Richard Conti Marches On ... (Covers Album)

by Evan Sawdey

19 August 2010

The Marches remain one of indie-rock's best-kept secrets right now, but following up their debut full-length with an EP of nothing but covers (Adele, Thom Yorke) is a risky move -- but a brilliant one as well.
 

The Marches is the brainchild of Richard Conti, and boy does he know his way around a pop hook.  His band’s debut album—last year’s 4AM is the New Midnight—mixed lo-fi electro-pop with horn blasts that sound like they were recorded by the Dap-Kings themselves, the whole disc a genre-hopping mishmash of what makes DIY rock music so great.

Conti has said that the whole album was recorded on borrowed amps and borrowed time, which is perhaps why it’s taken awhile for the band to put out their second release, the Director of Photography EP, which consists of left-field covers of artists from all across the rock spectrum. 

Two of the covers appear right from CokeMachineGlow’s excellent “Fantasy Covers” podcasts, the first being a fantastic rejiggering of Thom Yorke’s “Black Swan”, which uses loud cymbal taps, multi-tracked vocals, and some melancholy flutes and clarinets to get the original’s theme of displacement down pat.  Conti’s take on Adele’s “Cold Shoulder”, meanwhile, is about as pounding and visceral a reimagining as you can imagine (listen to them horns wail!).

The album is bookened by two very understated tunes: the first being a take on little-known songwriter Ben Durdle’s “Big City” (full disclosure: this track appeared on a tribute album this writer served as Executive Producer for), which turns a voice-and-guitar original into a mournful hymn filled with female choirs and moody church organs.  Wisely closing with a understated in-studio version of 4AM‘s “Need Me Back”, it soon becomes clear that whether he’s interpreting other people’s songs or even his own, Conti is slowly maturing into a pop music force to be reckoned with.

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