Not sure where this came from but I’m loving this Erlend Oye cover of Wham’s X-mas classic “Last Christmas”. It’s already my favorite X-mas time song, but hearing Erlend do his Kings of Convenience-esque version is kind of a dream. Definitely brings the song a much more somber tone, perfect for the winter.
With the holiday season in full swing my music taste tends to change, leaning toward holiday favorites like Vince Guraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas or J. Tillman’s albums. I’d me remiss not to mention Joni Mitchell’s Blue, a love letter to California with tinges of sentimental, seasonal sounding songs. But is it possible to improve one of Mitchell’s classics?
James Blake may have accomplished this. His version of A Case of You is a touching, slightly haunting adaptation that fully competes with the original. There’s this live sort of ambiance to his performance which brings a certain atmosphere to the song. It’s also interesting to hear a piano instead of a guitar and drun like the original, changing the tone entirely. I hope you dig it as much as I do.
I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve heard a song so good that it had me rock my head back and forth, smiling from ear-to-ear. That’s the exact feeling I get when I listen to “Mean Streets”, the new track from Tennis, made up of husband and wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore.
The song starts out pretty soulfully with Alaina’s vocals mingling with a subtle snare and piano, which continues for a couple of minutes. But then, at 2:12, everything but Alaina’s vocals drop out and she’s singing an angelic tune, and suddenly, she’s accompanied by a gut busting harpsichord/drum b combo that gets me me moving every time I hear it. Seriously, if you can’t get into this track we could never be friends.
Out of Bristol, KOAN Sound seemed like they were going to be another member of the dub-step scene that took over the past five years. The duo of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow were signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA in 2011, releasing two EPs at that time, and toured with both Skrillex in and Diplo in 2012. This year they teamed up with fellow Bristol producer Asa and hit the studio. Hard.
This years Sanctuary EP seems to culminate their numerous sounds and influences. A ‘Koan,’ of course, being a Zen Buddhist phrase to denote a lesson or concept for meditation. The title track seems to exemplify their name the best, a ‘new age’ spiritual meditation that pulls pulling influences from Air, Sigur Ros and Brian Eno all at once. As the EP evolves it’s clear that they are not just focused on midtempo breaks for your zen moment at work. ‘This Time Around’ is delicate pop, Koo lending her voice to placate the space between wobbly synths and fragile strings. But the final tracks ‘Fuego’ and ‘Tetsuo’s Redemption’ reveal their other half – the heavy, devastating UK garage sound that has emerged from England in the past fifteen years. Definitely a record worth listening to from beginning to end, over and over again.