May
2009

Right Hand Man

I was too excited about these to wait to post them until Monday. I’ve talked a lot about the Dark Was the Night benefit compilation from the Red Hot Organization on this site – earlier this month, many of the artists who contributed tracks to the set gathered for a one-night-only benefit show at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, including David Byrne, the National, the Dirty Projectors, Bon Iver, Feist and My Brightest Diamond. Based on all the reviews I’ve read, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver stole the show. Luckily, we now have official confirmation in the form of a soundboard recording of select performances from the show being streamed by NPR. These two performances featuring Bon Iver were too good not to have as mp3’s, so I ripped them and here you go:

Bon Iver was joined by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond for the last song of their set, turning the gorgeous opening track of For Emma, Forever Ago, “Flume,”  into a stunning duet:

Bon Iver & My Brighest Diamond – “Flume” [live at Radio City Music Hall] (mp3)

Not surprisingly, not every artist from the 31-track Dark Was the Night compilation performed at the Radio City concert, so during Feist’s set, Bon Iver stood in for Ben Gibbard on their cover/duet of “Train Song.” I love the album version and this performanced does it justice, to say the least:

Feist  & Bon Iver – “Train Song” [live at Radio City Music Hall] (mp3)

For more information about Dark Was the Night and where to buy it, visit the official site at http://www.darkwasthenight.com/

May
2009

Paint It Black

I first downloaded Adele’s cover of the Raconteurs’ “Many Shades of Black” around the same time last summer that I first started listening to 19, so I always thought of it as a b-side to that album. I didn’t realize until later that the song was recorded as a b-side for the Raconteurs single, with Adele backed by Jack White and the Raconteurs themselves. It’s a great take on the song and a perfect example of Adele’s timelessly soulful vocal talent.

Adele – “Many Shades of Black” [Raconteurs cover] (mp3)

Adele also covered another Raconteurs song, “Steady As She Goes” at the BBC’s Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year. Notice Adele reading the lyrics from her BlackBerry as she performs:

May
2009

Snap Crackle Pop

A little background on this yet-to-be-released Sia track, “The Codependent”: Sia played this song at shows throughout her 2008 tour and mentioned it was written for an “animated pop project” (the Gorillaz come to mind, but details are pretty scarce) on which she collaborated with the Bird and the Bee’s Greg Kurstin.

Sia – “The Codependent” [live] (mp3)

Sia discussed the project with The Advocate last year:

“After about 50 grand worth of therapy, I got really happy and made this awesome, fun pop album called H Crusader,” Sia explains. The only problem was that her label wouldn’t release her upbeat record about a superhero. “They were like, ‘You’re a down-tempo artist, you’re going to confuse the fans.’ And I was like, ‘What fans?’ ” she says, unleashing a cackle. Bolstered by the “schoolteacher’s salary” she collects each year thanks to her contributions to Zero 7 albums and other TV and movie royalties, she refused to budge — and was dropped by her label.

Luckily, the success of “Breathe Me” led to Sia being signed by Starbucks’ Hear Music label. Sia’s said in several interviews the more upbeat sound of this track, more along the lines of Some People Have Real Problem’s bonus track “Buttons,” is the direction she hopes to take on her next album. No word on whether or not this animated project will constitute that album or be released as a separate project. Speaking of “Buttons,” here’s a great performance from Later…with Jools Holland:

May
2009

Old Stone

Marcus Mumford accompanied Laura Marling during both of her performances I caught during SXSW, providing background vocals, percussion and accordion, sometimes simultaneously. One of the first things I did when I got home was to download everything I could find from his band, Mumford & Sons. Though they’ve yet to release a full-length album, but I’ve downloaded everything I’ve been able to find from the few EPs they’ve recorded. This song “Roll Away Your Stone” in particular has become a recent obsession. When I read that Laura Marling had covered it during her appearance on Morning Becomes Eclectic earlier this year, I went on the hunt to find the mp3. It doesn’t seem to be floating around anywhere so I went ahead and ripped it from NPR’s broadcast. The song suits her remarkably well:

Laura Marling – “Roll Away Your Stone” [Mumford & Sons cover] (mp3)

Also, here’s Laura Marling performing my favorite song from her own debut record, Alas I Cannot Swim, the lead track “Ghosts,” with Marcus Mumford on percussion:

May
2009

High Like Heaven

Since Fiona Apple’s releases are few and far between, it’s always nice to re-discover some of the rarities in her catalog. Here’s a live cover of the song “When I Get Low, I Get High” made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, which Fiona performed regularly on her tour with Nickel Creek. This performance is from a 2007 benefit show at Largo with Jon Brion, by far my favorite version I’ve heard of it, complete with foot-stomping, dueling pianos and a fiery vocal from Fiona.

Fiona Apple – “When I Get Low, I Get High” [live at Largo 2007] (mp3)

May
2009

Minus Forever

Though live recordings of both tracks have been floating around for quite some time, two previously unavailable demos from Courtney Love’s (perhaps forever) forthcoming album Nobody’s Daughter, have surfaced: “Samantha” and a full band version of “Sunset Marquis” (a piano only demo was posted on Love’s MySpace page last year). Eleven other demos from the project leaked back in 2007, mostly from Love’s recording sessions with producer Linda Perry where it’s likely these two demos originated. Since then, Love has reportedly been working with producer Michael Beinhorn, who also produced Hole’s Celebrity Skin. These two tracks are clearly unfinished demos, and as I mentioned back in March, Love recently wrote on her MySpace blog about this original demo version of “Samantha” and her work with Beinhorn since the original sessions with Perry:

“Samantha,” you wont even recognize it. It’s so brilliant now. Don’t go getting demo-itis, almost everything but one thing has changed in radical ways and I don’t want to hear “I liked the first version.” That’s called demo-itis. You’re used to that song that way so you get possessive of that bridge and that riff and that sonic decision.

Here are the original demos:

Courtney Love – “Samantha” [demo] (mp3)

Courtney Love – “Sunset Marquis” [demo] (mp3)

May
2009

Big Time Sensuality

The Bjork live set Voltaic I mentioned back in January now has a new official release date of June 23, 2009, pushed back from March. The set includes a disc of in-studio performances from 2007 (including reworked songs from Post, Homogenic, and Vespertine) and a DVD of live performances from her concerts in Paris and Reykjavík. The set also includes a DVD of all of the videos from Volta and a CD of remixes of songs from the album. As I originally mentioned, the tour included a 10-piece brass section, which resulted in some incredible reworkings of her songs.

Here are two from the live show in Paris, including a stunning rendition of Homogenic’s “Bachelorette” and Medulla highlight “Who Is It” (probably the most straightforward pop song Bjork’s released since Post):

Bjork – “Bachelorette” [Live in Paris, 6.25.2008] (mp3)

Bjork – “Who Is It” [Live in Paris, 6.25.2008] (mp3)

Head over to Bjork’s official site for more information about how to purchase the full set.

May
2009

Dog New Tricks

Though I somehow overlooked Iron & Wine’s 2007 album, The Shepherd’s Dog, at the time of its release, I recently rediscovered it via iTunes Genius playlists. I’ve been listening to it pretty heavily ever since, so I was happy to find out that earlier this year Iron & Wine posted 8 acoustic demos of tracks from The Shepherd’s Dog as a free download on the official website.

Head over there to grab the zip file. The album version of my personal favorite, “Boy With a Coin,” is also available as a free download (as well as several other Iron & Wine tracks) on the Sub Pop Records label website.

May
2009

Stories From the City

Even with only one album under her belt, Adele’s got the kind of power in her voice that would make anyone a little timid about attempting to cover her. Turns out Santigold’s got the swagger necessary to give it a shot though, taking on what is arguably Adele’s best track to date, “Hometown Glory,” stripping it down to a gritty, chugging drumbeat and a single synth line. Doesn’t touch the original, but definitely makes it her own, and with covers that’s half the fun.

Santigold – “Hometown Glory” [Adele cover] (mp3)

If you’re not familiar with the original, here’s a great live performance from Adele: