Ick's Pick

Pete’s Music Charts: January


It’s 2012, and I’ve yet to put finger to keyboard to whip up a post on this, my site, my IckMusic. No, music hasn’t taken a back seat to anything. It’s still at the forefront, ever accompanying me on this journey I’m on.

I am, however, focusing on thinking differently, and trying to undo some of the mistakes I’ve made up to this point, this fifth decade of my Life on Earth. I came across an Albert Einstein quote a couple weeks ago (at least that’s who it was credited to).

It reads: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

That hit home, and that’s exactly how I’m approaching the year. A fresh outlook. A realization that some serious tweaks are needed in my life – in all areas, but mostly in the financial realm.

Most significantly, I’m trying to get my ass – and therefore my family’s collective ass – out of debt. I’m fully ingesting the Dave Ramsey Kool-Aid. His Total Money Makeover is a challenge, to say the least, but it also makes a lot of sense, and that’s what I’ve embarked on. So, my very unglamorous but very much needed focus this year is debt reduction. Laser focus, “gazelle intense” focus, as Dave puts it.

But I can’t stay completely quiet here. I have to chime in at least every once in a while, right? To start, I had an idea about leveraging the detailed music charts available on Last.fm. Like a lot of you fellow music geeks out there, I track the music I listen to on Last.fm. It not only captures everything I listen to on iTunes and my iPhone, but also Rdio and Spotify. So that pretty much has it covered top to bottom. I’ve been “scrobbling” on Last.fm since December 2004 – the same month I started this blog, coincidentally.

So why not take a look each month at my previous month’s listening habits. What artists and tunes are doing it for me from month to month?

You’re totally into this? Awesome. Here we go…

January 2012 Charts (from Last.fm)

Top 5 Artists:

1. Wilco

Well this already makes sense. On January 21st, I had the opportunity to catch the band at Tempe’s Gammage Auditorium – their first Phoenix area show since 2004. Two and a half hours long, in a small, intimate venue, and each member of the band in prime touring form – just two shows into their West Coast swing.

“Via Chicago”, from their great 1999 album Summerteeth has taken a sinister turn. You really have to see & hear it to believe it, but at a few different times during the tune, the entire band goes absolutely, evilly ballistic for about 20 seconds. A cacophony of sound, Glenn Kotche going apeshit on the drum kit, the stage drenched in blood red lights… and all the while, there’s Tweedy, who continues strumming on his guitar and singing “Via Chicago” like nothing’s happening. It’s brilliant, and could drive a sane man mad.

They played tunes from their entire catalog, and focused heavily on their latest album, The Whole Love.

I admit to not spending near enough time with the record since its release. But like all great live bands, their showcasing of new material on tour will pull you right in, and have you rushing home to press Play. And that’s exactly what I did.

I virtually wore out my digital copy of The Whole Love.

2. Prince

Huge surprise, I know. In January, I can attribute my heavy Prince listening to the release of a fantastic new bootleg called The Parade Demos. It includes not only the tunes we’re familiar with from the Parade – Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon album, but in their early configuration. “Christopher Tracy’s Parade”, the Parade opener, is “Wendy’s Parade” here.

And the collection includes some unreleased gems from the era: “Others Here With Us”, “Old Friends 4 Sale” (the bluesy, stripped down version, not the overproduced one from The Vault – Old Friends 4 Sale release), and the trippy and fun “All My Dreams”, a psychedelic slice of funk/pop. These are tunes that Prince geeks have been hearing for a while, but never like this. The quality is pristine.

3. Bruce Cockburn

I find comfort in Bruce Cockburn.

With a lot on my mind this year, and a lot of energy devoted to positive changes, it’s nice just to wind down with Mr. Cockburn. This time around, it was a fantastic 2002 compilation called Anything Anytime Anywhere (Singles 1979-2002). Great tunes like “A Dream Like Mine”, “The Coldest Night of the Year”, “Wondering Where the Lions Are”, and “Pacing the Cage”. Also, two new tunes released with this collection: “My Beat” and “Anything Anytime Anywhere”.

4. David Bowie

I admit to being largely ignorant of Bowie’s overall body of work. I’ve been familiar with the radio hits over the years as a casual fan, and that’s about it. But I do recognize this as a fault – a serious gap as a music fan, especially as much as I love the era of 60’s and 70’s rock & roll. So I’ve been trying to correct some of this behavior by listening to albums like Aladdin Sane, Low, Heroes, and Space Oddity.

One tune I’ve loved since it came out is “New Killer Star” from his 2003 album Reality. Once again, I’d heard the single, but never the album. So I’ve dug into Reality as well. A long way to go, but it’s a start.

5. Girls

Probably, no, definitely, my favorite band in the land right now. Front man and songwriter Christopher Owens makes music that connects deeply with me. It’s hard to explain, but every nuance, every chord and vocal structure of his songs just feels right to me. Since their latest album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost came out last year, I’ve been consistently drifting in and out of obsession with their small but powerful catalog.

If I can recommend one thing to you, it would be to pick up their 2 full lengths and their EP, Broken Dreams Club (I guess that’s three things).

Best of all, they’re touring in the next couple months, and stopping at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on March 3rd. Yeah I can’t wait.

Top 5 Songs

1. Wilco – “Capitol City”

This is one of my favorites off their album, The Whole Love. Really dig the fun, poppy, carnival-atmosphere vibe…

2. King Charles – “Mississippi Isabel”

I listened to this because of a new music recommendation from Rdio. Really catchy stuff from this young British artist – part Adam Ant, part Gary Glitter, part Edward Sharpe. Although the novelty has worn off a bit, it’s a catchy tune, and your kids will like it.

“She kissed me once I took her out for lunch and she never kissed me again.”

3. Wilco – “A Shot in the Arm”

I never tire of this tune from Summerteeth. After beholding it live once again, it was time to spin it a few times…

4. Prince & the Revolution – “I Wonder U”

I’ve been listening to the Parade Demos version, which features Prince on vocals (along with Wendy & Lisa). Prince doesn’t sing on the regular album version.

5. Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band – “This Little Light of Mine”

This comes from the amazing Live In Dublin CD/DVD. It’s Bruce and his Sessions Band cranking it up gospel style.

It will lift you right up outta your seat.
It will inspire you.
It will make you believe that you can do anything.
The perfect song for any new year.


  • zs

    I think “All My Dreams” was actually recorded after Parade for the Dream Factory project. Still a great jam though – and I’m real interested in hearing the boot, especially if that “pristine quality” is true of tracks like “Others Here With Us.”

    Also, I need to listen to more Girls.

  • Ben Sansum

    Wow, Pete – thank you for the heads-up for that verions of ‘Old Friends 4 Sale’ – I love the other version i have, but this stripped down one has been on rotation for about an hour now and just blows me away. As a dedicated old Prince-head finding something of this quality that I’ve never heard before has made a dreary Wednesday much easier to survive! Thanks again

  • Puri

    My best wishes for you with your main target for this year. To change the point of view so that you’ve got a broader perspective of the situation is always a good approach, so go ahead with it.

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