The Friday Five: January 29, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a 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:

“So Into You” by Shudder to Think (from Pony Express Record, 1994)

Bringing post-hardcore though pop colored glasses, Shudder to Think brought something different to the oversaturated, grunge-fueled alternative scene in ’94. A cover of the 1977 hit by Atlanta Rhythm Section, the track is angular and tense; singer Craig Wedren croons in a devilish falsetto taking the track in a darker direction than the original.

“Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen (from 1984, 1984)

Like many burgeoning guitarists of the day, I spent months dissecting the legato tapped intro of this classic. I was convinced that somehow, Eddie Van Halen was in possession of extra digits on each of his hands to be able to play the impressive passage. All this before the tune even kicks off into its school-boy crush inspired shuffle. While many will point to his signature cadenza, “Eruption,” as his finest moment, I have to point to this track as the defining track of the David Lee Roth era.

“Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin (from In Through the Out Door, 1979)

I may have mentioned it here before; I am not a huge Led Zeppelin fan. This is immediately apparent when I say that “Fool in the Rain” — possibly the least “Zeppelin” tune in the band’s oeuvre — is my favorite tune by the band. From the slow shuffle, building up to the samba breakdown and Jimmy Page’s super-processed octave guitar solo, the song has long been on my “desert island” list.

“Pink Cashmere” by Prince (from The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993)

His Purple Badness shows up for a second week in the number four slot. “Pink Cashmere” was one of three ‘new’ tracks included on The Hits/The B-Sides, and by far the most solid of the bunch. Recorded during around the time of Lovesexy, the song bears only a passing resemblance to the other tracks recorded during that cycle. As the story goes, Prince wrote this track for his special woman of the moment, to whom he presented with a rather expensive custom pink cashmere and black mink coat.

“If 6 Was 9” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (from Axis: Bold as Love, 1968)

The shuffle has hit the trifecta this week. Starting with Eddie, followed by Prince, and closing with Jimi; three of my favorite guitarists turn in appearances on this week’s Friday Five. The psychedelic blues-rock jam of “If 6 Was 9” is a truly a headphone masterpiece. If you doubt this, grab your favorite set of cans — and those earbuds do not count — and click on the little blue arrow above.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Silver Seas in Chateau Revenge!

Occasionally, a record will simply jump out of the speakers and demand that you just stop and listen. I had one of those moments late last year when my musical soul-brother Jason Hare introduced me to The Silver Seas. Since that time, the group’s release High Society has been on a nearly constant loop — so much so, I’m pretty sure I could recite the entire record a scant 3 months later. So you can imagine how much I’m anticipating the band’s new release Chateau Revenge!, due in April. The band delivered this little taste, featuring the track “Candy,” to introduce the concept of the record. Stay tuned to Ickmusic for a full review of the record in the coming weeks.

The Silver Seas promo from The Silver Seas on Vimeo.

I highly recommend picking up the band’s 2006 release High Society.


Cover Art: Tony Fitzpatrick

I still have a bad taste in my mouth from this week’s Radio Daze piece, so I’ve been doing my best to reverse the damage with – ya know – real music. And it gets no more genuine than Steve Earle. I finally dug out this CD a couple of months ago after a few years of accidental hibernation. In 1998, Steve joined forces with bluegrass icons The Del McCoury Band to release The Mountain, a fantastic collection of bluegrass tunes that range from down & dirty songs about life in the mines, the Civil War and train ridin’,  to the downright sublime.

The album wraps up with “Pilgrim”, which falls into the latter category: 5 minutes and 28 seconds of beauty, affirmation, and faith. The surrounding cast of characters in this tune ain’t too shabby either. Joining Steve on harmonies in this song: Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush, Kathy Chiavola, Tim O’Brien, Gillian Welch, and Dave Rawlings (who I just featured a couple weeks ago). On mandolin? Sam Bush.  Dobro? Jerry Douglas.

Busy studio in Nashville that day. Anyhow, this is just a work of beauty. Not to mention the whole album is tremendous. So here…

Pick up The Mountain on Amazon.

Visit: Steve Earle on the web / Del McCoury Band on the web

Ick’s Radio Daze: Puttin’ on the Hitz – 101.5 JamZ

Every week I pick a radio station and listen in for an hour, documenting the experience – for better or worse – just for you.
It’s Ick’s Radio Daze. Click here to see all of the Radio Daze posts together.

Station: 101.5 (KZON)
Format: Top Hits
Type: Terrestrial (Phoenix, AZ)
Slogan: 101.5 JamZ
Date / Time: Jan. 25th, 2010 / 9-10pm MST
Commercials: 7 mins
Hot Chick on Home Page of Web Site? Yes. Beyonce. Britney. Mariah.
DJ: Sugabear
Favorite Song: I don’t even really care for the song, but “Empire State of Mind” beat out the hour of trash I just put myself through.
Least Favorite Song: “Whatcha Say” – Jason Derulo

Song List:

Young Money feat. Lloyd – “Bedrock”
Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”
Jason Derulo – Whatcha Say
Orianthi – “According to You”
Lil Wayne – “Lollipop”
Britney Spears – “3”
Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce – “Telephone”
Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
Ke$ha – “Tik Tok”
New Boys feat. Ray J. – “Tie Me Down”
Drake – “Best I Ever Had”
David Guetta feat. Akon – “Sexy Chick”
Jay Sean feat. Lil Jon & Sean Paul – “Do You Remember”
T.I. – “Whatever You Like”


I’m getting old.

Good Lord thank God that’s over. To think this station used to mean something to me. I mentioned a few weeks back that KZON used to be AAA, and it helped introduce me to Steve Earle and Bruce Cockburn, among many others. Well that format went kaput in the mid to late 90’s, and I’m not even sure how many format changes it’s gone through since. But in 2010, it’s a station owned by CBS Radio, locked (down) and loaded to bombard you with the hitz of day. Its demographic is the tween & teen market, something I haven’t been a part of for 20 years now.

When the very first lyrics I heard were: “You can call me Mr. Flintstone, I can make your bedrock”, I knew I was in for a long hour. Thanks Young Money.

One lasting impression from this hour: A-u-t-o-t-u-n-e. Holy modulation batman, does anyone in pop music not use autotune?? It was everywhere! For complete and utter Autotune Hell, listen to “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo. Really sad that autotune has turned into the rule instead of the exception. Blechh.

This was a very long hour for me, folks. Yeah, I’m showing my age. I’ll turn 40 this year. I’m the “old guy” now to the kids who listen to this station. But I cannot imagine coming of age listening to this stuff – formulaic to the extreme, lacking emotion, and any semblance of soul. The subject matter is unimaginative, simplistic, and completely vapid – and this is the music that kids will look back to 20 years from now with the same nostalgia I have looking back to Prince, Run-DMC, hell, even Samantha Fox and the like?

Granted, it could be a generational thing, but I honestly feel like something really bad – something irreversible – is happening in popular music. Painful. Just painful. I weep for pop music today.

Sunday’s Grammys should be a hoot. Yeahhh, I’ll be watching. *shakes head*

Hope for Haiti Now

Like many of you, I sat down and took in the two hours of Hope for Haiti Now last night – a music-based benefit organized by overall good guy George Clooney. It was broadcast on most TV and cable networks. This will shock you, but Fox News did not – I repeat, DID NOT – broadcast the show last night. That is completely surprising to – well – nobody.

Well, those Fox News watching fu–tards missed out on some pretty cool moments last night. If you could make it through the awkward celebrity phone conversations with the general public, you saw the likes of Bono, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Bono, Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Dave Matthews and Neil Young, Sting, Shakira, and of course the Boss (and many others).

All of the performances can be purchased on iTunes or Amazon.

Here’s a look at my favorite moments from the evening:

5. Bruce Springsteen – “We Shall Overcome”

This classic spiritual was covered by Bruce on his 2006 Seeger Sessions record. Last night, Bruce brought out his backup singers, along with Charles Giordano on accordion and Curt Ramm on trumpet.

dead link

4. Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris – “Hallelujah”

I was pleasantly surprised by this. As covers of this Leonard Cohen song go, Jeff Buckley’s stands firmly above the rest. But Justin and Matt last night were spot on with their harmonies, and brought out the true beauty in the song – which is more of a lover’s lament than a song about hope, strength, and inspiration (the general theme of the night). I was most impressed by Matt Morris’s vocals.

3. Shakira – “I’ll Stand By You”

This song is one of my favorite Pretenders tunes, and Shakira nailed it, in my opinion. Of course, my opinion may have been different if she looked like Tiny Tim, but visually and aurally, it was fantastic – especially with the Roots backing her up.

2. Sting w/ the Roots – “Driven to Tears”

What a great version this was. The full, lush arrangement – Sting on acoustic surrounded by the Roots. Questlove, drummer for the Roots, mentioned on Twitter that he was really looking forward to this performance because he’s practiced drums to the Police since he was a kid.

1. Wyclef Jean – “Rivers of Babylon” > Haitian traditional

I’m a big fan of “Rivers of Babylon”, a song written by the Melodians in 1972, and covered by many, including Steve Earle. But when Wyclef shifted gears and launched into the percussive blast of his native Haiti, it was like a load being lifted from our shoulders. He sang in English and his native creole, sang about strength in the face of adversity, sang even about Anderson Cooper and CNN. It was a perfect ending to the night.

The Friday Five: January 22, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a 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.

Editor’s Note: The nightmare of recovering my hard drive continues, so I’m still relying on my iPod to provide the shuffle. Hopefully I’ll be back up and running by next week’s Friday Five. – Michael

The Five:

1. “Buddy Holly” by Weezer (from Weezer, 1994)

My 11-year old son absolutely loves Weezer, so much so that he’s taken to belting out “Say it Ain’t So,” spontaneously.

2. “Each Year” by Ra Ra Riot (from The Rhumb Line, 2008)

I never get tired of hearing this record. With any luck, we’ll get something new from the band in the next year.

3. “WWXII” by The Damnwells (from One Great Century, 2009)

A somber view of the secondhand victims of war, the refrain of this song stings like nails; “We don’t feel no shame / And we don’t take the blame / Men on TV tell me there’s no other way / We’ve got to take mama’s baby away.”

4. “I Love U in Me” by Prince (from The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993)

One of the most beautifully dirty tunes in the Prince’s catalog.

5. “Black” by Pearl Jam (from Ten, 1992)

I finally purchased 2008’s “Legacy Edition” of Ten just before the holidays, and found myself wrapped back up in the impact of this set of songs had on my life and “Black” is definitely a high point of that.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Ick’s Radio Daze: Boulder’s KBCO

Welcome to the third installment of Ick’s Radio Daze. This time, we have a report from our first remote correspondent, Kathy B., who lives in the great state of Colorado. Kathy will be checking out a few of the local stations in the greater Denver area. If there’s anyone else out there who feels like geeking out on their local radio market and writing about it for this series, feel free to to shoot me an email. The more the merrier. It’d be especially cool to go international, and be able to explore radio throughout the world. So wherever you are, feel free.

This time around, Kathy zones in on Boulder’s KBCO – one of my favorites when I lived in Colorado…

Station: 97.3 FM KBCO
Format: AAA
Type: Terrestrial (Boulder, CO)
Slogan: “World Class Rock”
Date / Time: Jan. 16th, 2010 / 12:05-1:10pm MST
Commercials: 11 minutes or so (I stopped paying attention)
Hot Dude on Home Page of Web Site? There are some rotating pictures that include a couple of guys who may possibly be hot but it’s hard to tell from the photography. However, one of the rotating pictures has (I believe) Jack Johnson playing Studio C, and he definitely looks hot in that photo.
Hot Chick? Yes—Norah Jones.
DJ: Ginger (No last name; as far as I know, only one DJ on KBCO has a last name that’s used on the radio.) I’ve been listening to her for 20-something years, even following her to another radio station for several years (until they folded and she went back to KBCO).
Favorite Song: Marc Cohn – “Walking in Memphis”

Least Favorite Song: Tie: Train – “Hey Soul Sister” (because it’s so annoying) and Robert Plant— “In the Mood” (which has always rubbed me the wrong way because it has something like a three-note range and requires no actual singing ability to sing. Not that I’m suggesting Robert Plant has no singing ability, just that he doesn’t need it to sing this song.)

Song List:
Van Morrison – “Tupelo Honey”
Natalie Merchant – “Jealousy”
Coldplay – “Life in Technicolor II”
Lenny Kravitz – “Fly Away”
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – “Circle”
Foo Fighters – “Wheels”
Marc Cohn – “Walking in Memphis”
Neil Young – “Cinnamon Girl”
Snow Patrol – “Take Back the City”
Robert Plant – “In the Mood”
Modest Mouse – “Float On”
Counting Crows – “When I Dream of Michelangelo”
Moby – “Southside”
Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Down on the Corner”
Train – “Hey Soul Sister”

Comments: The first thing I can think of is how “safe” this playlist seems compared to the KBCO of the late ‘80s to early ‘90s. No deep album cuts, no unknown local bands (although they did play The Fray in the hour following, and they’ve been playing them since that band actually was unknown). But since they were bought by Clear Channel, they haven’t been quite the same. A lot more repetition, for one thing. I have been hearing that stupid Train song every morning. I’ve also been hearing The Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You” a lot, but that doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I was hoping it would come up during this hour so I could brag about the cool music this station still occasionally plays. (It came up about 15 minutes afterwards.)

KBCO fits into a niche in this market — I could listen to KTCL for some more obscure artists, but their music is a lot harder than I really like. Or I could listen to the lite rock and Top 40 stations for some softer music that gets played to death. Even with its faults, KBCO is still my favorite station in this market.

One of the things I like about them is the artists who play live in Studio C, who then get recorded for posterity, and if their record company says yes, put on a CD at the end of the year that thousands of people stand in line for hours in the bitter cold to buy. (I am one of those silly people.) I remember when the first Studio C CD came out, there were copies of it at the record store two weeks afterwards, and even when the 6th one came out, I was able to pretty easily pick up a copy later that week. But now the station promotes the CDs to death just before they come out, and they sell out within four hours and are put up on eBay immediately. Unfortunately, no Studio C tracks were played this hour.

Very male-centric playlist this afternoon, which surprises me from a station that introduced me to so many of my favorite female artists (Shawn Colvin, Rosanne Cash, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, to name a few). Only two and a half women artists, if you count Gwen Stefani duetting with Moby. Although Edie Brickell’s New Bohemians were all men… And very little DJ chatter, which might also have increased the estrogen factor.

The Friday Five: January 15, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a 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.

Editor’s Note: Due to a recent hard drive crash, my library is a bit compromised at the moment. Today’s five comes courtesy of my iPod which, not surprisingly, has some holiday music that was skipped along the way.

The Five:

1. “She’s Got a Way” by Billy Joel (from Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II, 1985)

2. “Twice as Hard” by The Black Crowes (from Shake Your Money Maker, 1990)

3. “Cousin Mary (alternate take)” by John Coltrane (from Giant Steps, 1960)

4. “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates (from Greatest Hits: Rock ‘n Soul, Part 1, 1983)

5. “Burning Down the House” by Dave Matthews Band (from 2008-08-09: DMB Live Trax, Volume 15: Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI, USA, 2009)

What’s on your shuffle today?

Courtney Jaye + Ben Bridwell

Where the voice of Ben Bridwell goeth, I shall follow.

And the boy has brains, apparently, because hubba bubba pow wow (sorry – that’s my reaction to the pic above). Ben (Band of Horses frontman) shows up on singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye‘s brand new record, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye (out Jan 12). From the samples in iTunes, Courtney’s record sounds really promising – melodic, sunny, rootsy. And this duet with Ben leads the charge…

Courtney Jaye (w/ Ben Bridwell) Sometimes Always (mp3)

Buy: The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye

Visit: Courtney Jaye’s MySpace