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Month: May 2009

And When You Will Walk, You’ll Be Walking With Me…

Doves
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
May 28th

“Hey, George, where are you? You should be here man.”

I didn’t think it was possible after seeing Friendly Fires, White Lies, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and Keane (my Brit Rock Love tour) for my musical taint to be more stimulated. I should’ve known better….it was Doves.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I went to the Vic Theater in Chicago with my friends George and Annette. George I had known for 26 years and Annette for just under one year. It didn’t really matter how long I knew them because it was the first time in a long time that I was seeing a show with two people who LOVED music…who felt its power in every fiber of their being…who knew, like I always have, that music is the daily (hourly) healing elixir for the soul. And it was in Chicago…a town whose tendrils latched onto me in a wonderful and parasitic way long ago. We were ready to soak in the aural salve that is the eternal bandage to all people. And we really fucking did that evening because…it was Doves.

I look back on that night now and realize in hindsight how significant it was for me. It was the genesis of a journey on a path filled with heart. Had I not gone down that path, I would not be the person I am today. And I thank God every day for each minute, hour, day, week and month of the past four year’s quest. It’s  forged me into the man I am today and, in the best possible way, it’s still not over.

As with any bit of travel, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual (and in this special case, it was all four), the music you hear at that defining moment…the alpha, if you will…is to be fucking cherished. Doves were the soundtrack to that journey. This band is very, very close to my heart because they have been the underlying and terribly gorgeous hum ever since that moment four years ago.

So, I had my doubts that I could top that night back in Chicago. George was supposed to come up but couldn’t due to a conflict. Annette is living her life in Chicago.  I thought of how much I missed both of them and wished they could be drinking up the magic musical potion with me. I have to admit that the melancholy for my friends was taking its toll on me as I walked up to the Varsity Theater in the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis. Dinkytown is a four square block commercial area located right next to the University of Minnesota campus. In my day, back in the 80s, it was really not all that great. Now, it is mega. The Loring Pasta Bar, the Kitty Kat Club (so cool), the Library ( a sports bar), several cafes with outdoor seating populate the small area giving it a very warm and Parisian/Florentine feel.

As I sauntered up to the Varsity, a movie house in my day, I checked the set times with the bouncer. 9pm for Doves and it was 8pm. So I had an hour to BS with my friends at the aformentioned Kitty Kat Club for a couple of pre show cocktails. I took a few steps down the street to where the Kitty was and turned to see…Jimi Goodwin, bass player and lead singer of Doves, having a smoke and taking in the sights. WOW!

Squelching the urge to be like one of those girls in the Ed Sullivan Theater when the Beatles played there in 1964, I said, “Hey, Jimi, how’s it going?”

“Good, man.”

“Take a pic with me?” I asked with the girl inside of me jumping around like a giddy cheerleader.

“Sure.”

“And could you say a little something on a quick vid to my buddy George who couldn’t make it.”

“Of course” I started the camera.

“Hey, George, where are you? You should be here man,” Jimi said with a smile to the lens.

Other folks happened by and noticed him. He signed all our tickets and I had one more thing to say to him.

“Winter Hill…amazing fucking song, dude.”

“Tough one, innit?” he said and he looked directly at me. I knew what he meant. And when he looked at me he smiled to see that I got it too. Any notion that this night would not live up to that night four years ago was fucking out of the mother fucking window at that point. I just had a conversation with Jimi Goodwin about the meaning of one of his songs…a meaning that had direct bearing on that night four years ago…a meaning that had direct bearing on me. I had not heard a single, live note yet and I was in heaven.

My friend Heather happened upon me during all of this exchange and was kind enough to take this picture at left. After me talking a mile a minute, at the Kitty,  about how fucking top gear it was to meet Jimi, we boogied back to the Varsity and parked ourselves in the pit.

They opened with “Jetstream”, the first track from their new album Kingdom of Rust. They wrote it to be an alternate soundtrack to the opening moments of the 1981 film, Blade Runner. How cool! After that was “Snowden,” with the twins, Andy Williams (drums) and Jez Williams (guitar) sounding magnificent. And then came “Winter Hill”. On first listen to this track, it might seem to the small minded that the lads from Wimslow are straying into “Every Breath You Take” territory. But no…no no. “Winter Hill” is about sacred love – the kind that you get from being on a journey filled with heart…the kind that stays with you forever.

The rest of their set was an excellent mix of tracks from all four of their albums. “Rise” was triumphant. “Pounding” kicked ass. “Words” was stunning. “The Greatest Denier” caused me to reflect very deeply. In so many ways, I am the greatest denier of the human condition. As the last song of the set proper began, “Caught by the River,” Jimi sang:

“Son
What have you done?
You’re caught by the river
You’re coming undone

Life
You know it can’t be so easy
But you can’t just leave it
Cause you’re not in control no more

And you give it all away
Would you give it all away now?
Don’t let it come apart
Don’t want to see you come apart”

Can someone explain to me how melancholy, through music, can actually be a good thing?

Carrying this feeling further, the first song of the encore was the rarely played “Northenden” with only Jimi on acoustic guitar and their tour keyboard player Martin Rebelski providing accompaniment. As Andy and Jez came back on stage, Jimi went back  to the drum kit. Andy had his harmonica with him and stepped up to the mic so we knew what was next…”Here It Comes.” Doves have always impressed me with their ability to swap around instruments and play whatever they need to play to suit the song.

“The Last Broadcast” was next which re-ignited my interest in that song. Finally came the ultimate exercise in self actualization, “There Goes The Fear,” and as this last song echoed into the night..the perfect song for the perfect moment…the realization swept over me that while this night wasn’t “better” or “worse” than that night four years ago, it was different…different in the most touching way. As Jimi had told me a couple of hours before,

“Tough one, innit?”

Doves will be playing Detroit, Toronto, Drummondsville East, Montreal, New York, Philly, DC, and Boston in the next few weeks before heading back to the UK.

Visit: Doves.net

Brent Randall and his Pinecones

I dipped into the inbox tonight and discovered this little gem from Halifax, Nova Scotia’s own Brent Randall and his Pinecones. Hell yeah, Brent and Band. It’s a catchy, dreamy little ditty and I thought I’d pass along…oh, and there’s an odd video to go along with it.

Hear: Strangelove (Don’t Be Lazy) [mp3]

Check out the album, We Were Strangers In Paddington Green, on Brent Randall & His Pinecones - We Were Strangers In Paddington Green

Links: Official Site | MySpace

The Friday Five: May 29, 2009

Gives A Meal Shuffle-Appeal!

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week 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 Five:

Toad the Wet Sprocket
– “Nothing Is Alone” (mp3) (from 1992-09-16: Fox Theater, Boulder, CO, USA)

“And now the song so happy that Todd had to sing it.” From 1990’s Pale this remains one of my favorite Toad songs.

Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke” (from Songs in the Key of Life)

To say that this song is one of the nearest and dearest to my heart would be an understatement. This song is truthfully sunshine for the soul. Don’t believe me? Next time you are having a bad day, put it on. You’ll thank me later.

Just to prove my point, here’s the set up. Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket, see what I did there?) has played so long that the venue has sent him and the crowd out into the streets where Glen along with Nickel Creek bring the encore to the streets and close the evening with a joyful rendition of Stevie’s classic “Sir Duke” (mp3).

Chaka Khan – “I Feel for You” (from Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan, Volume One)

Okay, so this is a Prince track featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel – that’s him on the “Ch-ch-ch-chaka-chaka-chaka Khan” – and Stevie Wonder on Harmonica. I mean really, how can you go wrong?

Prince – “Sexy Dancer” (from Prince)

Hey, look at that. It’s almost as if iTunes is paying special attention today. Stevie, Chaka, Prince… this could rank in my top 10 fives!

Jamiroquai – “Virtual Insanity” (mp3) (from High Times: Singles 1992-2006)

With the exception of the Toad the Wet Sprocket tune that kicked us off, this has turned out to be one damned funky five. The futuristic blend of soul, acid-jazz and funk of Jamiroquai has always resounded with me and this track is no exception.

**BONUS**

Down to the Bone – “Greedy Fingers” (mp3) (from Supercharged)

Okay, I’ve only done this once before… but the sixth track to shuffle up was just so good and fit the overall shuffle so well that I simply had to include it. More soul, acid-jazz and funk only this time of the instrumental variety. If you’ve never heard of the UK’s Down to the Bone consider yourself schooled in coolest collective of UK’s jazz groove.

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

“Somewhere Here on Earth” on Leno

Prince stopped by to wish Leno well on his new venture and left it on the stage with a killer version of “Somewhere Here on Earth”. I must reiterate how good it is to see Rhonda, Renato and John Blackwell backing him up. Check the clip before NBC pulls it.

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Ick’s Pick (Week XXI): Grizzly Bear, “Veckatimest”

http://ickmusic.com/pics/grizzl-veckat.jpgHype, the likes of which that have been heaped on Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear, can be an incredibly tricky minefield to navigate. On one hand you’ve got the ear of the tastemaker, the hipster elite and the blogosphere all clamoring to sing your praises before you’ve even released your first record. On the other, there are the uncontrollable expectations and the inevitable backlash when the wind blows in the next best thing. Needless to say, the expectation level going into the band’s second record Veckatimest is, in a word, epic. The question is, does it live up to the hype?

The answer is; Kind of. It’s a solid, meticulously produced record. The songs are engaging and it gets better upon subsequent listens. Veckatimest is clearly meant to be listened to as a whole and has a well definied beginning, middle and end.

The record opens with a breezy acoustic guitar shuffle accompanied by a Rhodes piano, building orchestration and the unsteady vocal warble of “Southern Point”. The ambition of the track and it’s use of dynamics hits the mark and sets the tone for the rest of the weekend. “Two Weeks” brings the choral vocal harmonies to the forefront of the Beach Boys inspired pop track. It bears repeating here that the production of this album is stunning and you’ll find that each voice is given it’s due space and the choral effect is spacious.

Cheerleader” (mp3) evokes a slinky film-noir feel with reverb drenched guitars and provides a dark turn to the mid point of the album. The steady mid-tempo waltz of “Ready, Able” soars and is one of the true standout tracks. “I Live With You” starts quite simply and is beautifully orchestrated with the greatest of intentions and falls apart to delusions of grandeur that come off more contrite than convincing. Veckatimest closes with the stark and stunningly beautiful “Foreground”, providing a perfect coda to the record.

Whether you buy into the hype or not, this record at very least deserves a listen without any expectations.

Buy Veckatimest: Amazon | Amazon MP3 | iTunes

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

Beastie Boys on Fallon

The Beastie Boys appeared on Jimmy Fallon last night. Some thoughts:

  • The Beastie Boys still kick ass.
  • The Beastie Boys are aging right along with the rest of us (except for that poofy haired Mike D. What’s his secret?).
  • I know their schedule is pretty full, but the Roots clearly need to be the Beasties’ full time backing band.
  • I now feel the need to check out the newly released remastered edition of Check Your Head
click on me

Check out “So What’cha Want” from Fallon…

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New Nino Moschella: Boom Shadow

Slipping just under my radar last week was the new release from California funk-soulmeister Nino Moschella. His debut a couple years back, The Fix, was heavy on the retro 70’s soul/funk sound – think Parliament, Sly, Shuggie Otis and the like (yep even Prince) – and his new one continues down that road – but advances even further production-wise.

The album is Boom Shadow, and even with all the comparisons and retro feel, you’ve still never heard anything like it. Moschella’s arrangements and production work on this album is a huge progression from The Fix. The horns, the synths, the innovative rhythms and vibes…

Just take a listen to this pair of tunes – tracks 5 and 6 on the album – and tell me this isn’t completely off the charts. Much like I said with his first album, if you long for the days when Prince used to drop crazy, innovative work on us, then you will really dig Boom Shadow.

Hear: Looking At Your Face (mp3)

Hear: Continue to Call (mp3)

Buy Boom Shadow on Amazon, on the Ubiquity Records site, or on Nino Moschella - Boomshadow.

Side note: If you’re on iTunes, be sure to download iConcertCal. The latest version is killer. It integrates as a visualizer into your iTunes, takes a look at your iTunes library – then shows you who in your library has an upcoming show in your area, and when they have new albums scheduled. Take a look & download here. Highly recommended by yours truly.

Tractor Pull Divas

It’s time to spread the word about some quality music in my neck of the woods here in Arizona.  I don’t do it enough..

Tractor Pull Divas hail from Chandler, one of Phoenix’s ‘burbs just southeast of the city. They’ve got a nice rootsy sound with a good, clear vocalist reminiscent of Roger McGuinn and  Tom Petty. They’re keeping it pretty incognito online. They have a MySpace page, but nowhere do I see any mention of their names and backgrounds.

But I do know they have an EP that they released last year: Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here), and I recommend dropping the $5. You can never go wrong supporting an unsigned band, can ya?

Hear: It’s Not Going To Kill Me (mp3)

Buy their EP, Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here) on CD Baby or on Tractor Pull Divas - Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here)

Visit: http://www.myspace.com/tractorpulldivasmusic

The Friday Five: May 22, 2009

http://ickmusic.com/pics/FridayFive04.png

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:

Last week my father-in-law commented that my shuffle seems to ignore the music of his generation, which I do actually have quite a bit of thanks to the “Oldies but Goodies” collection, so Sal… this one is for you…

Bob & Earl – “Harlem Shuffle” (from Oldies but Goodies, Volume 5)

For a moment I thought that I had hit the wrong playlist… I do quite like The Rolling Stones version of this tune.

The Supremes – “Where Did Our Love Go” (from Oldies but Goodies, Volume 8)

Classic. Classic. Classic.

Leslie Gore – “It’s My Party” (from Oldies but Goodies, Volume 3)

My least favorite tune out of the five.

Dion – “Runaround Sue” (from Oldies but Goodies, Volume 7)

Truthfully, this is one of my favorite songs ever. It’s downright infectious and you will be singing it in your head for days on end.

The Newbeats – “Bread and Butter” (from Oldies but Goodies, Volume 2)

Another ear-worm that will stick in your head for days on end.

What’s on deck for your holiday weekend?