Friday, April 20, 2012

Editors - Feel Good Inc.



Editors have great acoustics, and their live acoustic performances are as good, or better, than the studio versions. I stand by that statement. Case in point Editors cover of “Feel Good Inc.”

This is one of those random discoveries I found on youtube.com. At first I thought it was a great live version of an Editors song, but when I could not find the original I really started to wonder why the lyrics seemed so familiar.

I never got into Gorillaz. They had catchy beats and very lively colorful music videos, but that much pop flash always turns me off, especially when I was younger, which was when Gorillaz first hit the scene, so yes, I never got into them, nor did I realize the size of their following both inside and outside of Britain. The point is it took me a lot longer than it should have to realize Editors performing “Feel Good Inc.” was a Gorillaz’s cover.

There are certain expectations I have for a “great” cover song. First and foremost was the original respected? If not, than the cover is terrible. More often than not the answer to this first question is “yes,” and Editors surely respected the original, in fact I think they made it better, which brings me to the second question. Has the artist done something unique to make the song their own? This is the difference between good covers and great covers, and this is where this particular cover song becomes interesting for discussion. When I started writing this review I wanted to say how bold it was to take a very electronic pop song and turn it into a soulful acoustic folk rock song, but it’s been done. No I don’t mean the basic idea has been done before, of course it has. What I mean in this example is that doing an acoustic cover of “Feel Good Inc” is not a new idea.

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc

If you go on youtube.com you can easily find many fan acoustic covers of “Feel Good Inc” and I have no way of knowing who did it first.  Coming full circle in this vein of dialogue, did Editors make this song their own? I believe so. While the basic formula may not be wholly original I believe the Editors bring this song something it never had before, talent.

Not to be facetious but the overwhelming majority of "Feel Good  Inc" covers are sloppy and poorly produced. The fun experiment to make an acoustic version of an absolutely electronic song is cool and all, but so many of these covers lack structure and flow.  Editors are, if anything, a complete sound. Many Editors’ songs are so flush and full with life. As I’ve said before one of the key things that differentiate Editors from their peers is quality and this is yet another example of this. The performance of Editors live is pure brilliance, and their version of “Feel Good Inc,” is just so complete a song, even thought it is performed live the quality is good enough to fool the average person to believe it to be a professionally edited studio recording. There is also that certain something special about Editors that makes them just so damn good, and again I believe it is Tom Smith’s manly voice, his manly man voice.

Seriously though, Tom Smith, great manly singing voice, and when he sings “Feel Good Inc” the song takes on a whole new feeling. The mere presence of a masculine perspective singing these lyrics in place of the gentle D2 (and does Noodle sing some part of this song?) is a difference that is hard to ignore, but more so, the sheer soul that Smith puts into his singing makes the song have a certain twang of pain and toughness that makes a line like “Feel good,” mean so much more. Some say happiness is just a state of mind, but for me and other manly men typically we have to work for it. Maybe I’m projecting but that is certainly how I fell when I hear Smith sing “Feel Good Inc.” Regardless even though Tom Smith does not seem like a tough guy he certainly sings like one and that gives me something extra to relate too.

Another charming moment in this particular performance is when Smith messes up the beginning, stops playing, apologizes and banters with the hostess a little. Human moments like that are always nice.

Editors took a song I would consider decent and made it something fantastic, and they did it live, like true musicians. Good stuff.

Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Friday, April 6, 2012

Editors - Munich



Editors are a British indie rock group. I am getting tired of saying those words, specifically “indie.” When you think about “indie” is just another word we use to say “current.” Editors, like Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Interpol, The Killers, and others are a “current” rock group, as in they are actively touring and writing music in the here and now. Just like “alternative” rock groups primarily means, a rock groups that existed in the nineties and “garage band” refers to rock bands that existed in the eighties. There are just as many exceptions as there are examples of this depending on how you have arbitrarily decide to subdivide the genre of rock and roll. Surely you see my point, regardless I am getting off topic.

Editors are a British rock band. They fit the current mold of the indie rock scene, and as a result their sound is not completely unlike other indie rock bands you may have heard before. Like any truly good rock band Editors have a certain something special that makes them important. I really like their heavy use of acoustics, while the majority of Editors songs are electric guitar, rhythm, and bass, every single one of their songs sounds like it could or should be done acoustically, this is likely to explain why their acoustic sets sound as good or better than the studio versions. There is some synthesized music in nearly all their songs, presumably made on a keyboard though I am not entirely certain of this, still it really is the acoustics that make up their music. So to sum up what I have already said there is really good guitar in Editors, both rhythm and lead.

It is an easy thing to say that Editors stand out among their compatriots of modern rock by simply being good. Their sound is not as unique as much as the quality of their music is of a higher standard. While this is certainly true it is also something I say far too often. That was how I described Interpol and Bloc Party. If I had to make a distinction for Arcade Fire from their peers, quality would be the first thing I would point too. But all of those bands, all bands I have reviewed in the past, had niches and charms that went beyond simply being very good rock bands. Interpol is cryptic and poetic, Bloc Party are passionate, and Arcade Fire are daringly experimentative (experimentative is not a real word). As for The Editors what makes them stand out among their peers besides quality is probably front man Tom Smith. Not only does Tom write some great songs and decent lyrics, and he plays a mean guitar, but he has a deep singing voice, a manly singing voice, a manly man singing voice. Well maybe not that manly.

Tom Smith has a great singing voice, a voice that is not entirely in fashion any more. He sings at a deeper pitch than most anyone in light rock history and certainly he sings with the deepest voice in current indie rock. Like so many examples throughout all the years an old good idea is still a good idea, a style that was once good is still good, case in point, Smith’s voice is a deep manly voice of a style that has always worked in music but is rarely used anymore. The Editors while being new in style and fitting the current mold of indie rock scene are also equal parts a return to classical folk music; that is how I see them anyway, and Smith’s manly man voice fits into this theory.

The first song I heard by The Editors was “Munich,” and it is as good a song as any to share with the world. “Munich,” may actually be one of Editors heavier songs, and the theme of the song appropriately carries some weight to it as well. It is a high energy song.

“People are fragile things you should know by now.
Be careful what you put them through.”

“It breaks if you don’t force it.
It breaks if you don’t try.”

I could dissect the lyrics for you, but I find the song’s message fairly self explanatory, and agreeably heavy. It is always wonderful seeing the pieces of a song fit together, you know like that’s how music is suppose to work. The Editors – “Munich” is a very good example of all the right pieces coming together and being in all the right places. The electric guitar is sharp and catchy; the synthesized keyboard (if that is what it is), while unnecessary, adds an extra layer to the song, Smith’s word carrying a solid amount of weight and his deep voice aids in dropping that weight upon us. All and all “Munich” is a very good song, and The Editors three albums in so far have proven to have a solid consistency of high quality in all of their songs.

It is important to me to introduce Editors, they have done, and I think they will continue to do things that will impress me. To sum up this entire review, Editors are a good band go listen to them.

- Colin Kelly