Geoff Geis


Lay All Your Love on Me (ABBA cover)

Why do we cover songs? What’s the point?

I hate it when I hear a cover song that sounds either a.) just like the original or b.) like it’s the result of a too-formulaic transposition of a performer’s established aesthetic onto another artist’s jam, like Limp Bizkit doing “Faith” or Reel Big Fish doing “Take on Me.”

If you want to do a precise version of a Green Day song in your bar band or drop a no-frills acoustic cover of “Driver 8” into your set at the coffee shop, that’s cool. But if you’re recording a cover, you should attempt to something to it or at least bring something out of what’s already there that is worth looking at more closely. By saying that I think that covers should “add something,” I’m not saying that artists should try and surpass the original versions because that’s likely to be a futile goal. But each recorded cover needs a reason to exist, even if it’s slight.

So for for what slight reason does this cover exist?

“Lay All Your Love on Me” is about jealousy, but the subtext is that it’s not condemnatory. I wanted to revel in the jealousy, as if it was a sublime pleasure, and I determined that I could do so with stark production that emphasized dark, crawling vocals. For a bit, it had no beat — just piano and bass sounds. But in the end, I added percussion to help keep it interesting through the duration and to (hopefully) keep it on the side of sultriness rather than creepiness.

The original version of this song is about as hard as ABBA gets. Mine is a little less club-ready, but I still hope it’s danceable.


Filed under: geoff geis, vanity projects, , , , , , ,

I just can’t be with you like this anymore, Alejandro

Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” has been the soundtrack of my last two weeks or so. It is totally the best thing I’ve heard since Young Money’s “Bedrock,” and it’s better on a whole than even that mighty jam.

I had mixed feelings about Gaga before “Alejandro.”

From her first record, I’d heard “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” “Poker Face” completely sucks – its hook is annoying, and its chorus (“Can’t read my, can’t read my, can’t read my pooooker face”) comes off as a weak bailout rather than a payoff; it’s a stunning example of bad songwriting. “Just Dance,” albeit better constructed, has a reprehensible lyrical theme (I can’t explain why I’m not similarly repulsed by “Tik Tok,” but I guess I’m just a hypocrite). The sounds of those singles were actually improved when they were appropriated by others, as in German singer Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor.”

“Bad Romance,” the lead single from Gaga’s second record, kicks ass. Upon hearing it on a mixed CD I got from Kyle Mabson, the track’s sheer power began to make warm up to the singer, who had improved drastically as a composer since “Poker Face.” But then came the follow-up single, “Telephone,” an old song Gaga had demoed for Britney Spears and then dug up for an easy hit. While the song definitely has a compelling and catchy chorus, my newly found feelings of goodwill for Gaga were lost as a result of that single’s Kindergarden-stupid lyrics, schmaltzy intro, overblown and unnecessarily vulgar music video, ill-conceived guest appearance by the increasingly-boring Beyoncé, and musical extension of the same autotune-buried hiccupy repetition that marred “Poker Face” so badly.

So I was basically done with Gaga until I started to hear “Alejandro” on the radio. The first time, I was driving on the freeway and I tuned into the song right as the chorus popped – I got stoked because I thought from the word “don’t” and the general timbre of the track that I had tuned into Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around,” a jam I’m always pleased to bump at full volume whenever I encounter it.

After getting over my initial disappointment that I was not listening to Ace of Base, I was able to appreciate what it was that I was actually hearing. After about a week of catching it on KIIS 102.7, I was infatuated. The song is a gorgeous update of Ace of Base, taking that group’s well-articulated adoration of ABBA and propping it up with monstrous 21st-century synthesizers (in contrast to Ace of Base’s “dude in a garage with a Casio” aesthetic). Others have heard shades of Shakira and Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” in “Alejandro,” and those references are also apt.

Yet the Gaga song is more than derivative. Tying her influences together with a cutesy Latin soap opera theme, Gaga hasn’t copied anyone but rather created a loving and humorous pastiche of all these styles in a song that is nonetheless distinctly modern and unique. Despite having such a clear and tangible lineage, “Alejandro” really doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio right now. And I can’t stop listening.

Filed under: Esoteria, Video, , , , , , , , , , ,

Congratulations, ABBA!

ABBA will be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame next year! This is such a deserved honor, and I am very happy for them. Here is a video of the song “As Good As New,” from 1979’s Voulez-Vous – their “hard disco” album. It’s not an official video, but one of those fan-made ones with still shots and stuff:

Filed under: Human Interest, , , ,


This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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