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Month: January 2009

The Gaslight Anthem

I got a note in late September alerting me to a band from New Jersey called The Gaslight Anthem. In the note was mention of Springsteen and the Clash. So naturally, I went to eMusic and downloaded ‘The ’59 Sound’ right away. I have to be honest, I struggled with it for a while. The music was passionate and filled with great riffs and catchy hooks. But lyrics-wise, I thought they were trying a little too hard to pay obvious homage to Mr. Springsteen. Case in point: “Meet Me By the River’s Edge”…

See I’ve been here for 28 years.
Pounding sweat beneath these wheels.
We tattooed lines beneath our skin.
No surrender, my Bobby Jean.

We’ve been burned by all our fears.
Just from growing up around here.
Our father’s factories marked our cars.
While Eden burned against the stars.

And with song characters like “Sally”, “Janie” and “Mary” throughout the album, well, though I could appreciate the idea that they were hugely influenced by the Boss, it initially grated on me a bit.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve been softening, and opening up more to them. Drawing me in especially with the very affecting song “Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid”.

The Gaslight AnthemHere’s Lookin’ At You Kid (mp3)

And then, they showed up on Letterman last night. And they played “The ’59 Sound”.  And they played it with such passion and intensity… The bass player striking Paul Simonon poses. The drummer pounding hard with some amazing fills. And lead singer / guitarist Brian Fallon as the ultimate front man.

Last night on Letterman, I “got it”. What a performance (and Dave was obviously impressed too)… I am fully converted now. Locked in.

Buy The ’59 Sound.

Visit Gaslight Anthem’s Official Site.

The Friday Five: January 30, 2009

I am not a shuffle! I am a human being. I am a man.

If you’ve been working for the weekend, well you are in luck because it’s just about that time. That’s right, it’s Friday and it’s time to kick back hit the shuffle button and let the music take us where it will. Today we’re firing up iTunes to battle the post-lunch dip!

For those who have not joined in the Friday Five here is all you need to know; each Friday I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me.

The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments. The more the merrier!

The Five:

Both Hands” (mp3) – Ani DiFranco (from Living in Clip)

Perhaps one of Ani‘s most iconic tunes presented here in orchestral form. Recorded live with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Doc Severinsen, in a good set of headphones you can feel the ebb and flow and airiness of the performance and the way the arena responds.

“Slave to the Grind” – Skid Row (from Slave to the Grind)

I firmly stand behind my theory that Sebastian Bach is the one of the best rock vocalists of the 90’s. Not my favorite track from this record, but a good kick in the ass nonetheless.

“Day Old Hate” – City and Colour (from Sometimes)

This entire record is a faultless accompaniment to a cloudy day. Dallas Green‘s delivery is effortless and heart-wrenching.

“Dance, Dance” – Fall Out Boy (from From Under the Cork Tree)

I’m fully willing to admit to this ‘guilty pleasure’. I love me some Fall Out Boy.

Climbing Up the Love Tree” (mp3) – Francis Dunnery (from Fearless)

While the (clearly) 90’s production on this track reveals its age this song, and record for that matter, has been a mainstay of my collection for the last 15 years.

Okay, I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours!

Colbert and McCartney

Very much worth the time…

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Super Bowl Boss: Interview on NFL.com

Bruce and the Band held a press conference today in Tampa. Can’t find video yet of the actual presser, but here’s a nice interview with the Boss that took place right afterward…

Click here or on the image:

I’ll post the press conference video when I find it.

The Who at Kilburn DVD – A Giveaway

Psst… I’m looking to unload a sweet 2-DVD SET: ‘The Who at Kilburn 1977′. Some nice folks sent it to me a few months ago, and if they don’t see a giveaway soon, the goons are gonna show up at my door and shove toothpicks under my fingernails or waterboard me in my kitchen sink.

To be eligible to win, you gotta live here in the U.S.A, and you have to leave either of the following in the Comments….

A Limerick:

There once was a blogger named Ick
Who fancied a good limerick
So please pause yer drinking
And do get to thinking
The one with wit should do the trick.

or

Haiku:

Townshend and Daltrey
Went to a local bath house
And ate shepherd’s pie

You see? It doesn’t have to make sense. Multiple entries allowed too. F it.
I’ll pick a winner from the entries in about a week.

I call that a bargain, the best you ever had, don’t you? The trailer and more details about the DVD after the jump…

Check it out on Amazon here.

100 Words on “Daylight”

Avez-Vous Un Matt And Kim?

I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever taken a cue from MTV but I was flipping through the channels and came across the video for “Daylight (mp3)” by NYC hipster hype du jour Matt & Kim. The hook was embedded deep and after finding the track (free & legal, go figure) it’s gotten more then a few spins in just a few days. It’s fun yet abrasive and quite frankly disposable, but I dig the hell out of it. I played it for my wife and she dropped this gem “It’s catchy, but catchy doesn’t mean its good”. Take that Brooklyn!

[audio:01 Daylight.mp3]

Buy Grand: Amazon | iTunes

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

Ick’s Pick (Week IV): Springsteen’s Working On A Dream

In 1975, When Bruce was blowing up on the cover of Time and Newsweek because of the groundbreaking Born to Run (an album that came out when he was 25, for crying out loud), I wonder if he ever pondered his long term success, if he ever wondered how his career would be trucking along in the year he turned 60?

Well, it’s 2009, the year Bruce Springsteen will turn 60. And if anyone is proving that age is just a number, Bruce is it. Look at the year he’s embarking on… his 16th studio album is released this week. He’ll play for something like a billion people around the world this weekend as the half time entertainment for the Super Bowl (go Cardinals!). He’ll embark on yet another world tour. He’s winning awards for his contributions to film (but inexplicably shut out for the Academy Awards – F.U. Oscar!). He played at the inauguration celebration of the new U.S. President. All told, he’s set to have a banner year (hell, he already has). It’s good to be the Boss…

Between the Cracks: Sly and the Family Stone’s “A Whole New Thing”

Hello, Ickies!

I know that my posts here have been minimal for some time. I’m busy looking for a job, wrapping up the dissertation, and playing Rock Band 2. But I promised Pete that my New Year’s resolution would be to post here with more frequency. This is a way to (potentially) force more regular posts out of me. I’ll just say that these will be “regular” or “occasional,” though I’d like to shoot for “monthly.” I make no promises.
I present the first of a new “column” so to speak, Between the Cracks. The series will focus on forgotten, underrated and misunderstood albums that are worthy of reexamination.

This edition takes a look/listen to the 1967 debut from Sly and the Family Stone, A Whole New Thing.

Truth be told, this post has been stewing in my mind for over a year. Last Christmas (2007), my girlfriend gave me the Sly and the Family Stone boxed set – all seven albums, remastered with bonus tracks. I’d coveted this set since it’s release, and was eager to devour it thoroughly. I’m pretty familiar with Sly’s catalog already, but put A Whole New Thing on my stereo with some hesitancy. The common problem with these comprehensive collections is that the artist’s best work is often sandwiched between generally uninteresting developmental early material, and bland, mediocre final albums.

Within 30 seconds of hearing the album’s opener, “Underdog” however, I felt like Sly had slapped me across the face with a fistful of funk for having doubted him. Playing the song a few days later for a fellow music geek and drinking buddy, he was similarly floored. And that’s kind of the way A Whole New Thing works as a whole – it’s a solid, sophisticated dose of soul and funk that shows surprisingly no weaknesses for a debut album.

But then the question remains – why is this disc largely forgotten?

My ponderings on this point were reignited recently while reading Nelson George’s Death of the Rhythm & Blues, where George briefly mentions Sly’s “debut” album, Dance to the Music. I was a bit flabergasted as to how or why a well-versed music journalist (and arguably, a music historian) would brush right over A Whole New Thing.

Perhaps it’s because the album did nothing commercially. Upon release, A Whole New Thing failed to chart at all. Indeed, it wasn’t until the aforementioned followup, Dance to the Music, that Sly and the Family Stone gained any substantial notoriety.

Nevertheless – hindsight is always 20/20, and it is this blogger/geek’s opinion that A Whole New Thing can stand strong with the rest of Sly’s classic catalog.

The album is admittedly more focused on the soul side of things, likely indicative of the time. In 1967, Motown and Stax were still going strong, maintaining their hold on the youth record buying public. Yet A Whole New Thing isn’t merely a Motown ripoff. In fact, it’s one of the more interesting soul records that I’ve ever heard.

“The Underdog” is undoubtedly the album’s strongest track, and its opener. Beginning with a minor key version of “Frere Jacques,” the song quickly jumps into a punchy, uptempo romp with strategically placed one-measure breaks where we can all catch a breather. I admit it’s become one of my ass-kicking anthems.

Sly & the Family StoneThe Underdog (mp3)

The rest of the album generally stays within the soul genre, but does so in a refreshing way. Yet even within the soul genre, A Whole New Thing is all over the place – cut time barn burners (“Turn Me Loose”), soulful downtempo ballads (“Let Me Hear it From You,” “This Kind of Person”), driving bass grooves cut with syncopated horn lines (“Bad Risk,” “If This Room Could Talk”), and tracks that would be sampled in classic hip hop cuts decades later (Public Enemy sampled “Turn Me Loose” for “Power to the People,” while “Trip to Your Heart” provides the groove for LL Cool J’s 1990 hit “Mama Said Knock You Out”).

One of the real treats of this release is the bonus track “What Would I Do.” I’m just going to let this one speak for itself, and leave you to ponder how in the world it was passed on as a single or album track.

Sly & the Family StoneWhat Would I Do (mp3)

It’s all here. A Whole New Thing has all the makings of a classic soul album, yet the world slept on it upon its release, and it remained forgotten even as Sly and the Family Stone rocketed to legendary status with their blend of soul, funk and pop music that laid the groundwork for so much of the music that followed (Funkadelic and Prince, to name but two). I highly recommend it. I’ll say that the Sly boxed set is one of the better multi-disc investments I’ve made (or received), although all of the albums are also available separately.

Until next time, I go back into the cracks.

-Gonzo

Buy A Whole New Thing

Buy Sly and the Family Stone: The Collection

Ickmusic’s Old School Mix

I’ve been itchin’ for a while to put together a nice little collection of my old school favorites. In the mid 80’s, I was in my mid teens when I became obsessed with a. Prince and b. the rap/hip-hop of the day. These are some of the songs I came of age with.

Now, some of my favorites included some not so PG material. In fact, some of it was downright foul. Too Short’s “Freaky Tales” is the biggest offender here, followed closely by that 2 Live Crew classic “We Want Some P***y”. But hey, I gotta keep it real, people!

Enjoy…

Ickmusic’s Old School Mix (mp3 – about 71MB)

Playlist:

Run D.M.C. – “Peter Piper” (from Raising Hell)
LL Cool J – “Rock the Bells” (from Radio)
Whodini – “Funky Beat” (from Back in Black)
Public Enemy – “Public Enemy Number 1” (from Yo! Bum Rush the Show)
Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick – “La Di Da Di” (from The Show / La-Di-Da-Di)
Schoolly D – “Saturday Night” (from The Best of Schoolly D)
Eric B. & Rakim – “I Know You Got Soul” (from Paid in Full)
UTFO – “Roxanne Roxanne” (from UTFO)
Too Short – “Freaky Tales” (from Born to Mack)
Beastie Boys – “Hold It Now, Hit It” (from Licensed to Ill)
2 Live Crew – “We Want Some P***y” (from 2 Live Crew Is What We Are)

The Friday Five: January 23, 2009

They call me Mister Shuffle!

If you’ve been working for the weekend, well you are in luck because it’s just about that time. That’s right, it’s Friday and it’s time to kick back hit the shuffle button and let the music take us where it will. Today we’re firing up iTunes to battle the post-lunch dip!

For those who have not joined in the Friday Five here is all you need to know; each Friday I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me.

The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments. The more the merrier!

The Five:

“For Giuseppe Franco” – Frank Zappa (from Trance-Fusion)

This is an outtake solo from “Hot Plate Heaven at The Green Hotel” recorded December 17, 1984 Paramount Theatre, Seattle, Washington. And to think, this is an outtake

“Dirty Mind” – Prince (from Dirty Mind)

Listening to this era’s records is making me antsy to hear the new record.

“Linger” – The Cranberries (from Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?)

Definitely in my top 5 of 1993, there really is nothing to compare to this record.

Tomorrow, Wendy (live)” – Concrete Blonde (from Still in Hollywood)

A stark and poignant song written from the view of a woman coping with the AIDS virus and the frustrations and challenges to faith that come with it. This particular verse has always stood out as particularly powerful:

“I told the priest, don’t count on any second coming.
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming.
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us.
No, I don’t wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us.”

This live version holds nothing back with Johnette Napolitano delivering every line with the utmost conviction.

Dear God” – Sarah McLachlan (from Rarities, B-Sides, & Other Stuff)

A quiet and introspective take on the XTC classic. I adore Sarah’s voice and could listen to her sing the phone book.

Okay, I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours!