoming 2009 John Mayer studio album Battle Studies. There’s a little bit of a story behind this one, so here goes…
I first learned about this album when I happened upon Mayer’s video blog established to document the recording sessions. The first video was a tour of his newly designed and built home recording studio. Do I even need to describe it? Believe me, it’s drool-inducing. Although a couple of the entries were only jams or just a bit weird, I ended up searching YouTube for some of the new songs. As I expected, most were available as live concert performances that someone videotaped and uploaded. I listened to a couple, including “Who Says,” and I started to get excited about this release.
I have a general rule against hearing too much of an album before it comes out. After all, it’s more than half the fun of buying a new album to be able to get in the car, put it on the CD player, and discover the music for the first time. Sometimes this is an exciting, expectation-defying journey (a la last week’s Echo & the Bunnymen album The Fountain). Other times, it can be just as disappointing an experience as one can have (i.e. U2’s No Line on the Horizon deluxe edition CD).
I should also comment on my recent opinion of Mayer.
As I wrote in my review of Where the Light Is, I am a big fan of Mayer’s first three releases — the independently released EP Inside Wants Out, his debut Room For Squares, and his follow-up Heavier Things. And yet, just as he gained “credibility,” I lost interest. Yes, his third album Continuum offers some interesting guitar parts and melodies, but I resented the idea that he needed to become a blues afficionado in order to be accepted by those outside his stereotypical audience of young girls. In my mind, this was a step backward in his songwriting. Did no one notice or appreciate the effort he put into the album design for the first two albums, or the backing vocals in “Your Body is a Wonderland” that echo the chorus lyrics of “My Stupid Mouth”? There was so much care taken with those releases that the minimalism of his last release was disappointing. From the title of Heavier Things alone, one could imply that Mayer was interested in tackling more “important issues” and being taken more seriously.
But, even in Heavier Things, he retained his sense of what was important — interpersonal relations, perspective, ambition, etc. On Continuum, political and social issues apppeared as the subjects for his songs, which always seemed out of place to me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have an intense sense of loyalty, sometimes to my own detriment. But I had told myself I wouldn’t buy future Mayer releases to spare myself further disappointment, as I did with Where the Light Is. That being said, I can’t deny that this single “Who Says” sounds more to me like the John Mayer that I enjoyed listening to on earlier works. It’s simple, catchy, and tackles the same desires that my favorite John Mayer songs always did — namely, the desire for freedom from personal and social expectations (think: “No Such Thing,” “Not Myself,” “Bigger Than My Body,” and others). I don’t read the reference to marijuana as a literal desire to get high, but rather as a symbol for what society or one’s friends and family members think you shouldn’t do because “it’s not like you.”
So, I’ll give the album a try.
And you better believe there will be a review forthcoming.
Until then, I hope you enjoy my video tonight. I’m not sure what came over me, but I made this one a real production. I tacked on a purposely goofy intro and follow-up documentary that I hope you laugh at — either because it’s funny or because you’re laughing AT me, as long as the result is the same!
And I know that I have other news and ideas on my mind that I wanted to share tonight, but I can’t remember what they are. So, for now, I hope you enjoy this video and hurry back tomorrow for an all-new Jim Fusco Tuesday, then later this week when I post another music review.