Amoeblog

Remembering Jimmy Ruffin

Posted by Billyjam, November 20, 2014 07:28am | Post a Comment
Since the sad news broke yesterday of the passing of Motown great Jimmy Ruffin - who died earlier this week at age 78 following the announcement last month of him being seriously ill - I've been going back and digging up some of the popular recordings by the man (scroll down to see/hear select videos). While he may not have been quite as famous as his younger brother David Ruffin (the lead singer of the Temptations) he was an incredibly talented artist. Born in Mississippi Jimmy Ruffin moved to Detroit in the early sixties to connect with Berry Gordy's Motown Records - or rather initially Motown's Miracle Records imprint. There he recorded his biggest hit in 1966 with "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted."

Other Ruffin songs that enjoyed success over the years included "Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got ," "I've Passed This Way Before," and the 1980 hit "Hold On To My Love." Ruffin, who relocated temporarily to the UK in the 1980's where he recorded with such artists as major soul music fan Paul Weller, continued recording up until two years ago when he released his final album, There Will Never Be Another You. Below are a few select videos featuring the man that Berry Gordy called "truly underrated." Check for his music at Amoeba including his 1969 album Ruff'n Ready, the 20th Century Masters collection The Best Of Jimmy Ruffin - The Millennium Collection, and the duet full-length I Am My Brothers Keeper  that he recorded with his late great brother David who died 24 years ago. Hopefully the two Ruffin brothers are reunited in the afterlife and singing sweet soul music together again.

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Fight For Your Right: A Beastie Boys Tribute Night at the SFJFF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 19, 2014 05:38pm | Post a Comment

Exercise your right to party with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in celebration of the original American Jewish rappers, the Beastie Boys! It all goes down on the second night of Chanukah, Wednesday, December 17th at Public Works at 8:30pm. Come get on up ‘n’ get on down with live music from Bay Area bands Felonious, Jazz Mafia, and DJ Cylcofunk, who will be spinning rare Beasties B-sides, remixes, and other hip-hop surprises all night long.

Landmark music videos featuring early directorial work from Spike Jonze, Tamra Davis, and of course, the dearly departed Adam "MCA" Yauch, will be projected all night, providing a visual aid to your sonic illuminations. Put on your best club wear or dress as your favorite Beastie Boy for a chance to win SFJFF tickets and an original painting of the Beasties by local artist Chris Fabbri.
 

Fight For Your Right: A Beastie Boys Tribute Night at the SFJFF
Wednesday, December 17
Doors at 8:30PM @ Public Works SF, 161 Erie St.
$10 advance tix | $15 door.

Show Recap: Joel Jerome at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, November 19, 2014 02:53pm | Post a Comment

joel jeromeJoel Jerome brought his seven-man band to Amoeba Hollywood Nov. 18 for a set of songs from his excellent new solo record, Psychedelic Thrifstore Folk, as well as his catalog of songs from his days fronting dios.

They started with the “Everybody Wants Somebody,” jangling forth on a Kinksy arrangement until it slowed down for an extended sunlit singalong chorus. The band layered jangling acoustics, steel guitar, horse-clopping percussion, chimes, saxophone into a perfectly orchestrated mass, showing Jerome’s ability to dress these songs in whatever he sees fit and still have them come through as well-written songs to the core. Jerome introduced singer/songwriter Miguel Mendez for the next song, the Mendez-written “You Got Me All Wrong,” off the first dios album, which was also included on one of The O.C. mixes back in the day. The band faithfully tore through “You Got Me All Wrong” and went into another Mendez song, Thrifstore’s dreamy “I’m Dumb After All,” with Mendez taking lead and Jerome singing backup and snaking country licks around lines like “I wanna die with the radio blasting.”

Thriftstore’s cool, Doors-tinged opener “Stay in Bed” came next, followed by “Tell Me Thing,” off the third dios album, We Are Dios. The song was the set’s show-stopper, its sexy opening riff grabbing you and setting the stage for Jerome’s spine-tingling lead vocal and killer psych-rock solo. They finished the set with a new song he said would be on an upcoming album he hoped would be out next year, a glam-blues stomper that left us excited for whatever the prolific Jerome is up to next.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Posted by Amoebite, November 19, 2014 01:16pm | Post a Comment

Unknown Mortal Orchestra What's in My Bag

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the brainchild of New Zealander Ruban Nielson (formerly of the Mint Chicks). After relocating to Portland, Oregon, Nielson met future bandmates Jacob Portrait (bass) and Riley Geare (drums). In 2010, Nielson released a self-produced home recording of the track "Ffunny Ffriends" on the music site Bandcamp. With virtually no info on the band or music, bloggers and digital music diggers started sharing the song and word of the band started to spread. In the summer of 2011, the band released a self-titled album on Fat Possum Records. Check out what Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh) had to say about UMO's debut album in his "What's In My Bag?" episode here. In 2013, Unknown Mortal Orchestra signed with the Jagjaguwar label and released the album II . 

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Weekly Wednesday Steal: Screaming Trees' 'Last Words'

Posted by Amoebite, November 19, 2014 09:01am | Post a Comment

screeming trees last words lpThis week's Weekly Wedensday Steal is Screaming Trees' final LP Last Words: The Final Recordings, regularly $19.98 and on sale for $10 on vinyl.

Fronted by gruff-vocaled Mark Lanegan, Washington's Screaming Trees were among the forefront of the grunge movement, scoring the alternative rock hit "Nearly Lost You." Last Words consists of recordings the band did in 1998 and 1999 right before the band broke up. The album wasn't offically released until 2011 and now constitutes the last Screaming Trees album. Meanwhile, Lanegan has had a successful post-Trees career as a solo artist, recently releasing the fine Phantom Radio LP, and as a collaborator with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age.

A bit about our Weekly Steal: A new item is featured on Amoeba.com every Wednesday for $10, while supplies last. It's limited to one per customer, and the deal is only available on the website. As always, there’s free shipping on all music and movies you buy on Amoeba.com throughout the United States.

Hear the album's "Last Words"below:

 

John Waters Returns to California With His Popular Annual Christmas Show

Posted by Billyjam, November 19, 2014 03:52am | Post a Comment

Film-maker, screenwriter, author, stand-up comedian, art collector, hitchhiker, and friend of Amoeba John Waters will be doing another one of his popular annual one-man Christmas show tours this upcoming holiday season.  that will kick off in San Francisco at the end of this month and in the week following feature back to back California dates including LA on December 5th - all before heading back East to wind up the four-week tour. Themed loosely around his 2004 release A John Waters Christmas Waters' live show focuses as you would expect on the offbeat and the more kitsch end of the holiday. In it he covers a lot of territory, discussing gifts to give and how to react to ones you receive. Also more importantly, as he states in an interview from last holiday season with his hometown TV interview below ℅ of Baltimore's WBAL TV, he offers invaluable tips on how to survive the drama of the holidays and "how to react to the trauma of it, if your family's crazy, and how to get through it."

Tickets on sale now but some already sold out including the SF date. California dates include San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall Nov 29th, San Diego at The Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre on December 1st, Palm Springs at McCallum Theatre on December 2nd, San Juan Capistrano at The Coach House Dec 3rd,  Agoura Hills at The Canyon on December 4th, in Los Angeles at The Comedy Store in Hollywood on December 5th, and back up in NorCal at the City Winery in Napa on December 6th.

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Amoeba Co-Presents Madi Diaz at the Troubadour Dec. 8

Posted by Amoebite, November 18, 2014 01:15pm | Post a Comment

madi diaz troubadourmadi diaz phatom cdAmoeba is proud to present electro-pop singer/songwriter Madi Diaz live at the Troubadour in West Hollywood Dec. 8. The all-ages show is presented alongside Alt 98.7’s Close to Home. Buy tickets here.

Diaz is currently touring in support of her upbeat new album, Phantom, which was released Sept. 30. Featuring the heartfelt singalong “Stay Together,” Phantom is a sheer delight, full of driving, emotional pop songs. Don’t just take our word for it—according to KCRW, “Rarely has an album about being knocked down by life sounded so attractively catchy. ... Glossy production nicely shapes Diaz’ dance-music flecked songs, which throb with subterranean bass lines, ear-tickling refrains and her own genuine, no-frills vocals. ... A statement record that declares [Madi] as an artist of note.”

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Deerhoof Unveil Crazy 'Paradise Girls' Video, Kick Ass at the Troubadour

Posted by Billy Gil, November 18, 2014 11:25am | Post a Comment

deerhoof troubadourDeerhoof played a typically destructive set at the Troubadour in West Hollywood last night, starting off with tracks from their excellent new album, La Isla Bonita. Satomi Matsuzaki irrepressibly chanted to the cute “Paradise Girls” (“Girls…who play the bass guitar!”) and skronky “Last Fad” (“Baseball is cancelled!”) while John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez braided sneaky guitar lines around her. “Exit Only” sounded a lot fiercer live, while drummer/madman Greg Saunier traded instruments with Matsuzaki for La Isla Bonita’s pulsating, chaotic closer, “Oh Bummer.” A well-selected sprinkling of older material meshed well with the newer stuff, from the crashing “Dummy Discards a Heart” (from Apple O’) to the thumping “Twin Killers” (from The Runners Four) and riff-stuffed “Fresh Born” (from Offend Maggie). Saunier’s drumming remains a barely contained tornado to which the rest of the band somehow hangs on; the band stays tight even when he flies off the rails, making everything exciting, unpredictable and yet always masterful. Matsuzaki let loose for insane closer “Come See the Duck” (from the Green Cosmos EP), goading the audience into an off-beat call-and-response of “Come! Come! Come see the duck!” and teasing us when we got it wrong. Who can guess how 12 albums and 20 years in, Deerhoof are as energetic and thrilling to experience as ever. If you’re in S.F., they’re at the American Music Hall tonight with Crystal Skulls and Go Dark. Don’t miss it.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: June 1990 Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart

Posted by Billyjam, November 18, 2014 10:50am | Post a Comment

In the twenty four years since the publication of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles Top 30 Chart (left) rap/hip-hop has grown by leaps and bounds in both terms of widespread acceptance and (seemingly) unstoppable global popularity. Upon publication back in mid June 1990, while popular enough to deem its own weekly chart, hip-hop was still somewhat marginalized and was far from the mainstream cultural force it enjoys today. However while examining the contrast between radio/sales charting hip-hop in 1990 and 2014 there are many notable differences. For starters hip-hop was still largely labeled or referred to as "rap" back then which is somewhat ironic since popular "hip-hop" today is technically more "rap" than  than it was back at the beginning of the nineties.

From eyeballing this June 1990 chart, that was compiled from a national sample of both retail and one-stop sales, it's evident that commercially popular hip-hop appeared to be a lot more adventurous and much more diverse in style -both production wise and lyrically.  Also notable is how major labels did not dominate the bulk of rap sales - rather is was pretty much evenly split between indies and majors, although many of those same independent labels would in time make deals with the majors. Another notable business factor was that record labels (indie or major) could still be very profitable ventures since 1990 was a time when people still bought records and tapes to hear music. There was no illegal free downloading/file-sharing of music, and the only threat to labels was illegal dubbed bootleg cassette copies of their releases. Hence labels had more money to spend on promotions of their artists/records.

Women hip-hop artists, who to this day have never gained equality in their genre, were still in the minority back in June 1990 with only five out of this top thirty chart being female acts. These five included three groups - something much rarer today when female rappers tend to be solo acts - that included Hammer proteges Oaktown's 3-5-7, Def Dames whose "Set It Off" heavily sampled Strafe's 1984 club/radio hit of the same name and who should not be confused with the Euro girl group of the same name who came a little later,  and early career Jermaine Dupri discovered rap/rNb trio Silk Tymes Leather. The other female chart entries were Icey Jaye ("It's A Girl Thing"), and Queen Latifah in a duet with David Bowie in an update of his previous era hit "Fame 90." Speaking of minorities within rap there was one Latino rap act on this chart - Los Angeles rapper Mellow Man Ace (the bilingual single that he is best remembered for, "Mentirosa") who is the brother of Sen Dog of Cypress Hill.

Political and socially charged hip-hop included such chart entries as X-Clan's "Raise The Flag," Public Enemy's "911 Is A Joke," former Public Enemy member Professor Griff's "Pawns In The Game," the Afro-centric and Native Tongues members The Jungle Brothers ("What U Waitin' 4"), and the number one chart entry: Ice Cube's incendiary title track of his debut solo/post NWA album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Ice Cube's former NWA partner Dr. Dre (still two full years before he would unleash The Chronic) was represented on the chart via The D.O.C. single "The Formula" from the 1989 album No One Can Do It Better which he produced and was recorded before The D.O.C.'s tragic car accident that would ruin his music career. Other West Coast acts represented on this chart included Compton's Most Wanted and the Bay Area's MC Hammer (then in his prime and riding high with the single "U Can't Touch This") and Digital Underground who were taking the world by storm with their big hit "The Humpty Dance." 

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Album Picks: Ariel Pink, TV on the Radio, Whirr/Nothing

Posted by Billy Gil, November 18, 2014 10:18am | Post a Comment

Ariel Pink - pom pom (LP, CD, Download)

ariel pink pom pom lpForget everything you’ve read about Ariel Pink. His public persona has nothing to do with his music, which has never been more remarkable than it is on pom pom. “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade” begins the album by approximating decades of children’s music, family VHS tapes and video game music into a multicolored parade of half-remembered sounds. On tracks like “White Freckles,” Pink taps into similar territory of outdated interstitial music and lyrics and sounds inspired by advertising, pouring his exaggerated lothario presence all over them and ending up with sticky-sweet concoctions that leave you feeling titillated and slightly nauseated. Nothing that could possibly be interesting gets thrown away in Pink’s world—“Lipstick” could be based on an adult contemporary jam you never learned the name of; “Nude Beat A Go-Go” is like a perved-up version of a Frankie & Annette movie theme song. This means there are a few tracks you’ll skip past, but it’s better to have the full Pink treatment, making pom pom feel more crucial than 2012’s somewhat cleaned-up Mature Themes. And the singles are killer. “Put Your Number in My Phone” is a new cheese classic in silk pajamas. “Black Ballerina,” like its precursor, Before Today’s “Round and Round,” is a sick roller rink jam, with a disjointed narrative flowing through. And “Picture Me Gone” takes Pink’s simmering Beach Boys influence into a gossamer synth ballad. So he’s kind of a creep. But pom pom is proof that for all his off-putting proclivities, Ariel Pink still makes some of the most fascinating and entertaining pop music around. 

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One album wonders: Shop Assistants' Shop Assistants

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 18, 2014 07:31am | Post a Comment
SHOP ASSISTANTS - SHOP ASSISTANTS (1986) 

Shop Assistants band photo

In this week's installment of One album wonders we look at the Scottish band, Shop Assistants. On the eve of the Scottish independence referendum they were officially named on of the Top 50 Scottish bands of all time (see Top 50 Scottish bands of all time).

The band formed in Edinburgh in 1984, originally as Buba & The Shop Assistants). The original line-up was Annabel "Aggi" Wright (vocals), David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums), and Ann Donald (more drums). Stephen Pastel produced, provided the artwork, and sang back-up on their debut single, “Something to Do" on the very short-lived Villa21 Records. Soon after Pastel nicked Aggi for his own Glasgow-based band, The Pastels.


Aggi's replacement was Alex Taylor and with the line-up change came a shortening of their moniker to Shop Assistants. Shop Assistants debuted with Shopping Parade EP in 1985, released on on The Subway Organization, run by Martin Whitehead of Bristol-based band The Flatmates. Its lead track, "All Day Long" was described by Morrissey as his favorite single of the year" which is the sort of endorsement that should, but never did, make a band's career.


Donald quit shortly afterward and without her the band recorded and released "Safety Net" on Keegan's own 53rd & 3rd Records. In 1986, another of their songs, "It's Up To You,” was included on the NME’s now famous scene-making C-86 cassette. 


Having achieved some independent success Shop Assistants next signed to Chrysalis Records, the Blue Guitar Records imprint of which was credited on their sole full-length album, Shop Assistants. Considering its quality, it performed surprisingly poorly commercially. In 1987, Taylor disbanded the band in and formed The Motorcycle Boy with former members of Shop Assistants and East Kilbride's second-finest, Meat Whiplash. They also proved to be one album wonders, releasing just Scarlet in 1989.

Dip Your Toes into Classical Music with Our Handy Conversion Chart

Posted by Amoebite, November 17, 2014 03:56pm | Post a Comment

Classical Music Conversion Chart

There is a type of customer at Amoeba Music that remains one of my favorites. Those brave souls who sheepishly make their way to the deepest, most remote area of the store: The Classical Section. They look vulnerable but hopeful, curious but intimidated. They come, knowing they want Classical music, but unsure how to find something they’ll like.

I’ve found the most efficient and fun way to lead folks is to learn about the other forms of music they love, and then use that to inspire selections. For every contemporary artist on the scene today, I assure you that there’s a composer in the Classical section with parallels. Beyond that, after working in record stores for over a decade, I’ve learned that people who enjoy certain acts – such as, let’s say, Black Sabbath – typically will also enjoy the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich.

It’s these interactions that led me to create the following "conversion chart." While no means infallible, think of it as a fun way to find a starting point in your adventure into the Classical music genre. But remember – no chart can replace a living, breathing, Amoeba Music employee. Don’t be afraid to come in and ask for suggestions. We love that!

The best time to come explore the Classical section will be November 28-30 when we're having a huge Classical blowout at our stores over Black Friday weekend. All red and green tag Classical CDs and vinyl will be 50% off! Sale details here.

Essential Records: The Pharcyde's 'Bizarre Ride II'

Posted by Billyjam, November 17, 2014 02:23pm | Post a Comment

The Pharcyde

Each person has their own personal way to judge and rate the music they love. For me the criteria for rating an LP an "Essential Record" includes two key qualities: first, it's an all killer, no filler album (no temptation to ever skip over any track); and secondly, it is such a quality release that it doesn't age one bit over time (the timeless factor). Sometimes said Essential Record gets even better over the years. Such is the case with The Pharcyde's remarkable 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II (Delicious Vinyl), which sounds even more amazing today than it did when I first heard it 22 full years ago. I say this after playing the 57 minute record from start to finish twice in a row today, having not listened to it in a few years. Damn, that J-Swift produced album is so incredibly good! It's packed with soul, passion, and richly varied but cohesive beats and flows - from jazzy to old school to next generation - with varying BPMs. But, most notably, the album was totally unlike anything else at the time.

In late 1992 the SoCal-based Delicious Vinyl record label released Bizarre Ride II within just a few weeks oThe Pharcyde Ya Mamaf fellow LA based hip-hop artist Dr. Dre's G-Funk classic, The Chronic. While the two landmark hip-hop releases may have been linked by timeline and geography, they could not have been further apart in sound and style. Even Bizarre Ride's wild, fun cartoonish cover art set it apart as a record that did not take itself seriously. The album effuses a feeling of nonstop fun all the way through, as proven by the numerous impromptu-sounding hilarious studio bits that were mixed in or left in the final recording, like at the end of "Ya Mama" where they are just riffing off of each other. Unique, too, is how many of the "skits" on Bizarre Ride sound like songs, such as the 2:10 long "Quinton's on the Way (Skit)" which is like a Louis Armstrong inspired jazz song that captures the guys having fun in the studio with their different sounding voices and tones perfectly in contrast with each other.

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10 Record Store Day Releases to Look For on Black Friday

Posted by Billy Gil, November 17, 2014 12:09pm | Post a Comment

record store day black friday amoeba

Black Friday launches the holiday shopping season the day after Thanksgiving with lots of great deals. Instead of yanking someone by the hair off of that $10 barbecue set at Wal-Marts or whatever, you can come to Amoeba for a variety of deals on turntables, Blu-rays, gift certificates and more. Additionally, there will be nearly 140 Record Store Day exclusive Black Friday releases to choose from—see the whole list (.pdf) here. That’s a lot of records, bro/broette! Here are 10 that stood out to me.

David BowieSue (Or in a Season of Crime) 12”

david bowie sue or in a season of crime“Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” is an unsettling new David Bowie track full of jazzy horns and creepy lyrics about a dissolving relationship that may end in murder. It’s backed on this 7” by another new Bowie song, “Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” a fluctuating electro-rocker that shares its name with a play from the 1600s by John Ford. Both songs will also appear on the Bowie retrospective Nothing Has Changed, which came out today, but here’s your chance to get them separately from that. Hear both tracks in all their maddening glory below:

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Music History Monday: November 17

Posted by Jeff Harris, November 17, 2014 10:14am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

On this day in music history: November 17, 1962 - "Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for three weeks on the same date. Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, it is the second consecutive chart-topping single for the New Jersey-based quartet fronted by singer Frankie Valli. The song's title is inspired by a line in the 1955 western Tennessee's Partner in which the actor John Payne slaps actress Rhonda Fleming in the face, and she replies, "Big girls don't cry." Like its predecessor "Sherry," it will storm the charts quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #66 on October 20, 1962, it will zoom to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Twenty five years after its original release, the song will also be heard in the film and featured on the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. "Big Girls Don't Cry" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
 


On this day in music history: November 17, 1971 - Live-Evil, the 38th album by Miles Davis, is released. Produced by Teo Macero, it is recorded at The Cellar Door in Washington DC on December 19, 1970, and at Columbia Studio B from February - June 1970. The half live/half in-studio recorded double LP set consists of eight extended electric based jams featuring Davis supported by musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Airto Moreira, and Keith Jarrett. Originally conceived as a continuation of the landmark Bitches Brew, it will differ greatly from its predecessor by incorporating more rock and funk elements. It will be well received upon its release and is considered a pioneering jazz/funk recording, as well as one of the cornerstones of Davis's "Electric Period." The album's distinctive cover art was created by artist Mati Klarwein, best known for cover art on Bitches Brew and Santana's Abraxas. Davis will tell Klarwein that he wants something representing "life" on the front cover, and something representing "evil" on the back. The front will feature a painting of a pregnant African woman, while the back features a grotesque looking amphibian like creature in a powered wig clutching its belly. The latter painting is inspired by a picture that the artist sees of infamous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover on the cover of Time Magazine. "Live-Evil" will peak at number 125 on the Billboard Top 200 and number four on the Jazz chart.
 

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Next Sidewalk Sale Features Deals on Vinyl, Blu-ray and More Nov. 22

Posted by Amoebite, November 17, 2014 09:00am | Post a Comment

Sidewalk Sale at Amoeba Hollywood

It’s time once again for a Sidewalk Sale at Amoeba Hollywood! Our next one takes place Saturday, November 22 from 12 to 5 p.m.

We’ll be featuring the following deals:

  • Clearance LPs priced to move
  • DVDs for $3, or buy three get one free (excluding DVD box sets)
  • DVD box sets at $7, or two for $10
  • Blu-rays at three for $12
  • Books and comics at three for $1
  • Stickers and buttons at two for $1
  • Classical deals

And more!

Come by and pick up some fresh goodies from Amoebal!

Sidewalk Sale at Amoeba Hollywood