Video Rewind: Metric covers Elliott Smith’s “Between The Bars”

on March 16, 2010, 3:15pm

Take “World Sick” off your weekly playlist, I dare you. There’d have to be a gun to my head to remove that song from my ongoing playlist, and even then, I might just take the bullet for this instant hit. Broken Social Scene proved to all of us last week that not only have they still got it, they’ve got it in spades.

The release of their single brought the Canadian Indie Supergroup back into the much deserved spotlight, after a year or two in relative silence. The song itself is a good reminder as to why we all love these Canadians so much. Full of aesthetic percussion, unreasonably catchy guitar melodies, and heavily layered vocals from a baleful arsenal of talented vocalists, this band is one that is tough to hate on. Even the innumerable side projects of BSS rarely miss the mark. It’s truly remarkable what an impressive collection of talent has been assembled out of Toronto and what impressive music they continue to make.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the collective is their extrasensory ability to choose female vocalists to contribute to the project. Leslie Feist, of her solo project’s fame, and Emily Haines, of Metric fame, were the first to be recruited by band founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Next up were Amy Millan of Stars fame, and Lisa Lobsinger of Reverie Sound Revue (whom we highly recommend you check out). The most recent female vocalist added to the lineup is the beautiful and talented up and comer, Lizzie Powell, who also performs with her main focus, Land of Talk. With such talented female vocalists and talented musicians to back them, it would be near impossible to go wrong. BSS as an institution owes a great deal of gratitude to these incredible women for the amount of success they’ve experienced. As a side note, most of the above mentioned women will be appearing on Broken Social Scene’s forthcoming Forgiveness Rock Record due out May 4.

But we’re not here to plug for BSS’s upcoming album, we’re here to talk about life-changing live performances. In particular, we’re here to talk about an in-studio session Rolling Stone did to showcase Metric. And Metric does their thing throughout the session, but far outshining the remainder of their session is a cover that the BSS standout Emily Haines does. She wisely chooses to cover Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” to compliment her airy and swaggering vocal style. A cover of an artist of Elliott Smith’s caliber is dangerous because his songs are held by many to be sacred and are borderline untouchable, but Haines does it more than enough justice. Ignore the barely average guitar that doesn’t nearly live up to Elliott’s guitar talent; pay attention to the vocals.

Emily Haines puts a minor twist on a legendary song and gets away with it marvelously. Many times, an artist will rub their own funk on a popular song and it comes out sounding like an utter train wreck, but this is not even slightly the case in this intimate take on “Between”.  It may just be my bias that I think Emily Haines is one of the most beautiful women alive today, but this performance is absolutely breathtaking. Her vocals not only do our man Elliott justice, but pay tribute to what an incredible songwriter he was. She expertly moves through the piece and leaves her audience breathless, which is why, I’m sure, the boys at BSS scooped her up to be part of the band. Enough of my ranting, here’s the video. Prepare to get sentimental and possibly a bit teary-eyed.

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