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Stream the New Beach House Song "Sparks"

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2015 04:43pm | Post a Comment

beach houseIf you needed any convincing that Beach House is one of the best bands on the planet, their new song "Sparks" is a strong argument. Ever since their first of two masterpieces was released, 2010's Teen Dream, every new song and album by the Baltimore duo feels like an event. After announcing weeks ago that Depression Cherry, their fifth album and first since 2012's Bloom, would be released Aug. 28 on Sub Pop, we've been waiting with bated breath to hear a new song, and now we've finally got it. "Sparks" first premiered first on a Spanish radio show RTVE and has now been made available to stream via YouTube:

beach house depression cherryI keep listening to it over and over again to figure out what the hell is going on. That first blast of heavily saturated guitar and Victoria Legrand's layered vocals portend something special, which is just what we get with this gorgeous track. Legrand's organ and voice drone in perfect unison over a corroded digital beat, while Alex Scally's guitar's lay back and add small bits of texture, unleashing that volcanic noise again at select moments. Legrand's voice is more restrained than on previous singles, heavily breathy like My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher but with her same unmistakable husky tone, which comes through more clearly as the song progresses.The chorus is subtle but lovely, like Neil Young by way of Broadcast, but the best bits are the details—that skip in the beat right before the chorus, those high sliding guitar notes that sound like reverb-drenched shooting stars. It's somewhat long and amorphous but never outstays its welcome. You could listen for days and find new things to like about it.

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Show Recap: Failure at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2015 03:04pm | Post a Comment

failure amoeba

Failure fans withstood a hot, humid tropical drizzle outside of Amoeba Hollywood June 30 for the chance to see the band perform after a 17-year absence.

The alt-rock band reunited last year after breaking up in 1997 due to personal differences. In that time, Failure maintained a sizable cult, due in part to the band members maintaining a visible presence in musical projects such as Autolux, ON and Year of the Rabbit. With their “classic lineup” of Greg Edwards, Ken Andrews and Kellii Scott together again, the band has been successfully touring, playing all over the U.S. and Europe, and at festivals such as Desert Daze and Sunset Strip Music Festival.

failure the heart is a monster lpThe band chose to focus half of its set on its newly released fourth album, The Heart Is a Monster, which has been well-received by both fans and outlets such as Pitchfork. They started the show with that album’s opener, “Hot Traveler,” a highlight as the song moved from muscular riffs to a dreamier closing. The Amoeba show featured the live debut of two new songs from the album, “A.M. Amnesia” and “Otherwhere,” sneaking in classic “Another Space Song” from 1996’s Fantastic Planet in between.

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The Jackson 5 Post Cereal Alpha Bits Free Flexi Record

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2015 01:15pm | Post a Comment

They say when you cut down an old tree, that you can tell how many years old it is by the number of "growth" rings it has in its cut diameter to determine its exact age. Same is kinda true of when you do construction or clearing of an older house, and find relics from the past whose timeline can be traced back. I had this experience this morning while helping a neighbor remove an old metal sheet tightly nailed to her garage window. We figured it had been covering the older building's window for maybe 25 or 30 years. Turns out it was an even longer period than that as confirmed by the half-rotted remains (see pic left) of the 43 year old Jackson 5 flexi disc that had been jammed behind the metal sheet since, most likely, its 1972 release when it came free in, or rather on, a 13 ounce box of Alpha Bits breakfast cereal (see full cereal box folded out above). That was when the Post Cereals company, who manufactured such other popular breakfast cereals as Super Sugar Crisp, and Frosted Rice Krinkles cereal brands, in conjunction with Motown Records released The Jackson 5 flexi record.

The one-sided, five track Jackson 5 disc (that had to be cut out of the back of the cereal box) included the then hugely popular family group's hits  "ABC", "I'll Be There," and "Never Can Say Goodbye" as well as the slightly lesser known but still excellent tracks "Darling Dear," and "Maybe Tomorrow."  Those Jackson 5 flexis, which you can find on eBay (in good to VG condition - not rotted like the one I found today) for about $5 these days, were the most popular for the cereal maker. And while, compared to a regular record, the sound quality and durability (they tended to easily warp and scratch) wasn't so great to the young fans getting them at the time (often the first record they would own) it was all good. Besides it was a free record with a box of cereal that cost approximately 38 cents in 1972. In addition to featuring Michael Jackson's family group as a cut-out flexi record, the cereal maker also hired the group to make a series of 30 second TV commercials for their Alpha Bits cereal.  Below is one of those TV spots featuring the young members of The Jackson 5 in 1972 that note is wrongly ID'ed on the YouTube video as 1974.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mercury Records '93 & '94 Promo-Only Jeep Tape Compilations

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2015 01:13am | Post a Comment


Back in 1993 and 1994 Mercury Records put out promotional-only, cassette compilations featuring most of the hip-hop artists on their label at the time. These various artist tape collections assisted the label in their quest to try and get heard by as wide an audience as possible. Entitled Mercury: Jeep Tape '93 featuring [mixtape master] Ron G and Mercury: Jeep Tape '94 these various artists collections were given out at national music conventions like the Gavin Convention in San Francisco and the New Music Seminar in New York City where they would be included in registrants "swag bags." They'd also be handed out to industry folk, as well as mailed to record stores, radio DJs, and journalists.  

The Jeep Tape cassette collections got their name because jeeps, where people would typically bump mixes like this, were popular with hip-hop fans to ride round in at the time. If you listen to hip-hop from that ere you often will hear references to jeeps such as in the popular 1994 single "Boomin' In Your Jeep" by Kenny Dope feat Screechy Dan that featured A Tribe Called Quest sample that gave the song its refrain, culled from the ATCQ song "Jazz." These Jeep Tape cassette compilations featured artists on their Mercury Records or smaller labels being distributed by them that included Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics, Ed OG & The Bulldogs, Lighter Shade of Brown, Proper Dos, Ill Featuring Al Skratch, Dougie Dee, and Threat. In addition to regular versions of songs by these artists there were also some remixes included too such as the remix version of Yaggfu Front's "Slappin' Suckas Silly (Remix)." Above and below are the front and back covers of these two-decade old tape compilations that show up at Amoeba from time to time. Also below is the video for one of the tracks included on the 93 Jeep Tape, Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics' "!! What U Heard" off the classic, five star album Stunts, Blunts, And Hip Hop.

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Ultra Rare Bob Dylan 'Blood on the Tracks' Test Pressing For Sale at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Amoebite, June 30, 2015 04:33pm | Post a Comment

bob dylan blood on the tracks test pressing

Our recent purchase of a large record collection from the New Jersey area of more than 4,000 LPs from an iconic industry family had a lot of great, rare and one-of-a-kind items. But one piece in particular that stands out from the rest.

One of only five test pressings known to exist of an early version of Bob Dylan’s classic album Blood on the Tracks now sits on the shelves of Amoeba Hollywood. The pressing includes four previously unreleased takes of songs from the album (“Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts,” “Idiot Wind,” “If You See Her, Say Hello” and “Tangled Up In Blue”), plus an alternate take of “You’re a Big Girl Now” that was released on 1985’s Biograph box set.

bob dylanThe story goes that in the fall of 1974, Bob Dylan went home for the holidays with a copy of his newly recorded album Blood on the Tracks, which was set to release in weeks. The album had been written after touring with The Band and becoming estranged from his wife, Sara, and though the resulting album delves deeply into troubled relationships, Dylan himself has denied that the album is autobiographical.

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