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Month: June 2011

The Friday Five: June 24, 2011

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:

“Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa (from The Hip Hop Box, 2004)

What ever happened to Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor?

“Seeing Things” by The Black Crowes (from Shake Your Money Maker, 1990)

Any group that can successfully cop the soul and emotion—not to mention the chord progression—of Otis’ “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” and manage to do it well? Well, shit … they can do no wrong in my book. I don’t recall hearing this on the radio, despite it being a single.

“Love Is” by Chrisette Michelle (from I Am, 2007)

A perfectly simple declaration of love. The mainstream is still sleeping on Chrisette Michelle, which boggles my mind. She’s got jazz chops for days with the ability to rock a mainstream R&B track with the rest of them.

“Through Glass” by Amy Petty (from House of Doors, 2010)

One of my favorite records of last year, this song still rocks me to my core.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson (from Number Ones, 2003)

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of Michael’s passing. It’s strange to think that we live in a world without Michael Jackson. A figure that had been omnipresent—for better, or for worse—in all of our lives for the better part of the last 35 years, it is still odd to realize he’s gone. Tomorrow I’ll undoubtedly pull out the entire catalog and hit the shuffle button, letting fate lead me through his incredible discography.

What’s on your shuffle today?

My Morning Jacket Mania

[BUY Circuital]

The last few weeks have brought on a pretty substantial My Morning Jacket-athon in my end of the world. I watched their entire Bonnaroo set (most of it with my 5 year old daughter, who dubbed them “My Morning Sweater” until the “Jacket” finally caught on); I caught the full 3 hour show from Louisville they recently performed for Amex’s Unstaged series; I caught their Mountain Jam set, their new VH-1 Storytellers special; and basically, I’ve been immersing myself in their new album Circuital, for which my fondness has been growing exponentially along with the temperature here in Arizona (113 degrees tomorrow, yow)…

Seeing them on their Z tour almost five years ago locked them in as one of my favorite bands- and as we’re wont to do with our favorites, we always revolve back around at points throughout our lives to a full-on listening mania. So that’s where I am right now.

Here’s a couple from the UNSTAGED gig. You can’t catch all 3 hours anymore, but they do have 30 minutes up, which I would heartily recommend.

Here’s “Smokin From Shootin” – beyond the amazing build up and powerful release that this song has, what I find cool is how Jim James can put all of his heart and soul into singing the lyrics, while simultaneously playing those sparse, meaningful guitar riffs. Fun to watch & hear…

“Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” with Daniel Martin Moore | MMJ can be one of the loudest, most ferocious rock n roll bands out there, but they can soften it up as well as anyone, and with high soft vocals of Jim James , it makes for some of the sweetest music out there (speaking of beauty, whoever didn’t see Jim (or Yim) sing “All the Best” with John Prine on Letterman, go hither too). This is beautiful, and Daniel Martin Moore’s contribution makes me want to track down some of his stuff too).

And ooh look, here’s the Mountain Jam set – fuzzy white moonboots and all…

The Friday Five: June 17, 2011

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:

“Last Chance” by Maroon 5 (from Hands All Over, 2010)

I was severely underwhelmed by this record. Given its pedigree, you would expect more, but I found myself pondering that age-old question: “where’s the beef?”

“Severed Hand” by Pearl Jam (from Pearl Jam, 2006)

I listened to this record earlier this week and was reminded just how much I dig it.

“Welcome to the Club” by The Brothers Johnson (from Blast!, 1982)

Get down with the git down!

“Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” by Wu-Tang Clan (from Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, 1993)

Form like Voltron!

“The Marrying Kind” by Prince (from Musicology, 2004)

This one is incomplete with out it’s funkier sister “If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life.” As a matter of face, I’m switching off the shuffle now.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Friday Five: June 10, 2011

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:

“Wednesday Week” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions (from Armed Forces, 197)

Holy mid-tune break down, Batman!

“Midnight in a Perfect World (FUSO mix)” by DJ Shadow (from The DJ Shadow Remix Project, 2010)

I remember the arrival of Shadow’s Endtroducing….. in 1996. I was working at a record store—and when I say record store, I mean a record store—and recall spinning the disc twice daily, trying to figure out how in the hell this guy was able to patch together elements from disparate sources into cohesive, and damn funky, tunes. Remember, these were the days before technology made it easy. I’m still in awe.

“Lullabye” by Ben Folds Five (from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, 1999)

I’ve never been much of a fan of Folds’ music. This tune, however, is lovely.

“Lay Me Down” by The Frames (from For the Birds, 2001)

Somewhere between The Commitments and The Swell Season, Glen Hansard was plenty busy putting out quality records with his band, The Frames.

“Factory” by Band of Horses (from Infinite Arms, 2010)

This week’s five came in like a lion, and is going out a lamb with the mellow lead-off track from Band of Horses’ latest, Infinite Arms.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Ick’s Pick: Frank Turner – ‘England Keep My Bones’

Frank Turner came out of nowhere and wowed me last year when I stumbled upon his set in Zilker Park at the ACL Festival. It’s hard not to be instantly converted by the Brit- he’s likeable, charismatic, and he digs Springsteen…

So I was excited today to see that his new record has been released stateside. England Keep My Bones does a great job of translating a very vivacious and infectious live performer to tape. Songs like “Redemption”, “I Still Believe” and “One Foot Before the Other” are alive and kicking, really capturing what is great about Frank’s live shows – pure energy. I swear, his atheist barroom anthem “Glory Hallelujah” may not convert the believers, but they’ll certainly be singing along to the “There is no God” refrain if they’re not careful.

Everything I like about Frank is summed up quite nicely in “If Ever I Stray”: the populist, everyman theme; the inspiration, the encouragement…

But if ever I stray from the path I follow
Take me down to the English Channel
Throw me in where the water is shallow
And then drag me on back to shore!

‘Cos love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

Come on everybody sing it 1, 2, 3, 4!

That’s the infectious chorus, words you’ll be singing along to by the end of the first listen. Like the album, they’re words that inspire, that lift you up, and make you want to track down the nearest pint of Guinness and toast to this imperfect world we live in.

BUY

England Keep My Bones (Amazon)

England Keep My Bones (Deluxe Edition) – Frank Turner (iTunes)

Here’s a nice in studio acoustic version of “If Ever I Stray”…

The Friday Five: June 3, 2011

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:

“Stay” by David Bowie (from Station to Station, 1991)

We’re kicking off the festivities with a aggressively funky cut from the Thin White Duke. I especially dig the go-go congas panned hard left.

“Fireflies” by The Hush Now (from Constellations, 2009)

File these guy under “the best bands you’ve never heard.” Heck, I’m not even sure how I originally tripped over their 2008 self-titled effort, but it was one of the records that I ended up coming back to more than a few times. The second record was a bit uneven in spots, but still solid overall.

“Manipulation” by Chicago (from Chicago XIV, 1980)

In the year 1980 BDF—that’s Before David Foster, for the uninitated—Chicago released the record that got them dropped from Columbia records. Yes, boys and girls, it’s that bad.

“Speak Low” by Billie Holiday (from Verve Jazz Masters 12, 1994)

Oh, how I love Billie.

“Breakout” by Foo Fighters (from Greatest Hits, 2009)

Hail! Hail! Rock n’ Roll!

What’s on your shuffle today?

Ick’s Pick: Greg Brown’s ‘Freak Flag’

I’ve been completely floored – I mean profoundly impacted – by Greg Brown’s Freak Flag.

From the first notes of “Someday House” to the last delicate notes of “Tenderhearted Child”, the album flows with beauty and wisdom and grace, all delivered in Greg’s low-low-lowdown baritone. He’s always been one of a kind, this folk singing troubadour from southeast Iowa. Now in his early 60’s, he’s managed to take a look at the world around him and write some of the most heartfelt and genuine songs around. Whether it’s singing of love for a woman (“Lovinest One”), love for a child (in the deeply moving album closer, “Tenderhearted Child”), trepidation about where our country is headed (“I Don’t Know Anybody In This Town”, “Mercy Mercy Mercy”), or looking at religion and man’s thirst for something more on the other side (the gorgeous “Let the Mystery Be”)  – he does so with the utmost humor and humility.

There are memorable moments – both musically and lyrically – all over this album; really well written words, shuffles, chord changes, etc. that make me smile, nod my head, and in the case of “Tenderhearted Child”, even tear up. If you’re a dad, and you can listen to these lyrics without misting up, then something’s wrong…

I wish that we could leave you
A world that knows no war
where of all God’s children
would never suffer any harm

May you not give in to bitterness
May your heart stay undefiled
May your love never fail you
Tenderhearted child

Tenderhearted child
I will always be your dad
even when you leave home
call me when you’re sad

Okay, maybe it’s not difficult to tap into the strong emotions a father feels for a child, but this song really digs in deep.

Those deep family bonds are evident in “Freak Flag”, the title track, as well…

Well my dad preached a message of love
I heard him say on the day he passed on above
He said “Use what you got son
to raise a hopeful cry”.

Dad I heard what you had to say
I try to hold to it every day
I’m your boy
I’m gonna let my freak flag fly

The song also touches on coming of age during Vietnam, and love of country (“I’m an American, I’m gonna let my freak flag fly”), and goes on to raise the flag “for every soul gettin beat down” and “for every child who sees the light and turns around”.

All this may seem like some deep, serious stuff. But Greg delivers it all in such a fresh, inspiring roots and folk sound;  great hooks, wonderful melodies, and a sense of humor that brings a smile to your face.

I’m only scratching the surface here. I haven’t even touched on the opening songs, “Someday House” and “Where Are You Going When You’re Gone”, the latter which features one of the catchiest grooves and cadences I’ve heard in sometime. The guitar work is fun, twangy, and funky – right along with the lyrics.

This album is an adventure. I feel like these great songs are coming from someone who’s been around the block – someone who knows; who makes you pause, take notice, and appreciate what’s around you. Greg Brown is some kind of Shaman of the Corn Fields.

Simply put, the songs on Freak Flag make me Happy. I can’t recommend it enough.

Buy Freak Flag on Amazon

Visit Greg Brown’s Official Site.