Tag Archives: Ben Howard

Cover Songs: I’ll Cover You

Sure, everyone wants to take a stab at “Call Me Maybe” (I’m talking to you Fleet Foxes, Ben Howard, Cookie Monster, etc) or any Beatles song (Apparently “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby” are the two most covered songs). As mentioned in a previous post- I love a good cover song. While I enjoy when they’re produced and recorded on albums, my favorites usually stem from impromptu concerts or requests. I especially love when musicians cross-genres and sounds, like when James Vincent McMorrow sings Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” or when Anya Maria croons T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.” Covers bring new meaning and interpretations to music, and are the highest form of flattery. Here are my top cover picks (for this week, at least).

  • Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) covering Cold War Kids’ “Hospital Beds” – I could honestly put any Flo Flo cover here; it was really difficult choosing between her rendition of Beyonce’s “Halo” and this one. Her voice has similar qualities to Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett; haunting and borderline-screechy. I like that her version is stripped down, but she still belts the “put out the fire boys, don’t stop, don’t stop” coda. It further exemplifies the pain found in the lyrics.
    • Alex Winston covering the Black Keys’ “Everlasting Light” – Just like Winston’s voice, her version is a little off-kilter. She pairs banjo, heavy guitar, airy female backup vocals, and the slightest accordion with a pounding tempo. Cool.
    • Ellie Goulding covering Bon Iver’s “The Wolves” – I gasped outloud the first time I heard this cover. Goulding’s vocals are so pure and beautiful, and much less muddled that Justin Vernon’s. Plus it’s a capella.
    • Cee Lo Green covering Kings of Leon’s “Radioactive” – I’m not the biggest Kings of Leon fan and honeslty needed to hear’s Green’s version before giving the original a chance. Clearly acoustic covers hold a special place in my heart, but it’s refreshing to hear Cee Lo sing something other than “F You.”
  • Julia Stone covering The National’s “Buzzblood Ohio” – This song reminds me of a train-ride; Stone is contemplative and escaping worries of the past. Her falsetto contrasts The National’s Matt Berninger’s bass in a beautiful way.

If these tickled your fancy, check out my favorite cover blog Cover Lay Down for millions of folk wonders. Or, if you’re the giving kind, The Voice Project is a really great philanthropic organization that works with musicians to raise money for various peace initiatives in Africa. The “Episodes” section of their website features a wonderful web of cover songs.

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Ben Howard: Halloween Haunts

It’s eerily coincidental that Ben Howard announced the UK release of The Burgh Island E.P. in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction and the day before Halloween. His announcement itself was obviously not creepy (and actually very exciting for this fangirl), but the album features ominous cover art and a stormy single “Esmerelda,” making the news certainly timely.

Music is an audio diary for musicians, and The Burgh Island is no different. According to an e-newsletter Howard sent yesterday, “it’s a pretty hard listen at some points but a huge relief to get some more songs down and out of my head. Onto permanent paper.” These four songs are loaded with brooding and rippling guitar chords and Howard trades  cheerful tracks from his full-length album like “Old Pine” and “Keep Your Head Up” for intense drum cadences and guitar swells. “Oats in the Water” is my personal favorite, for it starts slow and bursts with energy midway through; Howard’s strengths exemplified . This EP is a wonderful fusion of music and nature (clearly a common theme amongst folksters…or at least the ones I’m writing about here). The Burgh Island is peace within personal turmoil and destruction, and a calm during the storm.

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Filed under New Music