Amoeblog

Essential Records: The Jesus & Mary Chain 'Psychocandy'

Posted by Billy Gil, January 30, 2015 05:00pm | Post a Comment

essential albums jesus and mary chain psychocandy

Like many records whose reputations precede them, Psychocandy, the debut album by Scottish troublemakers The Jesus & Mary Chain, should be approached with caution and when you’re ready, not because someone told you to listen to it.

I picked up Psychocandy sometime in 2002 from Amoeba Hollywood, shortly after the store opened. I was going to school in San Diego at the time, and my friends and I would make trips up to Lou’s Records in Encinitas and Amoeba to binge buy used CDs. No one told me to get Psychocandy like Barry from High Fidelity, but I knew I probably should, judging by my growing obsessions with Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine.

The first time I put it on, on my shitty car stereo, I couldn’t really hear what was going on. A car full of people talking didn’t help. It just sounded like static to me, but I was intrigued. I listened later on and, of course, became full-on obsessed.

“Just Like Honey” is the obvious entry point and still a hauntingly beautiful song that is universal in a Nirvana sorta way. But the album’s next few tracks are its best. “The Living End” isn’t just a song title that Gregg Araki would nick for his great movie of the same name; its overall vibe is so underground and elusive that listening always makes you feel a lot cooler than you really are. It doesn’t matter that I’m way too chicken shit to ever ride a motorcycle. Both “The Living End” and “Taste the Floor” introduce a sonic trick that other great bands would mimic, like the aforementioned Nirvana, their inspirations in The Pixies (who themselves would cover J&MC’s “Head On”) and shoegaze followers like Lush and Swervedriver, piling added distortion on what already felt like too much to begin with, like pouring chocolate syrup all over a chocolate cake. It’s overwhelming and awesome.

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Weekly Roundup: Mikal Cronin, Bouquet, Tennis System, OOFJ, Deerhoof

Posted by Billy Gil, January 30, 2015 08:54am | Post a Comment

Mikal Cronin – “Made Up My Mind”

mikal croninPower-pop master Mikal Cronin has announced his third album, the aptly titled MCIII, which will be out May 5 on Merge. And he’s shared the first song from it. “Made Up My Mind” has one of those great rocketship riffs Cronin does so well, along with some playful piano and Cronin’s weary earnest voice offering bittersweet melodies and lyrics. Cronin played every instrument on the new album, which includes a six-song suite. He’ll be at S.F.’s The Independent April 22 and the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock May 1.

 

Bouquet – “Stacks on Stacks”

bouquetSometimes you hear just a couple of notes of a song and you know you love it. Such is the case with Bouquet’s “Stacks on Stacks,” which touches on early electronic music with breathy, romantic female vocals akin to Stereolab, Beach House or our dearly departed Broadcast. The L.A.-based duo is composed of guitarist/vocalist Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, formerly of folk-poppers The Finches, and keyboardist Max Foreman of the experimental trio Tenebre. If you’re as curious as I am about Bouquet, check out their In a Dream EP, due March 10 via Ulrike/Folktale, and/or check them out with Zola Jesus Feb. 8 at Santa Ana’s Observatory.

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Prolific Poet/Songwriter Rod McKeun Leaves Behind Large Body Of Work

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2015 07:34am | Post a Comment

In honor of Oakland, CA born American poet/spoken word artist/songwriter Rod McKuen, who died yesterday at age 81 following weeks of been treated for pneumonia, I go digging at Amoeba Music for a sampling of the world's best selling poet's body of work.  Ever prolific, especially from the late sixties up until the beginning of the 80's when he took an extended sabbatical, McKuen was once a ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable part of American popular culture.

As such the distinctively throaty sounding artist released an incredible number of albums (over 200 LPs of which many are still available at Amoeba - mostly in original vinyl format), wrote hundreds upon hundreds of poems, published dozens of books that would sell over sixty million copies (hence why he was the best selling poet ever), and a slew of songs that would be covered/interpreted by such high profile stars as Dolly Parton (they even collaborated in a music and poetry duo on the song "Feelings"), and Frank Sinatra ("Night," "If You Go Away" which was written with the Belgian composer Jacques Brel). In fact Ole Blue Eyes, who was a major fan of his work, even commissioned McKuen to pen content for A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen.

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Black History Month In The Bay Area

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 29, 2015 09:05pm | Post a Comment

Black History Month, San Francisco, Oakland, Bay Area

In honor of Black History Month, the Amoeblog is proud to provide this sampling of Bay Area events that are not to be missed. Watch this space for new additions.

Sunday, 2/1/2015, 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Racism and all that Jazz

Like Traditional Negro Spirituals and the Blues, Jazz evolved in the United States to survive the horrors of racism. Join Renaissance woman Phavia Kujichagulia (Griot, educator, & activist) on this journey into Jazz from Africa to America. She has performed and lectured extensively throughout the continental USA, the Caribbean, and England.
Koret Auditorium
Main Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco

Friday, 2/6/2015, 12:00pm -1:00pm
2015 Black History Month Kickoff : A Century of Black Life, History and Culture in San Francisco

Presented by San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society (celebrating its 60th anniversary).
City Hall Rotunda
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco

Wednesday, 2/112015, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
African American Oakland: An Historical Overview

In this overview, Oakland History Room librarian Dorothy Lazard will share key and little-known stories of the social, cultural, economic and political contributions of African Americans in Oakland.
Main Library
Oakland History Room
125 14th Street
Oakland

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Is It A Vinyl Comeback?

Posted by Billyjam, January 29, 2015 02:48pm | Post a Comment

Last week, under the heading What the Vinyl “Comeback” Really Looks Like, the Digital Music News website published an official RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) sourced vinyl sales graph tracing record sales over the past four decades. The piece seemed like a direct attempt to put a halt to those recurring news stories of the past several years that have been ceremoniously heralding vinyl's return to grace and sales. The article seems to join the opinion of many insiders who say that these typical "Return of Records" stories, usually published around Record Store Day, over-hype and overemphasize the so-called vinyl renaissance. Yes, vinyl has made a slight resurgence in general interest as well as sales (especially over the past decade), but these reports often make it seem like vinyl might be making bigger strides in the market than it actually is. 

Hence why, it seems, that Digital Music News (DMN) published the above graph showing the actual figures and percentages of increase in vinyl sales dating all the way back to 1973, the heyday of LP sales, back when the there were no CDs or digital downloads to compete with vinly LPs, EPs, and singles (the only competition being cassettes and 8-tracks). Interestingly no article accompanied the graph, but the comments for the article quickly filled up with varying opinions. Many agreed with the article's overall message but argued such points as the fact that the graph only figured in large scale and major label record releases (ones that are registered via SoundScan) and did not factor in all of the small label and self-released vinyl pressings out there (a lot!) that may not register with the RIAA, and that it was based on new records  -- not including the healthy used record business.

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