A Tortured And Wonderful Howl From The Heart

In April of 2006, Billy Lunn, guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the Welwyn Garden City, Hertforshire, England trio The Subways, was diagnosed with nodules on his vocal chords. They canceled several appearances in support of their wonderful first album Young For Eternity, including one that I had tickets for here in Minneapolis. Doctors said that years of intense screaming during his songs may have damaged his voice permanently and it was entirely possible that he would never sing again. His scream, in many ways, is one of the best in the history of rock and roll. It epitomizes that Janovian wail that only true disciples of the medium can capture and convey. An excellent example of its supremacy can be heard in the song “Rock & Roll Queen“, from Young For Eternity, a high-octane, balls-to-labia shag tune that is a must for any playlist. Shortly after the diagnosis, Lunn and his girlfriend (and bass player in the band), Charlotte Cooper, broke up. The question of whether the band would even continue weighed pretty heavily on the band. With the future of the band in doubt, Billy started writing.

And what we wrote has become the album of 2008.

In fact, it may be the album of the decade and is, without a doubt, in my top 25 records of all time. To borrow from the late Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain, I can’t quit this album. It is absolutely infectious on just about every level. As I listened to it the first few times, I could smell the beer, the smoke (if not illegal in your city), the vodka-Red Bulls, the sweat, the women, and the absolute human glory that is the CLUB. Every time I listen to it I get the urge to be body passed in a slimy, hoard of humanity…my Chucks flailing uncontrollably…as I revel in the majestic splendor of the pit.

Much of this feeling is due to the stellar production work of Butch Vig (of Garbage and Nirvana fame), and one really gets the sense that this is the next logical progression from Nevermind… Brit-Style. The first four songs are like Ali’s fucking fist (“Girls and Boys”, “Kalifornia”, “Alright”, and “Shake Shake”), pummeling you with such might that you are immediately brought to your knees in gratitude for hearing such great music. The next track, “Move to Newlyn”, is a wonderful travelogue that brings you on a journey of self discovery around the United Kingdom. We get back into the power with the title track “I Won’t Let You Down” (his scream at the end…OMG!), “Turnaround”, and “Obsession”, the latter of which has a terribly haunting harmony vocal by Charlotte.

Then we get to the track of the album: “Strawberry Blonde”. To say that this song is gorgeous is the understatement of… history. It is three levels above gorgeous and there hasn’t been a word yet invented to define the truth and beauty of this instant top ten love song. The album finishes with “Always Tomorrow” and “Lost Boy”, another shovel-to-the-head stunner of a track.

All or Nothing was finally released in the US a couple of weeks ago. It has been available since June in the UK. I bought it a few weeks after the UK release date when I saw no US date on the horizon. The fact that it has taken this long to release it is proof positive that American record company execs have their heads firmly up their arses regarding what is and what is not good music. I have listened to it pretty much every day since I bought it and still have not grown tired of it. You won’t either. No one will.

Because Billy approaches life like I do…fucking mega or fuck you…All or Nothing….and it is magnificent. Thank God.

Buy All or Nothing


The Subways - All or Nothing

Subways Links: Official Site | MySpace | Last.fm

Digging the Virtual Crates: Faith No More

While we anticpate Pete’s no doubt exhaustive coverage of the Austin City Limits festival (and the trip home) I thought I’d dig back in the virtual crates to deliver some video-gasmic love for the brilliant Faith No More. I was digging through my collection last week and stumbled across my copy of This Is It: The Best of Faith No More (Amazon | iTunes) and was amazed at how kind time has been to these tunes and furthermore how well they’ve aged. From “We Care a Lot” through the flopping fish right up to “Ashes to Ashes” I actually ended up digging out my copies of the rest of their discography (I have to pick up Album of the Year) and spending some quality time getting reaquainted.

Faith No More – We Care a Lot (Video)

The quality of the video really sucks, but it’s such a classic I had to include it here.

Faith No More – Epic (Video)

The one that got everyone hooked.

Faith No More – Midlife Crisis (Video)

The entire Angel Dust record is a classic.

Faith No More – Easy (Video)

Personally, I might actually like this version better than the original.


I’d be completely remiss if I did not include at least one Mr. Bungle performance.

Mr. Bungle – Girls of Porn (live 1991) (Video)


Ickmusic’s Friday Five: September 26, 2008

Shuffle? Where we're going we don't need shuffle.

When the world seems set to implode on itself we look to different forms of media to distract, entertain and overall escape from the reality of our situations. Whether personal or global, no problem is too big or too small to escape for a bit with the Friday Five!

Last week the ladies of the Friday Five held court on their own. For those who have not joined in the Five, here’s how it works: … I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five with a bit of insight for each track.

Then it’s your turn! Just share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments and see what your fellow readers are listening to as well.

Here are this week’s tracks:

1. DJ CamSuccess (MP3) (from The Beat Assassinated)

I went through a rather obsessive trip-hop phase in the mid to late 90’s, and while I’ve outgrown that phase there are a few artists that stuck with me. DJ Cam is one of the few that were able to blend Hip-Hop, Jazz and down tempo and not make it seem contrite.

2. Frank Zappa – Jewish Princess (from Sheik Yerbouti)

Classic Zappa at his satirical height, Music is indeed the best!

3. Jason Mraz – Details In the Fabric (feat. James Morrison) (from We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.)

This tune opens to an answering machine message from Mraz cohort Bushwalla clearly dealing with a bad day. The song itself is a lilting yet uplifting message “Everything will be fine, everything in no time at all, Hearts will hold”. The song closes with a second message where he strikes the single oddest metaphor I’ve ever heard “I feel like you’re an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea. And I love you buddy. Ok. Bye.”

4. Dryden Mitchell – Friday, I’m in Love (from 50 First Dates)

Dryden Mitchell is the lead singer of alt-rockers Alien Ant Farm. For this track he drops the rock and brings a quirky electro pop tilt to The Cure’s classic ode to our favorite day.

5. John Lennon – Love (from The John Lennon Collection)

Love is free, free is Love

What’s getting you through today?

Austin Bound

Off I go for my second Austin City Limits Music Festival experience in as many years. I’m just – ohh – a tad excited. Because I am an über-music-nerd, I’ll be snapping pics with my iPhone throughout the weekend, and uploading them to my Picasa photo site. More pics will be uploaded from my camera after I get back.

9/27 Update: Greeting from the Dell buuble like structure at the ACL festival. Yeah, so apparently, intense heat, snapping pics, and uploading by email seems to drain an iPhone battery quite quicky. So, I won’t be able to post as many pics as I want to my Picasa site from the festy. Now, where’s my supersized can o’ Heineken?

Austin City Limits 2008

This widget has a rough outline of my schedule for the weekend. Let’s do this!

Birthday Boss – Bruce at the Shrine

In 1990, Bruce signed up for two intimate shows at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium to benefit the Christic Institute, along with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. This here is night two. On night one, he had premiered “Red Headed Woman”, “57 Channels”, “When The Lights Go Out” , and “Real World”. This night saw the debuts of “The Wish” and “Soul Driver”.

It’s pretty hard to describe in words how completely amazing this show is. Bruce is in optimal form. It’s interesting to note the differences between this acoustic show and the Ghost of Tom Joad tour 5 years later. Somewhere in between, Bruce picked up some twang (maybe all those Harley rides out West?). At any rate, I love both sides of the spectrum, but there’s something about this particular sound, this particular performance.

If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to name my favorite Springsteen song, “Brilliant Disguise” would be my reply. And this is the single best performance of the song I have ever heard. All of the heart-wrenching, soul searching doubt about love – bursting from Bruce and his guitar.

And each song is that high in caliber. Bruce pours his heart and soul into each lyric, and each strum of the guitar – something he does on a regular basis with his band. But it seems even more pronounced here. Maybe it’s the moment in time – just a year earlier he had disbanded the E Street Band and moved to L.A. And earlier in the year, he and Patty had their first child, Evan (an experience he details before “My Hometown”).  It’s the Boss, coming out on his own. And he shines.

Happy 59th, Boss – I’m awfully glad you’re around.

Bruce Springsteen
Shrine Auditorium
Los Angeles
November 17th, 1990

Intro – “If You’re Moved to Clap Along, Please Don’t”
Brilliant Disguise (mp3)
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Intro – “The address was 39 and a half”
Mansion on the Hill
Intro – “We all live with our illusions”
Reason to Believe
Intro – “You gotta watch those redheads”
Red Headed Woman (mp3)
57 Channels (and Nothing On)
The Wish
Tougher Than The Rest
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Soul Driver
State Trooper

Intro – “when that side of you is set loose”
When the Lights Go Out
Thunder Road
Intro – “I caught his first tear on the tip of my finger”
My Hometown
Real World
Highway 61 Revisited (w/ Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt)
Across the Borderline (w/ Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt)

Nighttime Missives with Kings of Leon

Kings Of Leon Saves Your Soul.

Rarely, if ever, does Saturday Night Live inform my music choices but this weeks episode did manage to serve as a reminder that a.) Kings of Leon just released a new record that I hadn’t picked up yet and b.) Kings of Leon kick about a metric ton of ass. Their latest release, Only by the Night, finds the band trying on arena size anthems and singer Caleb Followill finding his voice. The slow burn of opening track “Closer” sets the tone for the majority of record. The lead off single “Sex on Fire” brings the rock in the most grandiose way and is sure to have the crowds singing along.  “Use Somebody” is nothing short of brilliant.  While it has only been spinning on my iTunes for less than 24 hours, I’m calling this a contender for my record of the year.

You can listen to the entire record for free at Last.fm [here]

Buy Only by the Night: Amazon

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

Ickmusic’s Friday Five: September 19, 2008

I am serious ... and don't call me Shuffle.

The mark of a truly great song is the ability to make minutes seem like seconds making time itself seem almost irrelevant. When used as a tool to make time fly it not only serves the purpose, but makes it all the more enjoyable. I’ve found myself counting units of time in measure of how many songs I can listen two. My commute to work used to be 6-8 tunes long depending on the traffic. My dentist appointment last week was 5 songs (one of which was that Miley Cyrus song “7 Things” which somehow made the work being done seem less painful by comparison). So it should come to no surprise to anyone that the Friday Five is my way of counting the minutes down to the end of the week and the start of the weekend.

Last weeks shuffle exposed my geeky soft spot for sci-fi soundtracks and confirmed that I’m not alone. Our regular cast of participants chimed in with everything from show tunes to a bit of heavy metal. How’s that for disparate genre representation? For those who have not joined in the Five, here’s how it works: … I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five with a bit of insight for each track.

Then it’s your turn! Just share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments and see what your fellow readers are listening to as well.

Here are this week’s tracks:

1. Black Sabbath – Paranoid (from We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll)

Pete may have his AC/DC but for me it’s all about Sabbath. Would you believe that this tune was intended to be a filler track after the record company complained about the records length? Not bad for a throwaway track, eh?

2. The Toasters – Johnny Go Ska (from Thrill Me Up)

100% Ska from NYC’s The Toasters. Much in the same way that Sabbath defines the roots of Metal, The Toasters are, in my opinion, the defining Third Wave Ska band. This Five is really taking shape!

3. Toad the Wet Sprocket – Pray Your Gods (from Fear)

I’ve written at length about my love of Toad the Wet Sprocket and this song is one of the finest examples of why.

4. The Roots – Rising Up (feat. Wale & Chrisette Michele) (from Rising Down)

I geeked out on this track when it first was hot and I’m still feeling it every single time it comes on. I have to stop to give thanks to The Roots for introducing me to the brilliant Chrisette Michele who’s record will definitely fill the top spot on my year end “Best ‘New to Me'” chart.

5. Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love (from Spirit)

I’ll admit that I really did not like this song when I first heard it. It’s inclusion in a brilliant number on So You Think You Can Dance brought me around though.

It looks like Billy Joel was denied the first Friday Five Triple Crown, maybe next time Billy! What’s passing the time in your neck of the woods?

Live AC Bleepin’ DC

I realized something yesterday. Or actually I re-realized it. “Highway to Hell” is extremely gratifying to the soul when played at a very loud volume – which happened yesterday at work (earphones on, of course). I work in a techy environment where a lot of us often choose to plug into our tunes and get our work done. I’d love to have an electronic ticker up on the wall streaming all the the music playing at any one time around the office. It would make for an interesting study, wouldn’t it? Or am I really a geek? Don’t answer. Let’s move on.

So these are rough times in these United States – the financial world in turmoil, hurricanes, gun-toting Alaskan hockey moms, dead patches of grass in my front yard – it’s enough to make one wonder if we are indeed on the highway to hell (in a hand basket).

It’s live shows like this that can help get some of the aggressions out, and escape for a bit, if you will. We reach back here to 1979 when Bon Scott was still AC/DC’s lead singer. I won’t pretend to be an AC/DC aficionado, but I do know that I love ‘Back in Black‘, ‘Highway to Hell‘, and ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap‘ (great memories of listening to “Big Balls” as a guffawing 10-year old). Mr. Scott sadly left us in 1980, dying from acute alcohol poisoning after a night out in London town.

Enjoy every moment people. For it’s times like these when you need to go back to basics and Let There Be Rock!

Towson University
Towson, Maryland
October 16th, 1979

Live Wire
Shot Down in Flames
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place To Be
Sin City
Problem Child
Bad Boy Boogie
She’s Got the Jack
Highway To Hell
High Voltage
Whole Lotta Rosie
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Let There Be Rock


Unless your head’s been under a rock, you’ve picked probably picked up on AC/DC’s media blitz to promote their new album and tour, called Black Ice

  • The album is available on ACDC.com and at Wal-Marts across this land beginning Oct. 20th (go the AC/DC.com route, mm-kay?).
  • SIRIUS XM Radio “announced that legendary rock band AC/DC will host their own music channel on SIRIUS.  The channel celebrates AC/DC’s iconic career and the upcoming release of Black Ice, the band’s first studio album in eight years.   AC/DC Radio will be broadcast on SIRIUS channel 29 and debuted on Monday, September 15, 2008 at 6 pm ET, to run through January 15, 2009.”
  • And you can check out the Tour Dates here (December 10th here in Phoenix).

Real Soul Food: The Way I See It

With great power comes great soul.

Raphael Saadiq is Neo Soul plain and simple. His latest The Way I See It is the record that he’s been leading up to since his days in Tony! Toni! Toné!. The opening rave up “Sure Hope You Mean It” sets the tone straight out of the gate with vibe to spare. Joss Stone lends her sultry vocals to “Just One Kiss” and Stevie Wonder turns in a harmonica solo on the brilliant “Never Give You Up”.  From Motown to Philly to Stax the influence is clear but this feels as real and relevant as anything in R&B these days. If you are a fan of soul and in need of a meal, this record is like mama’s cooking, warm and familiar and always your favorite. This is one of my favorite records of 2008 so far.

Buy The Way I See It: Amazon | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

Blues from the Rush Soundtrack

Must be in a Bluuuues kinda mood. I’ve had the soundtrack to the movie Rush since it came out in December 1991 (Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gregg Allman as – what else – the drug dealer). Eric Clapton scored the movie, and contributed some extra songs too, most notably “Tears In Heaven“, written for his son Conor, who died tragically in March 1991 from falling out of his mother’s 53rd story apartment window in Manhattan. He was 4 years old.

Eric invited Buddy Guy to help out with this one – Willie Dixon’s “Don’t Know Which Way To Go”, an 11 minute immersion into everything that is great about the blues.