Amoeblog

MIRA COOK'S UNIQUE YET FAMILIAR WINNING SOUND

Posted by Billyjam, April 23, 2009 07:07am | Post a Comment
mira
Every once in a while an artist who is totally unique yet immediately relatable and instantly engaging comes along and wins you over; the sort of artist whose soothing, seductive sound, with soulful melodies & heartfelt harmonizing, creeps up on you and pulls you in from the first few bars. Bay Area one-woman band Mira Cook is this kind of artist. Tonight she shares a bill with Michael Hurley and Sean Smith at The Verde Club in San Francisco.

Mira Cook's lo-fi yet lush sound, while completely original and unique, will remind you of a myriad of other artists you might have heard before, from Meredith Monk to Liz Phair to the U.S. Girls to Laurie Anderson to DJ Radar. Radar the DJ? Yes, her similarity to the Arizona turntablist is based on her performance style of utilizing live loops to build upon her sound, the difference being that while Radar uses records as his sound source, Mira Cook uses her own voice. 

A classically trained ballet dancer with a respected career in dance, the Texas born, San Francisco based vocalist/multi-instrumentalist is also classically trained in piano and comes to the music she makes from a refreshingly different place than your typical "alternative" artist. I have seen Cook perform live twice recently and each time was completely blown away, first by the harmonic sound she creates with her voice -- pitch-perfectly layered to sound like a group of female vocalists heavenly harmonizing that at times conjures up the Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris' collaboration on the O-Brother-Where-Art-Thou soundtrack -- and also by the fact that she does it all solo and live without missing a beat. Amazing!

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WHEN CONTROVERSY GOES TO WASTE: BANNED EUROVISION SONG

Posted by Billyjam, April 22, 2009 05:17pm | Post a Comment
putin
Usually when an artist's music is banned or mired in controversy, particularly policital controversy, said artist's song/album/music is something that you definitely want to track down and hear, and most likely own a copy of for posterity. What could be so powerful a piece of music that would lead to it being banned? Incidents that come to mind include the classic example of the Sex Pistols and their controversial 1977 single "God Save The Queen" which was banned by the BBC upon its release. 

So when I recently read all of the hullabaloo that made international news headlines surrounding the "controversial anti-Putin" (as in notorious Russian leader Vladimir Putin) song “We Don’t Wanna Put In,” I was intruiged. The song is by the quartet Stephane & 3G who hail from the country of Georgia, and it recently won that country's preliminaries for the Eurovision Song Contest, which this year is to to be held in Moscow, Putin's backyard. But due to pressure (much of it reportedly trickled down from Putin himself) to change the lyrics or be banned, the song has been withdrawn from the contest by the group, who refuse to change their song in any way. Now Georgia will no longer be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest. In fact, the country of Georgia, in solidarity with the banned group, is reported to be holding its own international music show, to be broadcast on the Georgian national TV station Rustavi 2 at exactly the same time the Eurovision Song Contest is to be broadcast live from Moscow.

Observing Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted by Billyjam, April 21, 2009 11:31am | Post a Comment
the readerOne of the most memorable scenes from the hilarious Ricky Gervais/ Stephen Merchant television series Extras produced by HBO/BBC is the episode in which Kate Winslet, playing a nun taking a break from shooting a Holocaust film, is giving advice on how to score an Oscar. "If you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar," advises Winslet, playing herself in the mockumentary about extras in Hollywood. Winslet's episode was first aired in August 2005. Of course, the real kicker to this fictional scenario is that just three years later Winslet went on to star in the wonderful 2008 Holocaust film The Reader and won an Oscar for her role for "best actress" at the Academy Awards earlier this year. 

But the real reason why so many films about the indelible scar on the human experience that is the Holocaust go on to justifiably win Academy Awards is that these typically somber heartfelt films tend to be made, by both directors and actors alike, with such a level of pure passion and sincerity that it comes across in the finished product and ultimately makes for really powerful pieces of art. Examples of films that deal in some way with the Holocaust include Anne Frank - The Whole Story (2001), The Devil's Arithmetic (1999), Conspiracy (2001), Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (2005), Life Is Beautiful (1997), Schindler's List (1993), Jakob the Liar (1999), as well as the 1978 TV mini-series Holocaust. All of these films are available on DVD and found at Amoeba Music.

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AUTHOR JG BALLARD (Crash/Empire of the Sun) DEAD AT AGE 78

Posted by Billyjam, April 19, 2009 12:51pm | Post a Comment
jg ballard
As reported by the BBC and other UK media sources, the famed British author JG Ballard, best known for his novels Crash and Empire of the Sun, died earlier today following several years of illness. He was 78. As noted on the BBC site, despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Ballard instead insisted that his books were, "picturing the psychology of the future." 

Ballard's most acclaimed novel (one of 15 he wrote and he also penned some short stories collections), Empire of the Sun, was based on firsthand experience drawn from his crashchildhood in a Japanese prison camp in China. "I remember a lot of the casual brutality and beatings-up that went on," Ballard was quotied as saying in reference to the three years he spent interned in a prison camp run by the Japanese from age 12 during World War II. and from which he drew much material for the fictionalized account of his childhood in his famed book.

Empire of the Sun
was later made into a film by Steven Spielberg. Meanwhile, his controversial book Crash, about sexual desires stimulated by car crashes, was made into the 1996 film Crash by director David Cronenberg and stars James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, and Rosanna Arquette. Ballard/Cronenberg's Crash is not to be confused with the similarly titled 2005 Paul Haggis movie set in Los Angeles and involving a collection of interrelated characters.

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INTERVIEW w. DOSEONE/THEMSELVES WHO PLAY COACHELLA TODAY

Posted by Billyjam, April 19, 2009 11:00am | Post a Comment

Today is the third and final day of the talent-packed, weekend-long Coachella Festival, which has been Amoeblogged about here intensively in the hella informative Coachella 2009 30/30 Initiative (30 Coachella Bands Featured in 30 Days) blog over the last few weeks leading up the annual diverse outdoor music festival at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, CA.

Rightfully dubbed by the UK music magazine NME as "probably the best festival in the world," today's (Sunday, April 19th) impressive lineup includes The Cure, Public Enemy (the recently reunited), Throbbing Gristle, Lupe Fiasco, Roni Size Represent, My Bloody Valentine, Groove Armada, K'NAAN, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Antony and the Johnsons, and Themselves, who I recently caught up with. I checked out their show (amazing!) and talked with member (and former Amoeba employee) Adam "Doseone" Drucker, who shares membership in the Oakland-based Anticon duo with fellow producer/emcee Jeff "Jel" Logan.

Although Jel and Doseone are both members of the group Subtle and are constantly producing together or just hanging out in the East Bay, where they both live, as the duo Themselves they had not performed or recorded together in six years until recently. They've just recorded an album that will drop in a couple of months or so, put together a kick-ass mix-CD, and have undertaken a national tour that ends today at Coachella. Then, on Friday (24th) they begin their European tour, starting in Paris, France. I caught up with them in NYC a couple of weeks ago when they played at Webster Hall and talked with Doseone about various doseonethings, including the Anticon group's ten-year anniversary. "We made up a ton of music we always wanted to make and one was a giant collaborative effort...with everyone we ever shared air with and that was something we always wanted to do in a million ways," said Dose-One of the new mix CD that includes such killer tracks as "Know That To Know This," featuring Aesop Rock. "There's nothing like an hour-long posse cut to clean the blood," he laughed. "And we finished our full-length, which is our kind of stoic little ten song banger for the ten year anniversary and [on it] every song has its place in the history of rap recording to us and our own personal history with respect to rap and how we make music these days. So, you know, it's a blast. It was great! It was like getting our fitted suits."

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