song recommendations - the cover chain

I have been listening to songs that aren't Christian rock. Two of them are covers.

1. "We Will Become Silhouettes", by the Postal Service, covered by the Shins:

The Shins did this song for the single of "Such Great Heights", released by the Postal Service. The single contains the Postal Service version of "Such Great Heights", a non-album PS track, Iron and Wine's cover of "Such Great Heights", and the Shins cover.

This is a great concept for a single, and one I wish more bands embraced. Instead of four alternate versions of the lead song, include a cover version by a totally different band. Or, add another cover of a different song, at a time when most people haven't even heard your original version.

Anyway, the Shins do a stripped-down countrified version of "We Will Become Silhouettes", replacing the electronic sounds of the original with acoustic guitars. It ends up being two minutes shorter. Some of that time savings comes from not over-enunciating every word, but it's also a more vibrant rendition. The Shins' treatment seems a little more appropriate to a song about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

You can hear this at how each vocalist delivers the lyric, "And I'm screaming at the top of my lungs/Pretending the echoes belong to someone I used to know". The Shins: Voices go higher, and stress the "screaming at the top of my lungs" part. Postal Service: Earnest enunciation, same as the rest of the song.

Ultimately, I like Postal Service songs better when someone besides Ben Gibbard is singing them, but especially if that someone is in the Shins.

Incidentally, the two versions of "Such Great Heights" both later became TV commercials, so you know they're good.

2. "Know Your Onion", by the Shins, covered by Of Montreal:

This one is on an EP of covers put out by Of Montreal. I don't have as much to say about this one, because it's not nearly as different from the original version. Of Montreal adds more background parts, with a keyboard and assorted other effects dropping into the mix in places where the Shins leave it to one guitar and slight percussion.

One advantage to this cover is you can more easily understand and hence appreciate the lyrics. The Shins switch to a falsetto for the "What kind of life you dream of? You're allergic to love" part, while Of Montreal has a backup singer do it, singing in a not-so-high voice. In summary, if you like the original, or like Of Montreal, you will probably enjoy this cover quite a bit.

Now it is up to the Postal Service to complete this circle of covers by recording a song by Of Montreal. I can't begin to speculate on what they might choose (I would like to hear them do "Oslo in the Summertime"), but I predict that if it ever exists, the Postal Service cover will feature a drum machine, a synthesizer, and a lot of earnest over-enunciation.

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