Chet Faker – ‘Archangel’ (Originally by Burial)
Motivated partly by a love of Chet Baker’s fragile vocal style, and partly because a more established Australian artist shares his name, Nick Murphy has adopted the moniker Chet Faker to release his captivating blend of electronica and soul. When I came across this track last week it basically floored me. Murphy manages to keep things minimalist and pared down, while maintaining a palpable emotional energy through his soulful vocals. Largely solo for the first few minutes, with tasteful instrumental embellishments from the band, it is around 2:44 when the track gears up towards an aural squall of synths and crashing drums at its climax. The band clearly have a tight chemistry and I can’t wait to hear more from Mr. Murphy in the future. Stunning.
My Morning Jacket – ‘Rocket Man’ (Originally by Elton John)
This choice came about because I’ve yet to find the time to write about Jim James’s cracking solo album (which if you haven’t checked out yet, you really should), so this will have to do in the mean time. Elton John gets a bad rap these days, but there’s no denying that at his core is a fantastic storyteller (leaving aside that Lion King schmaltz). ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’ still gets me every time. Although the definitive cover of this song has been kicking around for over thirty years, I think there’s still space for this beautiful rendition by James and co. The lazy tempo and lulled mood of their cover really captures the isolation at the centre of an astronaut’s introspection, and James has always sounded like a man singing to himself out in space.
Eels – ‘Summer in the City’ (Originally by The Lovin’ Spoonful)
Probably most famous for preempting the explosion of a building in a Die Hard film, the original by The Lovin’ Spoonful is a classic slice of Vietnam War era American Rock, capturing the baking sidewalks and piled-up traffic of New York City in heat. Mr. E’s take on it however, is far more chilled and less hurried. Featuring just E and The Chet on guitars, this version is more like the mellow and cool summer nights spent shooting the breeze with friends than the sweltering chaos of a midday heatwave. Find it on the bonus disc for latest LP Wonderful, Glorious (which I’ve yet to write about as well).