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Category: Laid Back

Song for Zula, new from Phosphorescent

“Some songs just feel like home.”

Commenters on YouTube (and the internet in general) can be a wicked, often ignorable bunch – but in this case, Youtube user RMBRKFLD is spot on. Phosphorescent’s brand new single, “Song For Zula” latches on instantly with its entrancing, dreamy rhythm and Matthew Houck’s fragile vocals.

The song’s first verse lets you know immediately where Matthew’s going, and it isn’t that bright, sunny nirvana called Love Land. Instead, he takes us into the deep, dark depths, where love will, well, tear you apart. Houck references “Ring of Fire” in the very first line, and goes on to detail his despair:

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading beam
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love. You see, it came to me
It put its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing

The song is shattering and beautiful, and exactly what I wanted to hear from Matthew/Phosphorescent after falling hard for their 2010 album, Here’s to Taking It Easy.

The new album is called ‘Muchacho‘, and is due out March 19th. The title is no doubt inspired by his stay in Tulum, Mexico (on the Yucatan Peninsula), where he kicked up his feet in a hut on the beach and penned the album’s songs (apparently in one week’s time).  The jury’s out on the source of the album cover photo, but it very well could have Mexican origins, and appears, quite frankly, like a recipe for a damn good time!

You can pre-order Muchacho on Amazon.

Muchacho Track Listing:

1. Sun, Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction)
2. Song for Zula
3. Ride On/Right On
4. Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)
5. A Charm/ A Blade
6. Muchacho’s Tune
7. A New Anhedonia
8. The Quotidian Beasts
9. Down to Go
10. Sun’s Arising (A Koan, An Exit)

Nap Time with Nils

I’m lucky enough to work from home. Usually when my “lunch hour” rolls around, I’ll throw on the running shoes and jog a few miles around the ‘hood. This arrangement has been surprisingly good for my health. Breaking up the day with a run clears my mind, puts everything into perspective, gets my blood pumping, and allows me the opportunity to be alone with Music. Love the arrangement.

Well, on Monday, it was overcast, scattered showers, and downright gloomy. I chose to utilize my free hour in the form of a n-a-p. How sweet it was. 50 minutes of midday relaxation. I dialed up E Street Radio on my iPhone SiriusXM app, and stumbled across Nils Lofgren‘s hour as guest DJ.

Listening to the show, I was in that euphoric, meditative state where you’re not fully conscious but you’re not fully asleep either. I was sort of floating through the ether – able to relax my mind, and at the same time soak in the music that Nils was playing.

He played his live version of the Star Spangled Banner, which was amazing. He played his Bruce favorites, like “Nothing Man”, “Man’s Job”, and “My City of Ruin”; he played an in-studio acoustic intro to “Countin’ on a Miracle”…

But what really hit me from Nils was when he played his version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. Yeah, the song made popular by Robert Flack almost 40 years ago (the tune was actually written by folk singer Ewan MacColl in 1957).

And man, it hit me in just the right spot. Hair stood up on my arms, the tear ducts activated a bit (only a bit, dammit I’m a macho man. No I’m not).

Lofgren’s high, tender voice soars in this version. Just beautiful. I think I’ll take more naps.

Nils Lofgren BandThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (mp3)

[audio:nils.mp3]

Buy Nils Lofgren Band Live.

Ick’s Pick: Josh Rouse’s El Turista

I knew next to nada about Josh Rouse before hearing of his new album El Turista a couple weeks ago. The review I read spoke of laid back Latin-inspired rhythms, the kind of vibe Stan Getz and João Gilberto exuded. That’s my kind of vibe.

After streaming the album on Lala (sounding like a broken record with Lala lately), I was hooked. One listen is all it took. And I know there are those of you out there who will lock in the same way I did.

Take some time right now – listen to this record on the nifty little widget down there.

Then, here you go: El Turista (Bonus Version). You’ll thank me later.

New Tunes: Scott Warren’s Quick Fix Bandage

Scott Warren is a L.A. based musician and front man for the Indie band Signal Hill Transmission. A few weeks ago (July 28th if you’re keeping track), Scott released his solo debut Quick Fix Bandage. The lead song, “Before You Say Goodbye”, has made several appearances on my iTunes – and in my head – over the last several weeks – most notably on a hike in Telluride in late July. “The reality sets and the reality…”. You’ll see what I mean.

It’s a solid album – mellow, leaning toward the rootsy side – and bookended by the grand finale of America’s “Sister Golden Hair”, one of my mellow 70’s rock favorites.

Scott WarrenBefore You Say Goodbye” (mp3)

Buy:

Visit: Scott Warren’s Official Site | MySpace

All the Dark Horses

This tune came out of nowhere one day, swooped me right up and carried me along with it. Beautiful song, beautiful lyrics, and judging by the strong 2004 album that this song is a part of (‘Weightlifting’), a grossly underrated band.

They’re Trashcan Sinatras,  the boys are from Scotland, and this is “All the Dark Horses”…

Trashcan SinatrasAll the Dark Horses (mp3)

Trashcan SinatrasAll the Dark Horses [Live on KCRW, Dec. 9, 2004] (mp3)

Buy:

Links: Download the chords (pdf) to “All the Dark Horses” | Official Site | MySpace

Ick’s Picks (Week VIII): JJ Cale’s ‘Roll On’

Pumping out these Ick’s Picks every week is making this year fly by. Week eight already? Can someone please tell me how we’re almost in March?? Thankfully, it is my favorite month: Cactus League baseball, a beer festival, and my anniversary. Oh wait, let me reorder, my wife reads this, you know. March is my favorite month: MY ANNIVERSARY, and yeah, that Spring Training and beer festival thingy is all right too, whatever.

That said, this week’s pick is the new album by JJ Cale. There weren’t any releases this week that had me jumping up and down in excitement, so I decided to take a listen to JJ’s new one, because he’s written some seriously solid tunes: “After Midnight”, “Cocaine”, “Call Me The Breeze”, and “Travelin’ Light”.  These were the four JJ Cale songs I was familiar with due to their covers by Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Widepsread Panic, respectively. And after hearing the originals over the years, Cale’s versions were just as solid, and a tad more laid back, which suited my style.

I’ve listened to Roll On this week about five times. It’s a well produced mash-up of roots / acoustic / jazz sounds that are all pleasant to the ear. There’s nothing that absolutely blows me away, though I do have three favorites: the guitar on “Cherry Street”; the undefinable groove of “Fonda-Lina, whose namesake has “her bosoms hangin’ over the window sill / It’s a story as old as Jesus / Fonda-lina has a void to fill.”; and “Old Friend”, which faces the passing of time from the wise perspective of Cale’s 70 years: “I hear all the old folks are gone / I guess we’re the ones now / That’s the way it goes / those crowded days are behind us now.”

Clapton appears on the title track, and the legendary Jim Keltner plays the drums on some tracks, but other than that, Cale handles pretty much all the instruments by himself. It’s a solid piece of work, and probably an album that I’ll appreciate more as time goes on (like a lot of them seem to be). It would also suit me well to dip into some of Cale’s older records. There a reason he’s been covered so many times over the years.

Buy Roll On.

Links: JJ Cale’s Official Site |MySpace

Here’s a stellar live version of “Call Me The Breeze”, with JJ and Mr. Clapton (sweet guitar, Eric)…

The Mellowness of the Shug

Like Michael mentioned in his 100 Words post today, when your music library gets too big, the challenge is to figure out what to even listen to. A lot of great artists and songs seem to go underground for a while, and pop up in a shuffle a few months down the road. One that plopped back on to my radar today was Shuggie Otis and his psychedelifunky 1974 album Inspiration Information.

It’s a mellow Monday, so a couple of laid back joints here.  “Island Letter” sounds like a cousin of Prince’s “Crazy You”, if you ask me. And I know you did. I heard you.

Shuggie OtisIsland Letter (mp3)

“Freedom Flight” is thirteen minutes of dream-inducing lite funky jazz and sweet sax & guitar effects. Close your eyes and drift off. But not if you’re at work. NSFW. Definitely NSFW.

Freedom Flight (mp3)

Check out Inspiration Information.

Little Sea Horse

Non-parents may want to move on to the next post, ’cause this one’s a little ch-ch-cheesy.

I’ll make it short & sweet – my four year old daughter attended her first day of kindergarten today. I’m a proud papa, and I’m sort of blown away that I have a child who is now going to school. Seasoned parents are nodding their heads, while at the same time shaking them in a sort of “you have nooo idea what you have in store for you” way. It just keeps getting more and more interesting, folks, and I’m just underway…

Well, a couple of weeks ago, my girl had a sort of “graduation” ceremony at her YMCA preschool. Her class was referred to as the Sea Horses. As the Sea Horses shuffled through in a controlled-chaos single file to receive their cute little certificates, with their cute little caps on, I had this Bruce Cockburn song going through my head. It comes from a brilliant 1976 album called In the Falling Dark.

I count this and Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw as two of my all time favorites. They soothe and calm me, and bring me to a good place when things seem a little jagged and confused.

The lyrics merit an appearance here (bolded by me):

Little seahorse
Swimming in a primal sea
Heartbeat like a
Leaf quaking in the breeze
I feel magic as coyote
In the middle of the moon-wild night

In the forge-fire time
Your mother glowed so bright
You were like a
Voice calling in the night
And I’m watching the curtain
Rising on a whole new set of dreams

The world is waiting
Like a Lake Superior gale
A locomotive
Racing along the rail.
It’ll sweep you away
But you know that you’re never alone

Little seahorse
Floating on a primal tide
Quickening like a
Spark in a haystack side
I already love you
And I don’t even know who you are

Nice eh? It’s enough to make a tough dad get a tad misty eyed. And that’s okay. Congrats kiddo – I have no earthly idea how I ever got along without you.

Bruce CockburnLittle Sea Horse (mp3)

Buy In the Falling Dark

To illustrate even further how much I love this album, here’s my favorite off the record:

Lord of the Starfields (mp3)

A Heavenly Day

There I was this past weekend, wrapping up a late Sunday afternoon car wash in the driveway (washing the hell out of my wife’s car due to the guilt of trading myself up for a new Honda Ridgeline – naughty, selfish husband!). I had the iTunes streaming down to the garage stereo (because I will perform no household or automotive task without background music – that would be silly).

As dusk set in, and I was pulling her car into the garage, this song came on. I sat silent for a few, taking in the song. I sighed in contentment, closed the garage door, and went on with my night. It was already a good weekend. Patty Griffin made it even better.

Patty Griffin – Heavenly Day (mp3)

Buy Children Running Through:

Jumping on the Band (of Horses) Wagon

I’m late to the Band of Horses bandwagon. I guess my inclination is to shy away from the darlings of the indie critics and hipsters. Well, I made a mistake for not checking these guys out earlier. Since the beginning of the year, Cease to Begin has been on regular rotation over here in the House of Ickmusic. Lead singer Ben Bridwell’s voice is the key for me – gentle and soothing.

The album is top notch from start to finish, but it’s this track – the finale – that I could literally put on Repeat for a day straight and never tire of it.

Band of Horses – Windows Blues (mp3)

Buy: Cease to Begin

Links: Official Site | MySpace