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Amoeba at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena

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The Drop: Mike Posner at the GRAMMY Museum 8/16

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Music We Like

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True Sadness (CD)

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers took inspiration from such disparate influences as Queen, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, and Gillian Welch on their Rick Rubin-produced ninth studio LP, True Sadness . Indeed, the record is eclectic, with polished Mumford & Sons style folk-pop melodies embellished by bluegrass strings and punk rock ebullience. In spite of its title, and the lyrical contents of songs like “Divorce Separation Blues” and “Satan Pulls the Strings,” the melodies are almost rebelliously upbeat. Because of this patchwork of styles, the album works as a crossover between alt. rock, indie pop, and country/folk, giving it a wide appeal. These are the sort of summer songs that seems destined to be blasted out of rolled down car windows, and shout-sung along to by enthusiastic fans on tour.

You Will Never Be One Of Us (CD)

Nails

The relentless power-violence trio from Oxnard, California are back with their longest album yet: 22 minutes. What this album may lack in length is made up for tenfold in the sheer manic power of each track. The double bass pedal, thrash metal riffs, and searing vocals never let up, yet somehow this cacophony is also catchy. The guitar harmonies on "Savage Intolerance" sound like Thin Lizzy going off the rails, while tracks like "Life Is a Death Sentence" and the titular "You Will Never Be One of Us" will have you screaming along.

Cheetah EP [Foil Stamp Sticker] (CD)

Aphex Twin

Cheetah , the latest EP from Aphex Twin, amps up slowly. Named after a discontinued and apparently unloved early ‘90s synth (synth fans online seem to consider it at best mystifying and at worse, unusable), Richard D. James’ latest release is icy, industrial, pulsating, and evocative. The first tracks are minimalistic, more focused on rhythm than sound palettes, with washes of color and moody atmospherics gradually seeping into the mix. As the EP progresses, it takes on acid vibes and ’80s soundtrack style, with wistful flutes and dark, longing synth tones lending to its sense of ephemerality. Once Cheetah has reached its bouncy final track, things have gotten as close to a dance floor jam as anything you’ll find on an Aphex Twin release.

Fighter (CD)

David Nail

David Nail's latest should prove to be the soundtrack to many a summer evening across the county. Lead single, "Night's On Fire," evokes the feelings and imagery of an August sunset, with its sense of calm at the end of a day, paired with the excitement and anticipation of the night to come. Title track "Fighter" is a sturdy and sweet ode to his wife. With a laid back groove and earnest vocal performance, Nail praises her strength and perseverance through troubled times.

The Mountain Will Fall (CD)

DJ Shadow

On The Mountain Will Fall , DJ Shadow’s first album in five years, the groundbreaking hip-hop/electronica producer proves he’s still one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game. The atmospheric, instrumental title track opens the album with dreamy, futuristic vibes before launching into the funk-inflected “Nobody Speak,” which features Run the Jewels. German ambient/modern classical composer and producer Nils Frahm makes an appearance on “Bergschrund,” where spaced out washes of sound meet hyperactive textures and beats. The LP finds Shadow pushing the limits even further on his own original compositions, but of course half the fun is guest appearances from the previously mentioned artists, as well as avant grade electro dude Bleep Bloop, bass-heavy experimentalist G. Jones, and bright young UK jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall.

Scour (CD)

Scour

Scour is furious destruction pushed to new extremes. You don't just listen to it. It rips your ear opens and slams right into your brain. This black metal super group is led by Philip Anselmo of Pantera and features John Jarvis (Pig Destroyer), Chase Fraser (Animosity), Derek Engemann (Cattle Decapitation), and Jesse Schobel (Strong Intention). The intense vocal atomic blast that comes straight from Anselmo's gut gives you chills against the polyrhythmic, otherworldly drums, and violent guitar riffs that can shred the air like a hot knife. With six tracks that never go beyond a few minutes each, it's a short EP, but as dense and heavy as it gets. It makes most new metal albums look like a puny, anemic joke. It's real musicians showing you how metal is done. Their single "Dispatch" is just a taste of the insanity. Inhuman drums furiously bang like you are entering battle with static-laced guitars swirling all around. Anselmo grabs your face and gives a performance that matches up with the best of Pantera's albums. This is far from easy-listening: this is pure sonic power. Spin this on your turntable and feel the raw energy and barbarity of Scour. Their first EP is a great sign of things to come.

The Columbia Years 1968-1969 (CD)

Betty Davis

Somehow this fabled session of soul/funk queen Betty Davis and Miles Davis, has never surfaced in official or bootleg form until now. Having written numerous songs for The Chambers Brothers and The Commodores, Betty flew to the UK, ingratiating herself with the royalty of British rock. In 1968 she briefly married Miles Davis, and was the one who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix. It was during this time that these recordings were cut. A decidedly poignant turning point in both Betty and Mile's careers, as well as for the junction of jazz, funk and rock, these Miles Davis and Teo Macero produced recordings feature Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Larry Young, Harvey Brooks, Billy Cox (who would soon replace Noel Redding as Hendrix's bassist), and John McLaughlin, doing his best Jimi Hendrix impression. Funky, rockin' and fresh, these selections feature tracks written by Betty as well as covers of Cream and Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's safe to say that this session would lay the foundation of Betty's oncoming funk career as well as Mile's Bitches Brew -era jazz/rock albums. Also included are selected tracks from Betty's 1968 session featuring trumpet legend Hugh Masekela.

California (CD)

blink-182

With the resurgence of pop punk and skater music in the indie world, Blink-182 feels as relevant as ever. In acts like FIDLAR, Title Fight, and Joyce Manor, you can still hear the effects of Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket vibrate in the druggy, lazy Cali vibes. But with the departure of Tom DeLonge, the band replaced his iconic, screechy voice with Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba who gives California an air of drama that hasn't been present in their last albums. Teaming up with Goldfinger's John Feldmann as their new producer, California sounds like the late-'90s sunshine sound of their hits while exploring new territory and ideas. Recorded over a few weeks on a spontaneous burst of creative energy, the album's sixteen tracks have a quick dynamic feel that passes by in a burst. Lead single "Bored To Death" channels a moodier, angsty atmosphere that is a surprisingly mature look at being old. Instead of just singing another song with ironic lyrics and gross ideas, "Bored To Death" is an emotional ballad drenched in teenage nostalgia. It hurts when Skiba cries out that "life isn't meant to last long" while he laments over his childish past. "Rabbit Hole" feels like old Blink-182 with a major chord, punk bravado and a more ironic head-pounder of a song being sang to his own brain. When you are stuck in your own mind and problems, "Rabbit Hole" feels like a big middle finger to self-loathing and sadness. But nothing feels more like Blink-182 than the sixteen second crass joke "Built This Pool." What starts off fierce quickly dissolves after a one-liner gag. In the current wave of '90s nostalgia, California doesn't stumble for one second and ranks comfortably with some of their best stuff.

Dirty Heads (CD)

Dirty Heads

Huntington Beach, CA's Dirty Heads capture the mood of hot Orange County days on their self-titled fifth album. It feels like it takes less risks and strange directions, choosing instead to go for a much cooler, relaxed atmosphere covered in a haze of LA smog, the smell of the salt in the water, and good weed. Recorded in Los Angeles, a thirty minute drive north from their home, the easy-going feel fuses the verbal prowess of hip-hop with the stoned in flip-flops feel of ska like a perfect cocktail. Smooth organ riffs bounce against tinny snares, dub bass and snappy guitar lines offset the aggressively catchy rap rhymes that distance themselves from the harsh vibes of life and goes for pop fun. The nostalgic first single, "That's All I Need," is a love-letter to SoCal twenty years ago. Spitting a laundry list of memories, people, and even the musical feel of California beaches, nothing captures the spirit of Los Angeles' summers quite the same way. "Too Cruel" has the minimal rock spaciness of early Coldplay that suddenly gets real trippy when the track turns off and the bass gets real sensual with raunchy, tongue in cheek humor that's close to a teenage sunburnt fantasy. "Oxygen" is dub spun through techno synths and scratchy vinyl samples. The dramatic lyrics and groove of "Oxygen" culminates in a catchy crescendo of synthesized that horns that can easily get stuck in your ear. For fans of OC '90s ska, Dirty Heads doesn't recapture that sound. It keeps the spirit alive. Pour a lemonade, mix it with some booze, and chill to this.

Rockisdead (CD)

Dorothy

When single "Raise Hell" popped up online last year, it was hard to not get excited about DOROTHY. Headed by vocalist Dorothy Martin, DOROTHY is a fusion of divergent flavors that works perfectly: gritty, soulful vocals against screechy, vintage blues rock riffs and drums that channel modern hip-hop. They bring back the kind of loud, aggressive rock that would upset your parents. The fact "Raise Hell" ended up in so many commercials and programs is just evidence of what an addictive soundworm of a single it was. And it's refreshing to hear that their debut, ROCKISDEAD , is contrary evidence to its title: it's plain and simple rock that feels right placed next to your Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton LPs. "Dark Knights" almost dips into noise rock with a stripped down production that has all the impact of dropping a pile of bricks on your head. The song feels like it's almost bleeding out of the mic as its pulsating rhythm doesn't give you a second to breathe and Dorothy screams at you about what kind of man is a real man and what she needs. "Wicked Ones" has foot-stomping rhythm that almost feels like an old country number filtered through a fuzz peddle. It's hard to not move or sing along when the song's beat knocks you hard against your skull. This is what rock should embody. It's good to know DOROTHY moved up from a local act to a major label atomic blast that is hopefully a sign of rock to come.

Take Her Up To Monto (CD)

Roisin Murphy

Weird pop visionary Roisin Murphy returns with an innovative, surprising new LP with echoes of Brian Eno and Giorgio Moroder style production. Ever the chameleon, the Irish diva’s vocal stylings alternate between disco diva, ‘80s soul singer, unforgiving ice queen, and coy cabaret songstress. The album skips between genres, propelled forward at times by icy, stabbing synths, sometimes by spacey atmospherics, twinkling keys, and bossa nova beats. Murphy proves once again that she is the master of smart, ever-evolving dance music.

Hot Hot Heat (CD)

Hot Hot Heat

Hot Hot Heat's self-proclaimed final album finds the band back in the territory that made them a hot, hot hit in 2002. Having gone more into an electronic realm on their previous album, Hot Hot Heat delivers the indie-dance-punk goods with their new self-titled record. If you miss the early 2000's garage band invasion this album will scratch that itch with songs like "Kid Who Stays In The Picture," "Mayor Of The City," and "Comeback Of The Century."

Amoeba Exclusive


Pre-order the new Allah-Las album, Calico Review on Amoeba Exclusive White Vinyl! Limited Edition of 500.

Amoeblog


See Rival Sons, The Specials, Iron & Wine, De La Soul and more in downtown Long Beach Sept 23-25. Tickets are on sale now at Amoeba Hollywood.

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