“Black Star” (Radiohead Cover)

Originally posted 2007-11-20 22:46:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

And now for a new band (finally) to add to our expanding library.

This song comes from Radiohead’s 1995 album “The Bends”, which is a personal favorite in my collection. There are many songs from this album I can play, and you may see in future laptop sessions.

Thom Yorke has a very unique voice. It is amazing how different my voice sounds when going up a register.

Anyways, enjoy this song. If you have requests from Radiohead or any other band that has been featured by FMP’s laptop sessions, please send me a message. I’d love to fill the request!

(Note: On this particular video, Youtube gave me three very terrible options for Screenshots. I apologize for the ugly mug of me before you play this video, but in the other two I look like I just sniffed three dead skunks simultaneously).

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and origianal music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

The Weekend Review: February 2011 Report

Originally posted 2011-05-22 08:34:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Don’t be shy; step right up for this, the second Weekend Review of the new year.  It’s long in coming, so each weekend until we catch up, I’ll be bringing you these month-at-a-glance reports.  I’m very happy with the focus and concision of the new format, as you’ll see below.  However, it appears to be less than iPhone-ready, so I’m working on ways to fix that.  After all, there’s nothing worse than visiting a site on your iPhone and coming to the realization that you won’t be able to read it properly.  Well, I suppose there are probably a few things worse than that, but what I mean is that there’s just no excuse in the 21st century for websites NOT to work smoothly on mobile devices, so please know I’m working on that.

I hope you enjoy reading, and hurry back this week (and, of course, next weekend) for all-new music-related content on the Laptop Sessions cover song music video blog!

 

The People’s Key
Bright Eyes 

Producer:
Bright Eyes &
Mike Mogis

Released:
February 1, 2011

Rating:
2/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Triple Spiral” & “Jejune Stars”

This being my first Bright Eyes album experience, I must say it’s a mixed bag: lyrically excellent, yet musically ranging from masterfully beautiful to far too weird to be listenable.  I didn’t expect the sort of alternative country sound I’d heard from Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band when they opened for Wilco a couple summers ago.  However, I certainly didn’t expect the sort of spoken word nonsense that stretches for MINUTES across the beginning of the first track (which is a shame, as “Firewall” is actually quite a strong song otherwise) and resurface elsewhere. 

On paper, it is understandable why Oberst added Denny Brewer’s “shamanic vocals,” as the liner notes refer to them.  After all, they add a certain inimitable spiritual, existential ambience to the record.  They also grow old quite quickly and distract from the excellent music being laid out and the even more profoundly impressive lyrics being voiced throughout, especially on standouts like the driving  rock track “Triple Spiral” and the early gem “Jejune Stars.”  The latter track lyrically raises issues (and the bar) that will stretch throughout the remainder of The People’s Key, as Oberst sings, “Come fire, come water, come karma, we’re all in transition / The Wheel of Becoming erases the physical mind / Till all that remains is a staircase of misinformation / And the code we inherit, the basis, the essence of life … / It’s just so bizarre, is it true what we’re made of? / Why do I hide from the rain?”  He is referring, of course, to the fact that our bodies are made up – by an overwhelming percentage – of water, yet we carry umbrellas and seek shelter from the rain.

Elsewhere, though, the songs drag a bit, as on “Approximate Sunlight” and “Ladder Song.”  All in all, this could have been an outstanding album rather than one I pay a complisult (see: Community; combination compliment & insult) by writing something like:

The People’s Key falters and falls short at various points, yet there are a series of truly first-rate tracks, like the closer “One for You, One for Me,” which make the album worth the purchase, if you’re willing to skip a few tracks and fast-forward through several others.

 

Yuck
Yuck 

Producer:
Yuck

Released:
February 15, 2011

Rating:
3.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Shook Down” & “Suicide Policeman”

Yuck is one of the pleasant musical surprises of 2011.  The band’s debut album is a distorted, grungy, feedback-ridden gem that sparkles as often as it crackles. 

What is most impressive about Yuck is their sense of ebb and flow, clearly evident through the arrangement of tracks here.  The smoother sound and brighter vocals of “Shook Down” slip in after two tracks where the garage rock mentality ruled and where even the vocals were run through with distortion.  Then, by the end, that pedal-processed guitar sound sneaks back in just in time to make the transition to the dirty-sounding “Holing Out.”

This is the sort of well-planned craftsmanship that helps to hide the fact that this is a first album.  If nothing else, Yuck is one of the noisiest, most energetic rock albums of the year.  It isn’t perfect – the noise overtakes the tracks here and there and the quality fades noticeably by the end – and, in fact, the final two tracks are wholly unnecessary and should have been cut entirely, shipped off to bonus track land.  (Which reminds me, if you buy this album – which you should, I highly recommend it – don’t waste your time with the bonus track editions.)

In modern music criticism, I feel as though something has been lost, namely a sense of appreciation for the rock essentials: riffs, solos, catchy choruses, snappy lyricism.  Yuck has all these components.  Although I was initially put off by the level of grunge that absolutely pervades several tracks, I’ve come around to the careful sonic mastery displayed by the band more and more with each listen.

The final verdict?  Not perfect by any means, but one of the most exciting releases of 2011.

 

The King of Limbs
Radiohead 

Producer:
Nigel Godrich

Released:
February 18, 2011

Rating:
4/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Codex” & “Little by Little”

Even longtime Radiohead devotees appeared thrown by this release.  The sessions for the record were announced… a whole week before its release, and the band decided to release the album a day early because… well, why not?  With all the moves that make them an interesting band for reasons outside the music, Radiohead ushered The King of Limbs into their long tradition of norm-breaking practices. 

The music itself is strikingly sparse at times, but this does not – and is surely not meant to – conceal just how much attention has been paid to subtlety.  The percussion is particularly notable this time around as clicks and clacks and clangs and taps abound.  Additionally, there is a riff-driven feel at times, though not in any traditional sense.  In many ways, this is another of those albums from Radiohead that are clearly produced using fairly standard instruments, yet where just how to reproduce these sounds and songs would prove elusive.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of Radiohead: I fall firmly into the category of liking OK Computer and thinking much of their other work is seriously overrated.  That being said, In Rainbows (2007) changed my mind a bit – and even made my top albums of the decade list.  The King of Limbs continues my reappraisal of the band, particularly when the breathtaking, heartbreaking beauty of a song like “Codex” and the oddly catchy nature of tracks like “Morning Mr. Magpie” and “Little by Little” are undeniable.  The acoustic loop on “Give Up the Ghost” and even the nearly-instrumental “Feral” add texture and unpredictability to the mix, as the lack of a clear single or rock sensibility threaten to flatten the record.

All told, the eight tracks of The King of Limbs offer the perfect length for an album of subtleties and stripped-down, built-back-up beauty like this; any shorter, it couldn’t be called an album, and, any longer, it would lose its momentum and appeal.

And so, for the first time in my life, I offer up to you a review of Radiohead that includes my seal of approval.  It’s not the most rocking record, but that’s not the point.  It is, however, a starkly beautiful album of subtle complexities and unique qualities, quirky enough to be interesting but not so much as to be alienating.

 

“Exit Music (For A Film)” (Radiohead Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-22 23:40:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Radiohead chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another week of new music and material, brought to you by the best acoustic cover song music video this side of the Alpha Quadrant!  (That’s a little Star Trek: Voyager reference for those of you nerds out there…)

For my song tonight, I’ve chosen my first Radiohead cover.  How did I get to this song?  Well, I’ve been listening non-stop to A Singer Must Die,  Steven Page’s collaboration with the Art of Time Ensemble.  The final track on that album is a cover of Radiohead’s song “Paranoid Android.”  That song is from their 1997 album OK Computer.  Listening to that album today, I came across “Exit Music (For A Film),” a great little track that has a strong acoustic foundation.

And, after all, I realized that Jeff is the only contributor to the blog who has recorded a Radiohead track, and all four of his selections are from their album The Bends.  Now, I’ve never heard The Bends, but of the albums I’ve heard, my favorite has always been OK Computer.

What better reason to pull out a track from that release for tonight’s video?

The other story behind tonight’s session is that I had originally planned to cover a song in honor of the final edition of the Johnny Cash “American” series, American VI:  Ain’t No Grave, which comes out tomorrow.  I would have loved to record Sheryl Crow’s “Redemption Day,” but I couldn’t work out an arrangment I was happy with.  The only other song I was halfway interested in taking on was Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times.”  I had learned, practiced, and planned to record it until I got home and realized I was too bored by it.  It would have been an extremely simple song to record — easy chords, basic country structure, etc. 

But what fun would that be?

So, I kept coming back to Radiohead and the fact that we’ve never recorded a cover from the classic OK Computer.  Figuring out the chords for “Exit Music” was more difficult than “For the Good Times.”  I found a couple different versions online, and what confused me most was how both sets that I found began with the same couple chords but then varied wildly.  In some cases, the first was accurate.  In others, the second was accurate.  In others, neither were accurate.  In the end, that was half the fun of this session: I feel like I got acquainted with the song through having to figure it out, so I felt a lot more passionately about recording it.

I suppose I’ll just have to wait for Johnny Cash’s versions of “Redemption Day” and “For the Good Times”…

Going back to the reason I started listening to Radiohead today in the first place, I wanted to repeat that I have been enjoying Steven Page’s A Singer Must Die much more than I initially thought I would.  When I first learned of this release, the prospect of an album of covers performed with an ensemble did not appeal to me in the slightest.  As time went on, I became more and more interested to hear what it sounded like.  Although I couldn’t bring myself to pay for the shipping that it would have taken to get a physical, autographed copy, I had assumed that Newbury Comics would be stocking it.  Then, last Tuesday, I was shocked to learn that it wasn’t available at any retailer in the U.S., nor was it available on iTunes.  I thought I would have to wait…

…that is, until Steven Page tweeted the link to his online store that had just added the digital version of the album.  As you can read in my review (CLICK HERE!), I found the choice of songs, the performances, and the arrangment of tracks to be outstanding.  To be fair, it’s not an album I’ll be cranking up in my car, but it is certainly an album that has and will continue to get a lot of air time at home.  The most exciting part about this week’s edition of the Weekend Review is the endorsement it was given.  After I wrote and posted the review yesterday, I also posted a tweet with a link so that people who follow me could read it.  Then, Mike retweeted my post and added Steven Page (@stevenpage).  Finally — and this is the exciting part — Steven Page actually retweeted Mike’s post!  So, in summary, Mike and I both managed to be retweeted by, as I wrote in my text to Mike, STEVEN FRICKIN’ PAGE!!!  In all seriousness, I was thrilled that he took the review seriously enough to retweet it, and I was happy to see the increased traffic on the page for yesterday and today.

As a final, non-music related note, I spent my first hour and a half after school today camped out in the living room with snacks and season five episodes of The Office.  The reason?  Not just because I’m lazy, although that was probably a contributing factor.  No, it had to do with the stench coming from my dishwasher.  There’s some kind of issue with the pipes or the dishwasher itself, and nothing I did seemed to help the smell.  So, after retreating for a while and feeling a bit depressed about the whole situation, I got excited about this session, which revived me.  Then, Nicole came home from her class with some advice from her father.  Fifteen minutes later, problem solved!  At least for now, as this will only work permanently if it’s an issue with the pipes.  If it’s the actual dishwasher, then I’ll probably return home today (or, at the latest, when I run the dishwasher next weekend) to a not so pleasant odor.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to share that, other than the fact that it is a great example of the power of the Laptop Sessions — they have the power to ruin a night (computer issues, multiple takes, etc.), or to revive your day.

And, with that, I hope you have a great week, keep checking back for new material this week, and I’ll see you next session!

“Fake Plastic Trees” (Radiohead Cover)

Originally posted 2008-03-06 19:08:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

Welcome to your thumpin’ thursday edition of the Laptop Sessions (been waiting 3 weeks to use that again). Today I bring you another Radiohead song from their album “The Bends”, and another song i’ve known how to play for quite some time.

The song is “Fake Plastic Trees”, and is one of the singles from the album. I love the dynamic change in this song, and the vocal changes throughout the song.

Naturally, like most Radiohead songs, I don’t know what it’s about either. Apparently, however, one site says it’s about Canary Wharf, a large shopping area in London.

This video goes down as a “I recorded it despite being sick” video. We can’t skip a day here at laptopsessions.com! Can’t use sickness as an excuse. Gotta keep the streak alive! I missed a note near the last verse, and the last line of the last verse my voice didn’t quite hit the falsetto I had been hitting in the previous verse lines. This is by no means my top vocal performance for sure. I’d have been better off recording this while my voice was 100%.

I’m hoping to hit 5k views by next Wednesday’s edition! I’m really racking up the views as of late. Hopefully I can start racking up the ratings and comments as well!

Until then, enjoy “Fake Plastic Trees”, another Radiohead hit!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!