Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Youth is like diamonds in the sun, and diamonds are forever.

I'm in the middle of a huge pre-spring decluttering project so I'm posting quickly and not taking any time to talk about anything. Sorry.

(Photos of things I'm keeping can be seen here and things I'm discarding—read: donating to Goodwill—can be seen here, if you're interested. Both sets will likely grow over the next week or so. What can I say? Oprah says this is the year to do it! Heh.)

  • The Zippers "He's a Rebel" (The Crystals cover)

  • The Be Good Tanyas "When Doves Cry" (Prince cover)

  • Kate the Cat "I Was Made for Lovin' You" (Kiss cover)

  • Frank Bard "Coal Miner's Daughter" (Instrumental harmonica Loretta Lynn cover)

  • Emm Gryner "Pour Some Sugar on Me" (Def Leppard cover)

  • DM Bob and the Deficits "Jeepster" (T. Rex cover)

  • Les Coquettes "Jimmy Mack" (Martha and the Vandellas cover in French)

  • Thistle "Love Not Dead" (Daniel Johnston cover)

  • Youth Group "Forever Young" (Alphaville cover)
  • Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Baby, scratch my back.

  • It's not often I don't know a song or can't find its artist. I have an earworm ever since watching the fashion documentary Seamless the other day on the Sundance Channel. It's very familiar, as it's a song I've heard before in the background of other movies or TV shows or commercials. The lyrics are along the lines of:

    "London's swinging/ And London's burning/ And the phone stopped ringing/ And the world keeps turning"

    Strangely, Google isn't helping me, as it only leads me to a Lost fan's post in a forum in which he or she asks if anyone knows what it is. No one has answered.

    The song has a female vocalist whose voice sort of sounds like Beth Orton's. It's not that I absolutely love or hate the song or anything, but it just doesn't seem right having a song in your head for days if you don't know to whom to attribute your earworm distress.


    Edit: I've since been notified that it's "London" by Noonday Underground. Hooray for Internet friends!

  • Now, in the interest of giving you something while I ask for something, I'm going to cut and paste (and slightly modify) something from an e-mail I recently sent to a reader who was asking for help locating cover songs by a particular artist. I've been meaning to do a "How does Liza find so many crazy covers" post for a while, and while not exhaustive, this hits on a few tips of the cover-hunting trade:

    1. One of the first things I do when looking for a cover of a specific song is to head over to All Music Guide and perform a song title search. This will bring you a list of artists who have songs with that title. Of course, sometimes there is more than one song with a specific title, so the best thing to do is to find the original and look at the composer info and then sort the list by composer. AMG is a good resource, but it is not all-inclusive or 100% correct, as it focuses mostly on American releases and more mainstream artists and sometimes automatically lists the artist as the composer on tracks from lesser-known artists, but every now and again, you can find some weirdo thing there. And if the track has a little stereo symbol next to it, you can hear a snippet of the song. Unfortunately, I've found that this only seems to work about half of the time since sometimes the songs are wrong and other times the player just buffers and freezes.

    2. You can also try music download shops like the iTunes store and eMusic and the like. These are particularly helpful because they let you hear snippets of the tracks. Just type in a song title and see what comes up. Preview the song to see if A) it's actually a cover and B) you like the way it sounds. Then, of course, if you like what you hear, you can purchase it for download. I particularly enjoy eMusic because you'll often find foreign or indie covers from artists you've never heard of. You can also search album titles for the word "tribute," which might lead you to tribute albums of which you were previously unaware."

    3. Another favorite resource of mine (perhaps my most favorite) is the German site Coverinfo. Just go there and type the name of the artist whose covers you're hunting in the search field on the left of the page and you'll get a list both of songs they've covered or sampled and songs others have covered or sampled. I really like this site because, again although not all-inclusive or 100% accurate, it usually yields obscure foreign tracks, which I tend to like. Unfortunately, these are often difficult or impossible to locate, but I have pretty good luck at times.

    4. Speaking of locating songs, those of you using P2P file-sharing programs likely are already hip to this, but sometimes just typing in a specific song title and seeing if anyone else has done it. Of course, this gets tricky because lots of songs have the same title as other unrelated songs. The most popular method of cover searchers, then, would be to search the word "cover" along with an artist's name and watching what comes up. This can lead you to things you didn't know were out there. Again, the caveat is that you can't always trust people to label files correctly and the next thing you know a million people think the Gourds' cover of "Gin and Juice" is actually by Phish, which simply isn't the case. If you're hunting for foreign covers, sometimes it helps to learn the word for "cover" in the language you seek. For instance, reprise/s in French and coverversion/en in German. Of course, often simply typing "French cover" or "Spanish cover," etc. will bring things up as well.

    Another P2P trick is, upon stumbling on a particularly rare or foreign cover from a particular user, to browse said user's files and hunt for similar items. (I know SoulSeek allows this, I'm unsure about other P2Ps). Many is the night I've spent awake browsing a Thai or Japanese or German or [insert every other nationality] user's every file in the hopes of stumbling on an English-title track that sounds familiar. (Note: Only about 1/4 of these usually turn out to be covers. Heh. In fact, I've been thinking of starting a "Copy? Wrong!" site dedicated to interesting/horrifying songs I thought might be covers but weren't.)

    5. There are other cover database sites out there, such as Second Hand Songs, but that one in particular is relatively new and not very thorough at this point. And, of course, there's the ever-popular Covers Project, which I'm sorry to say just isn't what it used to be. Even back when it was more user friendly, it was often inaccurate since anyone could submit suggestions. Now it is just seems really weird and limited. for instance, a search of "Celine Dion" returns zero results, despite the fact that there are at least a zillion versions of "My Heart Will Go On"

    6. And, last but not least (for today's purposes anyhow), is trusty ol' Google.
    Key search phrases in quotes will often yield articles, blog posts, forum logs or artist sites featuring such items. Sometimes you can find out about things this way that you haven't found elsewhere. Here's a quick list of typical searches I might perform on any given day (obviously, don't use brackets, simply substitute what you're looking for where the bracketed words are):

    "[artist] cover"
    "cover of [artist]'s"
    "covering [artist]"
    "covered [artist]"
    "covered [artist]'s"
    "[foreign language] [artist] cover"
    "[artist] cover in [foreign language]"
    "[artist] tribute"
    "tribute to [artist]"

    Et cetera.

    Anyone else who has any specific resources or tricks or who knows lots of foreign words for "cover," feel free to share via comments. I hope some or all of you found the above information helpful.

  • Now, for no real reasons except that I'm single and and kind of think Valentine's Day is silly, here is one of my pal Wendy's popular Photoshopped "Single Girl Valentines," which I love:

  • Monday, February 12, 2007

    You better move your feet if you don't wanna eat a meal that's called Fist City.

    Here's a special thanks to my always loud-as-hell neighbor. For, if it weren't for her predilection toward having blaring sex entailing vocalizations so worthy of porn I have a difficult time believing there's any real pleasure involved, I wouldn't have been woken up from my first sound sleep of the week to bring you this post. But I must admit, despite once actually liking the band, I'd rather hear her moaning than have to endure the Cocteau Twins albums she constantly plays. Or the infernal monotonous whistling of her boyfriend. I'm really starting to hate this chick.

  • The Distants "She Sells Sanctuary" (The Cult cover)

  • Bow Wow Wow "Fools Rush In" (comp. Bloom/Mercer)

  • Jeronimo "J'ai Peur des Americains (I'm Afraid of Americans)" (David Bowie cover)

  • Pyeng Threadgill "Close to Me" (The Cure cover)

  • This Bike is a Pipe Bomb "John Henry" (Traditional)

  • The Meat Purveyors "Fist City" (Loretta Lynn cover)

  • Scrawl "Rocky Top" (comp. Bryant & Bryant)
    Quick story: When I was 15, I went with my best friend Julie (aka the artist responsible for one of my favorite works of art) dragged me along with her to her friend Sean's family Christmas party. It was weird enough being a jaded, big-haired weirdo in the presence of a bunch of moms and dads grandparents and aunts and uncles and kids we didn't know, but it only got weirder for us when one of said uncles pulled out his guitar and started playing and singing songs. We, of course, had been sneaking liquor into our drinks all night and, by the time the singing started, could barely control our outbursts. When he'd finish singing a song, he'd ask for requests, and ours was always the same: "Rocky Top." Every time we'd request it, he'd tell us he didn't know how to play it. Regardless, we requested it again and again to the point that he started yelling at us and we were asked to leave the basement. When we left the basement, we headed to Sean's room where a few of his young cousins were playing. One of the toys they had was a Santa Claus Pez dispenser. I picked it up, popped off the plastic beard and hat and happily displayed the bare, squinty old man beneath the disguise to all in the room. A few minutes later, when I was in the kitchen getting a soda, Sean's dad (who was a dead ringer for Captain Lou Albano sans rubberbands, BTW), pulled me aside and started berating me, saying, "Why in a million years would you think it's appropriate to unmask Santa in front of children?" I somehow stammered out an apology before running back to Sean's room and collapsing in giggles. And that delightful admonishment could not have occurred were it not for our bizarre "Rocky Top" fixation.
  • Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Everybody play the game.

    The inspiration for today's post comes from one of those lame "use your shuffle play to create a soundtrack for your life" memes. So, I took the first 18 covers to hit my shuffle play and plugged them in as appropriately as I could. Or something. I quite frequently use my shuffle play to decide my posts, so it's not really that exciting. Enjoy!

    Opening Credits:
    "These Boots Were Made for Walking" - Little Jimmy Dempsey (Nancy Sinatra cover)

    Waking Up:
    "Good Day Sunshine" - Hideki (Beatles cover)

    First Day At School:
    "Schön in Rosa und Rot (Pretty in Pink)" - Le Kanin (Psychedelic Furs)

    Falling In Love:
    If You Rescue Me (Chanson des Chats) - Gael Garcia Bernal, Sacha Bourdo, Alain Chabat, Aurelia Petit (Velvet Underground cover: "After Hours," sort of)

    Fight Song:
    "Sabotage" - The BossHoss (Beastie Boys cover)

    Breaking Up:
    "Caring is Creepy" - Bluegrass Tribute to the Shins (Shins cover)

    "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - Lash (Beach Boys cover, with a snippet of that song from Freaky Friday thrown in for some reason)

    "Town Called Malice" - Okano Kaori (The Jam cover)

    Mental Breakdown:
    "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" - The Poodles (Ultravox cover)

    "...And Justice for All" - Rockabye Baby (Metallica cover)

    "Ashes to Ashes" - Danny Michel (David Bowie cover)

    Getting Back Together:
    "Ask" - Blue Flame Combo (Smiths cover)

    "Play the Game" - Jon Brion (Queen cover)

    Birth of Child:
    "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" - Ed McMahon (comp. Lerner and Loewe)

    Final Battle:
    "1, 2 Step" - Kidz Bop Kids (Ciara cover)

    Death Scene:
    "A+B=Y" - John P. Strohm (Polara cover)

    Funeral Song:
    "Century of Fakers" - Prague (Belle and Sebastian cover)

    End Credits:
    "I Know There's an Answer" - Sonic Youth (Beach Boys cover)