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).

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 . . .

Tractor Pull Divas

It’s time to spread the word about some quality music in my neck of the woods here in Arizona.  I don’t do it enough..

Tractor Pull Divas hail from Chandler, one of Phoenix’s ‘burbs just southeast of the city. They’ve got a nice rootsy sound with a good, clear vocalist reminiscent of Roger McGuinn and  Tom Petty. They’re keeping it pretty incognito online. They have a MySpace page, but nowhere do I see any mention of their names and backgrounds.

But I do know they have an EP that they released last year: Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here), and I recommend dropping the $5. You can never go wrong supporting an unsigned band, can ya?

Hear: It’s Not Going To Kill Me (mp3)

Buy their EP, Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here) on CD Baby or on Tractor Pull Divas - Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here)

Visit: http://www.myspace.com/tractorpulldivasmusic

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

100 Words on “Daylight”

Avez-Vous Un Matt And Kim?

I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever taken a cue from MTV but I was flipping through the channels and came across the video for “Daylight (mp3)” by NYC hipster hype du jour Matt & Kim. The hook was embedded deep and after finding the track (free & legal, go figure) it’s gotten more then a few spins in just a few days. It’s fun yet abrasive and quite frankly disposable, but I dig the hell out of it. I played it for my wife and she dropped this gem “It’s catchy, but catchy doesn’t mean its good”. Take that Brooklyn!

[audio:01 Daylight.mp3]

Buy Grand: Amazon | iTunes

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

One Last Song

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Josiah.

The return of American Idol (and my overall ambivalence towards it) reminded me that 2009 will bring the release of young Josiah Leming‘s record. You may recall Josiah as the most talented contestant to not make it past the second round of auditions last year. After some additional exposure via the Ellen DeGeneres show, Warner Bros. scooped up the singer and sent him to London to record his debut record.  In late 2008 he released an EP titled Angels Undercover which provides a small glimpse of the singer-songwriter’s talent. I’m looking forward to hearing the recorded version of this tune “One Last Song”, which sold me on his ability to write a hell of a tune.

Buy Angels Undercover: Amazon | iTunes

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

Ick’s Pick (Week I): Glasvegas

One of my resolutions for the new year – other than cutting down on the mass consumption of junk food – is to listen to one new album release every week. That’s where that super clever title up there comes from. The title implies that I need to do this 51 more times this year. And that I’ll use Roman numerals for the entirety. I’m up for the challenge!

My pick for the first album of 2009 is the new self-titled Glasvegas album. You hipper people, especially over in the UK, have probably heard of them. The band is from Glasgow, Scotland, hence the ‘Glasvegas’. The album was released over there last year.

After a few listens, I can report that… this is my favorite album of 2009! Okay, it’s also my only album of 2009! Heh.. Seriously though, this immediately caught on with me. The opener, “Flowers & Football Tops” reeled me right in. Take some sweeping guitar driven melodies, a Phil Spector Wall of Sound vibe, and the heavy Scottish accent of lead singer James Allan, and you’ve got yourself a very enjoyable album.

Other randoms:

  • Great Scottish accent moment: “What’s the story morning glory, I feel so low and hopeless.” – from the song “”It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” – right now, my favorite song on the album.
  • I could picture Joey Ramone, another Spector admirer, singing some of these songs.
  • James Allan looks like a young Joe Strummer. Especially in the Letterman clip below.

Here’s their video for “Geraldine”


Go listen to the whole album streaming for free at Spinner.com.

Check out their Letterman performance of “Geraldine” from Monday night.

Buy: Glasvegas

No, Really… It’s Me

Now with 50% more Lily!

The marketing machine behind Lily Allen‘s new record It’s Not Me, It’s You, due out February ’09, is in full swing and it’s certainly got my attention. Her video for the first single “The Fear” puts the foul mouthed popster in an Alice in Wonderland world complete with living presents and balloon festooned dancers.

Lily Allen – The Fear (video)

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

The Wizard Returns to His….Roots?

Old buddy and Todd Rundgren aficionado Mark (aka Markadelphia) checks out Todd’s upcoming release. Look for more from Mark here on Ickmusic! You can also check out his politics-centric blog, Notes from the Front. –  Pete

The first time I listened to Arena, the new 13 track album by Todd Rundgren, I felt like I was listening to the album that record companies were begging him to make… in 1981. Thankfully, he never did and went on to make some of the best music of his career, solo and with Utopia. That’s not to say that I dislike Arena. It’s just that Todd was going to have to really put forth a Herculean effort to beat his 2004 release, Liars, which I think is one of his best records (everyone who ever wondered what happened to their jet pack or flying car should download the track “Future” from this release – very funny and cool). I always get excited when Todd releases an album of new material. I have been a fan of his since the beginning and the new ones don’t come that often anymore (one every 4-5 years) . So it was with this exuberance that I pressed play the moment I got the CD in the mail.

As I listened to the first four tracks I was seriously wondering if this was the new Scorpions-Foreigner-Loverboy comeback album. Or perhaps the “lost” Scorpions-Foreigner-Loverboy album. Track 2, “Afraid”, does have a very addicting guitar riff that evokes a certain melancholy, but by the time you get to track 4, “Gun”, one has to wonder what Todd is doing. Does he really think it is the year 1981? Then track 5, “Courage”, comes along and we enter familiar territory with that gorgeous wall of vocals/keyboard sound that Todd has mastered for all eternity. This song could have easily been on The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.

Tracks 6 and 7, “Weakness” and “Strike”, move us back into power pop, with the latter sounding – and I am not kidding – like a cross between Joan Jett and AC/DC! Todd’s voice, always gorgeous – and this album is no exception – sounds just like Bon Scott. After listening to this track several times, I have to say that I have really grown to love it. Track 8 is where the album’s good stuff really begins. Everything after this point is wonderful – “Bardo” and “Pissin'” being two of the best songs Todd has ever recorded.

Arena, released on September 30, is not Todd’s best album, but die hard Todd Fans will love it, Scorpions-Foreigner-Loverboy-Joan Jett-AC/DC fans will love it, and it will make those A&R guys in the way back machine darned happy too.

Oh, and the cover (above) kicks major ass, dude!

7 (out of 10)

Hear the first single: Mad (streaming Quicktime)

Pre-Order Arena (release date: Sept. 30th):

Todd Links: Official Site | MySpace