(our 200th post!) Bird Call’s Covers EP Other Creatures

4 08 2011

I’ve been sitting on Bird Call‘s Covers EP, Other Creatures for a month or so now trying to figure out what I think of it. Quirky female vocalists can go both ways with me: LOVE: Kate Bush, Bjork, or Missing Persons; NOT FOND OF: Macy Gray, The Knife or JoAnna Newsom (devil’s spawn).

If you start off with Chiara Angelicola’s (Bird Calls main woman) Doo Right you may get turned off by her vocal aerobatics which lean toward Nina Hagen and Newsome territory distracting you from the music. But if you start off with any other track like her Nick Cave cover Into My Arms or the heartbreaking single Beck’s Lost Cause, you hear past the trickery into genuine emotion. She really makes you forget their covers with her original voice and take on these tracks.

With all her unique qualities, there are surprisingly straightforward moments as well. Her covers of Fleetwood Mac’s cheesytastic later hit Little Lies gleams as bright as the original, and her take on Kate Bush’s The Man With The Child In His Eyes is a loving tribute to a woman she’s obviously listened to a time or two. She uses some of Kate’s same inflections, minus some of the vulnerabilty but much more emotion than Tina Arena’s white bread version from a few years back.  She also keeps Kate’s Piano arrangement while adding the best part, a lovely hammer dulcimer accompaniment which adds a bit more warmth than Kate’s.

Take a listen and let us know who what you think and what original female voices drive you crazy or take you to heaven.

Free download link to this track included: 

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Matt Alber’s Cover of Missing is Missing Nothing

18 07 2011

Most songs come and go in and out of your life and your ears, but some linger, some become legendary in your heart. When I moved away from St. Louis to Chicago in the 90’s leaving my friends and family, this became not only legendary, but my all time favorite song.

Everything But the Girl originally recorded Missing for their Amplified Heart CD, a transitional album away from their “Sunday Brunch” sound of the late 80’s, early 90’s to a more contemporary but still soft sound. It debuted to little fanfare but to their die hard fans like me who’d bought their 8 previous albums and loved every one. From the Smiths-like sound of the first 2, to the Swing Out Sister vibe of the middle period, to their minor hit, Driving, a VH-1/soft jazz staple I’d love every one of their eras. Now it seams they were trying to get a bit serious without trying to seem to young. It didn’t work. Until Todd Terry remixed the single for Missing.

After the remix hit the club, it hit the radio and hit the world. Going #1 in Germany and #2 in the US it would be their biggest hit and be remixed and remade many times over the years (most recently by Fedde LeGrand). EBTG went on to embrace this sound with the heavily electronic two following CDs, and Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn’s solo careers which have been primarily house and electronic respectively.

Forward 15 years and DJ Saul Ruiz meets classically trained vocalist Matt Alber. Alber, hot on the heals of hit album, Hide Nothing, due to the single End Of The World was riding high and prepping for his new CD when Ruiz walked in with an idea to cover Missing, followed by a proposed EP of other covers in the dance vein. Unlike Ben and Tracey’s version, Saul’s version is recorded as a dance track, forcing Matt to record it as such unlike EBTG’s which was remixed later. And the result is no less beautiful. Saul’s version, which takes the Todd Terry approach of less is more and sexy is best, caresses Matt’s silky vocals never overtaking. Matt’s appoach is not trying to be Tracey Thorn but to be Matt in his signature seductive manner, without ever sounding too morose for the dancefloor. That is until his otherworldly wail before and after the bridge like a ghost in the night. Nice touch.

The EP, out now (click on the graphic) contains 4 remixes. The best of which is Hector Fonseca’s soaring and epic remix and Saul’s own Peak Hour Mix. Saul told me earlier today he and Matt are working currently on doing a few more covers for a planned EP. Next on the list, Fleetwood Mac’s legendary dreams. Are they stalking my Best Of All Time playlist or what?!

P.S. You can preorder Matt’s long desired second album here for a short time www.mattalber.com/preorder.

Saul Ruiz feat. Matt Alber’s Missing (Original Mix)