Halloween Edition: Arc Iris, Angelique Kidjo, Brownout, The Mattson 2, Love Canon & Ty Segall
Arc Iris: Foggy Lullaby
It’s Halloween, ya buncha Freaks! Somewhere along the way (I have an idea when), the holiday has become synonymous with bands playing covers as a musical “costume,” so I’ve got a set of all-covers albums for your tricks-and-treats action. First up is Arc Iris who has a new album of originals just out but also kind of stealth released her reimagined version of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album under the name Foggy Lullaby. If you don’t know Jocie Adams, her music and live show is high-art conceptual in the best, grooviest ways possible and her take on the Mitchell classic is nothing short of a total deconstruction/reconstruction that is both fully loving and totally relentless in its taking of liberties. When performing this live, she added in fascinating original work based on bits of interviews with Joni and these made it onto the album as well. Arc Iris has created art out of art and it’s totally worth a deep dive.
Angelique Kidjo: Remain In Light
While I usually try to highlight musicians who are totally under-the-radar, I do make exceptions, especially so this week, so I am very hopeful that you already are well aware of international singer Angelique Kidjo. Even so, it seems that a good number of people are not aware that she came out with a full-album cover of the Talking Heads’ Remain In Light. That’s a shame, because it’s really, really great. You wouldn’t think that any extra vibrancy or bounce could be squeezed out of the original material, but damn, she does an amazing job and her band is more than up to the task. The whole thing just oozes with magnificent groove, a perfect balance between reverence for the source material and little make-it-her-own moments of escapism. I can’t recommend this enough.
Brownout: Fear Of A Brown Planet
These full-album covers are such a treat because you can really feel the love in them. That’s definitely the case with Brownout’s take on Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet, which they call, of course, Fear Of A Brown Planet. If you’re not aware, Brownout made their name doing big-band Latin-funk versions of Black Sabbath. They had an EP of originals out, but now are back with their funkified covering. This one is a great balance of the hip-hop rhythms and anger of the original, mellowed a bit over time and turned into gotta-dance instrumental grooves. The original material still feels as relevant as ever today and Brownout does it justice and then some. Enjoy!
The Mattson 2: A Love Supreme
Having fun yet? I don’t think your pillowcase is quite full of candy yet, so how about another loving reimagination for you. Next I’ve got The Mattson 2. These guys – twin brother duo Jared and Jonathan Mattson on guitar and drums – have been featured in the RecommNeds before. Their latest release is a just-need-two take on John Coltrane’s classic A Love Supreme. “A drum & guitar take on a Love Supreme?” you must be thinking? Yes, yes and yes. Whether you know this one forwards and backwards or never really got into it, the Mattsons have found every nook and cranny in there to squeeze bopping grooves and Santana-esque guitar riffage. They clearly love this album, but that doesn’t stop the brothers from ripping it a new one. Check it out, I think you’ll dig.
Love Canon: Cover Story
This one’s a little different in that it’s not a full-album cover, but goshdarnit, it’s a damn good time and ain’t that the point? The band is Love Canon who play bluegrass versions of ’80s tunes. Their newest release is called, Cover Story, naturally, and if you ever wanted to hear (excellent) covers of your old favorites like “Solsbury Hill,” “Graceland,” or, yes, “Tempted,” well, you’ve come to the right place. And there’s plenty more where those came from. They kind of nail them all, but don’t take themselves too seriously. This is the 80’s we’re talking about.
Ty Segall: Fudge Sandwich
Finally, I can’t do a column on great covers albums and not feature this one. I do hope that Ty Segall is already on your radar — he just announced his fifth album of the year! But, just in case… or just because it fits in perfectly with this batch, his just-out latest is Fudge Sandwich and it is a glorious, occasionally weird-as-heck, assemblage of garagepsychrock versions of some songs you probably love (and some you might not know at all). This one is worth it for the killer version of “St. Stephen” alone, but I won’t ruin any of the other surprises that await you. It’s Halloween, so you should definitely indulge in one more piece of candy. Worry about your stomachache tomorrow. Happy Halloween, friends!