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Month: September 2009

A Bloody Rager: Arctic Monkeys at First Avenue

A few years back, a couple of guys on my tennis team were talking. Let’s call them Jim and John. Jim, the older brother of John, was talking about a party that John had recently while their parents were away. Jim was in his 20s and John had just finished his first year at UW-Madison.

“Mark, you should have seen what I came home to on Saturday night,” Jim said laughing. John started to chuckle.

“I come home to do my laundry and this kid,” Jim said pointing at John, “was having a bloody rager!”

He then went on to describe the large crowd that piled into the Eden Prairie, MN home of Jim and John’s parents. They drank, smoked, yelled, danced, and were basically all up in that bitch. I cracked up at Jim’s perfect and simple definition.

Over the years, I, too, have experienced many “bloody ragers” and have many fond memories from each one of them. Whenever I go to a show, depending upon the band of course, there is always a fair amount of raging that goes in the pit. The club smell always puts me right into the mood. It’s like vodka…perfume…sweat…red bulls…cologne…all mixed up in a glorious din.

It had been awhile since I was at a rager and, honestly, wasn’t expecting one when The Arctic Monkeys announced a show at First Avenue. Their new album, Humbug, sounds like…well…like they spent time with my 8th grade class in 1981 doing bong hits and listening to Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC. Alex Turner, front man of the band, in a recent interview in NME confirmed this by stating that he and the lads from the Sheffield band had been hanging out and listening to a lot of Black Sabbath whilst recording this record. “Hanging out,” mmm? So, that’s what the kids are calling it these days.

They looked every bit the part of my eighth grade class as they came out on stage and opened with “Dance Little Liar” from the new record…long hair…band t-shirts…jeans. What happened to those posh, Kinks-looking dudes, who sang of bigger boys and stolen sweethearts? Obviously, they were still there as they ripped into the second track of the evening, “Brainstorm.” This was the moment when the rager was born.

Cups of beer, sweaty bodies, and hair flew everywhere as the pit at First Avenue became a swirling mass of humanity. I was off to the side (right next to the forbidden staircase) and stuck my proverbial toe in the water a few times. It was fucking great. When they played “Still Take You Home” from the first record, we all shouted “YOU KNOW NOTHING!” when Alex, sporting a Vines T shirt (mega:)), asked us in the lyric, “What do you know?”

“I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” was next which turned the rager into a bloody rager. I took an elbow to the ribs, spilled half my Smithwicks on my trainers, and received a lateral deltoid to the chops but I didn’t care. I was in that place…a place that I will be in until I’ve fallen and can’t get up. My home…

They played several songs from the new album which sounded great live. I’ve always found the remarkable bands to be the ones that have an album which becomes more vibrant when they play live. And then you go back, listen to the record and love it more! This turned out to be true for Humbug and I was pleasantly surprised. As they closed the set proper with the beautiful “Fluorescent Adolescent,” I started to move towards the exit. My friends looked at me and said, “What about the encore?”

“The Arctic Monkeys don’t play encores,” I chuckled. I had seen them two times before. Once in Chicago and once here and they always just played extra long sets. Alex has been quoted several times as saying that encores “were for wankers.” I got a couple of steps away and noticed that the lights had not come up. People were still cheering…raging…was I (gasp) the maniacal music guru (double gasp) wrong?

Happily I was. They came back out and played an encore comprised of “Red Right Hand,” “My Propeller” and “505.” The crowd went berserk again. And the rager…oops…sorry….the bloody rager was back.

Bliss:)

For another take on the show and some fabulous pics check out my friend (and fellow Brit Rock addict) Brody’s music blog. Check TicketMaster for the Arctic Monkeys show near you.

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Check out Humbug

The Friday Five: September 25, 2009

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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:

The Juliana Hatfield Three – “Spin the Bottle” (from Become What You Are, 1993)

In the early ‘90s Juliana Hatfield was kind of like everyone’s slightly older, slightly dirty sister – whereas Liz Phair was your slutty college-aged sibling, but I digress. After obtaining a moderate bit of notoriety with her first band, Blake Babies, she struck out on her own releasing her debut solo record, Hey Babe, in 1992. It wasn’t until 1993’s Become What You Are and the inclusion of this particular tune in the generation defining film Reality Bites that secured her place as an alternative rock superstar. With its simple sing song melody and lyrics that seem ripped from every teenage girl’s diary she connected with Gen X’ers soft side.

Hall & Oates – “Kiss on My List” (from Greatest Hits: Rock ‘n Soul, Part 1, 1983)

Little known fact: In an interview with Mix magazine, Daryl Hall said: “Eddie Van Halen told me that he copied the synth part from ‘Kiss on My List’ and used it in “Jump.” I don’t have a problem with that at all.”

Channel Live – “Homicide Ride” (mp3) (from Station Identification, 1995)

Taking cues from the grimy sparse beats of Wu-Tang Clan and the vivid street imagery of the Notorious B.I.G. the hardcore rap duo behind Channel Live should have been huge. Add to it the tight production and guidance of “the Teacher” KRS-One and it just further boggles the mind how this crew could only drop one single record and disappear.

Dweezil Zappa – “Anytime at All” (mp3) (from Confessions, 1991)

In the rampant resurgence of Beatlemania in pop culture in recent weeks I had nearly forgotten about this gem of a cover. Confessions was produced by Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and his influence can be heard all over the record, but no more than on this the cover of an album cut from A Hard Day’s Night. The layers upon layers of vocal tracks (provided by Nuno, Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa) take the song to a new level and the addition of a backwards tracked guitar solo – an obvious nod to George Harrison’s use of the technique – make for a truly stellar tribute.

Camera Obscura – “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” (from Let’s Get Out of This Country, 2006)

Scotland’s Camera Obscura is easily one of my favorite groups of the last few years. The perfect blend of lush orchestral indie-pop married with beautifully twee vocals and just a hint of a throwback to a simpler time the band here is issuing a – albeit 22-years-late – response to Lloyd Cole‘s classic “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?”

Okay, I’ve shown you mine, you know what to do…

Ick’s Pick: Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat

Jim Heath and his power psychobilly trio Reverend Horton Heat are like the damn Energizer bunnies of rock & roll – they keep on a goin’. It wouldn’t surprise if they’re out on the road 300 days out of the year. And this has been going on for 20 years… I’ve seen ’em many times, and it’s always an experience.

The Rev’s 11th studio album, Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat was released just a few weeks ago, along with its unsettling cover (especially for you coulrophobics out there… yeah, had to look it up). The new record is stocked full of the types of tunes and lyrics that endear him to his cult following. Songs about drinkin’ and cigarettes, Vegas, using his growing belly as a beer holder…even an ode to Arizona’s Saguaro cactus.

With Jimbo slapping hard on his stand-up bass, and the Rev pickin’ mean on his Gretsch, the album gives us high dosages of rockabilly, punk, and the ever-present humor. A case in point found in this tune, featuring the standout line: “His dirty feet might dangle like it’s [??] / But it’s not a grocery basket if there’s booze inside”. Kudos to whoever can nail those missing lyrics there…

Reverend Horton Heat – Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store (mp3)

Buy Laughin’ and Cryin’ with Reverend Horton Heat

Links: Official Site | MySpace

Oh hell, if you haven’t heard “400 Bucks”, then you need to… this song is the best part about seeing the Rev live, in my humble opinion.

Reverend Horton Heat – 400 Bucks (mp3)

From the still amazing 1993 album, The Full Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat

Happy Birthday Boss (The 6-0)!

Bruce Springsteen, one of my heroes in this life, turns 60 years old today.  Not sure where the time goes, all I know is it goes a tad too fast for my liking. This is a simple & short post to send a hearty Happy Birthday out to the Boss.

“Brilliant Disguise” is probably my favorite tune, and I’ve always loved this particular version. I’ve had it since I first started downloading mp3’s. Someone out there can probably give date & location. I’m guessing somewhere between ’88-’90 – maybe at one of the Amnesty International gigs?

Happy 6-0 Boss! And many more….

Brilliant Disguise (live) [mp3]

New Tune: Hey Hey Arlene by Lions in the Street

Back in February when I posted about Vancouver’s Lions in the Street, I mentioned that their debut full length album would be out later this year. And doggone if that ain’t about to come true.

The first single draws heartily from the wells of The Blasters and Chuck Berry, and pretty much will blow the roof off your home or vehicle if turned up to the appropriate level. Which is L-O-U-D.

Look for their debut to be released on October 17th, both digitally and mail order CD. By the way, this is another quality band on Twitter, doing a lot more than just plugging gigs. They recently hipped me to the importance of watching Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii DVD. Glad they did. So follow ’em if you tweet.

Lions in the Sreet – “Hey Hey Arlene”

Visit: LITS Official Site | MySpace | Twitter

More Buried Treasure with the Seeds

Another fine tune courtesy of Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure. The Seeds were a Los Angeles-based garage-psych-rock band in the 60’s and early 70’s. They were fronted by one Sky Saxon, who parted with the band in the early 70’s to join up with Yahowha religious family (aka the Source Family), led by Father Yod. They hung in the Hollywood Hills, recorded some music, shared their women, and had a pretty blissful existence from what I gather. Until Father Yod died in a 1975 hang gliding accident in Hawaii.

Some may recognize this 1965 tune from The Ramones (’93’s Acid Eaters), or Johnny Thunders (’88’s Copy Cats), or Garbage or Yo La Tengo.
Or a 2008 Axe Body Spray commercial.
Or maybe you know it from the source – The Seeds.

I love Saxon’s vocals – stretching out the lyrics into strange squeals and sounds…

The Seeds – Can’t Seem To Make You Mine – from The Seeds

Now you can watch Bettie Page dancing to the song. Some people are nuts about Bettie Page. And during her time it must have been revolutionary. But her facial expressions during the close-up shots sort of creep me  out. But the whole removing the clothes bit? Oh, I can get behind that.

New Tune: Matthew Ryan’s The Wilderness

Care to be haunted and moved and blown away by a great song? Then listen to the brand new tune from Matthew Ryan: “The Wilderness”.

Matt’s been making appearances on Ickmusic since I first fired this bad boy blog up back in 2004.  He never disappoints, and this tune definitely has me looking forward to the new record, Dear Lover, due out in late October.

Keep up with Matt on his Web Site, and be sure to follow him on Twitter. One of the most down to earth guys out there…

The Friday Five: September 18, 2009

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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:

The Smashing Pumpkins – “1949 (vocal mix)” (from Rarities and B-Sides, 2005)

It seems like a lifetime ago when Billy Corgan was actually relevant. Despite his ongoing attempts to further bury his Smashing Pumpkins into the ground I will hold the bands early work near and dear to my heart. While clearly ego-driven, the ambitious Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness to this day stands as one of my favorite records of the mid 90’s. This particular track was part of a remix single featuring remixes by Roli Mosimann and Moby.

Counting Crows – “Goodnight Elisabeth” (from Recovering the Satellites, 1996)

Easily one of my favorite songs in Counting Crows repertoire, “Goodnight Elisabeth” is a perfect example of the band’s strength and moreover Adam Duritz’s ability to craft the most lovelorn tale and wrap it up in a beautiful package. The lyric “If your the Queen of California I am the King of the rain…” continues in the tradition of the storyteller tying back to his past tales.

OutKast – “B.O.B.” (from Big Boi and Dre Present…Outkast, 2001)

This track is – in a word – relentless. At a frenetic 155 BPM it is the definition of banging and was the first OutKast single that really caught my attention. I was familiar with the group prior and loved the track “Elevators (Me & You)” but had not connected with the southern hip-hop duo outside that. That all changed with this track.

Paul Davis – “’65 Love Affair” (from Sweet Life: His Greatest Hit Singles, 1999)

This track just takes me back to days without a care, riding bicycles and running around during the summer. For that simple fact I cherish this track.

ZZ Top – “Rough Boy” (from Greatest Hits, 1992)

A few years later and maybe a little less “riding bicycles and running around during the summer” but this holds a similar place in my heart. Growing up just outside of the reach of NYC’s Z100 the Hudson Valley pop radio landscape in the ’80s was dominated by K104.7 WSPK and its Saturday Night all request with Dr. John Barron. It was through these shows that I discovered not just pop, but rock, new wave, AOR and of course the Power Ballad. “Rough Boy” was the third single from ZZ Top’s Afterburner and was their last in the ’80s.

I’ve got my five, what’s coming up in your shuffle today?

Review: Works Progress Administration, “WPA”

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Glen Phillips’ brand of Southern California folk-rock has always flirted on the edge of its bluegrass and country and western roots. In the years since Toad the Wet Sprocket closed up shop, his songwriting has danced closer and closer to those roots, and with 2000’s Mutual Admiration Society – pairing Phillips with members of Nickel Creek – it seemed to come to the forefront. Taking that collaborative spirit to the next level, Works Progress Administration consists of Phillips and his MAS cohorts Sean and Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Fiction Family) with Luke Bulla (Jerry Douglas Band, Lyle Lovett), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell), Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and the Imposters).

The group’s debut record, WPA, is a slice of modern Americana with strong pop sensibilities. Recorded over the course of five days, the recording itself feels very alive and immediate thanks to the production of Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty). There is a dynamic that showcases the collective beautifully and shines a light on the real star of the show: the 12 well crafted songs that make up the album.

”Always Have My Love” is easily one of the strongest tunes that Phillips has written in the past 10 years. It’s followed by the equally stellar “Good as Ever”, with Sara Watkins providing her angelic voice to bolster Glen’s vocal. Sara takes the lead for the gut-wrenching cover of Ray Davies’ “I Go to Sleep”.  As strong as these songs are, “I Could End This Now” (mp3) is easily my favorite track of the bunch. It manages to take the bluegrass mélange and adds just a touch of soul resulting in a stormy mid-tempo ballad.

WPA is not without its faults. The rave-up of “Paralyzed” and the hoedown of “Wedding or a Wake” seem awkward by comparison to the rest of the material. The record’s lowest moments come at the plodding “Who’s Gonna Cry for You” and “Remember Well”. Despite these small missteps, this record is a must for fans of the group’s respective origins.

Buy WPA: Amazon

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