(Un)covered: Watch The Sky

Something Corporate vs. Sweatshirt Weather By | July 31, 2014 at 2:00 PM

“Watch The Sky”
Songwriter: Andrew McMahon
Original Release Date: April 27, 2010

Something Corporate were a part of a golden age of pop punk/emo music that Drive Thru Records helped foster in the early 2000s. The indie label saw a ton success with artists like  Hellogoodbye, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Something Corporate, and a handful of others that are all cherished as strongly today as they were ten years ago.  Drive Thru’s roster was full of talented young pop punk and emo artists that influenced music, and Something Corporate certainly helped to embody that era. “Watch The Sky” is true to the band’s piano pop-rock form, but takes on a completely different tone on Sweatshirt Weather’s acoustic cover.

Something Corporate may have temporarily dissolved in 2004, but pianist/vocalist Andrew McMahon never really quit making music. He went on to front Jack’s Mannequin, a band I became far more familiar with, and is now working on solo material under his own name and the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The man is some kind of powerhouse musician. He never stops, and more importantly, he never disappoints.

“Watch the Sky” was first featured as a bonus track on the UK version of the band’s last pre-hiatus album North. The piano-rock jam was more widely released on the band’s greatest hits album, Played In Space, which debuted in 2010 just before the Something Corporate announced their reunion tour. The song starts out with the familiar style of chord driven guitar and a melody carried by McMahon’s effortless piano keys. McMahon sets the scene with a descriptive intro, and then slams you with a true Something Corporate chorus–forceful, melodic, a perfect blend of pop-rock-piano, and hopelessly addicting. Even the bridge, which slows down only momentarily, builds up energy and releases it with the hammering, staccato line “Still. I. Sink. To. Think. That. I. Must. Crawl!” and jumps right back into the chorus. It proves to be highly satisfying, especially since McMahon’s tangy vocals seem to be neither too heavy, nor too light for the song.

Sweatshirt Weather take “Watch The Sky” down a couple notches. It’s softer and gentler from the start with the intricate and beautiful combination of acoustic guitar and piano. You can almost picture a clear blue sky as a backdrop to the lyrics. Vocalist Chris Stewart sings a delicate melody, raw with feeling, and is quite similar to McMahon in that respect. What makes this song so absolutely stunning are the complex layers converging into a song that feels effortless and simple on the surface. I love to close my eyes and pick out every individual melody and harmony for each part, especially bassist Chad Kulaga’s impeccable guitar picking. It’s a multi-dimensional puzzle that I can only pick apart and put back together by ear, and that’s part of what makes this song so fun to listen to. Their stripped cover is featured on the band’s latest EP Translations, which gave acoustic treatment to five original songs and their version of “Watch the Sky.” It is a seamless addition to the rest of the EP, which all have a similar soft but intricate tone.

Something Corporate’s “Watch the Sky” is a song I want to turn up loud. The anthemic guitar, those inspiring lyrics, and even the accompanying piano all deserve high volume stereo treatment. However, when certain times call for softer songs, (like rainy days, dusk, and night drives) Sweatshirt Weather’s cover is the perfect fit. Though the members have moved on from Sweatshirt Weather (and fans like me are utterly heartbroken), their resilient cover of this great song will remain in my list of all-time favorites.

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