Back again. The list looks pretty good -- we've got a Bedouin song from Dan, and Ronan ("Job Song" by Nizlopi) and Brandon ("Take Off Your Clothes" by Morningwood) have thrown in their hats as well.
1. Shout Out Louds -- Shut Your Eyes
This song has some sweet guitar; it grabs you at the beginning of the song and sticks in your head. The Shout Out Louds are a power-indie-pop-rock outfit from Sweden; think of them, perhaps, as a poppier, less snotty counterpart to The Hives. They aren't breaking new ground with this song, but it's definitely a catchy, worthwhile pop tune.
2. Nizlopi -- JCB Song (Ronan)
This is a pretty song. It's very simple musically -- vocals, acoustic guitar, not much else -- but I think it works well that way. Throwing in some overwraught strings or something like that would cheese it up. I like the lead singer's voice quite a bit, especially with the hints of an accent that pop through (the band is from Leamington, UK). Singer-with-guitar songs can sometimes be boring, but I think this one is charming.
3. Seu Jorge -- Suffragette City
Jorge's contributions to the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic were apparently so well-received that somebody saw it fit to release all of the Bowie covers he did for the movie, including a bunch that didn't make it onto the original soundtrack -- six songs that were on the soundtrack, seven that weren't, and a Jorge original. This song is, of course, sung in Portuguese; where some of the Bowie covers added an island flavour to the Bowie songs, this one actually sounds a little moodier. The guitar sounds a bit sad. They sound good though, cause Bowie is good, and Seu Jorge is as well.
4. The Juliana Theory -- This is a Lovesong for the Loveless
I thought The Juliana Theory might be a band featuring solo artist and former Lemonheads member Juliana Hatfield. I guess not. Instead it's a kind-of-heavy alt-rock band; kind of reminds me of a former Canadian band, Econoline Crush. It doesn't really grab me; I tend to like my alt-rock geeky or British. A review I found referred to them as emo, and I don't really hear that here; maybe this is what qualifies as screamo?
5. Bedouin Soundclash -- New Year's Day (Dan)
A couple of short years ago Bedouin was a college band, albeit a very good one. Now they're covering U2. Well, la de da.
Seriously though, I like Bedouin quite a bit, and I'm glad to see that they've done so well for themselves this year. Unfortunately, our Canadian content rules sometimes mean that crappy Canuck versions of American bands are the ones that make it big (as big as you can get in Canada) while talented musicians toil in obscurity. Bedouin is actually good, as evidenced by the fact that they manage to cover an iconic song by an iconic band, bringing something of their own to it while still keeping the original spirit of the song intact. It's got a nice dub/reggae flavour, and they smartly don't try to copy U2's bombast; they go for their own vibe instead, which is nice. I think it works well.
It makes me a little sad for the days when U2 was making good music like this, or even taking a chance and making not-so-good music like Pop, instead of just rehashing the same album every two years. I mean, I don't remember those days, cause I was about five years old. But still.
6. Sarah Harmer -- Luther's Got the Blues
I quite like Sarah Harmer; she's got a lovely voice, but I think she's a sharp songwriter too. I haven't picked up her newest album though; it's inspired both by her love of bluegrass and her work towards preserving the Niagara Escarpment from development. I don't like this as much as I like Harmer's solo work, probably because of the bluegrass factor, but I do think it's well-done and I certainly don't hate it. Either way, Harmer's voice still sounds good. I would like to hear the cover of the song by Harmer's old band, Weeping Tile ("Goin' Out").
7. Awesome New Republic -- Going Down
This has an odd sort of sound -- electronic, but with some R&B-style soul influences thrown in (I hear it in the vocals occasionally, honest). I like it though -- I get the sense that the falsetto and some of the lyrics are a bit, say, ironic. Irony can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but the band manages to keep it in check. The way all the backing tracks meld together is pretty neat.
Well, the Pitchfork review tells me that this song is about blow jobs. Listening to the lyrics, I can see that.
8. Morningwood -- Take Off Your Clothes (Brandon)
Morningwood seems to have a bit of buzz going on; I've seen them popping up a fair bit lately. But honestly, they kind of bug me. If I remember correctly, their last effort to hit Track-fu didn't set me afire. The over-dramatic vocals on this song didn't really win my heart either, and they do the retro thing (new wave, 70s squealing) without bringing anything new to the table. They sound like they think they're really, really cool, and I find that really, really annoying.
Winner: I'll have to pick Bedouin, cause I think they did a good job with a cover that would be hard to pull off, and cause I like that thing they do as a general rule. Awesome New Republic and Nizlopi also performed well.
Loser: Morningwood, because I think they're probably kind of pretentious.