Justice for MGMT

French electro-funksters Justice remix “Electric Feel” by MGMT. Justice are responsible for the controversial Stress video in which a gang of youths go around causing all sorts of mayhem, eventually turning on the cameraman.

I love the funky slap bass and occasionally syncopated beats that Justice bring to the electronica stable, and this remix is a good example : ).

Oi! During the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006 Justice won “Best Video” (for “Justice vs. Simian – We Are Your Friends”); as the label art director and video director were giving their speeches, everybody’s favourite ego punching bag Kanye West jumped onstage arguing that he should have won the award instead. He obviously misheard and thought they’d announced the award for “Most Disproportionate Self-Confidence” (although, now that I’ve finally found a Youtube clip of it, it looks like he wasn’t being overly serious about it… maybe the media coverage should win a “disproportionate” award O_o). Gotta love Justin Timberlake’s response though (he was there): “After the show, Kanye will be in the parking lot accepting awards he did not win. Seriously though, I’ve got sexy covered, it’s good to see someone’s doing crazy.”


YouTube Preview Image

 

Lenny Kravitz via electronica duo, The Presets

I’ve been waiting for Sydney-based electronica act The Presets to release a video for the excellent track “A New Sky” from their latest album but they’re dragging their feet about it.

So here’s an apparently hard to find track – a Presets remix of Lenny Kravitz’s “Breathe” from the Absolut Kravitz compilation. I love the silhouette video and the Presets house-y style is a good fit for the song.

Oi! Swedish vodka brand Absolut, whose marketing campaign is responsible for Absolut Tracks, the source of the Kravitz remixes, has one of the most distinctive and long running ad campaigns ever (you know the one – the ubiquitous bottle with the words Absolut something-or-other at the bottom); South African art director Geoff Hayes says he came up with the original idea for the campaign whilst luxuriating in the bath.


YouTube Preview Image

 

5 eighties songs that still kick ass today

What’s my criteria for this selection? My primary subconscious reasoning (I realised, after the fact) is that these are songs that can be covered by a hard rock band without a trace of irony and still rock a jaded anti-pop crowd. Plus they have a killer riff or vocal melody that incites: a) a fist pump, b) a head nod/mosh or c) a finger snap <— just kidding about that last one…


Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams

No need to dwell on this one – the song is trotted out on a regular basis to pimp everything from hair-gel to David Attenborough’s latest documentary on the mating rituals of african bees: it’s a perennial classic. The warm, pulsing analogue synth that forms the instantly recognisable main riff gives this tune balls and could make a black metal crowd break out in a frenzied mosh.

Manson’s gutter reimagining proves the song’s rock-worthiness but I’ve gone with a remix by dutch D&B legends Noisia called “Street Dreams”. Before you click away from it, at least stick around until the vocals kick in at 1:30 with a criminally phat stomping break-beat that’d make a break dancer’s corpse twitch.

YouTube Preview Image

Cameo – Word Up

My personal favourite of the lot – and I don’t think anyone’s quite nailed the ideal cover yet. The main riff in the song is a classic rock stomper hidden under funk/R&B trappings – a simple three chord power riff over a driving rock beat.

Gun’s version included below proves the point and is the better rock cover imo – I think Korn’s version, while good, just misses… (and let’s not even talk about Melanie B’s version “…which was the lowest selling Spice Girls-related single of the 1990s” and just plain crap >_<. Timbo – what were you thinking?? ;_; )

YouTube Preview Image

INXS – Need You Tonight

This song is quite pop – I can’t really see Disturbed covering it but hey, they covered Tears For Fears so what do I know… Justin Timberlake and Matchbox 20 cover it – and both versions sound great; the quality of the clips ain’t so hot though, hence no embed. Included here instead is a rare acoustic version by INXS with Hutchence on vox.

Pop or not, the guitar riff is a jangly killer that’s immediately recognisable, singable, and could even get your grandmother air-strumming on the dance floor. You only have to hear those first three sharp chords over the beat: dun! dun! dun! – and you can’t stop the last part from ringing in your head: dunnalunnalunnalunnun! <– Sak Mo Dee’s patented “rock guitar speak”. Go on, try not to think of it.

YouTube Preview Image

Talking Heads – Burning Down The House

I’ve already posted the Cardigans + Tom Jones cover of this – not a favourite… Quirkmeister David Byrne is not the first person you think of when it comes to phat, manly rock but this tune has a simple, driving riff that lends itself well to rock cover-age (Michael Hutchence isn’t the manliest rock god either, for that matter, but his sex appeal bought him some phat points ;-).

Toby Rand’s performance on Rock Star Supernova was a bit of a poser festival but if it makes Jason Newsted pull his metal face and bob his head it can’t be too bad.

YouTube Preview Image

Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus

Since Marilyn Manson missed out on the Sweet Dreams cover here he is/they are performing yet another cover live (well, it was either them or Hillary Duff…)

Depeche Mode’s classic song has a marching rhythm and memorable broken line delivery that cements the first line in your head. I’m also seeing a common thread in a few of these songs of deep, dark analogue synths driving a moody bass riff through the proceedings :).

YouTube Preview Image

Honourable Mention

Shameless Self-Serving Inclusion: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie

I have no excuse for including this except to say that it’s a personal favourite and “Pretty Hate Machine” was released in 89 so it makes it in as an Honourable Mention xD.

Like “Sweet Dreams” the major component of this song is the deep, phat, warm analogue synth of the chorus that could go up against a Metallica riff for pure rock phatness. (Totally Unrelated Note: speaking of Metallica phatness – have you seen this clip of Nickelback playing well outside their Macho Level?)

YouTube Preview Image

How wrong am I? Surely someone’s dying to lambast me for missing an obvious 80s rock-cover-in-waiting? xD If I get any suggestions that demand inclusion I’ll update the post :).

 

Thanks P Dogg for the Personal Jesus suggestion xD.

Go here for 5 more eighties songs that still kick ass today.

OSP (Old School Phat): Young MC – I Come Off (Southern Comfort Mix)

Young MC’s songs were always boppy pop fun. This remix, however, has a phat, chilled out, downbeat groove that would be at home on a modern day K&D track or Cafe Del Mar compilation.

Young MC’s rap in this song is great too; the groove tempers the bounce from his usual delivery so his voice sits in a laid-back syncopated space on top of the beat.


YouTube Preview Image

Genesis by way of Aphex Twin

I could never’ve imagined a darker incarnation of 80s brit pop-rockers Genesis than this nightmare vision mixed by mash-up artist Aggro1 and vid-edited by the ThriftshopXL crew.

The audio mix is dark enough but the video edit knocks the concept out of the park and gives Aphex Twin a run for his money :). When Phil sings/shouts “can you feel my heart?” he looks and sounds like an extra from a Prodigy video xD. Go hard Phil, you bad boy! xD.


YouTube Preview Image

 

The 5 best covers of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”

There are so many versions of Britney’s “Toxic” that it’s hard to keep up xD All of which is a testament to the talented Cathy Dennis‘ song writing skills (she of the Kylie comeback fame).

Oi! seven of Cathy Dennis’ compositions have made it to number one in Britain, including Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” (as co-writer).

Whatever you think of Britney and the pop genre in general, “Toxic” is a great song with a sexy melody over a darkly seductive minor chord progression and a lot of talented musicians know it.

These, in my opinion, are 5 of the best ‘reworkings’ of Cathy Dennis’ great tune.

Download the Nickel Creek version guitar tab at the bottom.


1. Stevie Ann

First up is Dutch Songstress Stevie Ann‘s soulful acoustic reimagining. She’s changed the chords somewhat but retained the general tune and added her own emotional power to the vocal performance.

YouTube Preview Image

2. Fork

Freaky Fins Fork do a great a cappella version of the song. They create the instrumentation with their voices in an impressive and engaging way.

YouTube Preview Image

3. Yael Naim

French-Israeli MacBook Air tune-pimper Yael Naim puts her own stamp on the song with a heartfelt piano version of similar sentiment to Stevie Ann’s.

YouTube Preview Image

4. Mark Ronson

Retro Funk Producer Mark Ronson puts his signature jazzifunkified spin on the proceedings.

YouTube Preview Image

5. Nickel Creek

And finally, this folky/bluegrass version by acoustic music trio Nickel Creek is my favourite (the sound and video is of a poor quality but it’s good enough to get the idea :). Chris Thile‘s performance antics are the icing on the cake xD.

YouTube Preview Image

Honourable Mentions

There are a couple of surprisingly effective mash-ups too:

Linkin Park’s “Faint” – takes a brutalising; the way these guys copulate with the hip hop fraternity this mix could be more prophetic than humorous – after all, they’d be only two degrees away from hip hop legend Timbaland if they partnered with Britters… xD

B-52′s “Love Shack” – against all odds (one’s a kitschy, alt-pop throwback – the other’s a high-octane, over-produced pop epic) the two songs work together remarkably well! This one’s high on my list of favourite mash-ups :).

—–

Download the complete Guitar Pro 5 file (.gp5) (including violin, mandolin arr. for guitar, double bass, vocal) from here.

Please note: this file is currently at version 0.8 (i.e. not complete yet) Check back soon for final version!

If you don’t have Guitar Pro you can download the demo here.