Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #83: CitiBike One Year Anniversary, World Science Festival, WFMU Record Fair, NYC Film Festivals + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 28, 2014 11:53am | Post a Comment


Greetings from New York City where right now am in the Chelsea District on 25th Street down the block from where the production crew trucks from Law & Order are setting up for a shoot that will run through tonight. As I walked by the shoot, I half-expected to hear that L&O signature doom doom sound effect emit from the set.  According to one tech guy I talked to briefly, the television show's film crew are "hoping it won't rain again." That's a valid concern since, over the past week here in NYC, we've been enduring a series of thunderstorms (plus humidity). In fact, the heavy rainstorms over the Memorial Day weekend disrupted a lot of planned outdoor events, which was a bummer for New Yorkers and visitors, including the 1500 sailors in town for Fleet Week. But weather forecasters predict good weather to arrive with June, just round the corner. 

Otherwise, things are pretty good in NYC: a recently released report says that NYPD's stop and frisk incidents under the new mayor are down a whopping 89%. This is good, but from what I've seen round town, random stops of cyclists seems to be on the increase. Alex Baldwin's recent national news-grabbing arrest for riding his bike the wrong way on a one-way street was just one of many citations and arrests made by busy NYPD on cyclists in the past month. Meanwhile CitiBike - the Manhattan bicyle sharing program that boasts 6,000 blue bikes at 330 docking stations from 59th Street all the way downtown - just celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday and, despite a few problems that are all being worked on including budgetary ones and keeping up with demand, is doing real well.

Currently On Tour With Rodriguez, LP Readies To Drop Her New Album "Forever For Now"

Posted by Billyjam, May 27, 2014 10:08pm | Post a Comment

LP's "Forever For Now" - to arrive in Amoeba June 3rd - will the artist's third full-length release


As she prepares to drop her brand new album Forever For Now (Warner Brothers) next week New York singer/songwriter LP (not to be confused with NYC hip-hop artist El-P) is keeping quite busy doing back to back concerts on tour as opener for Rodriguez. Tonight and tomorrow (May 27 & 28th) she plays The Warfield in San Francisco, and on Friday and Saturday (May 30th & 31st) she plays the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles - all on bills with Rodriguez. Then next Tuesday, the date her album drops and in celebration of its release she headlines LA's Sayers Club.  While many only first heard LP in 2011 thanks to her uplifting song "Into the Wild" being chosen as the soundtrack to a national TV commercial for CitiBank (available from Warner at the same name and again included on this new album) the artist had been around for a lot longer than that. Back in 2001 The self-described "working class approach" to music-making artist released her debut album, Heart-Shaped Scar. That first LP album was produced by David Lowery who three years earlier featured her on his band Cracker's album Gentleman's Blues on Virgin. Since then she toured and performed a lot, released a second album in 2004 (Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol) but somehow, despite critical acclaim, never got the level of commercial success she deserved.  She then shifted her career slightly when, in addition to writing and recording her own material, she also began avidly writing and co-writing for other artists including Rihanna, and Christina Aguilera. Then in 2012 she released the 6 song (five live tracks) EP Into the Wild (Live at EastWest Studios), which was reissued on vinyl for last year's Record Store Day (long out of print). Her new album Forever For Now , with the lead single "Night Like This" that drops next week, will feature guest spots from such artists as Isabella "Machine" Summers from Florence + the Machine, and looks set to gain the artist the level of attention that she has long deserved.

The 20 Best 1980's Hip-Hop Albums

Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment

When fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil, who has done a number of Best Of lists in various genres, invited me to do some hip-hop best-of lists I had mixed feelings about the task. While I love drawing up lists of my favorite hip-hop releases from different eras and regions, I know that no matter what I include or how I position/rate it, later I will feel some kind of regret thinking that maybe I should have included or excluded a release or not ranked it as high on the list. And I am sure there will be commenters who will have the same critical thoughts (a la "I can't believe you didn't include ______ or that you ranked____ as number one," etc.). Simply put, it is difficult to narrow down Best Of lists because firstly it's personal and subjective, and secondly because a list I (or you) may draw up today will be different from one we might compile in a year's time. Musical tastes and opinions, especially in retrospect, are constantly in flux for me anyway.

Furthermore, sometimes an album or a single will rate high on one list (depending on the category) but not so on another. An example from this list would be Too $hort who would rank up the top of a Bay Area list but lower on an overall hip-hop album list of the 80's. Then there are all of those amazing hip-hop singles that were only singles, non-album cuts, or were culled from albums that otherwise were not as strong overall. Or in the case of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock, which technically is a diverse genre album with hip-hop content and packaged in a hip-hop fashion from its cover art to how it is meshed together by the Worlds Famous Supreme Team radio show, it doesn't technically qualify as a hip-hop album. Add to my not included on the list 80's albums: such compilations as Mr Magic's Rap Attack series since I tried to focus purely on artist (vs. compilation) releases with the exception of one soundtrack on the list. Anyway, to combat all of this, I plan on doing many more best-of hip-hop lists with the goal being to include as many titles of great records as possible overall.
 

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Remembering Music Man Murray and His Records Via Richard Parks' Short Film

Posted by Billyjam, May 25, 2014 05:39pm | Post a Comment



It's already a few years old but since a lot of people might have missed it first time around, and even if not, thought it was time to now post here on the Amoeblog the short but most enjoyable 22 minute documentary film on Music Man Murray in the West Adams district of LA following many years in Hollywood. Like the record store that bore his name music man Murray Gershenz, a former opera singer, was truly a treasure. Sadly both are no longer with us. The store closed two years ago and Murray died last August of a heart attack at age 91. But in his rich lifetime Murray was a passionate lifelong record collector whose vast personal collection would have put many self-respecting crate diggers/collectors to shame. In fact it got so large that half a century ago, following 25 years of simply collecting records, when he counted approx half a million pieces of vinyl in his collection, he decided to open his record store to unload some of these records, as well as stay close to records.  As well as running the store in more recent years he had a more lucrative second career as a bit-part character actor in TV shows and movies. As such Murray appeared in such recent film and television productions as The Hangover, I Love You, Man, Mad Men, The Sarah Silverman Program, and Modern Family. But in the film above, lovingly directed by Richard Parks, the ever likable Murray plays himself doing what he loved most in life- being surrounded by records and music.

Peanut Butter Wolf To Celebrate DVD Release of Stones Throw Documentary Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton @ Amoeba Hollywood, May 28th

Posted by Billyjam, May 24, 2014 06:03pm | Post a Comment

Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton poster "In thirty years I want to see Stones Throw records either in the $100 bin or in the 99 cents bin," says Peanut Butter Wolf in the engaging new Jeff Broadway directed documentary about his label Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton (This Is Stones Throw Records).  He hopes that he doesn't see releases from the now iconic label of his, that he humbly founded back in 1996, in "the $5 bin." It's got to be the 99 cents or a $100 bin, one or the other. "I want people to really hate it or really love it," he stresses.

Those future decade crate diggers the DJ/producer and label founder born Chris Manak imagines, whatever their music tastes might be, are bound to find lots to love from the totally unique and independent Stone Throw Records label's incredibly diverse and prolific roster boasting hundreds upon hundreds of titles released over the past 18 years - all with that instantly recognizable logo known and respected the world over. Shoot, forget all the music releases; even those ubiquitous Stones Throw logo turntable slip-mats have become synonymous with DJ culture of the past two decades - as has The Turntablist's (aka DJ Babu) highly revered 1996 Stones Throw battle record release Super Duck Breaks.

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