Category Archives: Pop

Song of the Summer

With this being the 4th of July week, we are officially at the height of summer so it’s time for THE SONG OF THE SUMMER!! Even though it came out at the very end of last year here in America (and even earlier in Australia), I contend that San Cisco’s “Golden Revolver” has all the right elements of a classic summer song. A story of bitter love with jangly guitars that you can’t help but skip along with, this track is completely awesome!

Even better is the fact that this band from down under seems to have made one of my fave local music spots its semi-residence. Their upcoming July 31st performance will be their third this year. Their full length, self titled album is set to drop domestically in two weeks so check it out!

On Discovering Butch Walker

Regardless of how tuned in you think you are to the popular music scene, there’s always something good slipping under the radar. One of the most recent examples for me is Butch Walker. The Georgia-born musician and producer has been making waves since his early hair metal days with Southgang. He moved on to the Marvelous 3 in the late 90′s, and, and over the last decade, he’s found success as a pop/rock solo artist and producer (Pink, Weezer, Fall Out Boy).

Butch Walker and Daryl Hall

Butch Walker & Daryl Hall (photo: Mark Maglio)

I had heard of Butch, but didn’t get a good quality introduction until I watched his appearance on the always great Live from Daryl’s House series. Musically, it was the performance of “Sweethearts” that reeled me in. But it’s also impossible not to appreciate the funny, genuine person he is (Daryl’s House seems to bring that out in its guests).

That brought me to The Spade album, his 2011 release by Butch Walker and the Black Widows – a wonderful collection of catchy hooks, fantastic harmonies and simply fun songs. The mid-album trio of “Sweethearts”, “Day Drunk”, and “Synthesizers” is my highlight.

Little did I also know that a great video for “Synthesizers” was released a year ago, featuring Matthew McConaughey reprising his role as his Dazed & Confused character Wooderson, a role that my colleague Mark has proclaimed his appreciation for.

The “Synthesizers” chorus has some advice that ties in well to the new year.

For once, once in your life
Won’t you do what feels right
Instead of waiting for the next big compromise
Stop running your mouth
Get out of the house
Get yourself downtown
And shake it all out tonight.

Add this song to your exercise playlist and tell me you don’t get a charge out of it.

Here’s the video, followed by the first segment from the Live From Daryl’s House episode with Butch, which I highly recommend taking the time to watch.

Watch the whole episode.

Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John [Belle and Sebastian, Norah Jones]

The latest Belle and Sebastian album crossed my radar a few weeks back, thanks to the “Recent Activity” social feature on Rdio. One of the people I follow had added it to his collection. I decided to take a listen, so *click*… and now, a few weeks later, I must have listened to it four or five times straight through.

It’s simply a great, accessible pop record. Great melodies, and just a nice overall vibe.

The album includes a song called “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”, with Norah Jones joining singer Stuart Murdoch. Of course, the mere mention of Norah Jones means I get to perform a thorough Google Image search. Woo hoo! Be right back.

Nice, but need something more current, right?

But I have to include this one. Stubebaker?

That's more like it. Updated Norah.

There. That was nice.

So listen to the song – a slowed down ditty about l-o-v-e just out of reach. The song appears not only on B&S‘s latest one, but also on …Featuring Norah Jones, an album of Norah’s collaborations.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdnVyOe1Pvg&w=420&h=345]

Click the covers to check out the albums…

Belle and Sebastian Write About Love

…Featuring Norah Jones

Julian Casablancas – who knew?

Wow, did this one come out of nowhere. I’d never come across Julian Casablancas‘s post-Strokes solo stuff until just last week, when I heard it on a local indie AM station. I seeked out the record, and was amazed. Great pop hooks, a retro electronic vibe, while still managing to be fresh and unique. Just a really original and enjoyable album.

“Out of the Blue” opens the album, and is one of those crank it up sorts of tunes – crank in the car, crank on some headphones… just Crank it somewhere.

BuyOut of the Blue for $0.99, or the whole album, Phrazes For The Young, for only $4.99.

The Guggenheim Grotto, Live!

The Guggenheim Grotto

The Irish Troubadour of the New Millennium has been largely defined by the likes of Damien Rice and Glen Hansard. My wife refers to it as “sad bastard” music, a title that I find difficult to argue. It’s not all doom and gloom on The Emerald Isle though, one of its best-kept secrets is the folk-pop duo The Guggenheim Grotto. One of my favorite “new to me” bands of last year, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to see the group bring their quirky tales to the stage. Thankfully, I’ll get that chance on March 18th, when the band stops at The Rockwood Music Hall. I cannot recommend enough that those of you local to the venue join me. Enough of my yapping, check out the video for “Her Beautiful Ideas,” and if you dig that pick up the band’s latest record Happy the Man.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9U2N4i20Rs&w=660&h=535]

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.

Review: Desktop, “Desktop EP”

http://ickmusic.com/pics/desktop.jpg

If you hadn’t guessed already I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the blips and bleeps of the current generation of electronic indie pop. Detroit duo Desktop bring blips, bleeps, swooshing synths, atmospheric guitars and enough pop sensibility to make this all too brief EP an easy sell. Think of it as dance music at a time when we could all could use a reason to ignore our concerns and just dance. “Liberty” leads off the set with its quirky ‘80s techno leanings. “Fired Up” is the funkiest of the bunch with a driving beat a la Prince with shades of Cutting Crew. “Too Much” brings it all home with some over the top, make your ass wiggle goodness. What makes this an even easier sell is the fact that the group is offering it up for free.

Download Desktop EP Here

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

ScarJo and Yorn’s new song “Relator” – and a vinyl giveaway

Scarleeeett

Even though Scarlett’s cover album of Tom Waits tunes didn’t fare too well commercially or critically, you have to hand it to her for following her musical whims and desires. Her latest project has her teaming up with Pete Yorn for Break Up, a new album due September 15th.

The first single is “Relator”, which was released a couple weeks back. Last week, the video was released – which is a huge deal for me, because, well, this is Scarlett Johansson we’re talking about here, folks.

7″Vinyl Single Giveaway: The good people at Rhino sent me the vinyl 7″ single, which includes the B-side “I Don’t Know What To Do”. If you feel like adding this to your collection, leave a comment below. I’ll pick a random winner a few days down the road. The cover art is different (and better) than the one above. I look at the one above and four words come to mind: “Outta the way, Yorn!!

Listen: Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson – “Relator

Visit: The Break Up Album dot com

W-w-watch

Discovering Discovery

http://ickmusic.com/pics/discov-lp.jpg

As side-projects go, the pairing of Rostam Batmanglij (keyboardist for Vampire Weekend) and Wes Miles (vocalist for Ra Ra Riot) makes perfect sense. The results however, are as far as you can imagine from the twee indie pop of the pair’s respective bands. Trading in guitars, violins and afro-beat for synths and 808 drum machines, Discovery is an unabashed love letter to the days of electro-pop past.

The record opens with the one / two punch of the jubilant summertime “Orange Shirt” followed by the equally brilliant (and insanely catchy) “Osaka Loop Line”. “Can You Discover?” is a chopped and screwed re-imagining of Ra Ra Riot‘s “Can You Tell”.  Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors lends her vocal shine to the hook of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”. The dynamic “So Insane” is easily my favorite track of the bunch and is shaping up to be a contender for my summertime jam. The record covers the hipster spectrum from reggae-tinged (“Swing Tree”) to R&B through twee-tinted glasses (“Carby” (featuring Batmanglij‘s bandmate Ezra Koenig)) to a timely (albeit, ironic) cover of The Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back”. The record wraps just shy of 30 minutes and almost begs an immediate second (and third) listen straight away.

It’s not ground-breaking but Discovery‘s LP could very well be the indie-pop record of the summer.

You can stream the entirety of LP at Discovery‘s  Official Site.

Discovery – “Osaka Loop Line” (mp3)

Buy LP: Amazon (available for only $3.99!)

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

RIP Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

Pete’s Thoughts

My first memory of seeing Michael Jackson was May of 1983. I was 12 years old, and a 7th grader at Jerstad Junior High in Racine, Wisconsin. My drama teacher, Mrs. Mottl, wheeled in a TV and VCR one day, excited to show the class a video of Michael Jackson dancing and singing on the ‘Motown 25′ television special. It had aired just a night or two before (May 16, 1983).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SlWIaYkFI4]

The whole class sat awestruck as we watched Michael kick, dip, glide and stride across the stage – and of course – watching him moonwalk across a stage for the very first time. It was a defining moment in his already storied career, and certainly the same for those watching him. Michael was truly one of a kind, the ultimate performer, and I am very much saddened tonight as I write this.

It’s not that I’ve been a huge fan of Michael Jackson (as a lot of you know, I’ve spent most of my life obsessed with the music of Prince). But I always enjoyed his music, and admired his showmanship, and the undeniable force and presence he was in popular music.

MIchael Jackson, to people my age, is our Elvis. He’s our John Lennon. His impact on the world of entertainment and popular culture is certainly on a par with Elvis and John. We grew up with him.

Yes, Michael had his problems. The last 10-15 years of Michael’s life were filled with tragedy, bizarre behavior, and deplorable accusations.  But tonight, I think back to Michael Jackson the entertainer – the amazing young talent moonwalking across that Motown 25 stage.

I’m still numb, like a lot of you. It doesn’t seem real, does it? It’s hard to even fathom right now that Michael Jackson is no longer with us in this life.

Truly a dark day. May you rest in peace, Michael.

Michael’s Thoughts:

It’s hours later and I’m still a bit stunned. Rather than write the words that will be written over and over in the coming weeks and months, I will say that the Michael I will choose to remember is the man that brought us all joy through his music, his dance, his passion and his desire to leave the world a little bit better than he came into it. I will celebrate his work and his legacy. Pray for his children and his family as they weather the days ahead. Celebrate his life and legacy… dance and sing, not out of sadness, but in honor of all the good he brought this world.

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .