100 Words on Collections

They may take away our collection, but they'll never take our freedom!

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the amount of music in your collection? With the advent of the mp3 and the plummeting cost of storage it’s now possible to amass a collection thats only constrained by your resourcefulness. Even pre-internet I was a collector and have amassed a huge collection over the years. It occurred to me today as I was struggling to find something to listen to that the job of finding the right album to suit my mood was increasingly difficult. I combat this with extensive tagging and playlists but there are days where it just fails me.

Year of the Boss, part 1

One more for the mantle
One more for the mantle

And so it begins – the year of the Boss! Bruce picked up a Golden Globe award tonight for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for “The Wrestler”. Mickey Rourke looked like he was on cloud nine watching Bruce thank him. That, or he fell off the wagon again. [Congrats also to Mickey for pulling down Best Actor – life imitates art.]

So congrats to the Boss for a great start to a very busy few weeks…

January 11 – Golden Globes
January13 – Greatest Hits released (exclusively at Wal-Mart) – looks funny, but it’s true
January 27 – Bruce’s 16th studio album, Working on a Dream, is released.
February 1 – Bridgestone Super Bowl Halftime Show
April 1 – American Idol *

* Untrue. At this point.

The Screen Door Breaks Down the Boss: Speaking of the Boss, Anthony K. is in the midst of an exhaustive album by album “review and reflection” of Bruce’s work, over at his blog The Screen Door. He’s four albums in (Darkness on the Edge of Town), and it’s full steam ahead. So head on over and delve into Bruce’s stuff with Tony, who writes as passionately as any Boss fan I’ve seen.

The Olympic Symphonium

Gee, Your Olympic Symphonium Smells Terrific.

The Olympic Symphonium – More in Sorrow Than in Anger (Forward Music Group, 2008)

What is it about the great white north that fosters such beautiful, introspective and intimate music?  I suppose that I could make some crack about folks being locked up in their cabins for months on end, but in reality it’s more attributed to the fact that the Canadian government actually provides funding for the arts. Regardless, there is an abundance of wonderful music coming from our neighbors to the north and my most recent find is The Olympic Symphonium.

The trio of singer/songwriters share vocal duties with a roster of guest musicians filling in the blanks. Contemplative and complex the 10 tracks on More in Sorrow Than in Anger range from pop tinged twangy folk to heartfelt dirge. Where this record truly shines is when it’s pared down to the trio such as on “Malleable” where the intimacy abounds to the point where you can hear birds chirping in the background, the creak of a chair and the slight harmonic overtones of the guitar.

This is a perfect Sunday morning (or snowy afternoon) record. It stood up to many back to back repeat listens and did not for a moment lose its charm. Take a listen to the sunny “Intentions Alone” for a view into More in Sorrow Than in Anger.

The Olympic SymphoniumIntentions Alone (mp3)

Buy More in Sorrow Than in Anger: Amazon | iTunes

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

Ann Powers gets a night with the MPLS Genius

Well, not that kind of night. Ann Powers, a writer at the L.A. Times, just posted a full feature about her night out with Prince. It’s one of the more entertaining and comprehensive articles / interviews I’ve read about the purple man in a while.

Of note:

The website, still under construction, revealed the recognizable logo of a major big-box retailer with whom Prince is finalizing negotiations to distribute the albums. The three will hit the Web and that retailer, the artist said, “as soon as the holidays are over.”

Well? Let’s have ’em! Actually, some of my neighbors still have their Christmas lights up. Are the holidays over?

And also, Prince’s favorite show on the ol’ TV? Real Time with Bill Maher.

The Friday Five: January 09, 2009

Why don't you come up sometime and see 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 the iPod 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:

“Sister Christian” – Night Ranger (from Midnight Madness)

Yeah! Now this… this is the way to kick off a shuffle. In the world of truly kick-ass power ballads this definitely is ‘all-time’ material. Who would ever think that a tune written by a big brother watching his little sister grow up would cement’s the bands place in history.

“Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” – Prince (from Prince)

Here’s the thing, Purple Rain is classic, Parade is sublime and there are few that would argue that Sign “” the Times is anything but a masterpiece. But for me Prince‘s 1979 self-titled album is the record that I turn to time and again for my purple fix. From “I Wanna be Your Lover” to “Bambi” this is, for me, the best quick fix.

Your Boyfriend Sucks” (mp3) – The Ataris (from Blue Skies, Broken Hearts… Next 12 Miles)

This power pop gem pulls absolutely no punches. Hell, the first line about sums it up… “You’re better off without him, don’t call him… He’s breaking your heart.”  From the band’s 1999 release, this tune along with “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone” won me over as a fan back then and I still look forward to hearing their brand of pop-punk brashness.

“Crush” – Dave Matthews Band (from Before These Crowded Streets)

Writing the perfect love song is a task where many a man falls short; Dave Matthews is not one of them.

The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” (mp3) – Dead Can Dance (from Into the Labyrinth)

In the early 90’s my desire for new and ‘different’ music was insatiable and one of my favorite ‘finds’ was the dark baroque (and often Celtic) music of Dead Can Dance. Recorded at Quivvy Church (in County Cavan, Ireland) Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry blend world and ethereal music to a profound effect. This track features Perry‘s deep baritone singing of, as Perry put it, “the abstract relationship of myself and woman “.

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

Ick’s Pick (Week I): Glasvegas

One of my resolutions for the new year – other than cutting down on the mass consumption of junk food – is to listen to one new album release every week. That’s where that super clever title up there comes from. The title implies that I need to do this 51 more times this year. And that I’ll use Roman numerals for the entirety. I’m up for the challenge!

My pick for the first album of 2009 is the new self-titled Glasvegas album. You hipper people, especially over in the UK, have probably heard of them. The band is from Glasgow, Scotland, hence the ‘Glasvegas’. The album was released over there last year.

After a few listens, I can report that… this is my favorite album of 2009! Okay, it’s also my only album of 2009! Heh.. Seriously though, this immediately caught on with me. The opener, “Flowers & Football Tops” reeled me right in. Take some sweeping guitar driven melodies, a Phil Spector Wall of Sound vibe, and the heavy Scottish accent of lead singer James Allan, and you’ve got yourself a very enjoyable album.

Other randoms:

  • Great Scottish accent moment: “What’s the story morning glory, I feel so low and hopeless.” – from the song “”It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” – right now, my favorite song on the album.
  • I could picture Joey Ramone, another Spector admirer, singing some of these songs.
  • James Allan looks like a young Joe Strummer. Especially in the Letterman clip below.

Here’s their video for “Geraldine”

Go listen to the whole album streaming for free at Spinner.com.

Check out their Letterman performance of “Geraldine” from Monday night.

Buy: Glasvegas

Hometown Tunes: McDowell Mountain Music Festival

As an Arizona resident for the last sixteen years, there are a handful of things I look forward to each year – one is October, when the triple digit heat finally gives up and goes away for eight months or so. Another is Spring Training baseball – AZ is home to the Cactus League, where 14 major league teams come to train. Quickly inching its way up the list is the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, two April days of fun in the sun, great music, cold beer, and tasty food – all in my backyard, up in north Scottsdale at the Westworld grounds. I know it’s four and a half months away, but hey, I get excited, okay?

The festy launched a slick new web site today, with some lineup announcements, including Michael Franti & Spearhead as the Friday headliner. The Saturday headliner is yet to be announced, as are a few other slots on the bill. But so far, McDowell has a handful of national acts booked: Railroad Earth, Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Assembly of Dust, and Young Dubliners.

The two headliners for Saturday are still pending, so I’m expecting that it’ll be worth the wait (I threw in my 2 cents, recommending Band of Horses). It shares the weekend with the first weekend of New Orleans Jazz Fest, which swallows up scores of talent, but I’ll have faith! So far, this year’s lineup hasn’t knocked my socks off, but I find that I always end up enjoying every set regardless – something about Arizona, April, beer, and music.

If you’re in the southwest, come on down… McDowell is still small enough that you won’t get swallowed up in a crowd, the people are great, it’s very well organized, and you may even bump into me as I stumble out of my rented RV! YoW!

McDowell Mountain Music Festival – 2009 (Web Site)

Friday, April 24th

Saturday, April 25th

Two years ago, the Neville Brothers were there, and I shot one of the musical highlights of my life…

New Prince Site


For the first time in nearly a year Prince has an official web presence again. It’s a place holder at the moment but promises many of the features of the NPGMC. The media player is playing “Crimson & Clover”, “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me” and Bria Valente‘s ““Here I Come”. Of particular interest is the TV on the bottom of the site featuring a scene from Purple Rain (the 25th aniversary is this year, could we finally get a remaster?)

You can find it all at www.lotusflow3r.com.

Light of the Moon

My main way of staying somewhat in tune with the jam band scene is by listening to Sirius-XM’s Jam_On channel. In rotation these days is this fun tune by Al & the Transamericans. They’re a supergroup of sorts: moe‘s Al Schnier is joined by members of Strangefolk, Okemah, and the Gordon Stone Trio. Okay, well supergroup to some, since I’ve only heard moe’s music.

The tune is a bluegrass / roots tune with a banjo leading the way. A fast paced knee-shaker. The crowning moments for me come during the guitar/banjo solo, where the band’s jam background sneaks in for some nice atmospheric playing.

Al & the TransamericansLight of the Moon (mp3)

Buy: This Day & Age

MySpace: myspace.com/althetransamericans

The Friday Five: January 02, 2009

I feel the need - the need for shuffle!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first Friday Five of 2009.  We’re kicking the New Year off with a look back as I hit shuffle on my Top 100 of 2008. As you can guess I have a bevy of playlists that I maintain to keep a good balance of new/unheard music and my personal favorites. This particular playlist was created to help me write up the Year in (Ick)Music 2008 column and I liked it so much that I put it on countdown style (counting down from 100 to number 1) on New Years Eve.

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!

But hey, enough of my yakkin’…  Whaddaya say, let’s boogie!

The Five:

“Staying In Love” – Raphael Saadiq (from The Way I See It)

A rave up to kick off the first shuffle of the year, this song is a great start to any playlist!

“Say You Will” – Kanye West (from 808s & Heartbreak)

As far as track one, side one cuts go this one definitely is up there. Setting the mood of Kanye’s heartbreak perfectly this track is an introduction to the state of his (apparently) fragile psyche.

“Details in the Fabric (feat. James Morrison)” – Jason Mraz (from We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.)

This one has made a previous appearance on The Five. From September 26, 2008… This tune opens to an answering machine message from Mraz cohort Bushwalla clearly dealing with a bad day. The song itself has 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.”

“Another Day” – Jamie Lidell (from Jim)

True blue-eyed soul from the UK. This one made my Top 10 and I have a feeling it will continue to spin up whenever I need a little lift. Jamie stopped by KEXP (Seattle) back in May ’08 and turned in this brilliant stripped down performance…

“I Wanna Know” – Alan Wilkis (from Babies Dream Big)

You know that scene in Pretty In Pink where Jon Crier does his best Otis Redding impersonation? That’s what I always think of when I hear this track, Alan is a rather unassuming white guy who is able to capture so damned much soul that it should be illegal. If you still have not picked this record up, you are missing out.

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