The Return of Cover Songs III

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Mendalla

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Okay, when F211 nail a song, they really nail it. Guns'n'Roses "November Rain" is a classic power ballad of 80s hard rock and F211 got it. Matt is again the star here, tackling solos originated by Slash, one of the great guitar players of our time. While it's Audra's voice that draw a lot of the band's followers, I am increasingly of the opinion that Matt is the one to watch here. Between this and "Carry On My Wayward Son" last week, he's really showing his chops now.


Interestingly, the song that first twigged me to this band was a pre-pandemic cover of GnR's "Sweet Child of Mine", also featuring some spectacular playing from Matt. It's probably upthread somewhere.
 
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Mendalla

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Another European symphonic metal singer taking a crack at Disney. Simone Simons has been lead singer of the band Epica since she was seventeen and, like her counterparts in Nightwish, blends classical and rock styles of singing. But her arrangement of "Part of your World" from The Little Mermaid is actually quite traditional, unlike Floor Jansen's metal-tinged Frozen covers. Simone's voice is perfect for the material.

 

Mendalla

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I think that I have raved about Keith Whitley's wonderful ballad "When you say nothing at all" before, but here I go again. I first heard it in the cover by Alison Krauss and Union Station (1994) and fell in love. It's a simple, beautiful love song with a gorgeous melody.

The latest favorites of mine to tackle the song are Quebec-based couple Julia Westlin and David Meshow (stage name, it's really Michaud). And it is a thing of beauty. Just their voices with some simple backing from David on bass and Julia on acoustic guitar.

 

Mendalla

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Not normally a country fan but this hymn to the genre, originally by Maren Morris, is a lovely song in the capable hands of Foxes & Fossils. Sammie Purcell takes leads here. She has really matured as performer since her father started the band when she was 15 (she is, I think, 27 now and working on a master's degree in Journalism). And those harmonies by the other women and her Dad are the icing on an already delicious cake.


I note that one of the Fossils is playing the custom "Foxes & Fossils" guitar that they recently auctioned off. Nice Easter egg for those us who follow them.
 

Mendalla

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I kind of stopped following producer-arranger-performer Kurt Hugo Schneider for a while. He was getting a bit weird and gimmicky with his covers. This one is back to form, though, with Kurt teaming up with three other male Youtubers for a marvellous acoustic take on an Eagles classic. The vibe of them just hanging out and singing in someone's house is a nice touch, too. Apparently, it's a single take, too.

 

Mendalla

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And from January, one of my all-time favorite songs given less metal spin than the original.


Julia Scheer is new to me but I'll look her up later. Nice voice.
 

Mendalla

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And the same trio with another Evanescence tune. Julia's voice isn't as powerful as that of Amy Lee who leads Evanescence but she still handles their songs well.

 

Mendalla

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In 2011, Kurt teamed up Youtubers Christina Grimmie and Sam Tsui for a cover of Nelly's "Just a Dream". It was probably my first introduction to Grimmie. 5 years later, she was gone, murdered during an autograph signing after a concert in Orlando, Florida. And Kurt and Sam were among the many affected by the death of this rising young star.

This June, on the 5th anniversary of her death, Kurt put together a new mix of the song, combining new tracks from himself and Sam with Grimmie's original vocals and some of the original instrumentals. This was for a concert organized by the foundation Grimmie's family set up in her memory.


Christina's solo starting at 1:44 is amazing, given that she was only 16 when it was recorded. She was a very expressive singer, too, with of facial expressions and hand gestures to go with the music.
 

Mendalla

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First to Eleven took on Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" this week, one of my favorite songs from the pop-punk icons. It's a powerful song about grief and loss driven by Billie Joe's Armstrong's memories of losing his father to cancer. Audra handles it very well and the band are in fine form.

 

Mendalla

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I have known of the existence of Violet Orlandi for a while now. She has collaborated with F211 and some other Youtube artists that I listen to. Violet is from Brazil and has a lovely alto voice. Her style is very much Goth and she often leans into heavy metal and hard rock in her arrangements, even of non-metal songs. While she is still primarily a cover artist, Orlandi's first album of original material came out in the spring

First up, a song very much in Violet's wheelhouse, the powerful "The Unforgiven" by Metallica.


And a beautiful, if lesser known, Bowie tune from his appearance in the movie Labyrinth.

 

Mendalla

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Oddly given her love of metal and the popularity of the band in Latin America, this seems to be Orlandi's only Nightwish cover. It's a beauty, though, in her hands. While Nightwish's singers have all been sopranos, her alto voice works very nicely for this one. And she does her own accompaniment here, highlighting that she is more than a singer.

 

Mendalla

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And a song that is, for me, a real test of any female rock singer: "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence. Not familiar with Barbie Sailors, her backup on this one, but they do a terrific job and Violet nails the vocals. No mean feat given it was written for and by Amy Lee, one of the most powerful voices in rock.

 

Mendalla

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The 2015 cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" by heavy metal band Disturbed really breathed new life into a song that was already a classic. Not surprisingly, Violet's version uses their arrangement and I am just fine with that. Really highlights how much power she can actually put into that voice, soft as her alto tends to be, and she meshes well with Anthony Vincent to turn the song into a powerful duet.

 

Mendalla

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I had not heard this song in years, maybe decades, when this came up last week but I was fond of it back in the day. Written and recorded by 10cc in the seventies, this version by Foxes & Fossils features band founder Tim Purcell on lead vocals and his voice is a good match. Even sounds a bit like 10cc's vocalist.

 

Luce NDs

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Love is a wipe out for those taking it extremely without clues as it appears to dispose of thought and intellect! May occur in the heat of the night!
 

BetteTheRed

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Here's a fun one. A black (male) UK rapper covering Jolene, astonishingly well.

 

Mendalla

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Not surprised it is Lil Nas X. He actually had a country hit with Billy Ray Cyrus a few years back.
 

Mendalla

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My exploration of heavy metal has turned up this beauty, a cover of the REM classic "Losing My Religion" by Italian metal band Lacuna Coil (who are fantastic, maybe my favorite since discovering Nightwish).


By the way, metal in its various incarnations makes great writing music, at least if you happen to be writing horror and dark fantasy as I am these days.
 

Mendalla

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And another great unlikely metal cover, Stan Rogers' classic "Northwest Passage" done by Canadian metal band Unleash the Archers. I almost wish I had known about this version when I used the song in a service. Then again, headbanging in the pulpit might be frowned upon, even in a UU church.


Oddly, I came across this band that started in Victoria, BC while exploring European metal since they record for Napalm Records, an Austrian label specializing in metal and hard rock.
 

Mendalla

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Brittany Slayes of Unleash the Archers is another one of those powerful female voices that seem to be so common in the various genres of metal these days. Here she is singing a Cranberries cover with Andrew Kingsley, one of the band's guitar players, producing and providing the backing tracks. This was originally released to support BLM last year (the band also made a donation to BLM Vancouver).


And it is so nice to find some Can-Con in a genre of music that is so heavily dominated by Europeans. There is also Alissa White-Gluz of Montreal, who currently fronts a Swedish band called Arch-Enemy, but used to have her own Montreal-based band as well as singing with a variety of bands as a guest or session vocalist.
 
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