Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ice Mac Sea

Michael McCrickard, aka Ice Mac Sea, calls his music “listenable, but downright weird alternative rocking country-techno pop.” If you’re the sort of listener who simply must put things in a category, that’ll do.

I discovered Ice Mac Sea at four in the morning while driving to Sacramento airport. The car rental company had apparently run short of cheap cars, because I got one with satellite radio. I tuned up the “Progressive Country” channel, and a half-hour down Interstate 5, Ice Mac Sea’s “Steve Earle” popped up.

Gram Parsons never died
You can hear him singing every night
They love the dead ones the best
They never disappoint you like the rest.

I liked “Steve Earle” right away. I pulled over at the next gas station, and wrote down the name of the artist. I was afraid to rely on my memory, since the sun hadn’t even shown a hint, and my caffeine level was dangerously low.

So, I decided that I had to have “Measure for Measure” in its entirety. It’s a leap of faith to buy an album based on one song, but that one song led me to believe that Ice Mac Sea had something special to offer. I wasn’t disappointed. Yeah, it is “downright weird,” but delightfully so. There is a techo-pop element to it, and a dash or two of hip-hop, combined with country-rock instrumental stylings, a goodly heaping of electronica, and McCrickard’s vocal phrasing, sometimes electronically altered. His voice would seem to be at home with Nashville-smooth country, alt-country, or the neotraditional fold. To me, his singing evokes the spirit of all three. Think Ronnie Milsap meets Junior Brown.

Does it sound like those elements would clash? Nope. They don’t. In fact, this “downright weird alternative rocking country-techo pop” has strong pop sensibilities, imbued with a spirit of artistic integrity, with sharp, witty lyrics. Yep, it’s weird, but infectiously so. Just ask my wife and son, who spent many mornings singing along with Ice Mac Sea on the way to my son’s kindergarten class.

One of the unfortunate things about belonging to the iPod Nation is that I tend to listen to artists as part of a mix, and I seldom listen to albums track by track anymore. That's a shame, because as a listener, I miss out on the tapestry of songs that the artist has put together. While flying to work this time, I pulled out the iPod, and played Ice Mac Sea's Measure for Measure in its entirety. Once again I was caught up in the catchy nature of "Measure for Measure" and "Steve Earle." Once again, I felt haunted by "Navy Pier." And, once again, I was reminded of why "Perfect Man," a song Michael wrote about his infant son, is my favorite song about fatherhood.

You are just the perfect man
Yeah, you've got perfect feet
When the band strikes up a tune
You dance a perfect beat

In your time upon the earth
You've never told a lie
You've disappointed no one
And made nobody cry

How strange and wonderful, then, that a few days later, I got an email with the title "Greetings from Ice Mac Sea."


It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that finding your blog post where you mentioned my song, Steve Earle, made my year. I’ve been very inactive musically since I did the CD, and I have no band, no label, no manager or anybody promoting my stuff. But somehow, at least one of my songs made it onto satellite radio and without you, I might not have ever known. And the fact that a total stranger has my songs on an iPod with the likes of Dave Matthews Band, John Prine and the Beatles, well, that’s about as big a compliment as I’ve ever gotten on my music.

So, of course I had to read the whole posting and parts of it were laugh-out loud funny. Yup, if I had an iPod, it would probably have the Monkees and the Carpenters on it, too. I have a feeling that we could have a lot of fun talking and sharing music if we ever get to meet. I live near Washington, D.C. and I don’t get out your way much, but I hope to when our boys get older. Please give me a call, if you are ever in the DC area. Take care and thanks so much again. And send me your snail mail address if you want a free copy of the CD. I’ve got a bunch of ‘em in my basement collecting dust!

Michael McCrickard

How strange and wonderful indeed, to get an email from the man who wrote my favorite song about fatherhood. Instead of taking him up on his offer of free CD's, I ordered two of 'em from CD Baby, a great place to find and buy indie music. (Uncle E, one of the copies is for you.) That said, though, I did ask Michael if he would mind sending Dylan an autographed copy.

Dylan's gonna like that.


Uncle E said...

How utterly cool is that? Thanks for the copy, Hal, I really look forward to hearing it!


Kelly said...

How fun!!

You've got me curious about his music now. I'm having trouble imagining how it must sound, so I guess I'll just have to listen for myself.

Pam said...

Totally cool!! Now, I have to go check him.

You mentioned Ronnie Millsap: HUGE fan of!!!!!

OK...I'm off to search....

Debby said...

That is very cool! Okay, how long ago was it that you were fretting over your 'boring' blog.... Over that yet?

Bob said...

How completely, incredibly cool!

Algernon said...

As far as genre categories go, "weird" works for me.

Redlefty said...

You turned down legally free music!?!?

Kelly said...

Well.... after listening to a few clips at iTunes, I think I have to agree with Algernon. Or at least "different".

Michael McCrickard said...

I'm going to have to watch my hat size after reading Hal's review of my CD! Luckily, my baseball cap is adjustable. This is the coolest thing that has happened to me in quite some time. It is one thing when friends and family praise your CD ... and a whole 'nother ballgame when a total stranger pulls his car over to write down your name. And then he downloaded my whole record to his iPod! What a guy. I could make the usual jokes about Hal's discriminating taste and his perceptive ear, but you folks already know about all that.

In all seriousness, Hal has done a remarkable thing here. He's actually gotten me to appreciate my own music in a way that I haven't been able to do in years. And if there's a nicer thing you can do for a musician, I don't know what it is.

David said...

Goose bumps all over!!!

quid said...

HaL --

Remarkable post. I was taken with the music and everything that happened as a result of your joy in the music.

I already knew we had Steve Earle in common. So I mention him here and also a great new country song, "Steve Earle" by Jennifer and Kristian of Sugarloaf. It's on their new album, "Love on the Inside".

Maybe by putting it here, they'll contact you, but I think that Michael McCrickard is probably one of a kind!


Ice Mac Sea said...

This reminds me, the same night that I found Hal's original post about the song "Steve Earle", I found some great video clips of Steve himself on YouTube. Here's a clip of him playing a great old reggae tune with the V-Roys:

Algernon said...

What a beautiful connection you made with the artist!

I once made friend by reviewing somebody's book on

Slight Uphill in a Head Wind said...

Get this--I'm the person Mike wrote about in the song "Navy Pier." He and I have been out of touch for several years, and I miss him. That makes the song doubly poignant for me.