Exclusive premiere: Watch the When’s take on Billy Joel’s ‘The Downeaster Alexa’

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. New York-based musical act the When has released a cover of the Billy Joel song “The Downeaster Alexa,” and the music video is premiering exclusively right here on AXS.

In the When’s take on “The Downeaster Alexa,” the song gets a refreshed sound while retaining the original version's heartbreak and sense of despair. It’s the music video, though, that truly drives home the harshness of the song’s overall message. “The Downeaster Alexa” is no day at the beach, and the When conveys that message throughout the four-minute music video with footage so crisp, viewers can almost feel the waves and the biting winds.

Are you interested in how the When’s cover stacks up against Joel's original song? You can check out the original “The Downeaster Alexa” by Joel on YouTube. The song is from Joel’s album Storm Front, released in 1989. Interestingly, that album also includes the hit song “Shameless,” which was memorably covered by country music singer Garth Brooks.

The cover of “The Downeaster Alexa” is from The When’s latest album, the five-track EP Layer Zero available for purchase via iTunes. In addition to the aforementioned song and the titular track, the album also includes “Stay Away from Me,” “Better Than Now” and “Learning to Try.” The album was released in June to warm reviews from both fans and critics, with Matthew Leimkuehler of the website Under The Gun Review noting Layer Zero has “a huge sound.” Layer Zero is the follow-up to the When’s EP Cycles of Time. Released in 2013, the three-track album consists of the songs “The Wishing Well,” “Let It Go” and “I’m A Universe.” The albums Cycles of Time and Layer Zero also comprise the first two parts of a planned trilogy by the When.

The When (also known as Matthew Kourie) is an “Alternative/Dark/Synth” musical act according to the official Facebook page who has performed throughout New York. Check out the When’s Facebook page and website to see information on upcoming performances.

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