Unexpected R&B Covers (2011)

Spotted a couple of unexpected indie covers of some R&B favourites recently…and then went searching for more.

There’s no question over the R&B revival that’s happening right now – and has been for the last couple of years. New artists like Trey Songz, J Cole, Jesse Boykins III putting their own twist on the legacy of music that soundtracked the late nineties for a whole generation of old school fans. Not only that, the last couple of years have seen releases from Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Maxwell, Beyoncé (though not in her Destiny’s Child guise – and it’s not really a comeback as she never left), – with D’Angelo and Nas to come.

It seems to have had an impact on indie-ites as well – and these are just a few examples of the result:

BELL – Are You That Somebody (Aaliyah cover)

Bell are New York-based singer Olga Bell plus Gunnar Olsen, Jason Nazary and Michael Saltsman and they’ve taken Aaliyah’s 1998 single, removed the quirky baby sample and replaced it with glocks, synths and percussion to create this glitchy, somewhat spooky indie version. Their own 2011 release, Diamonte is available on bandcamp.

Oliver Tank – Beautiful (Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell cover)

The minimal electronic style of this cover reminds me of The Postal Service at times, with vocals from Oliver Tank and Fawn Myers. His own tracks feature modified vocals and strings, in a melancholy state, and this take on two modern hip-hop legends is equally pensive. He’s from Sydney, and is on Yes Please Records. More on his soundcloud.

Chairlift ft. Das Racist – Party (Beyoncé cover)
Not the 80s electronic indie-pop I’d expect from Chairlift, this is lo-fi, singer-songwriter R&B (once you get past the intro…), with vocalist Caroline Polachek turning up the sugar – a tough act when the original is Beyoncé. It’s up here because of that vibe. Chairlift are from Brooklyn, are actually on Columbia so technically not ‘indie’ and are playing London’s Borderline on March 6.

and finally….

Chet Faker – No Diggity

Another minimally produced version, that’s really all about the beat and the vocal. Lethargic, nonchalant, smooth electronic soul – all supported by an easy, relaxed keyboard riff. Chet Faker is from Melbourne and is set to release an EP, Thinking In Textures, on 26 March through Chess Club Records. This one’s thanks to Joe Henson, who inadvertently brought it to my attention with a video post this morning. Cheers Joe.

Anyone have any more?