Archive for the ‘Acoustic Covers’ Category

September-4-2011

Today is a special today at The AV: after an unofficial hiatus of several months, we are back! (And by “we are,” I mean “I am” – a one man operation is woefully vulnerable to fluctuations in work schedule and personal obligations.) I apologize for the break. Thanks for bearing with me.

The good news is, a three month lull means three months’ worth of great submissions. Over the next month or so, I’ll be posting the best of those performances. Check back in on Sundays and Thursdays for great acoustic music from readers of The AV!

To get us started, here are two of those submissions, one original and one cover, both from students of Boston’s Berklee College of Music. First, behold singer-songwriter Jennah Bell performing her soulful composition Black Sheep:

Jennah’s 5 track EP, Early Bird (listen to and purchase it here), varies widely in style. My favorite is the third track, Monster Killer – a brilliantly minimalist sequel to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, crafted as if by a SpoonFiona Apple hybrid spawned on the cold side of the pillow:

Jennah Bell – Monster Killer by theacousticversion-1

Next, we have 17 year old Joe Barnard covering Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago:

Listen to lots more from Joe at his YouTube page, where you’ll find covers of Coldplay, Guster, John Mayer, John Frusciante, Green Day, Ryan Adams, and more, as well as original songs and looped compositions, many displaying his considerable abilities as a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and video editor.

Stevens’ original, in case you’re curious:
Chicago-Sufjan Stevens by slyleaky


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May-15-2011
Filed Under (Acoustic Covers)

Since The AV’s inception, there have been a small handful of songs for which I’ve waited, with bated breath, to find interesting acoustic interpretations. At long last, it appears, I can exhale: The Lobby, an acoustic group from Greece, must have read my mind, because they recently submitted an acoustic version of one of these songs which accomplishes exactly what I had been looking for and more.

The Trooper, composed by Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris, is a harrowing first person account of the 1854 Battle of Balaclava, a fateful English-French-Turkish offensive aimed at reaching the important Russian naval base of Sevastopol. The battle was a major pivot in the Crimean War, a massive imperialist struggle for influence over the territories of the weakening Ottoman Empire.

Released in 1983, this song is a relatively typical meditation on the horrors of war, but in context, it is also more than that. Nearly 50 years into one of the most precarious stand-offs in human history – the Cold War – Maiden was expressing their weariness with an ideologically justified imperialism which threatened to follow an otherwise rapidly post-modernizing world into the 21st century. And once again, these Brits observe, it is the Russians leading the charge (the word “Russian” appears three times throughout the song).

At first listen I was somewhat disappointed by this rendition: where is the guitar riff which so memorably portrays the cavalry charge which stands at the center of the narrative? But the Lobby’s more subdued interpretation grew on me – rather than hearing the tune as one of protest or even rally to counter-attack, it takes on here a sense of resignation and, when the strings come in with the riff’s melody toward the end, one of mourning. For a song about the callousness and greed behind human violence, as Savannah King’s acoustic version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” demonstrates too, acceptance is perhaps a more beautiful response than anger.

A very different, but equally powerful acoustic version:
The Trooper by Hellsongs

And Maiden’s original, for comparison’s sake:
Iron Maiden – The Trooper by Paul Lilley


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April-8-2011
Filed Under (Acoustic Covers)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Metallica. I am not going to get into a flame war of “new Metallica” vs “old Metallica,” or anything like that. However, I absolutely loved The Unforiven and Nothing Else Matters. This acoustic cover, by Tijana, Sarah & Branko, positively exudes emotion – the sense of longing, of feeling, far exceeds the original. At 2:31, you can just feel how much the singer is putting of herself into this song. Musically, the guitar follows the same basic patterns from the original, but adds some subtle embellishments and intricacies to the tune, creating a masterpiece cover of one of Metallica’s greatest songs.


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April-2-2011
Filed Under (Acoustic Covers)

This is the first of many posts by Aaron, AV contributor extraordinaire.

Orion, an often underrated Metallica song, has long been one of my favorites by the group.  We have posted a few videos from this amazing duo, but we just can’t get enough.  While the concept of an acoustic band playing metal music is nigh on a cliche right now, and slapping a guitar is seen as an overused gimmick, there are some musicians out there who can pull these off beautifully (Rodrigo y Gabriela, Flametal and Tommy Emmanuel come to mind instantly).  Rodrigo y Gabriela perform an absolutely amazing cover of Orion, beginning with a lovely percussion piece played on the guitar, building up to a sublime interpretation of the piece, illustrating the role of classical music in metal composition, a strong understanding of theory, and amazing musicians.


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March-20-2011
Filed Under (Acoustic Covers)

Check out this acoustic version of the classic War Pigs, performed by one Savannah King. A solid rendition, and nothing too fancy, but it’s her vocals that really stand out. More than simply changing the emotional content by lending a softer touch to a pretty aggressive tune (The Dresden Dolls’ version, also featuring a female vocalist, is even angrier than the original), Savannah’s voice has a slightly throaty quality to it which recalls – dare I say it – Sarah McLachlan. This is particularly evident during the verses that begin at 1:43, and transforms the tone from one of confrontation to one closer to lamentation. Which is some good interpretive work – though it was originally written as a protest song during the Vietnam era, by now most of us feel more or less like Savannah does: this is, sadly, just the way things are.

To check out more of Savannah’s work, visit her on YouTube and MySpace.


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