Twitter-Mania, Euphonie Style

Twitter is sweeping the nation! Some love it. Some hate it. Some just don’t get it. But the truth is every one seems to be talking about it. Me myself, I am an avid twitter follower and updater. I love the constant connection with friends and famous “friends” and the fact that you can be tuned in to their musings at all times. I find enjoyment in each tweet, no matter how random. Actually, the more random the better! Here is a list of some of my favorite “famous” twitters for your consideration. Enjoy!

Rob Thomas (@ThisIsRobThomas) has been filling up my twitter page these days. Through his random musings, I feel as if I am intimately acquainted with the Matchbox 20 front-man. From the political (commenting on the Sonia Sotomeyor justice nomination) to the mundane (spending time with his wife, Mari) to the “rock star” (getting interviewed and photographed by Rolling Stone), Thomas covers the spectrum. Even if you don’t like Matchbox 20, you have to appreciate his ability to stay personable to all 48,000 of his followers.

Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) is one of my favorite parts of the “I Love The…” series. In his twitter, he tweets about his family, mostly. But each entry is funnier than the last one. HIs self deprecation-filled brand of humor is what makes him so enjoyable, as well as such movies as “Wet Hot American Summer” and involvement with “The State.” For example, who can’t not laugh at this sample tweet: “Khakis are to cool pants what math students are to cool people.” It is a daily dose of the M.I.B. we have all come to love.

Jon Cheese (@JonCheese) is an unknown name to most, but to me he is the most beloved member of Limbeck. Most of his recent tweets have been regarding several nights out on the town that ended up with hangovers and complaining. One night he updated 4 times in a 20 minute period, all with the same message: something along the lines of “i’m a drunk idiot.” Who can’t relate to that? In addition to booze-fueled entries, he also talks about missing the road, riding the greyhound bus with all “the crazies” and his addiction to “I’m On A Boat.” Don’t you just want to be his real-life friend? Because I most definitely do!

John Mayer (@JohnCMayer) is a constant updater. If you think he is a pretentious and overindulged asshole, like some people do, do not subscribe to his twitter. His twitter is really just another manifestation of how into himself he is (by my count, it is in a good way of course). He talks about the Titanic, song-writing, current events and family (several entries include the @carlmayer tag). He is incredibly random. There is almost no filter. It is great – just great fun.

Ezra Koening (@arzE), from Vampire Weekend, runs a twitter that is sparse but has the potential for daily witticisms. Like this May 29th tweet: “faux-accent Friday! today I’m from New Hampshire.” He is as New York-centric as any Ivy League New Yorker, as displayed in this May 21st entry: “At my cousin dan’s graduation from St. Jude’s. Can’t stand the UES. so much pretension and backstabbing.” Funny. Keep it coming, Ezra.

Other Notable Twitters:
Colin Meloy, of The Decemberists: @ColinMeloy
John Roderick, of The Long Winters: @JohnRoderick
Jim Gaffigan: @JimGaffigan
Ingrid Michaelson: @IngridMusic
Justin Timberlake: @JTimberlake
Matt Pond PA: @mattpondpa
Dr. Tobias Funke: @DrTobiasFunke

On a related note, I was extremely disappointed by the twitter of Real Housewife of NYC Bethenny Frankel (@Bethenny). I expected it to be filled with musings in line with the persona she presented through the two seasons of RHWONYC. But instead, she just updates you on the going-ons in her life, from to her book signings to upcoming magazine interviews. Booooring Bethenny, real boring.

Also check out the twitters of your favorite fantastic bloggers Allie (@allie_roth) & Jenna (@mostunsavory). Follow us! And we’ll follow you.

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Appreciation! Covers We Covet, Volume 1

The art of the cover song is a delicate subject. Many people believe it is impossible to achieve a perfect rendition of a song already recorded by another artist. Others believe that a band’s ability (and chutzpah) to play a classic song is the true test of their strength as a group.

I have a love/hate relationship with cover songs. In many cases, I believe the cover song is one of the best parts of a band’s live set (ie. The Decemberists/Death Cab for Cutie/Stars performing Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way” to close the Central Park Summerstage show in 2005). In some other cases, I find the cover song an overdone and unnecessary practice (especially if it is cliche ::cough cough Every Indie Act Covering “Womanizer”).

In order to make a cover song work, as far as I am concerned, the artist has to inject their own style into the song instead of just playing the song exactly as it originally appeared. The artist has to believe in the original as well as taking steps towards exercising some artistic license.

Here is a list of some notable cover songs (with corresponding mp3s)…

  • Matt Pond PA covering Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” mp3

Recently I have realized that Neutral Milk Hotel’s songs are very often covered by my favorite artists. (Jesse Lacey of Brand New, for one, has been known to cover “Two Headed Boy” in his solo show set list). The song, “Aeroplane,” is one of my favorite songs off the album by the same name. This cover is a beautiful acoustic piece sort of close to the original version. From listening to so much Matt Pond PA recently, it is a fair assumption that MPPA is heavily influenced by Neutral Milk. But injecting violins into the melody, he adds a sense of softness and romanticism to the song. It is what MPPA does best.

  • Bats for Lashes covering Kings of Leon’s”Use Somebody” mp3

Recently posted on Stereogum, this cover features many of the things that I love about cover songs. First off, it is a female vocalist singing a song originally recorded (and performed) by a male-fronted band. Secondly, the tempo is slowed down slightly. Thirdly, one or more instruments are added (an organ and a tambourine). Although I don’t listen to much Bat for Lashes (and am a casual KOL fan), this cover is a great example of a cover where the song is softened up successfully.

  • Stars covering The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” mp3

What? A Smiths cover? Someone attempted to cover the Smiths! That is preposterous! No. I am just kidding (even though many think – Morrissey included – The Smiths are one of those untouchable bands). Stars fuses the melody with electronica sounds. The whispering vocals of Torqui Campbell accompanied with the ever-so-charming (haha) Amy Milan is a new spin on Morrissey’s signature style found in this song. Yes, it is possible to appropriately cover The Smiths. Stars have done it. Death Cab for Cutie too (in a version of the same song – download here).

  • Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip covering Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa mp3

When I originally heard that this cover existed, I thought it would be one of those cover songs that came off silly. I mean, a 59-year-old famous English musician who is name-dropped in an indie song covering said indie song as a duet with an electronica-dance-pop band? However it is one of the greatest things I’ve heard in a while. He covers the song with a bit of humor and even inserts, “But this feels so unnatural to sing your own name” at the part where one would expect to hear “But this feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel too.”

  • She and Him covering The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better” mp3

When a female vocalist covers a song written from the point of view of a man, it is expected that any “her” pronouns will be turned into “him.” In this case, “girl” is replaced with “guy.” This version has a country twang and slow finger-picking tone, unlike the original (which is only slightly twangy due to the harmonicas). The tone is casual yet dreamy. In addition, it is one of the few times on “Volume One” where M. Ward actually takes a verse (in this case, the chorus). There is even a bit where Zooey lets out a giggle. Too cute Zooey, too cute.

Coming soon: Top 10 Bruce Springsteen cover songs…

Five Fantastic Songs for Fun-Filled Friday

So why is this week different from all other weeks?  Well, yes, it is Passover (and during this week we only eat unleavened bread, etc).  But that was not what I was referring to.  The true difference between this week and others is that this week my music listening has been dominated by a small pool of artists, some new and some older.  As a result, I am going to list my favorite tracks this week.  Enjoy!  

1. Matt Pond PA “Halloween” mp3
Okay. I might be kind of late on the MPPA train (woo woo).  I’ve listened to “Halloween” over 14 times in the past week. This song is the opener of “Several Arrows Later” and in many ways it is the perfect starting point for a spectacular album. From the beginning, something about this song screams uncertainity and anxiety.  The piano along with Matt Pond’s voice lends itself to a romantic yet realistic mood, with dimmed lights and whispering closely.  The chorus is one of the strongest parts of the song: “Pardon the intrusion/ Could we leave before it gets bad?” It is personal yet general and perfect.  It is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get into Matt Pond PA.

2. Death Cab for Cutie “A Diamond and A Tether” mp3
One thing that DCFC does so well is write introspective tunes.  This one, from their new release, “The Open Door EP,” is one of the best I’ve heard in a while.  As Gibbard sings,”I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn,” the listener believes him.  He goes on to spin the tale of someone with serious commitment issues who is perfectly satisfied with being alone.  At the same time, he is not alone but always gazing around to see what else is out there.   He makes “empty promises” and “countless bluffs.”  This song, lyrically and musically, seems like  a throwback to old-school Death Cab and I like it.    

3. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band “Slowly (Oh So Slowly)” mp3
It is no secret that I love just about everything Conor Oberst does. With the latest album”Outer South” (which will be released on May 5, 2009), is a collective effort by the Mystic Valley Band.  The opening guitar riffs “Slowly” feature a big band sound similar to the one found on “Four Winds” (from 2007’s “Cassadaga” record). This opening track starts off with an incredibly profound yet simple lyric: “Potential, well you’re a loaded line.” The song has a lot of the same themes from “Cassadaga” but goes steps further to claim the necessity of a vacation from life.  

4. The Gaslight Anthem “The Navesink Banks” mp3
On April 24th, I went to see Gaslight at Webster Hall. I had only seen Brian Fallon solo at the Court Tavern in New Jersey and really did not know what to expect. What I came to notice was that the concert was much like the pop-punk shows of yesteryear. There were kids moshing, fist pumping and the like. I hadn’t been to a show like that in years. It sure was something.

Anyways, in the days leading up to the show, I reviewed their discography and found myself instantly drawn to “The Navesink Banks.” This acoustic gem, off of “Sink or Swim,” is one of those songs that derive directly from a singular situation or experience: growing up in New Jersey. (Navesink is an actual location in Jersey).  This retrospective song talks about childhood and teenage mistakes that were made.  For example, contained in the lyrics are three lines that talk about “sins” in judgement made during the younger years. Although, as always, Fallon has a positive outlook and has learned from those situations to a full extent.  

5. Bishop Allen “The Chinatown Bus” mp3
For me, Bishop Allen is a newish discovery, even though I heard them on KEXP in 2007.  Bishop Allen, from Brooklyn, is one of those bands with great lyrical and musical talent. And I love bands that refernece the place that they are from (like the Hold Steady does in all of their songs).  From 2007’s “This Broken String,” this song is fully laden with New York references.  It takes about going up the I-95 on the Chinatown bus after New Years Day.  It takes of taxi cabs and being a passenger, watching the world go by. The quiet vocals and guitars along with the trumpets and tambourines create a dreamy and calm mood.          

On a related note, they will be playing at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, with The Dodos, Vivian Girls, John Vanderslice, and more (which takes place June 11-14).