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Vitamin String Quartet cover Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” for Record Store Day 7-inch: Stream

10 Things… is a recurring new music feature in which an artist digs deep into a particular topic.

The Vitamin String Quartet love music, and not just their own. The Los Angeles string quartet have built a career out of reworking their favorite tracks across myriad genres into sumptuous, symphonic renditions that often cull new resonances from timeless tracks. They’ve previously remade tracks from the likes of David Bowie, Lorde, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Bruce Springsteen, and now they’ve taken their bows to something a touch weirder. For Record Store Day, Vitamin String Quartet have tackled two of The Flaming Lips’ most enduring tracks: “Do You Realize??” and “All We Have Is Now”.

Using only two violins, a viola, and a cello, the outfit has added another beam of color to the Lips’ kaleidoscopic aesthetic. The grandeur of the original cuts, both of which come from 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, is given a different texture here, one that maintains the band’s inherent whimsy while indulging the songs’ melancholic undercurrent.

The songs are coming on a Record Store Day 7-inch on April 21st before hitting digital retailers on the 27th. As an early tease of the unique release, you can stream VSQ’s version of “Do You Realize??” below.

In further celebration of The Flaming Lips, Vitamin String Quartet brand manager Leo Flynn and project director James Curtiss have shared 10 Things they love about Wayne Coyne and co. Though the string quartet is known for covering a vast range of artists, the deep cuts, obscure references, and promotional stunts they cite below demonstrate the depth of the band’s fandom.

“Race For the Prize (Remix)”:

Gah, what an opener. This cut, a remix of a song that would reprise at the tail end of its album, might be one of the greatest track 1’s of all time. So immediate, so bold, both lyrically and sonically. The Soft Bulletin is often cited as one of the best albums, not only of the ‘90s, but in the whole of rock and pop. This song is one of the biggest reasons why.

Their Craftsmanship:
No matter how tripped-out a Lips tune is on the surface, there are always super-strong musical ideas, guitar riffs, bass lines, what have you, underneath it all, propelling things forward. Despite an occasional air of frivolity (see below about a particular gummy artifact), the music of The Flaming Lips is very much built to last.

They Want To Work With Everybody and Everybody Wants To Work With Them:
Collaboration is a sure-fire sign that a musical act just wants to play. As such, Wayne and the boys might be the most playful musicians in the history of pop music. Seriously, who haven’t they collaborated with? Erykah Badu, Yoko Ono, Phantogram, Nick Cave, Biz Markie, Henry Rollins, Bon Iver, Peaches, My Morning Jacket, Miley Cyrus; if you haven’t collaborated with the Lips, you were probably dead at the time.

The “Mystery Act” at The Peach Pit After Dark:

Back when the Lips were in danger of being forever regarded as a one-hit wonder with the “novelty” song “She Don’t Use Jelly”, they decided to just embrace their success and take a guest spot performing their hit in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. We’re all the better for it, as the musical moment is a wonderful time capsule of all that was good (the Lips) and all that was god-awful (it starts with Kathleen Robertson’s hair) in 1995.

Wayne’s Grays:
The Lips frontman reminds us all that age is no excuse.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: The Musical:
For the handful of fans who got to see the sadly short run of this show at La Jolla Playhouse, it was revelatory. Big and bold, the show was 99% sung, structuring its narrative around songs not just from the titular album, but from other Lips releases. It was a love story filled with whimsy, melancholy and giant robots, just like any Flaming Lips show ought to be. Here’s hoping it might find a revival sometime in the near future.

Gummy Song Skull:

The Lips never met a silly idea that they weren’t willing to push to the Nth degree. This 2011 release featured four songs, on a USB drive, in a gummy brain, which was encased in a gummy skull. And, yeah, those four songs were never released anywhere else. Only The Flaming Lips could get away with ephemera like this.

Back when the Lips decided to release their 8th album as four separate CDs that you would have to play simultaneously, it was seen as yet another tripped-out exercise from an oddball band that thrived on tripped-out exercises (case in point: the compilation album they put out that they called Finally the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid). But, man, talk about creating art that demands a communal experience. In honor of that, we’d like to propose four different VSQs, together on one stage, performing this mythical quadraphonic album and let’s get Wayne to conduct the whole thing!

“Halloween On the Barbary Coast”:
Here, in one song, buried on the lesser-known 1992 (though it should have been 1991) album Hit to Death In the Future Head, you can hear the birth of so much of what would be celebrated as indie rock in the 21st century.  All the freak-folk, neo-psych, art rock, whatever; it starts here. Also, the title is so evocative of a time and place all us weirdos would to want to be part of, that it’s kind of funny that lyrically it turns out to be about the Lips guys spending too much time in Vegas in the ‘80s.

Wayne Coyne in Jingle Bell Rocks!: 

The wonderful 2014 documentary details the lives of collectors, fans, and musicians who are obsessed with Christmas music. It’s a wonderful showcase that treats its outsider subjects with genuine love and interest. In it, Wayne talks not only about the joys and sorrows surrounding the holiday, and in turn the music that generates, but also about how the search for a holiday movie that never existed, described to a very young Wayne by his mother, led to the creation of The Flaming Lips’ own Christmas film, Christmas on Mars.

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Grace Jones was the first artist to cover Joy Division | ‘Warm Leatherette’ and ‘Nightclubbing’

Sorry Goths and Hipsters—Jamaican singer Grace Jones was the first artist to cover Joy Division.

In fact, the fashion icon, dance music pioneer, and music legend— whose androgyny can only be compared to the likes of David Bowie, Annie Lennox, and Tilda Swinton— covered Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control for the b-side of her June 27th , 1980 release of her single Private Life, which was a cover of Chrissie Hynde penned song by The Pretender’s released earlier that year.

Private Life was featured on Jones’ fourth studio LP Warm Leatherette, named after Mute Records debut single also covered on the LP that was originally released by founder Daniel Miller under his alias The Normal.

Given that the Warm Leatherette LP was released on May 9th, 1980, and that Private Life is an album track, it is as far as we know recorded before Joy Division singer Ian Curtis had taken his own life, unless Jones had quickly returned to the studio in tribute, but that is not likely given that the track is a b-side.

Not only that, but all songs featured on Warm Leatherette were recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas.

Listen to Grace Jones’ reggae infused version of She’s Lost Control:

Additionally, there is another link to Joy Division as well in the subject matter of Warm Leatherette, as it was a song inspired by Crash, the post-modernist novel about fetishizing the experience of a car crash by author J.G. Ballard, where the story was also featured in the preceding work The Atrocity Exhibition.

The book, The Atrocity Exhibition also naturally inspired the track of the same name on Joy Division’s Closer LP, which was released a few months after Jones’ cover, being issued on on July 18th, 1980, exactly 2 months after the death of Ian Curtis.

More from Warm Leatherette:

Pivoting from her disco trilogy that finished with 1979’s Muse, Jones stepped right into the avant-garde, by embracing the emerging post-punk through a series of covers on the Warm Leatherette LP, all while the genre was still finding its voice.

The first single from the LP Rolling Stone had a quirky new-wave sound reminiscent of early Nina Hagen and Klaus Nomi, yet still retaining a slight disco vocal.

The second single off of the album, was an vibrant and stunning cover of Roxy Music’s classic anthem Love is The Drug from their fifth studio album Siren.that Grace Jones certainly makes her own.

The cover has a fantastic animated music video that was produced for the 1986 remix of the track that was directed by Matt Forrest and Bruno Tille.

Breakdown is a song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ that was also later covered by The Replacements, and recently Lydia LunchTom Petty specially wrote a third verse for the song for Jones.

Watch Grace Jones perform the track on Solid Gold.

The remaining two singles on Warm Leatherette are the Smokey Robinson cover of  The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game, and a french language track Pars.

Grace Jones and A Certain Ratio

As the Rock Nerd UK blog points out, After the release of her cover of Joy Division She’s Lost Control, Grace Jones took an interest in working with Factory Records band a A Certain Ratio, through a connection with  Island Records A&R Nick Stewart, who had been scouting Factory bands at the time.

From Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records by James Nice (chapter 1980 Part 2, p130 and p135):

Indeed even before Shack Up appeared, co-manager Wilson found himself invited to New York to discuss signing Ratio to artsy Island sub-label Antilles for America. Through Nick Stewart, operating from Island’s London office, Factory also caught the attention of achingly fashionable disco diva Grace Jones, who recorded a singular cover of She’s Lost Control by Joy Division, and would toy with the idea of employing Ratio as her backing band.

The book then goes on to elaborate on the  collaboration which didn’t pan out due to a few conflicts. Apparently, there were three days worth of backing tracks from the sessions, from recording some Talking Heads covers that have yet to surface:

With Shack Up and Flight both released inside four short months, Ratio now found themselves courted by Grace Jones, whose cover of She’s Lost Control had appeared in August. ‘She went up to Manchester to do some television promotion,’ recalls Island A&R man Nick Stewart, ‘so I took her to Strawberry when ACR and Martin were mixing their album. We talked about a collaboration, and there was an attempt to record a version of And Then Again, and Houses In Motion by Talking Heads. But it never quite came off.’ In fact it was even suggested that Ratio record an album with Jones at Compass Point in Nassau, but according to guitarist Pete Terrell: ‘Chris Blackwell at Island didn’t know anything about the project until after we’d met Grace Jones, done some recordings, and some PR shots appeared in the press. He wasn’t happy about it because he was her producer, not Martin Hannett. This guy at Island was really keen but he got overruled. Anyway Donald didn’t think the deal was very good, and I was told that Tony didn’t get on with Chris Blackwell.

The infamous slap

On November 18th, 1980 Grace Jones repeatedly slaps talk show host Russell Harty on live television for being rude and repeatedly turning his back on her. This one of the most iconic moments on television let alone being a great moment for an icon such as Jones.

Watch the full interview here.


The follow-up to Warm Leatherette, named after another cover of an essential post-punk track culled from Iggy Pop’s The Idiot LP, a record named the novel from Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and companion album to David Bowie’s Heroes.

The track is question Night Clubbing, which was famously sampled for Nine Inch Nails 1992 singlee Closer’s trade mark piston sound.

It is worth noting, coincidence or not that The Idiot was the last thing Joy Division singer Ian Curtis listened to before hanging himself.

Listen to Grace Jones cover of Nightclubbing below:

Nightclubbing is Grace Jones’s fifth studio album, and although the title track is fantastic, it’s is hardly what this highly influential album is best known for regarding it’s impact on fashion and music.

The first single on the LP was a song written by Sting during his tenure with his band The Police.

The next single I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango), is a reggae reworking of Argetine bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla’s original.

Watch the infamous  Jean-Paul Goude directed music video below, where Jones’ play the accordion. The video closes the 1982  long form music video collection/documentary A One Man Show on Jones that features many of the videos that are featured in this article.

The next track on Nightclubbing is perhaps the best known song of Jones’ entire career. The sexually suggestive dance club hit Pull Up To The Bumper.

1985 re-release cover

The music video for the song is a combination of live footage from A One Man Show with excerpts from Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 experimental documentary film Koyaanisqatsi.

The next singles were Use Me, a cover of a Bill Withers song, and Feel Up.

The final single on Nightclubbing was Walking In the Rain, a cover of the 1978 song by Australian band Flash and the Pan.


After the release of Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing, Grace Jones concluded her trilogy of Compass Point Studios records with her 1982 new-wave inspired sixth studio album Living My Life, which was followed by the release of A One Man Show.

Jones’ two post-punk LP’s were perhaps the most memorable part of her iconic career, cementing her image into the annals of music, style, fashion, and art history.  Her work on both records would later comprise half of her 1985 greatest hits LP Island Life, which probably has one of the most recognized album covers of all time, along with Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.

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Leæther Strip cover Coil’s ‘The Anal Staircase’

Legendary Gothic-industrial project Leæther Strip, the brainchild of Danish musician Claus Larsen has had a prolific output for nearly 3 decades.

After recently performing a fantastic sold out gig in Berlin for the infamous DEATH#DISCO night hosted by Ian P. Christ and Aufnahme + Wiedergabe’s Philipp Strobel. Claus is releasing making his next release.

Not one to shy away from collaborations or covers, Claus is issuing another ÆPPRECIATION collection in continuing their homage to his influences with new versions of songs by Fad Gadget, Adam & The Ants, Soft Cell, Dead Or Alive, Coil and more!

Listen and watch the video to Leæther Strip’s fantastic cover of Coil’s The Anal Staircase, culled from their fantastic “Horse Rotorvator” LP, and featured on Claus’ ÆPPRECIATION II collection.

Order Here

Track List:

  1. Lady Shave
  2. Beat My Guest
  3. Tainted Love
  4. Man In The Man
  5. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
  6. Holidays In the Sun
  7. Heat
  8. View From A Bridge
  9. Broken English
  10. Anal Staircase


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Quiet Slang, a.k.a. Beach Slang’s James Alex, unveils We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags EP: Stream

Track by Track is a recurring new music feature in which an artist offers a comprehensive rundown of their new album.

“Play it loud, play it fast” go the opening lyrics of “Future Mixtape For the Art Kids”, the song that kicks off not just Beach Slang’s 2016 album, Loud Bash of Teenage Feelingsbut also this quartet of stripped down songs, a collection comprised of just cello, piano, and the vulnerable vocals of frontman James Alex. It’s striking to hear those words without a thundering chorus of guitars accompanying them, and, as such, they take on a different resonance. Rather than a call to action, it’s a plea to one’s own memory: “Please let me remember the rush.” He calls the project Quiet Slang.

“I suppose I’ve been thinking of things like this: Beach Slang is drunk, sweaty sins on a Saturday night. Quiet Slang is salvation on Sunday morning. Or maybe it’s about holding on. Something like that,” Alex told Riot Fest earlier this summer. Upon announcing the EP, he described the project as his way of finding “something that calms our bones.”

“Maybe this is some small slice of that,” he continued. “Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s chaos in soft clothes. Maybe it’s frightened. Maybe it’s fearless. Maybe it’s both. Or maybe it’s nothing. I don’t know, but I think about this: one day I’m going to be dust. And when my soul splits, maybe this will be the thing that sneaks me through the gates. If not, well, those are the breaks.”

We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags might seem a curious choice for such a loud band, or even a gimmick in the vein of those “Pop Goes Punk” releases from the early aughts, but Alex’s sweet, wistful lyrics have always been as tender as any folk songwriter. Because what he understands is that a tipsy makeout can sear itself into the soul as much as a marriage vow. Our loudest nights are often the ones we remember in the quiet of a lonely dusk. It’s why we romanticize bands like The Replacements and Big Star, both of whom Alex honors with covers on the EP.

This isn’t just a one-off project, either. Alex says an LP featuring “ten quiet versions of ten loud Slang songs” is on the way early next year. In the meantime, stream the We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags EP and see Alex’s Track By Track breakdown of the album below. Get wistful by clicking play on the above video, and be sure to catch Beach Slang on their current headlining US tour.

“Future Mixtape For the Art Kids”
It’s strange and necessary how tender things hold so much more power. They swing differently. They find what matters. I don’t know. I mean, I just wanted to make something that shoved my dumb, little narrative forward, that shifted the weight of some things I’ve written. Most of the time, I’m caught in a tug-of-war between the gutter and the light, fighting to figure out where I fall. Look, all the best stuff is part-cracked and part-patched. The best humans are made the same. And that’s all this is—a love letter to all my friends who thought they were meant to die young. See?—we made it.

“Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”
The whole idea of Quiet Slang came from the lyric, “Why do we keep shrieking when we mean soft things?” (Stephin Merritt, I hopelessly adore you.) The first time I heard that it seared me. And just never left. “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas” was the first song I tried twisting into Quiet Slang. And it felt right, right away. I mean, for me, it was really about cracking the idea of minimalism, peeling away everything that didn’t contribute something significant. Every sound standing needed to matter. I mean, “discipline” is a real dirty word. But, if you rattle it properly, it shakes into grace.

Drunk pianos and really necessary words. No one’s ever going to come close to The Replacements. Ever.

I never thought I’d touch a Big Star song, because, I mean, why try, you know? But, bravado can be an antagonizer, a pusher—it’s good to get shoved sometimes. Land softly. “Thirteen” was the first song I ever remember hearing that made me miss some place I’ve never been. You know that feeling? Does that make sense? Either way, I hope I didn’t blow it.

We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags EP Artwork:

unnamed 34 Quiet Slang, a.k.a. Beach Slangs James Alex, unveils We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags EP: Stream

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Trent Reznor covers John Carpenter’s Halloween theme

Fitting for a Friday the 13th before Halloween…

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have covered John Carpenter’s theme to his iconic 1978 horror film Halloween.

This pairing is only natural following Reznor’s spooky appearance with “The Nine Inch Nails” on Twin Peaks earlier this year. Both David Lynch and John Carpenter have put out their soundtracks, scores, and solo work on Sacred Bones Records, for which Carpenter is currently releasing Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, an album of newly-recorded versions of his movie themes.

Reznor posted to the Nine Inch Nails Facebook page around 12am EST:

“I clearly remember my friends and I at 13 years old conning our parents into letting us see Halloween when it came out in 1978,” he writes. “We left the theater forever changed. We were damaged and scarred, with the shit genuinely scared out of us and that theme stuck firmly in our heads. John Carpenter, it’s your fault that I turned out the way I did.”

Listen below…

John Carpenter Tour dates

  • Oct. 29, 2017 The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, NV
  • Oct. 31, 2017 Hollywood Palladium Los Angeles, CA
  • Nov. 2, 2017 City National Grove of Anaheim Anaheim, CA
  • Nov. 4, 2017 The Warfield San Francisco, CA
  • Nov. 5, 2017 Catalyst Santa Cruz, CA
  • Nov. 7, 2017 Myth Live Maplewood, MN
  • Nov. 9, 2017 Aragon Ballroom Chicago, IL
  • Nov. 10, 2017 Majestic Theatre Detroit, MI
  • Nov. 12, 2017 Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Ontario
  • Nov. 13, 2017 Metropolis Montreal, Quebec
  • Nov. 15, 2017 Royale Boston, MA
  • Nov. 16, 2017 Terminal 5 New York, NY
  • Nov. 18, 2017 Trocadero Theatre Philadelphia, PA
  • Nov. 19, 2017 The Palace Theater Syracuse, NY

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Soft Kill pay tribute to Tom Petty by covering ‘Insider’

Many are heartbroken over the the news of Tom Petty’s passing earlier this week. Even the most casual music listener has probably sung along to the well crafted songs from the florida born multi-instrumentalists catalog of music including such songs as:  “Free Fallin’, ‘Refugee’, ‘The Waiting’, ‘You Got Lucky’, ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’, ‘Good To Be King’, and ‘I Won’t Back Down’, ‘Last Dance With Mary Jane’ and many others.

For over 40 years Tom Petty was a iconic figure—with with such an undeniable influence on popular culture and music that not surprisingly many musicians have shared their thoughts and feelings on the loss of such a music legend, and the impact he has had on their songwriting.

In preparation to the followup to their last album “Choke” Portland Oregon’s Soft Kill had already been channeling the music of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers into their current studio sessions, so that when learning of Petty’s death, they were quickly able pay tribute by recording a cover version of ‘Insider’ a song originally written by Petty for Stevie Nicks, featured originally on 1981’s “Hard Promises” LP.

Soft Kill’s Singer Songwriter Tobias Sinclair goes on to explain:

“Tom Petty’s music was a mainstay throughout our childhoods and adult lives. Even when punk rock put up unnecessary walls blocking out things deemed uncool to embrace, his music with the Heartbreakers found its way through. Leading up to the making of this next album we talked a lot about him and his guitar tone and riffs, the brilliant minimalism rarely perfected in American rock & roll. He sang songs that picked you up from your reality and placed you in the story unfolding, three and a half minute breaks from life that could very well have been your own memories.”

He then goes on to say:

“Tom taught us to give just enough and to make sure it’s honest every time. Coincidentally we went into the rehearsal space with our new drummer Adam Bulgasem (Holy Sons, Dommengang, Black Mountain) and played a new song live for the first time that unashamedly embraced everything about his sound. This rough cover felt right and was cathartic. His influence cannot be understated, our thoughts and prayers go out to he and his family during this time.”

Listen to the Soft Kill cover of Tom Petty’s Insider below:

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Speedy Ortiz cover TV on the Radio’s “Young Liars” for Planned Parenthood benefit compilation — listen

Photo by Erik Voake

With Planned Parenthood coming under increasing fire during the current administration, musicians far and wide have banded together to support the organization in any way possible. The latest effort is Cover Your Ass Vol. 1, the first installment in a series of charitable compilation cover albums From Lionfish Music. Out May 26th to comp features contributions from artists including Hinds, Cass McCombs Band, Porches, TEEN, Palehound, The Lemon Twigs, Deerhoof, Daddy Issues, (Sandy) Alex G, and Luke Temple.

To preview the compilation, Lionfish has shared Speedy Ortiz’s interpretation of the 2003 TV on the Radio song “Young Liars”. Recorded in 2015 with the band’s friend Jesse Weiss (Palehound, Grass is Green) at his practice space, the cover brings an extra bite to the original thanks to fuzzy guitars and frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’s more aggressive approach to the lyrics.

As the band explains to Consequence of Sound, the over decade-old song has new relevance now that 45 is in office:

“‘Young Liars’ is poetic and lovely, but also rife with the American shame and sneering political skepticism that marked the best of W. Bush-era post-punk. So the song has a renewed resonance considering the fearful dystopian anticipation our current administration’s ‘marked down freedom’ has generated in so many of us.”

Lionfish has pledged to donate 100% of profits from Cover Your Ass Vol. 1 to Planned Parenthood. Pre-order the compilation here, and find the full details below.

Cover Your Ass Vol. 1 Album Art:

cover your ass vol 1 album art Speedy Ortiz cover TV on the Radios Young Liars for Planned Parenthood benefit compilation    listen

Cover Your Ass Vol. 1 Tracklist:
01. Deerhoof – Fight the Power (Public Enemy Cover)
02. Hinds – When It Comes to You (Dead Ghosts Cover)
03. Cut Worms – Truly Julie’s Blues (Bob Lind Cover)
04. The Lemon Twigs – White Flag (Dido Cover)
05. Daddy Issues – Boys of Summer (Don Henley Cover)
06. Speedy Ortiz – Young Liars (TV on the Radio Cover)
07. Palehound – Miss Independent (Kelly Clarkson Cover)
08. The Quilz – Girl U Want (Devo Cover)
09. Cass McCombs Band – Yes We Can Can (Pointer Sisters Cover)
10. Porches – Morpha Too (Big Star Cover)
11. (Sandy) Alex G – Druglord Landlord (Cold Foamers Cover)
12. TEEN – Boys Keep Swinging (David Bowie Cover)
13. Luke Temple – Duchess (Scott Walker Cover)

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