As you well know, Mother's Day 2011 is fast approaching (this Sunday, May 8th) and while flowers & chocolates or taking mom out to brunch are all wonderful things to do for this once-a-year occasion, don't overlook the equally excellent idea of the gift of music -- or movies -- from Amoeba! And should you feel stumped at choosing a specific CD or DVD for mom in the store, you can never go wrong with an Amoeba gift certificate, which is good at any of the three Amoebas at any time. Additionally, you can purchase items online directly from Amoeba's web store.
Of course, if your mom is into live music you could always swing by Amoeba Music Sunday afternoon after brunch to catch some free live music as you browse the vast aisles of varied musical selections. In the Bay Area on Mother's Day there is a free 3pm instore set from progressive hip-hop artist Blueprint, whose sharp social consciousness & political awareness, as witnessed on the new Adventures In Counter Culture, will ring through with someone from any generation. Meanwhile, at Amoeba Hollywood at 5pm on Mother's Day Ceci Bastida, who the LA Weekly described as "Imbued with the gentle smokiness of Juana Molina and the swaggering edge of Nelly Furtado, or maybe M.I.A, her voice can be a rallying call or an invitation to listen closer," will perform in celebration of her debut solo album, Veo La Marea (I See The Tide). As with all Amoeba instores, both are free to the public.
Brand new releases -- all out this week -- that just might appeal to your mom's musical tastes include the anticipated May 3rd release from Stevie Nicks, In Your Dreams, which is her first album in a decade and one that Rolling Stone pegs as "her finest collection of songs since the Eighties." On a side note, Nicks was supposed to be doing a series of concerts and TV appearances this week in support of the new album but had to cancel at the last minute due to pneumonia and the flu. Another female vocalist with a recommended new album that would make an ideal Mother's Day gift is the live set from Brandi Carlile. Live At Benaroya Hall captures the Washington State rocker in her element, thanks (oddly enough) to the 30 piece Seattle Symphony, who help bring out the best in Carlile and her band on an album that offers such pitch-perfect covers as Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Elton John (her mentor)'s "Sixty Years On," and Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence."
Speaking of Simon & Garfunkel and talented artists from from the Great North West, Seattle's power folk ensemble the Fleet Foxes, whose timeless Helplessness Blues CD (on Sub Pop) also arrives in Amoeba this week, will undoubtedly remind you of (among some other landmark throwback folk sounds) Simon & Garfunkel. With infectious harmonizing and a flawlessly produced sound, this second album from the six piece is one of those albums that simultaneously sounds new and yet also totally familiar. Note that the group are having a listening party at Amoeba Berkeley this week on Tuesday, May 3rd at 5pm. Oh, and let's not forget the new Bruce Springsteen The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town documentary DVD.
Other mom-leaning releases include this year's surprise Grammy award winner (for best new artist), jazz singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding, jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato's recently released Lost and Found, Sergio Mendes' 2CD Celebration: A Musical Journey, and (also conveniently just out this week) Sade's The Ultimate Collection CD which includes remastered versions of such Sade classics as "Smooth Operator," "Your Love is King," "Love is Stronger Than Pride," and "No Ordinary Love." In hip-hop that transcends the genre's stereotypical restrictions, Zion I & The Grouch's lyrically mature & thematically uplifting Heroes in the Healing of a Nation packs appeal to fans of reggae and soul, & electronica, as well as just quality hip-hop.
Then there is newcomer and instrumental hip-hop/electronica UK artist Young Montana?, whose debut Limerence comes out this week on Alpha Pup and is one of those artists (a la DJ Shadow or J-Dilla, who he channels nicely) that appeals to those folks who may not normally listen to hip-hop. Of course, Amoeba's huge selection of old school hip-hop compilation CDs are also a good place to find gifts for the mom whose hip-hop tastes go back to the classics and the golden age.
Other artists/releases to keep in mind when shopping at Amoeba for mom include the new Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan, Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jennifer Hudson, Keren Ann, Jill Sobule & John Doe, Joshua Redman, K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang, Dolly Parton, Brett Dennan, and Les Nubians.
Amoeba boasts an impressive range of movies and TV series on DVD but ones to keep in mind for Mother's Day shopping, thanks to Amoeba's Logan, include All About My Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Postcards from the Edge, Julie and Julia, Imitation of Life, Mommie Dearest, The Kids are Alright, Like Water for Chocolate, Mr. Mom, Steel Magnolias, Amelie, Throw Mama from the Train, Mrs. Doubtfire, The September Issue, Mildred Pierce, Golden Girls, The Bad Seed, Grey Gardens, and Eat, Pray, Love. As with everything at Amoeba, you should never refrain from asking for assistance from our ever-knowledgable and helpful staff, whether finding DVDs, CDs or other gift ideas (posters and music memorabilia). And have a great Mother's Day!