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17-12-2011: sch 2011: Best Covers

The year is coming to an end and every blog is writing its own yearlists. And self-respecting blogger that I am, I'm doing the same. Off course there's the interviews you've been reading over the last week and there's more to come of those, with a fantastic little interview as a 'Grand Finale'; the band responsible for my favourite album of the year!

For now i was just browsing the blog, what else can i do on a Saturday night (actually, i'm waiting for my company to arrive).. And decided to do a little looking back already, with the best covers that i stumbled upon over the past 11,5 months. It's a tricky thing, the cover, the risk of completely ruining a song is always near & i'm pretty sure there's 1000s of great covers i didn't hear this year (there's a challenge for ya, my dear & much respected readers: bring me your covers!).

But for a Saturday-night prior to all the Best-Of there is to come, this is a fine collection of some great songs being beautifully covered by artists that very well know what they're doing.. Please enjoy!

James Vincent McMorrow - Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)

Lotte Kestner - Your Protector (Fleet Foxes cover)

Lykke Li - Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers cover)

Coeur De Pirate - Wicked Games (The Weeknd cover)

St. Vincent - "Some of Them Are Old" (Brian Eno Cover)

16-12-2011: Track Rags 'n Goff - Little Drummer Boy

Absolutely impossible to find anything on this band, but i like their version of this Christmas-classic and that's what matters, right? We're one day closer to Christmas with another cool song to get us all in the mood & there's a lot more nice songs coming your way..! Oh.. and you might've guessed it, this one came from the Hey, It's Christmas! - Vol. 2 collection.

16-12-2011: interviews Interview with Matt Stalker & Fables

As a "Farewell 2011"-series i have tried to get a little interview with the bands/artists that have made this a memorable musical year for me (and hopefully for you). Most of the bands i got in contact with responded very sweet and they have been so kind to answer a few questions about their 2011 and off course about their plans for the year to come, these will be posted in December every few days.

This 3rd interview is with Matt Stalker & Fables. They've released their beautiful album "The Man Who Said This Died Of Alchemy" this year and have found their way to my stereo's heavy rotation system with that. I just wrote a tiny little something on this album back in April, as I was still discovering my style on the blog (I still am, but I’m getting better at it), the poor 5 lines I spend on it back then do not do honour on this work of beauty.
This album has succesfully moved itself into a special spot on my mp3-player, which is under a lot of change due to the only 1GB that’s on it. This album never gets removed though, as I desperately need it on the train in the morning. It’s hard to decide what it is, but waking up on the train with coffee and this relaxing, yet cheerful album makes the world a beautiful place. Sometimes it really is that easy..

Use the Bandcamp-player below and read how Matt Stalker & Fables have experienced 2011.

If you had to name one moment, what would you consider your highlight of 2011?
I flew to New Zealand in January for a two-month holiday, but then Jenny (cello) decided to join me for three weeks. She rented a cello, I borrowed a guitar; we got 500 copies of our debut album pressed in Auckland, found a tour manager, and then toured the album round the north island. We played eight shows, and got play and do an interview on national radio NZ on Valentine's Day. It was an amazing experience.

Then on April 1st we launched the album back home in Sunderland, UK. Fables expanded to a nine-piece band and played to an audience of 150. It was a real milestone in my life, and a defining moment for the band. It was truly lovely to know we had such support in our hometown.

What are you doing at the moment (november 2011)?
We are currently writing and arranging a new EP, aiming for a February 2012 release. Adam is now a permanent 'Fable', playing viola, bouzouki and guitar and providing backing vocals. He's a real asset to the band. And as always, Jenny and Baz both bring great ideas to the table. It's such great fun being in this band right now. I'm truly in my element.

Which great band or artist did you discover yourself in 2011? Any favourite albums?
I didn't discover either of them in 2011, but both Bon Iver and Laura Marling put out records this year that blew me away. Adam Jenny and I saw Bon Iver play in Edinburgh in October and despite the hundreds of gigs we've been to between us in our lives, we all agreed it was the greatest gig we'd ever seen.

We toured New Zealand with an amazing artist, Katie Scott. Her EP, That's The Game, has just been released globally, and is amazing. She reminds me of Feist. But sexier.

There are lots of great bands on the local Newcastle/Sunderland scene, but Ajimal and Bridie Jackson & The Arbour are two acts we really love. Bridie is launching her hotly anticipated debut record on January 12th and we're playing support. Ajimal is also in the studio, which is pretty exciting.

How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
Hmm, I have no idea. I am not a fan of NYE in general; it's kind of forced fun. I'm more of a fan of spontaneity. But I imagine whatever happens I'll be with a few close friends, probably musicians, probably with lots of gin, old records and good food. We'll probably not leave the house for days!

What are your plans for the new year?
The new EP is pencilled in for January recording and a February release. We hope to tour, possibly with Bridie Jackson, to promote it.

- Thank you so much Matt Stalker & Fables for your responses. That February release is noted!

16-12-2011: Black Books - Out The Door

Black Books is releasing their debut album somewhere in the near future and this 1st track is a complete beauty. It's a dreamy song that starts off very soft, but slowly builts up untill it explodes and sucks you in. It's mesmerizing beaty is best enjoyed over and over again.

In a complete different setting you can listen to them covering Lovefool by The Cardigans.

15-12-2011: Track Summer Fiction - Christmas Eve for Two

This song by Summer Fiction is definately one of the coolest (new) Christmas-songs I've heard this year, it has that oldschool feeling that all the classic Christmas songs have (think Driving Home For Christmas) & makes it pretty much impossible to not be in a Christmas mood. It's songs like these that'll actually make up for all the horrible, terrible Christmas songs that are out there on the radio.

15-12-2011: Album Hezekiah Jones - Have You Seen Our New Fort

Just on the break of the year I need to share this great album with you. It was released back in March, but I've just discovered it a few weeks ago and have been playing it a lot these last weeks. It's a great folk record with some impressive instrumental qualities, as you can hear on Mind Malaise, the 2nd track on the album. The variety make this an album to enjoy a lot without risking getting bored with it, the tracks are very different songs, but all together this is a very strong album.

Big man behind the band is Raphael Cutrufello, he writes almost all the songs and does the main vocals. But it's very much a group effort, it has to be with the powerfull songs and diverse instruments being used on the album. There's also another side to the album, a more folkier side, the pace is slower, the songs are softer. Best example here is the last track down here, called Lift The Shadow From His Heart. Acoustic guitars, a little violin and some background singers, extremely beautiful.

I've given it some thought and this album was on the shortlist, but didn't make it into my Best of 2011-list. Still a great album though, to be played over and over again!

15-12-2011: Y LUV - Keep It Rollin' / Earthquakes

Y LUV makes great psychedelic rock tracks that remind me of something that always sounded great, but i can't get it in my head what that is. I was really into their latest release Keep It Rollin', but when i decided to get to know them a little better and came across Earthquakes i got myself in a nice little dilemma, as I really like that slightly older track aswell, so i decided to post both, as there also is a clear difference between these songs. Earthquakes is a more heavy psychedelic rock song, whereas Keep It Rollin' is more danceable, with a fantastic groove to it. Both are a perfect example of what they are capable of, and if you visit their website you can even get a free EP (How Chill Can You Let Go) they released this Summer, i hear no reason you wouldn't want to..

15-12-2011: Track Local Lokal - Oh Holy Night

The 3rd Christmas-song as the holidays are slowly coming closer is by a cool band called Local Lokal. They have some fun tracks on their semi-official soundcloud-page, and there's at least one more fantastic Christmas-track on there, called 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town', which is also featured on the Hey! It's Christmas - Vol. 2. compilation, their version of Oh Holy Night is my favourite though, it has that special Christmas-feeling. Gotta love it!

14-12-2011: interviews Interview with Megan Bonnell

As a "Farewell 2011"-series i have tried to get a little interview with the bands/artists that have made this a memorable musical year for me (and hopefully for you). Most of the bands i got in contact with responded very sweet and they have been so kind to answer a few questions about their 2011 and off course about their plans for the year to come, these will be posted in December every few days.

This 2nd interview is with Megan Bonnell, who released the beautiful EP "Maps" in June of this year. A 4-track EP that didn't get that much of a "I-love-this-so-frikkin'-much"-review as i seem to write so often (at least, from my perspective), but this EP has grown on me. I've given it a lot of airtime and as i claimed in the review aswell as now, Lake Superior is one of the best songs i've heard this year. It has all the good things of a beautiful power-ballad without it being too Hollywood, if that makes any sense. It is a song, and all together this is an EP i can not get enough of.

Give that fine EP another spin while you read what 2011 brought Megan.

If you had to name one moment, what would you consider your highlight of 2011?
The highlight of 2011 was definitely touring down the west coast of the United States. It was my first time going to San Francisco and Los Angeles. San Fran blew my mind. The general aesthetic of the whole place..the culture, the food. I fell in love with it! There is this bakery in the heart of the city called, Tartine. If you find yourself in San Francisco, GO THERE! I had the banana cream pie. It's a must! In fact, eating the banana cream pie may have very well been the highlight of my 2011.

What are you doing at the moment (november 2011)?
Currently writing and recording songs for my upcoming album. It's a pretty nice way to spend the colder months of the year. Guitar, piano, pen, paper and a cup of tea. I also work at one of the local coffee shops here in Toronto. It's a wonderful little place. I absolutely love the people that come in. Making delicious drinks is terrifically satisfying! Especially when you get the latte art just right! It is far more of an artistic outlet than I ever would have suspected.

Which great band or artist did you discover yourself in 2011? Any favourite albums?
I just recently discovered Doug Paisley and his album, Constant Companion. He is also from Toronto. If you haven't heard his stuff, check it out. I've had it on repeat at the coffee shop for a solid week. I also fell in love with Gillian Welch's album, The Harrow and the Harvest. I would say that has been my absolute favorite album of the year. She is a story-teller. Her songs penetrate your body and mind and find their way to your soul.

How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
Ah..NYE. I always find that holiday to be so hyped up and then generally a real disappointment. There's just so much pressure to have the best time of your life. This year my sister is having a group of our friends over for dinner and dancing. She doesn't miss an opportunity to dress up so I'm sure I'll be wearing something frilly. Basically, I'm gonna be ringing in the New Year looking like a cupcake.

What are your plans for the new year?
I will be releasing a full-length album in early spring. There will definitely be lots of touring (hopefully europe!) around that release. I'm very excited for what 2012 holds.

A big Thank You to the beautiful Megan Bonnell, I'm looking forward to that full-length!

14-12-2011: Kent Odessa - Shot Down on the Pavement

Kent Odessa is a singer-songwriter with a bit of a twist, as there are no (acoustic) guitars here, just a lot of synths, loops & beats. Does that make someone less of a singer-songwriter? I guess not and who cares? It's about the music and as far as i can tell, Kent Odessa is doing a good job when it comes to making cool songs. Shot Down On The Pavement is a great track to get to know him and definately not the only one he's released this year. Think 80s popmusic along the lines of Prince and Michael Jackson, the 80s U2, Duran Duran. But without any direct comparison with these names, there are just links that are formed in my misty, barely awoken brain.

Check out his website for more cool music or just enjoy this fine recently released single of his debut album "Silverdome", your choice.

13-12-2011: Track Kyle Cox - Ol' Winter Song

Just found a pretty sweet cover of Kanye's All of the lights played by Kyle Cox, the man responsible for a great song on the Hey! It's Christmas - Vol. 2. compilation i'm kinda, sorta promoting here this week (cuz it's just a load of great songs by some cool artists). The rest of Kyle's bandcamp-page is also worth a listen, go check it out!

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