All posts tagged: music

‘A Star is Born’: A Heartfelt Remake

Fame, talent and love are at the heart of the new reincarnation of “A Star is Born.” The film marks Bradley Cooper’s impressive directorial debut. He also co-wrote the screenplay, composed original songs for the film and produced it. His female counterpart is the pop superstar Lady Gaga. She fills in the shoes of previous divas who took on the role: Judy Garland in 1954 and Barbra Streisand in 1976. The story has been told previously in three movies but this version feels particularly personal and grand. The movie follows the love story between Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga). They meet in a drag queen bar where she is the only performer singing live. Ally sings a cover of “La Vie en Rose.” Jackson is mesmerized by her performance and meets her backstage. While he is waiting for her, he sings to an audience of a few drag queens. Ally watches him from afar and an instant connection is made through their love of music. They go out into the night, get …

‘Blaze’: The Forgotten Troubadour

Country music’s best kept secret might just be Blaze Foley. The singer-songwriter who died at 39 from a gunshot wound in 1989 is the topic of Ethan Hawke’s latest directorial cinematic work, Blaze. The movie is based on Blaze’s partner and muse Sybil Rosen’s memoir “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley.” Hawke and Rosen co-wrote the screenplay. The movie diverges from the usual chronological structure of a biopic. Hawke took a chance in showing specific periods of Foley’s life that let the audience see a complex character. The narrative is divided in the past when Rosen, played by Alia Shawkat, and Foley, interpreted by newcomer Ben Dickey, lived in a tree house. The warm colors and idyllic montages show a dreamer in the cusp of looking for something bigger. When Blaze and Sybil leave their home to look for better opportunities, Blaze says to Sybil, “I don’t want to be a star, I want to be a legend.” The movie goes back and forth with Blaze’s performing his repertoire to an indifferent …

The Staves’ I’m on Fire

In today’s “The cover is better than the original”, we chose The Staves’ I’m on Fire. The original song is by Bruce Springsteen.   Why it’s better: Springsteen came up with this song in the early 80s when he was playing around with a Johnny-Cash-like rhythm in the studio. The song is part of Springsteen’s near perfect album “Born In the USA.” It’s difficult to top a Springsteen classic, but The Staves’ version of the song makes it more intimate. The melody is stripped down to guitar chords and vocal harmonies. The English trio of sisters creates a different ambiance with their folky voices. There have been other worthy covers, like AWOLNATION’s version for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack or John Mayer’s take, which was a bonus track for his “Battle Studies” album. The Staves change the song inadvertently by infusing it with heartfelt vocals which other versions lack. Listen for yourselves and decide which one is better.      

Portishead’s SOS

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Portishead’s SOS. The original song is by ABBA. Why it’s better: We all know that the Swedish group is an iconic pop phenomenon with a lot of catchy and emotional pop songs. ABBA has a definite style that you can recognize in any of their songs, the soft vocals and 70s vibe. Portishead’s cover strips down the lyrics and applies their own signature of “alternative rock.” The video for the song came out as a response to Labor Party Member of Parliament Jo Cox’s assassination. She was a young politician that advocated for immigrants in the U.K. among other issues. The political message, Beth Gibbons’ vocals, the band’s arrangement and the powerfully simple video transform a catchy tune into a haunting and beautiful plea for unity. The video ends with this poignant quote from one of Jo Cox’s speeches.

Johnny Cash’s Hurt

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Johnny Cash’s Hurt. The original song is by Nine Inch Nails. Why it’s better: Nine Inch Nails original song is quite impressive with Trent Reznor’s classic distortions and his voice rising in the right moments. The original has an aggressive edge that the cover lacks. But Cash’s interpretation of the song and the video that goes along with it are incredibly poignant due to the fact that you are watching pieces of this man’s life and his inevitable decay. The appearance of his wife, June Carter Cash, watching over him is equally moving. The lyrics accompanied an incomparable life that is no more. Although Reznor’s original is entirely different his lyrics are to be admired because they could fit the despair of very different men.

Physical Graffiti [Disco 2]

El segundo disco del álbum doble Physical Graffiti de Led Zeppelin, lanzado en 1975, abre con “In the Light”. La canción es un recorrido por las etapas de Zeppelin. inicia por un sonido distorsionado, creado por Page y su arco de violín sobre su guitarra eléctrica, para luego liderar la canción por un sonido que recuerda a la épica “Stairway to Heaven”. En lugar de convertirse en una grandilocuente réplica de la anterior, la canción es su propio viaje con elementos de rock y balada por igual. El segundo track es “Bron-Yr-Aur” de 2:07 minutos. Un pequeño track acústico donde la guitarra es el elemento principal. Una rendición corta pero igualmente poderosa. Le sigue “Down by the Seaside”, que de acuerdo con Rolling Stone es “una de las primeras canciones ‘verdes’ del rock”. Una semi-balada que recuerda a los 60s cuando las protestas se hacían a través de la música pero justo a la mitad se transforma en un himno de los 70s. Se balancea entre ambas décadas imperceptiblemente. La cuarta canción “Ten Years Gone” …

Russian Red’s All My Little Words

In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Russian Red’s All My Little Words. The original song is by The Magnetic Fields. Why it’s better: Although both interpretations are similar, Russian Red’s is better because her version is stripped down and more emotional. The original song is nice and slow but for this song Lourdes Hernández’s (Russian Red) voice is better suited than Stephin Merritt’s. Below you can also listen to this cover by Russian Red in Spanish. If you want to know more about Russian Red, please click here.

Physical Graffiti [Disco 1]

Physical Graffiti el sexto álbum de Led Zeppelin salió al mercado el 24 de febrero de 1975. El álbum doble compuesto por 15 canciones es la obra que muestra la versatilidad de la banda y la acumulación de sus experiencias musicales. El disco 1 abre con “Custard Pie” una canción que recuerda el inicio de Zeppelin cuando concentraban su energía en sus instrumentos y los resultados eran “rough around the edges”, aún así no olvidaron impregnar la canción con el virtuosismo característico de sus integrantes. Le sigue “The Rover” con una intro de Bonham y Page de más de un minuto. Es una canción que muestra lo que Zeppelin hace mejor, crear de la simplicidad de sus instrumentos melodías rockeras. La canción encaja a la perfección en las escenas dónde el personaje “más cool” sale de su carro. Page lo expone mejor, “The whole thing about ‘The Rover’ is the whole swagger of it, the whole guitar swagger”. El tercer track es la canción más larga del repertorio de Zeppelin, “In My Time Of Dying” …