The Weekend Review: June 2011 Report

Originally posted 2011-12-29 20:40:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

June was a quiet month, and I didn’t initially appreciate some of the great work that is represented below.  This is one of the only benefits to posting these reviews so belatedly this year: that my criticism has had months to percolate and develop.  I think that is revealed below…

 

Suck It And See (Arctic Monkeys)

Producer: James Ford

Released: June 6, 2011

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “She’s Thunderstorms” & “Piledriver Waltz”

With so many individually excellent songs – the opening electric barrage of “She’s Thunderstorms” and the gorgeously  Suck It And See should be an instant classic.  There’s something lacking, though: predominantly, a sense of momentum.  Individual songs achieve momentum relative to themselves, but there just isn’t a sense of ever-mounting energy as the tracks continue.  Still, the retro-rock/punk groove of tracks like “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” is undeniably catchy, and the Arctic Monkeys certainly haven’t lost their range, one which runs from the mean distortion of “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” to the placid ballad “Love is a Laserquest.”


Alpocalypse (“Weird Al” Yankovic)

Producer: “Weird Al” Yankovic

Released: June 21, 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “CNR” & “Skipper Dan”

With Poodle Hat (2003) and Straight Outta Lynwood (2006), Weird Al raised the bar considerably, and it would seem to be a setup for failure to compare all future work by the watermark of discs like these.  Still, Alpocalypse rises to the occasion: there’s the dual-layered parody of “Born This Way” and Lady Gaga in the opener “Perform This Way,” style parodies of Weezer (“Skipper Dan”) and the White Stripes (“CNR”) that will stand up to his best work, and of course, a wittily titled polka medley (“Polka Face”).  Weird Al even manages to make the catchiness of that celebratory, patriotic Miley Cyrus tune accessible to the rest of us in “Party in the CIA.”  With Alpocalypse, Yankovic has also caught up on a few items that, in retrospect, I’m surprised haven’t fallen under his radar previously:  “Craigslist,” performed in perfect Doors/Jim Morrison fashion, and the appropriately faux-epic “Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me.”

 

Is For Karaoke EP (Relient K)

Released: June 28, 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “Surf Wax America” (originally performed by Weezer) & “Baby” (originally performed by Justin Bieber)

While I usually cannot condone an album of covers, much less an EP, and especially from a band that has only recently put out some of the most mature and masterful original material of their career, Relient K’s Is For Karaoke EP is actually quite good.  In seven brief songs, they span the decades, from as recent as last year and stretching all the way back to April 1980 with an impressively spot-on take of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Here Comes My Girl,” not forgetting the nineties in between, particularly with their not to Weezer in “Surf Wax America,” an excellent choice of band as well as song.  Frontman Matt Thiessen shows off his vocal range on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and Relient K renders another annoying track listenable in their cover of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” a resuscitation of a cover that can only be compared with Fountains of Wayne’s version of Britney Spear’s “Baby… One More Time.”  Overall, a masterful little EP, and not bad at all to tide us over until their follow-up to 2009’s outstanding Forget and Not Slow Down, my pick for number one album of that year.

 

Rave On Buddy Holly (Various Artists)

Producer: Randall Poster & Gelya Robb

Released: June 28, 2011

Rating: 3/5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” (Cee Lo Green) & “Changing All Those Changes” (Nick Lowe)

As with all tribute albums, the quality is uneven throughout.  And, buyer beware, there are some real clunkers here (Lou Reed’s distortion-drowned “Peggy Sue,” to name only one of several).  However, there are also some gems, and some hail from surprising corners.  Cee Lo Green’s take on “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” is easily the best track on the record, followed quickly by a plethora of pleasing yet unsurprising covers by an admittedly impressive array of artists, from Paul McCartney to Modest Mouse and Fiona Apple to the Black Keys.  There are too many strong tracks here to write Rave On Buddy Holly off, yet there are too many forgettable (at best) flunkers to offer up too much praise too easily.

“Maybe Baby” (Buddy Holly Cover)

Originally posted 2010-01-27 01:11:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone- it’s a Tuesday, so that mean’s it’s another edition of The Laptop Sessions and another acoustic cover song from me, Jim Fusco!Tonight, I bring you an oldie, but a goodie in Buddy Holly’s classic tune, “Maybe Baby”.  You know, it’s funny- I can almost picture how Buddy wrote this song.  He started playing an A chord, followed by an F#m chord, which is a nice change.  I can tell that he really liked it and kept playing it over and over until the tune of, “Maybe baby, I’ll have you…” came into his head.  The rest of the song is pretty formulaic after that.

But, that’s what I love so much about these very early rock’n’roll songs- it must’ve been great to have a wide-open slate because no one had done it before!  So, even the simplest chord changes (like the one I just mentioned) became opportunities for new rock songs.  I’m sure someone used that progression in jazz or another form of earlier music, but since Buddy was such a pioneer, he was the first to utilize such chord progressions in rock music.

Now, of course, Buddy Holly had the advantage of being one of the first to write modern rock’n’roll songs in this style, but it wasn’t easy.  Having a blank slate seems great- “Oh, okay, I have every chord and no one has taken any of the potential melodies yet- this will be easy to write a song!”  But, you have to remember that Buddy, unlike the rest of us, didn’t have a lot to draw from.  He didn’t grow up listening to similar music like I did.  He had to do it first, which is infinitely more difficult to do than when you have some prior knowledge to draw on.

So, even though “Maybe Baby” may not be the hardest or most complicated song, I still give the man all the credit in the world because he paved the way for so many others.  I plan on starting a little Buddy Holly collection- I saw a really great CD retrospective once with all of his original, earliest recordings.  That blows me away- there’s some songs in there from the early 50’s!

For this video, I tried to sing the song true to the original, but it’s tough to do that on a Buddy Holly song without having it sound like an imitation.  Of course, I never want that.  So, I tried singing just like myself, but threw in a few “hiccups” of Buddy Holly’s style in there.  It was a lot of fun to record!

The busiest month of the year so far…and it’s only the first one!  I keep telling myself, “Well, as soon as (insert major event here) is over, then things will go back to normal.”  But, as soon as home life returns to normal, work life goes crazy, and vice-versa.

I hope you have a great week and stop back, if for nothing else than my next post next Tuesday!



The BEST COVER SONGS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-16 10:00:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

What better way to kick off a Monday at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog than to unveil the Weekend Review’s picks for the top ten cover songs of 2011.  After all, this is kind of our thing.  And this has been a busy year for covers.  Not only were there two – not one, but two! – collections of Buddy Holly covers released as tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter in 2011, but there were also two covers EPs put out by Relient K.  This is not to mention Brian Wilson digging back to his childhood (farther back than the Gershwin brothers this time) for the inspiration to In the Key of Disney.

A regular amount of covers wasn’t enough for 2011.  No, no: 2011 needed more covers!  Now, as you’ll recall from our mission statement, it has always been the goal of this blog to put an end to the proliferation of bad covers on YouTube.  In keeping with that tradition, we will now take the time to recognize these non-YouTube covers that have demonstrated excellence this year, standing out from the pack of mediocre (or worse) ones:

1)  “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” – Cee Lo Green (Cover of Buddy Holly)

2)  “Caroline No” – America (Cover of the Beach Boys)

3)  “Here Comes My Girl” – Relient K (Cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

4)  “Colors of the Wind” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

5)  “Baby” – Relient K (Cover of Justin Bieber)

6)  “Not Fade Away” – Florence and the Machine (Cover of Buddy Holly)

7)  “Interstate Love Song” – Relient K (Cover of Stone Temple Pilots)

8)  “It’s So Easy” – Paul McCartney (Cover of Buddy Holly)

9)  “Listen to Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of Buddy Holly)

10) “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

 

Honorable Mention:

“Surf Wax America” – Relient K (Cover of Weezer)

“Not Fade Away” (Buddy Holly, Rolling Stones Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-12 12:30:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Federico Borluzzi:

Acoustic cover of “Not Fade Away,” a song written in 1957 by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty and covered by the Stones in 1964. I had the Rolling Stones’ version in my mind while I was covering it.  I play my acoustic guitar and my G-tuned harmonica.

** EDITOR’S NOTE: **

For his second Guest Session, Federico has chosen one of the all-time great cover songs.  After all, Buddy Holly may have written “Not Fade Away,” but the Rolling Stones took it to the next rock’n’roll level as their first single.

A few other artists and bands have covered it since, like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen.

Although I enjoy the Rolling Stones version better, there really is an innocence to the Buddy Holly & the Crickets version from 1957.  I’m listening to it as I type, and that guitar sound may be simple, but the Fifties band vibe is inimitable.

So thank you, Federico, for bringing your recording of this classic song to the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog!