Thursday, April 29, 2004

Here's the deal:

Actually, there are two deals. The first is that I've been too busy at work and at home to post new songs. See, my computer is slowly dying and what I thought might be a worm or a virus or a trojan is actually just the death rattle of a 4-year-old hard disk. So, rather than uploading songs here, I've spent the past few days burning all important files in my computer to CD-Rs in case anything dire happens. Also, I'm expecting company this weekend, and have been doing my best to use what little free time I've had to do laundry and dishes and the like so my guest won't know the true depths of my slobbishness. That's why there hasn't been a new song. Once I'm done with these massive projects, I will post more songs—until my computer finally bites it, of course.

The second deal is this: Those of you who, like me, have been having problems properly utilizing the Atom XML feed for this page on other sites should know that this problem has been caused by the dash that begins my URL. This means the URL will have to change. Though you can still read the entries up until this point at the old address for now, as far as I know, the new official URL for this site is now:

Therefore, the Atom XML feed is:

If you have a site that is linking to mine, please change it to reflect the new address.

So, there you go. Make a note of it. I'll be back soon, hopefully with brilliant/terrifying covers and sparklingly witty commentary.

Love, Liza

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I'll be back some time, laughing at you.

  • Placebo "Jackie" (Sinead O'Connor cover)
    When I was about 8 years old, I attempted one summer to force myself to like mustard. All of my friends liked mustard and it was automatically added to hamburgers at McDonald's and Burger King and it just seemed it would be easier to just get used to it already. All summer, I asked for mustard on every hamburger and hot dog I ordered and pretended that it didn't make me want to retch. My parents and grandparents would say, "I thought you hated mustard." I'd reply, "No. I love it now." I was trying to trick myself into it. I was method living. By the end of hot dog season, I couldn't take it anymore and begrudgingly accepted my fate as a mustard hater, thus confusing the hell out of my family and, to a lesser extent, myself. When confronted with "I thought you said you loved mustard" accusations, I rolled my eyes as if to imply that the person asking was obviously crazy and didn't really know me at all. I figured that, if they really knew me, they'd understand that I was simply experimenting with something that everyone around me seemed to enjoy and that I didn't want to feel left out.

    In the late '90s, Placebo was my mustard. I snagged a few promos of their albums. Subsequently, I persuaded the Virgin reps to get me on the guest list at a couple of their shows, winding up backstage both times and awkwardly introducing myself to Brian Molko, afraid for the duration of each handshake that he could see right through to my experimentation. Thank God he was so damned pretentious and aloof, otherwise he might've actually started a conversation with me and learned that I could barely name one of their songs. ("Um, the one where you say 'a friend with weed is better'?") But I got those albums and went to those shows because I felt I should have liked them. Whiny, effeminate Brit poppers? That's right up my alley. It can't be possible that I was absolutely indifferent to them. But I was. And I am. Even though meeting Molko left me one degree of separation from Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale. Yum.

    As for the song, "Jackie" and I go way back. O'Connor's The Lion and the Cobra was pretty much the soundtrack to my depression throughout 1988. And "Jackie," as the intro track, began the ride by allowing waves of my pain crash into me like the waves crashing into the beach of the dolorous poltergeist protagonist. Heh. Or maybe not. But it was stark and pretty and ethereal and it intensified my loneliness in a good way. So, basically, I liked it and I listened to it constantly. This version, therefore, with its static-as-ocean effects and the aforementioned nasally, whiny vocals does kind of rub me the wrong way, but that's probably only because the original is so perfect as it is. But if I were 16 years old and bisexual and this were the only version I'd ever heard, I'd probably listen to it for a year or so as well, smoking clove cigarettes and wearing too much eyeliner all the while.
  • We're cool, we're different, and we hate things.

  • David Peel "With a Little Help from my Friends" (Beatles cover)
    I suppose the accusations that my last entry was too "mainstream" has led us to this track today. There's little I can say about anarchist hippie street singer David Peel that can't be found here at his "official online shrine." Well, except, perhaps, that even the most avant-garde, anti-establishment anarchist still craves validation from mainstream celebrities (such as John Lennon, Jim Morrisson, Rod Stewart, etc.)—going so far as to pledge allegiance to them in spoken-word recordings and getting them to produce albums for him—in order to further his own alt.celebrity. Yep, and it takes a real rebel to continue for years to bring up said alliances. So, yeah. Mainstream? Underground? Indie? Top 40? Awesome? Awful? Whatever. If you like it, you like it. If you don't, you don't. I'm just showing people what's out there, trying my best to keep in mind that not everyone has the exact same pool of influence from which to draw*.

    Taken from the third installment of the Exotic Beatles series, this track is actually not only Peel's interesting ska-soaked cover, but begins with a snippet of an interview John and Yoko gave about him (from Peel's John Lennon for President album) as well as the aforementioned "pledge of allegiance" piece (from his Bring Back the Beatles album).

    *For instance, I'd never heard Dynamite Hack's NWA cover on the radio—because I don't really listen to the radio—nor had I seen the video or anything. I just found it while cover hunting and shared it.

  • The Dillinger Escape Plan feat. Mike Patton "Like I Love You" (Justin Timberlake cover)
    I'm sharing this bootleg primarily because the gal overheard in the beginning cracks me up. She's so amused that DEP is covering JT, it's almost as if she'd never been to a concert before. I mean, I'm certainly not an expert in grindcore or whatever genre these cats fit into, but I know for certain that any band with which avant-metal guru Mike Patton is performing is likely to pull some random pop song from the charts to cover. What's more shocking and amusing to me about this track than the fact that (gasp!) a hardcore band might cover a JT hit, is that they would do such a faithful rendition of it. Seriously, if they'd tortured it the way Durst & Co. tortured "Faith," it wouldn't be here. \m/
  • Monday, April 26, 2004

    Chinese food makes me sick.

  • Dynamite Hack "Boyz N the Hood" (NWA cover)
    They said it couldn't be done: a handful of Austin-based Weezerphiles saturating Eazy-E's lyrics in indie-folk irony while simultaneously managing to get L[ight] F[unky] O[ne]'s terrible "Summer Girls" stuck in your head after one listen, but here it is. Well, if your brain has been as messed-up as mine has been by crappy bands likely to be featured on the White People Co-opting Black Culture Network anyhow. Whichever the case, you have been warned.
  • Saturday, April 24, 2004

    There's a girl right next to you, and she's waiting for something to do.

  • Chris Tart "Love the One You're With" (Crosby, Stills & Nash cover)
    Now, I know that Stephen Stills and Co. experimented with many mind-altering substances, but said knowledge doesn't explain why the non-drugged masses were so quick to embrace this song. I mean, I'm right there with them on the "love the one you're with" sentiment, but am I wrong in my assessment that the rest of the chorus is just plain disconcerting? Eagles? Doves? A rose in a "fisted glove"? A fisted glove? Sounds, um, dirty. I bet this song was big with the '70s renaissance faire set. This cover came into my life via a promotional copy of the Robbie Robertson-produced soundtrack from the Affleck*/Bullock suckfest Forces of Nature, which featured a few other covers that are perhaps better than this. (Come on, I know you want to hate it as much as I do because Bono's so fucking smug, but U2's "Everlasting Love" is pretty damned good. Ditto Swervedriver's clicky intro on their version of "Magic Bus," which you can hear below.) Then again, Chris Tart's funky groove on LTOYW isn't bad. And its a better fit, really, for a "your boyfriend's out of town, baby, let's just fuck already" song than the original—the strange, flowery mythology of the chorus aside.

    Now for a question more pressing than those raised by the aforementioned Young Lovers in XXX Fisted Glove Action: Who in the hell is Chris Tart? Supposedly, at the time of this soundtrack's release in 1998, he was signed by Dreamworks and he has since also had an original song featured on the Sidewalks of New York soundtrack, but I've yet to find evidence of the full-length release from him. And there's a dearth of information on him on the Net (Ooh, The Net! That was another Bullock classic!) that isn't about this specific cover, which just seems odd. If he never becomes somewhat famous, the chances of one of his siblings approaching me in a bar to brag about him are slim to none. It makes me so sad.

    *Blogger's spell check suggests waffles instead of Affleck. Come to think of it, waffles do sound pretty good right about now. Affleck? Not so much.

  • Swervedriver "Magic Bus" (Who cover)
    As I said, this is a competent cover, which isn't surprising considering it comes from a band so obviously influenced by the Who. More impressive than its listenability, perhaps, is the fact that the often overindulgent and drone-prone Swervedriver managed to keep its length under four minutes.
  • Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    Golden blunders come in pairs.

    All day I kept thinking I'd get a chance to posts these, and all day the chance never arrived. Now I'm home and, admittedly, quite a bit drunk and feel the need to just get it all out of the way. Hope you're cool with that.

  • Ringo Starr "Golden Blunders" (Posies cover)
    You can't swing your arms on Soulseek without hitting an indie cover of a more mainstream artist, but the opposite is rarely true. Alas, I present you with the least popular (but most indie, by far) Beatle covering the Posies' epic poppy tale of unwanted pregnancy. Not terribly good, really, but interesting just because it exists.

    Note: The Posies' Dear 23, from whence the original surfaced, was one of my most-listened-to albums of the early '90s—you know, back when I was deep and depressed but still excessively commercial and accessible.

  • Lb (aka Lassigue Bendthaus) "Angie" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Uwe so crazy! (Heh. I kill me!) Perhaps you're familiar with Uwe Schmidt's pseudonym Señor Coconut and his Latin Kraftwerk cover album. If not, there's this c-r-a-z-y German DJ (aka DJ Atom Heart) who loves electronic music who did a Latin-lounge Kraftwerk cover album under the name Señor Coconut. So there you go. Today's featured cover, conversely, comes from Pop Artificielle, his album of non-Latin, glitchy, electronic covers of random hits that he recorded and released under the pseudonym Lb (or Lassigue Bendthaus), which is pretty damned cool—especially considering he somehow managed to make ABC's "Be Near Me" almost seem like a good song.
  • Sunday, April 18, 2004

    There's a million things to be, you know that there are.

    There are a handful of movies for which I will abandon my life when I stumble upon them on TV, and Harold and Maude is right up there at the top of the list. Dammit, if that movie doesn't always make me happy. And, yeah, the story and the way it's told are great on their own, but you have to admit that the Cat Stevens soundtrack pushes your emotions even further into places you'd never thought they could go while watching a movie featuring a near-teenager sleeping with an 80-year-old woman. And I love those songs. In fact, I love a lost of Cat Stevens songs—as long as they're not the ones my crazy Stevens-obsessed choral teacher forced us to sing in the 5th grade. ("Morning Has Broken" and "Moonshadow," I'm looking in your direction.)

    Anyhow, I love these songs and I'm glad to see others do as well. So, today is a celebration of songs that remind me of a movie that makes me intensely happy. Enjoy.

  • Death by Chocolate "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" (Cat Stevens cover)
    I'm warning you now, this is the only bearable track on Death by Chocolate's eponymous debut album. And it is intensely bearable, at least partially because it's one of the most charming songs ever written. And, as I've mentioned time and again, I've got a weakness for indie gals (sort of) harmonizing old songs into new ones—even when I suspect they were lame enough to use the name of an Eddie Izzard bit for a band name. Ugh. Talk about an overrated hack.

  • Kristin Hersh "Trouble" (Cat Stevens cover)
    My sole Kristin Hersh story goes something like this: Sometime in the early mid-nineties, my pal Ryan and I hit the local college town bar on dime beer night. The name of the band playing escapes me, but I don't believe it was one we actually liked. We were just bored and even the worst cover band can be surprisingly listenable when you need only spend one dollar to become totally plastered, yes? The place was, as you might predict, overrun with guys in flannel and baseball caps and gals likewise in flannel but in bell-bottoms or whatever ridiculousness was trendy back then. Ryan and I were the bespectacled townie (well, I was a drop-out, actually) types who looked out of place. You know, we were the kids that people would approach saying, "Hey! Buddy Holly glasses! Just like that song!"

    Anyhow, we're lurking near the restrooms when a clean-cut, flanneled type catches our eye and makes his way over to us. He says hi and then, pretty much out of nowhere, he asks us, "Hey, have you guys ever heard of Kristin Hersh?" We reply, that, of course, we have. Flannel's eyes light up. "Really?!" I tell him that I was just thinking of buying Hips and Makers the other day and Ryan says, "Yeah, I saw Throwing Muses open for REM on the Green Tour." Now Flannel's near ecstatic. Just as we're about to ask, "What's with the Kristin Hersh quiz?" he offers an answer, "I'm Kristin's brother!" Ryan and I smile and tell him something along the lines of "that's cool." He tells us he's in town visiting some friends or whatever.

    Now our story gets even stranger. Flannel Hersh wants desperately to convince us that he is, indeed, Kristin's brother and offers to "prove it" by showing us his ID. Um, we believed him. We tell him that's not necessary, but his hand is in his pocket and his wallet's out. Well, look at that. His last name is Hersh. Yay for him. Then I ask him, "So, does that mean Tanya [Donelly] is your sister as well?" He's shaky with excitement by now that we're hip enough to know his family's lineage (but, hey, we read CMJ when it was in the back-pocket size and Alternative Press back before it sucked, we know what's going on), "Yes! Tanya's my stepsister! I can't believe you know that!"

    So, there we are, me, Ryan and Flannel Hersh with nothing really left to talk about. Flannel then says, "Yeah, when I saw you guys walk in, I figured you'd know. You look, you know, 'cool.'" We nod our heads in understanding and, after what seems like hours but was probably only minutes, FH goes off to join his friends who were probably there because they actually did like the cover band.

    So, basically, drunken Flannel Hersh felt like bragging to someone about his big sis and knew—probably after much trial and failure with his non-"cool" friends (I mean, it's not as if he were Eddie Vedder's sister or anything)—that we were the only ones who would appreciate it. And we did. But not quite in the way he hoped, I imagine. I think we more appreciated it because it gave us a story to tell about how Kristin Hersh's brother was a little scary and overbearing. But, actually, it is nice that he was proud enough of her that he'd approach strangers to talk about her. I think.
  • Friday, April 16, 2004

    We weren't put here just to wait, you know.

    I hate to say it, but I'm not big on jazz. My theory has long been that without the smack, it just doesn't make much sense. Still, there are some jazz-vocal standards and big band stuff I can deal with. For instance, I liked Louis Prima and his ilk until bowling-shirted fans of that god-awful swing revival tormented me for years at the record store, consistently clamoring for the latest release by the Cherry Poppin' Voodoo Daddy Nut Zippers Orchestra and the like and my manager thought we should play said tripe on an endless loop to lure the credit cards from the khakis of the Gold Coast Gap-oids. Idiots.

    Speaking of endless loops, prior to that, I worked at a New American/Cajun cafe back in the day that played the same Davis, Coltrane and Ellington CDs nonstop for the entire three years I was there. I swear, "Take the 'A' Train" still makes me want to vomit up potato omelettes. So, yeah, jazz and I have an iffy history, if for no other reason than I associate it too closely with predictable management and horrible customers.

    That said, there is one time when I'm more apt than any other to appreciate jazz: the first really warm and sunny day of the year in Chicago. For on that day, all of a sudden, your simplest tasks—heading out to the White Hen pantry for coffee, for instance—are suddenly set to a jazzy soundtrack provided by the myriad street performers found on nearly every corner. Earlier, the clarinet melody to my theme song for the day, "The Girl from Ipanema," wafted past me on Monroe as I crossed the street after work toward the bus stop. I dropped a dollar in the bucket and continued on with a spring in my step, no pun intended. And I smiled. Jazz made me smile.

    Then, when I returned home and noticed a handful of new songs on my hard drive I'd queued up prior to my departure this morning, I knew what had to be done. I had to give you your own jazz theme song, courtesy of The C-Nuts and their "this is way better than I thought it would be" album, Blitzkrieg Bop and Other Jazz Mutations. So here is a track from that. If you like this, definitely seek out the whole album. Their "Shock the Monkey" and "Tainted Love" are pretty awesome. I wish the street bands played songs like this. Maybe when I see those guys next week I'll request "I Don't Like Mondays." It would be worth it just for the look I'd get, of course, but wouldn't it be crazy if they knew it and just started playing. Ah, the realities I create in my head.

  • The C-Nuts "Hyperactive" (Thomas Dolby cover)
  • Thursday, April 15, 2004

    And, if you're really nice, I'll do my impression of my high school choral team's version of "Kokomo."

    If you're looking for cover songs from High School bands and choral groups (and why wouldn't you be?), head over to the Tofu Hut and grab what's there right now before it goes away.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    Forever's gonna start tonight.

    Okay, I know that this blog does not operate in a terribly user-friendly manner. My friend Eric who always criticizes all of my endeavors—while simultaneously managing to create, to my knowledge, nothing noteworthy himself—tells me that there should be more structure to this blog. Heh. This from someone who more often than not refuses to adhere to any conventional social mores generally required to ensure successful friendships, such as the idea that it might not hurt to actually encourage his friends on a regular basis rather than to feel the need to mock or point out the flaws in nearly everything they do. But I digress, I can whine about this in my LiveJournal or something since that's what it's there for.

    So, here's the deal: I'm moody and I don't have a lot of Web space. I post when I feel like posting and, in order to post new songs, I have to remove the previously featured files pretty frequently. As a result, many songs only remain up for about two days or so. Many other readers have imparted to me that they wish I posted even more frequently than I already do, which would mean that the songs would be up for an even shorter time. So, I'm not exactly sure how to please everyone, so I'm working right now on pleasing myself. When I have the time and/or inclination to post, I will. If you're afraid you're gonna miss something, I recommend you check the site either every morning or every evening. You're pretty likely to catch everything that way. If that's too much of a commitment for you, despite the fact that the MP3s disappear, the information remains. I found these tracks somewhere, you probably can too. And if you're having difficulty locating a previously featured track you feel you must have, you can always send me an e-mail and I'll do my best to get it to you somehow.

    [Note: If you think I really need to institute some sort of actual schedule here, feel free to comment telling me so. If the masses deem a schedule necessary, I'll consider creating one. No promises.]

    So, yeah. That's the deal. Now let's move on to the meat:

  • Liza Minnelli "Twist in my Sobriety" (Tanita Tikaram cover)
    When you're an alternagoth teenage fag hag in the late '80s, let me assure you that nothing lures you into the mall record shop more quickly than a new Liza Minnelli album produced by the Pet Shop Boys—especially if Liza Minnelli is your namesake. Once I got Results home, I was pretty nonplussed by the whole thing. Sure, I enjoyed her cover of PSB's "Rent" enough, but it wasn't until I heard this cover of the Tanita Tikaram song (which itself had only been released originally about a year prior to Liza's version, kind of like that infernal Joss Stone "Fell in Love with a Boy" tripe nowadays) begin with that ominous dub of "Liza With a Z" that I fucking fell in love. Funny stuff, that. Or maybe it's just funny to people named Liza, I can't be sure. Either way, like a post-new-wave kitschy kudzu, the record grew all over me and, in retrospect, I think it was a pretty worthwhile piece of pre-grunge Europop. Of course, it was panned by the critics and overshadowed a year or two later by the PSB/Dusty Springfield project, Reputation, but so what? Liza sounds like a darkwave princess here. Ah, the tragedies that have since befallen our fair Liza. I wonder what sorts of fey, eyeliner-soaked freaks she'd have gone on to marry had she been signed by Projekt as she so should have been.

  • Class "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Bonnie Tyler cover)
    Isn't it funny how completely acceptable it is for indie kids with acoustic guitars and cheap effects pedals to hit the flattest notes imaginable and still somehow remain utterly endearing?
  • Not so bad at all.

    John over at Tofuhut and I must be on a similar wavelength this week, as I was just telling myself, "Hey, self, you should let your readers (who aren't already obsessed with outsider music and found audio) know about Stark Effect's Mic-in-Track page, which brings you much joy." This site contains one of my favorite cover versions ever: some chick singing Dido while apparently drumming on some sort of plastic bucket. (Scroll down to 12/29/02 for this stellar track.) Many of the other tracks are equally random and brilliant in their decided non-brilliance. Have fun!

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    No one will be watching us.

    I have to admit I'm a little too glued to my new favorite insane reality docudrama (aka Bravo's Showbiz Moms & Dads) to write much tonight, but I don't want to deprive anyone else of the insane reality of these covers that sound nothing like the originals.

  • Lydia Lunch & Clint Ruin "Why Don't We Do it in the Road?" (Beatles cover)
    Lydia was flange when flange wasn't cool—which, as far as I can tell, was always.

  • Peace Brothers "Frozen" (Madonna cover)
    Having run the Peace Brothers' official site through the Google translator, I have to say my favorite quote would be "'Sexbomb' (Tom Jones) is naturally only real sexy if it is not vibrated," which, I'm pretty sure is common knowledge. Whatever. I can't tell whether or not I can recommend this cover in good faith, but I will say that I've had their rockabilly chorus stuck in my head since I first heard this version a few weeks ago. I don't know where these cover-obsessed, German-speaking power-pop-punk-abilly lugs are from exactly (Germany seems too simple an answer for such a complex cast of characters), but not since Doctor and the Medics came on the cover scene have I been so perplexed by a band's look, sound or M.O.
  • Sunday, April 11, 2004

    No lesser love could so destroy a man.

  • Edson "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" (The Darkness cover)
    Indie-folk acoustic cover of neo-glam hit by Swedish mopes, Edson. Just when you thought that one could only brave that falsetto when drowned by cock-rock guitarists.

  • Nick Carter "Uptown Girl" (Billy Joel cover)
    Well, they can't all be worthwhile, now can they? I tell ya—especially as someone who hates the sound of young, white, tone-deaf boys singing pop hits—it was quite a challenge to decide which track from Carter's Before the Backstreet Boys: 1989-1993 to choose to share here. Do my readers want to hear a preadolescent Nick claiming to be "Just a Gigolo"? Would they prefer to hear his bumbling rendition of "Runaround Sue"? No, it was too difficult a decision to be left to me. So, 'twas my shuffle play who picked this track today. And, yes, it's as awful as you'd imagine. But, in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, allow me to share with you some differeing opinions found in the customer reviews of the album:

    Reviewer Mark J. Dye from Saint Petersburg, FL, relays this message from LeeAnn Mercer of Seattle, WA [Note: This Dye character appears to be the producer of this album and is apparently responsible for forwarding a handful of good reviews he's received onto Amazon, the saint that he is]:

    Even at age 12, Nick was awesome! I can tell you that the purchase price was worth every penny just for "Lights" alone! [Liza says: Yes, a cover of Journey's "Lights," which you can hear here along with a few others, if you're just dying to.] Nick totally NAILED that song, from the vocals to the arrangement to the exact guitar solo! The rest of the CD has been a delight as well!

    Yes, I'm sure Nick had a lot to do with the guitar solo, LeeAnn. And, you're right, he did "nail" it—if by "nail" you mean fucked it so hard that it stumbled away veritably unrecognizable.

    Reviewer Joalby from Chula Vista, CA says:

    This cd is great. It gives you a perfect premonition to what was coming in the future. The voice is great considering his age. I love uptown girl. It is awesome plus you hear him say "I bet yo unever had a backstreet guy". Perfect foreseeing of the future. Check this and his new cd out. I bought this cd awhile directly through the man Mr Dye and now I have this new one...

    Yes. These tracks were the Nostradamus of pop music, to be sure.

  • Some Girls (aka Juliana Hatfield, Freda Love and Heidi Gluck) "He's on Drugs Again" (Sardina cover)
    This is by far the most obscure track I've posted yet, and it could very well wind up being the most obscure track I post here ever. (Don't worry though, I'll keep searching for more.) First, I need to begin with a brief telling of the story of Sardina. Or, more accurately, a brief telling of my story of Sardina.

    When I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, Sardina (and, to a lesser extent, it's predecessor, The Gerunds) was one of my favorite local bands. Post-Nirvana, there were always rumors, as there were in every college town, that Bloomington was going to become the "next Seattle." It made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now. Not because Bloomington wasn't chock-full of talented bands, but because it's funny to hear this sort of analogy from hipper-than-thou prophets whose willingness to so readily brand themselves simultaneously surprised me and didn't surprise me at all. Anyhow, when people said this, I always crossed my fingers that, if such a thing were to happen, Sardina would get the nationwide (and beyond) accolades I felt it deserved. Every time I hear the pop randomness of the New Pornographers or hear someone ramble on about how strong Neko Case's vocals are, I think, "Man, if only Sardina were around to sell these people records." Seriously, Sardina lead singer Michelle Marchesseault remains to this day an artist I credit with the most powerfully moving vocal timbre ever, let alone one I've had the pleasure to hear live on numerous occasions. And the band's music is proggy and poppy and light and deep all at once. At least half of you reading who know me and who have received mix tapes/cds from me at some point in our friendship have undoubtedly heard, and hopefully enjoyed, a Sardina track or two. Those of you who weren't so lucky, are now. My pal PJ (a founding member of The Gerunds and Sardina), has nearly all the tracks from Sardina's brilliant 1995 album Presents (and more!) available for download right here*. And, if I can locate it at some point in my messy apartment, perhaps at some point I'll share with you their cover of Harry Nilsson's "Me and My Arrow," which was always quite the crowd pleaser live.

    *Please afford PJ the same courtesy I'm SURE you're affording me by saving the songs to your hard drive before playing them rather than streaming them directly from the site.

    One of the saddest days of my life was my 25th birthday, June 28, 1997. (Well, I'm pretty sure it was my 25th, but it could have been a year earlier in '96, but whatever.) By then, Sardina had relocated to Chicago and looked to be in the process of getting a new album out and finally luring in the millions of fans I know they were worthy of getting. Instead, they broke up. And, on June 28, they played their farewell show at the Empty Bottle. Is this the sad part? Yes and no. The sadder part, to me, was that I drove from my parents' house in Hammond, Indiana, to see them play, but I FUCKING FORGOT MY ID. That's what you get for deciding to completely change your outfit at the last minute. I pleaded with the bouncer to let me in. PJ pleaded with the bouncer and the bartender and anyone who would listen to let me in. No dice. So, I had to drive home. About two blocks away from the Empty Bottle, the muffler fell off my car and I wound up in a Ukranian Village bar (that didn't card, of course) full of policemen waiting for my stepfather to come get me. What, it wasn't bad enough that I was missing Sardina's last show? Now I had to be stranded in the city on my birthday? Yeah, my karma was way out-of-whack that year.

    Now onto Some Girls. Juliana Hatfield is in it. Yeah. Um. I could go into a whole history of how and why this project started, but luckliy, Some Girls have already done it for me in their bio. Me? I was a pretty big fan of the Blake Babies but kind of ignored Juliana's solo work, for some odd reason. Regardless, I'm happy as hell to have been provided an MP3 of this soundcheck of Some Girls' version of "He's on Drugs Again," which is one of my favorite Sardina tracks and which Some Girls performed live during their tour from time to time. The first line or two of the song is missing, but what can you do? It's still a little obscuriffic gem I'm happy to have and even happier to be able to share.

    And, seriously, you should really check out the Sardina MP3s I mentioned above. Sadly, a few of my favorites are missing (such as "The Formula" and "Hey"), but "I'll Be Around" is there and it's pop-a-riffic. And, of course, the original of "He's on Drugs Again" is there as well. So, get to it. Loving Sardina should be your Easter goal.
  • Thursday, April 08, 2004

    I'll tell you what you want—what you really, really want.

  • Tina Turner "You Ain't Woman Enough" (Loretta Lynn cover)
    I love Loretta Lynn. I don't know how many of my friends are aware of the depths of my admiration for her, but I'm coming out now. When I'm doing nearly any domestic activity, there is a 90-percent chance I'm listening to her greatest hits—my favorites of which are of the "just because my man fucked you doesn't mean he's not still my man" variety, which this track surely is. (Although my all-time favorite remains "Fist City.") You can find this cover version on about five of Turner's albums, four of which are identical in track listing but which differ in title and label. My favorite of the myriad titles from which to choose is Country My Way, and not only because it was released by the always cheesy K-Tel, but because it offers the best description of the contents therein. Tina has definitely taken this track and made it sound unlike the original, yet not unlike many of her own songs. I suppose that counts as a creative process. Sort of.

  • Snuff "Wannabe" (Spice Girls cover)
    Please, pardon me if I don't particularly find myself interested in a philosophical discussion of this 40-second thrash-punk version. It's here because it was short and I had space for it. It is what it is.
  • Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    Yay. Yay. Girls!

  • Aroah "Cupid Come" (My Bloody Valentine cover)
    From Suicideisfine, a Latin-band tribute to MBV that was produced by a Spanish-language fanzine, comes this pretty, indie-folk version of "Cupid Come." Aroah (aka Irene Tremblay), a Spanish-born singer/songwriter whose mother is American, is Europe's finest Juliana Hatfield/Mary Lou Lord/Cat Power hybrid and, when she decides to invade the States, there are going to be a lot of lovelorn indie kids worshipping her every word.

  • Dominique A "Teenage Kicks" (Undertones cover)
    It's pretty much de rigueur that, if you're in a punk or indie rock band, at some point you're going to cover TK. Off the top of my head, I can name at least eight such bands who have recorded it (I'm sure there are more) and about 12 different bands I've seen do it live. What's completely uninteresting about all of the TK covers rattling around in my head, is that all of them were pretty faithful to the original in sound, speed and overall punk feel—or as close to faithful as some of the more talent-free bands who've done it could muster. Enter minimalist French pop pioneer Dominique A and his rarely properly credited chanteuse collaborator Francoiz Breut. Empty your mind of the adjectives you once used to describe this song (rousing? angry? adamant? anarchic?), as Dominique A has turned it into a soft French-pop love duet that sounds eerily like freakin' "Dust in the Wind" in parts.

  • Lisa Germano "Eli's Coming" (Laura Nyro cover—although most people are likely more familiar with Three Dog Night's version)
    In my grand tradition of looking musical gift horses in the mouth, I long ignored the possibility that Lisa Germano (who lived in Bloomington, Indiana, during the same era as I) could actually be as talented as everyone said she was. I think I was biased by her stint as Mellencamp's fiddle player or something, which makes little sense to me, in retrospect, since I guess I'm sort of a Mellencamp fan. So I went along waiting on her periodically at the Uptown Cafe and never got a chance to tell her that I was a fan of her music, because I didn't know that I was or that I would be. A few years later, neither of us were in Bloomington anymore. She went off to California and I wound up in music retail in Chicago. In the fall of '96, a promo of her Excerpts From a Love Circus CD on 4AD arrived in the office and I found myself playing it on the sales floor pretty regularly and loving it. I finally got to see her live in '98 or so, and her performance was overwhelmingly beautiful. I talked to her before the show and told her I was happy to finally make it out to see her and she seemed generously appreciative. After the show, I felt like a pretty big idiot for not at least allowing myself to give her a chance back when tickets to her shows were $5 instead of $25, but I digress. Like her original songs, this track is dark, dense and textured and makes me wish I were really high right now listening to it. But I'm not. I have a job now. Must ... be ... responsible.
  • Monday, April 05, 2004

    The shit that I promote.

  • Mull Historical Society "It Takes More" (Ms. Dynamite cover)
    I love this track and I'm posting it because I think more people need to get interested in Ms. Dynamite and the "It Takes More" is a perfect empowering single to start with—kind of like Latifah's "U.N.I.T.Y." anthem, only easier to dance to. And if it takes a rendition (which is pretty damned good, by the way) by a white, Scottish singer-songwriter to get people to check out the original, so be it. About a week ago, I mistakenly (on a day when my stars were apparently in a Let Liza Find A Cover She Honestly Likes When She's Not Even Looking For A Cover alignment) stumbled on this track—which I later discovered was the result of a stint the Mull Historical Society did on the Re:Covered series on BBC Three—and have been listening to it frequently since. I love happy accidents. Subsequently, I've also grown to love MHS's quirky, hook-laden full-length albums. Probably not too surprising to those who know the true depths of my love for anything remotely related to Olivia Newton-John, my favorite track from said albums is one entitled "Watching Xanadu," which is a powerpoppy piece of bubblegum that melts in my mouth. If you like what you hear here, you should definitely try to check it out.

  • Feed "Debaser" (Pixies cover)
    In the long-standing tradition of the Japanese somehow managing to make almost everything better (but significantly stranger) than anyone else in the world can, Feed has outdone itself toward continuing that stereotype with its stark dub version of "Debaser." Unlike the seemingly millions of more banal Pixies tributes out there—which, to be fair, themselves have at least a track or two that are interesting or otherwise worthwhile —the Japanese Tribute to the Pixies CD is the funny exotic cousin with iffy English to predictable compilations like the Where is My Mind? tribute. (Reel Big Fish??? Covering another band's song??? I've never heard of such nonsense! I won't believe it 'til I see it!) And maybe it's because I just subjected myself to the disturbing Japanese film The Audition on IFC the other night, but I can't help but picture the lead singer of Feed literally "slicing up eyeballs" as she apathetically recites the lyrics. Creeeeepy. Also, the "vocals" of the chien in the background? Magnifique! Insane, but magnifique.
  • Saturday, April 03, 2004

    Whatever you want to do is all right with me.

    In my former life as a supervisor in the music department of the largest MegaStorders in the country, my favorite regularly assigned task (and, yes, I assigned myself the task—particularly because I didn't trust any of the department's slack motherfuckers to do it even half as well as I did) was the daunting process of alphabetizing, organizing, dividing and otherwise caring for the pop/rock compilations. It was tedious and time-consuming and ultimately futile since the minute the area was left unattended, the masses would descend upon it with fervor, examining the discs and throwing them back wherever they saw fit—most often somewhere in the adjacent Country section. Bastards!

    Still, the time spent was worth it to me, if for no other reason than I became aware of every tribute album the buyers in Ann Arbor allowed us to stock and, subsequently, my vast knowledge of Trivial Shit No One Else In The World Cares About In The Least increased tenfold. That said, the unfortunate truth is that—most likely as a result of the fact that people working music retail have to sign contracts to be the most condescending, apathetic, contrary, negative, know-it-all grumps on the planet and that I was working at MegaStorders, of all places, and made nowhere near enough of a wage to actually shell out the required $18-a-disc fee for anything there that caught my interest—I was jaded as hell and immediately thought everything there to be total crap, whether or not I had anything to go on besides the album's cover and/or the record label that produced it.

    One of the many CDs I often sneered at—while lovingly placing it exactly where it was supposed to be, of course—was 1998's electronica (heh, remember back in the old days before the -core and -wave suffixes affixed themselves to every fucking genre and we called it electronica?) tribute to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. And the sorta-cool/sorta-cheesy cover art probably didn't help. Well, many years have passed since those dark (darkcore?) days, and my current daily Wellbutrin/Zoloft cocktail has retroactively allowed me to sit back, relax and float downstream toward the masterpiece of a synthcore geekwave concept album that is CyberPunk Fiction.

    A song-for-song (and more, since "You Never Can Tell," "Flowers on the Wall" and "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon" are given two versions each) homage to the original film soundtrack, CPF is honestly one of the most intriguingly fun cover compilations I've yet to find. And the spoken sound bytes emulating the dialogue-only tracks from the OST are dead-on (I'm willing to overlook the mispronunciation of Linux if you are) and are probably already in the permanent playlists of every true computer nerd in the world. Readers, please note how difficult that is for me to say: I'm not a big fan of electronic music. Likewise, I'm by no means down with the types of jokes sysadmins tell around the water cooler. Still, this tome released by the now-defunct Re-Constriction label is a true gem full of original, often upbeat, mostly unrecognizable interpretations. Synth/goth/industrial (sleepcore?) cover albums are a freakin' dime a dozen. They trudge on and on in the most predictable drone and make you want to slit your wrists—and not because you're deep like The Crow. But CPF, on the other hand, is worth a good 10 cents all on its own, probably more. Seek it out. Own it.

  • Christ Analogue "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green cover)
    It's blasphemy, I know, but I've never understood why Al Green and Barry White are so widely considered the sex kings of the music world. Their standard slow-jam ballads are the last things I'd want to listen to while I "got it on." Those songs make me want to go to sleep rather than want to sleep with someone. I need a rhythm, a beat and lyrics sung by someone who sounds like a pretentious asshole. That's what gets me hot. I'm into havin' sex, I ain't into makin' love. This version of LST gives off the perfect fuck-me vibe—you know ... the same driving rhythm and soft-yet-gruff Reznoriffic vocals that got you hard and made you want to fondle yourself the first time you listened to Pretty Hate Machine in its entirety. (Don't deny it.)

  • "Electro Body Music" (spoken dialogue homage)

  • Collide "Son of a Preacher Man" (Dusty Springfield cover)
    I go way back with Dusty. Well, as far back as someone born in 1972 can, I suppose. Let's just say I was a fan prior to her work with the Pet Shop Boys and certainly well-before 1995 when the release of Pulp Fiction skyrocketed SOAPM it into severe ubiquity. Seriously, have you seen how many American Idol hopefuls have butchered this classic? I wouldn't have been anywhere near as excited initially to hear it in the movie had I known how many sorority members would suddenly be singing it at karaoke bars, I swear. But, ironically, it's SOAPM's ubiquity that makes me absolutely adore this cover. Collide, whose name perfectly describes the manner in which this duo smashes head-on into this track and makes it their own, has done the previously unthinkable and all but erased the multiple renditions I've heard by wannabe pop stars or thong-exposing drunk girls that have been resonating in my nightmares for years now.

  • "User Friendliness Goes a Long Way" (spoken dialogue homage)
  • Friday, April 02, 2004

    Forever blowing Bubbles.

    Bubblegum Machine has a few pretty insane tracks up this week, y'all. Dumbledore singing "MacArthur Park" and a calypso song about Jack Palance. So commence to clicking. (And, really, you should root through the archives, because oddball covers always abound in the Bubblegum Machine.)

    Likewise, hurry over to Fluxblog to catch these covers of Wire and the Pixies, which are about an entry or two away from disappearing.

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    Mother needs something today to calm her down.

  • Dolly Parton "Time for Me to Fly" (REO Speedwagon cover)
    In 1989, after years of over-produced, glossy, crappy contemporary pop albums, Dolly hit big with her return to her country roots in the Ricky Skaggs-produced White Limozeen. What inspired this bluegrass cover, I wouldn't know, but there's something energetically charming about it. Though surely not everyone's cup of tea, I think it's pretty good for what it is—and it's certainly light years better than that crunchy, off-key cover of "Keep on Lovin' You" the Donnas subjected us to in the Melissa Joan Hart / Adrien Grenier "classic" Drive Me Crazy.

  • Marylin Suazo "Me Encuentran Bonito [Beautiful People]" (Marilyn Manson cover)
    So, what started as a what should've been a simple endeavor to discover the artist of this Spanish-language track (which I found via my favorite P2P program) became an ultimately worthwhile (I think) hours-long task. Seeing it initially credited both in the filename and on Covers Project to Raras Tocatas Pencas, I knew immediately this wasn't an artist name but rather a description of it as a cover song. Well, duh, I knew that much already. Long story short, I found out that Raras Tocatas Pencas is a live show on a Chilean radio station, on which popular, presumably Chilean groups with names like Glup! and Kornfleik play cover songs as well as original hits. The show credits this track to "Marylin Suazo," which I can only presume is a pseudonym used by one of the many regularly featured performers since I can't find any other information on him/her/it. But you know what? That's good enough for me and it should be for you as well. I swear, I should be paid for this kind of dedicated research.

  • Polyphonic Size "Mother's Little Helper" (Rolling Stones cover)
    Had you asked me a mere three days ago "Hey, Liza, what's your favorite quirky new-wave Belgian art-pop band of the '80s?" I'd have answered, of course, Plastic Bertrand and subjected you to one of the many covers of "Ca Plane Pour Moi" on my hard drive. But now I'm a little older and wiser than I was 72 hours back, and I'm pleased to announce a regime shift. That's right, I'm ending the tyranny of the self-proclaimed king of the Divan. Polyphonic Size's simple, singular, languorous (or, as I prefer to call it, langlorious) synthtastic gem, the Mother's Little Helper EP, has converted me into a believer. This cover is stark and odd and je l'aime beaucoup. I'm also newly intrigued by their 1982 Strangler-produced (as in J.J. Burnel) debut album Live for Each Moment [aka Vivre Pour Chaque Instant], which is fast becoming my favorite soothing-but-not-sleep-inducing "I'm gonna sit around and read books and magazines" album ever.
  • Transparent tart.

  • Eva "Plastic Passion" (Cure cover)
    It's 1987. The dreamy effeminate boy in your drama class with the asymmetrical haircut and steel-toed combat boots is finally coming over to hang out. You spend your entire geometry class ignoring theorems and planning the perfect soundtrack for the event. You come to the decision that it should probably involve either the angular egde of early Cure or the poppy-but-goth synth intro and powerful warbly vocals of "Cities in Dust." God, wouldn't it be awesome if you could get both in one track? Alas, you're American and all of the mall record stores in your suburban hell totally suck, so you can forget about even attempting to find a copy of The Glove's Blue Sunshine, which you read about once in Star Hits. Besides, what's the point without Siouxsie's vocals? Next thing you know, he's already in your room and before you can stop him, he presses play on your obnoxiously pink plastic Sharp tape player. By the the time it hits the second verse of "People are People," he openly mocks you for buying "this faggy sell-out shit" and announces that he forgot that he had "um, something better to do." He leaves and you're crushed, all of your insecurites about your alterna-cred validated. Man, if only Eva had been there for you then. You could have at least maybe made out with him a few times before he announced his bisexuality the next year (and his homosexuality the year after that). There just weren't enough Polish coldwave Cure tribute albums back in the day. Sigh.
  • It doesn't hurt when it begins.

  • Lady & Bird "Suicide is Painless" (M*A*S*H theme song)
    It never occurrred to me this song had lyrics until I was between the 7th and 8th grades. I was in some lame summer choral class at a local grammar school. (Can you say nerd?) One of the other singing classes (Or were they kids from a different school? I've no idea.) showed up at the big concert and belted this out with the raw emotion of kids pissed off that their parents wouldn't let them sit home all summer playing Atari. I remember being mildly miffed at the time that they got to sing something deep while my class was dancing around like idiots to "Consider Yourself," "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company C" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You."

    The next time I heard a version with lyrics, I was probably already in college and I flashed back to middle school and realized, "Hey! That's a pretty depressed fucked-up song to let a group of pre-teens sing at a showcase for parents." I swear, the '80s were an awesome, tubular, tripendicular time. Parents were too busy thinking about watching Miami Vice, buying new Izod shirts, snorting cocaine and drinking wine coolers to give a fuck what their kids were being taught. There were boobs in every movie and no one cared. We pop culture-obsessed geeks were free to wear O-ring jelly bracelets without fear of expulsion. The glory days, I call 'em. Just like the Boss. I was dancin' in the dark and born in the U.S.A. and my mom didn't pay any attention to anything I did. Kids today have no idea!

    Now for the part where I actually sort of talk about this track: Even if this duo's version weren't soft and pretty and folky and soaking in lilting foreign accents I love so, I'd still have posted it because I love this desccription from the band's website, which I translated from the original French using my rusty romance-language skills: "LADY AND BIRD are two creatures whose origin is lost in the mists of time and who chose to be reincarnated in adult bodies in order to benefit from terrestrial pleasures." How could one not be intrigued? The rest of their self-titled album is equally charming. Fans of the Velvet Underground and Belle and Sebastian and the like should definitely check it out.