Amoeblog

Where My Ears Went in 2012

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, January 10, 2013 01:33pm | Post a Comment
sandro perri impossible spaces
SANDRO PERRI Impossible Spaces
(Constellation Records)

Easily the most confounding sound I heard this last year. In all truth, this record was released in late 2011, but I didn't find any indicators pointing towards it until this year. Perri is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer from Toronto, Canada who also creates electronica under the name Polmo Polpo. On Impossible Spaces, Perri presents a light, meandering soul in a voice that sometimes reminds me of Michael Franks, sometimes Antony, sometimes Christopher Cross. It's a strange tone to hear in 2012, but it is all couched and wrapped in, levitated and nudged along by a busy production of electronica, (fretless?) bass, warped keyboards and processed saxophone that keeps pulling my ear deep into its sheer inventiveness. Guaranteed to confuse.








MOUNT EERIE Clear Moon
((P.W.Elverum & Sun)  

One of this year's two "sister" releases (with Ocean's Roar), Clear Moon, is issued, as it should be, on clear vinyl. Phil Elverum, the creative force behind Mount Eerie and its former incarnation, Microphones, is a master of mood. His albums are for headphones, for closed eyes, akin to sitting alone (or with silent friends) in the forest or on some chilled rocky outcropping from where you can see no sign of civilization and yet always aware that its there.
mount eerie clear moon

In Praise of Tiny LP's!

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, September 2, 2010 09:00am | Post a Comment
andwella world's endmy names in albert aylerblues creation demon eleven children

Not long ago Amoeba brought in an original 1964 Japanese pressing of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night LP. Typically, we have found that we are able to fetch upwards of $250 for that record in Near Mint condition (which this copy was). However, the LP we purchased also had that strip of paper, printed primarily in Japanese, that it was originally purchased with back in 1964. "Big deal!," one might think, but, yes...it is.
The "obi," a t
brian eno here come the warm jetserm borrowed from the sash worn as a belt around the midsection of a kimono, is a piece of ephemera that many people throw away when they first crack open their Japanese vinyl. A word of advice: Don't do that! Because the Beatles album had that slim belt of paper, 45 years old and in almost all other cases, discarded, it was worth closer to $2,000!

Obi fans and collectors will nod their heads, "of course!" So much is the appeal of the fine attention to detail and the often beautiful "extra something" lent by the obi that, fairly early in the history of the CD, Japanese CD manufacturers began making LP replica CD's, complete with scale versions of their accompanying obis...and another voracious collectors'
market was born.

Best of a Rapid Decade: One per year plus a few too good to not mention...

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, January 6, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

In recently trying to fill in a friend on what I'd spent the last year or two listening to, I realized that my personal taste tends to gravitate towards some element of either Folk form (any hint of hill-folk finger-pickin' or Ozark/Appalachian melancholy and I'm in), Psychedelia or the tendency to extend a theme for a good long jam (a category in which I include a lot of the Jazz that I like), or just a great, funky groove.

With those qualifiers in place, the following is a year by year review of the last decade which somehow got past me with out noticing it. I mean, really?!! 2010?!!!  I didn't see it coming: 

2000: Album of the Year

Air's enjoyable and wacky Moon Safari had been on the decks for a couple years before they contracted for the soundtrack to Sofia Coppolla's Virgin Suicides. The resultant score is absolutely sublime and marked the French electronauts as contenders to watch.

For myself, it was the defining sound of the millennium's new year.
















Shelby Lynne released a killer country-soul gem, I Am Shelby Lynne, that echoed early material from the likes of Bonnie Raitt. Thinking that it was a brilliant debut from a talented 32yo unknown, I was eventually shocked to find that it was her 6th album. I listened to it for months.

Continue reading...

Budget transmissions from the heart of the New Hairy! Skygreen Leopards' Jehovah Surrender

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, September 26, 2009 06:45pm | Post a Comment
skygreen leopards jehovah i surrender
I know that many out there have found that any "milk of human kindness" that they may have had on reserve for all things "freak folk" has long soured. Granted, Devendra Banhart, the Jewelled Antler Collective and those that traipse along under similar standards are an inconsistent lot, and that may be part of the whole modus operandi. I mean, doesn't exactitude of key and clear direction and purpose of lyric and melody just end up being a stone drag...man?

I hear all of that criticism, and I get it. I picked up the recently issued 4CD Jewelled Antler Library box, and amongst all that dusty immediacy, birdsong and flecks of deep inspiration, there was some serious dreadfulness.

All that said, Skygreen Leopards, featuring JAC founders Glenn Donaldson (also of Blithe Sons and Thuja) and Donovan Quinn, have held to their own modus of trippy, immediate, flawed songs partially recorded in the open air and likely in one take. Just six songs here, none of them clocking in over four minutes, but all of it strangely, dreamily compelling. The vocals are troubled, the grooves are lazy and lethargic, but I will take it over anything by Bevis Frond in a hot minute, because it's all of a piece. Everything refers to everything else, the vocals are sung like the guitar is strummed like the drums are brushed...as if it's all good, Brother Bear, and it's ok to just sway in place and turn your face, flower-like, towards the sun.

Continue reading...

Freedy Johnston's 'Perfect' Pop Gem: I'll Buy THAT for a dollar!

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, July 20, 2009 09:25pm | Post a Comment
freedy johnston this perfect world
Freedy Johnston
came out of Kansas and played around New York until he got signed by Bar/None Records, who released his debut, Trouble Tree in 1990. Trouble Tree was well received, but it was 1992's Can You Fly that got Johnston's name and songs bouncing all around college radio.

I've always thought of Freedy Johnston as the lost member of the Db's. He has a pristine pop quality to his voice and the stories he writes have the same almost-too-clever and slightly melancholic take on relationships that made the Db's' Amplifier the deservedly huge college rock classic that it became.

In 1994 I was working at SF's Reckless Records of London, an arguably cool and decidedly tiny record store on upper Haight St. As always, I was listening to anything I could get my hands on. Johnston's This Perfect World happened across the counter and stopped me in my tracks just by the power of its sheer completeness.

Produced by Butch Vig (Garbage) and featuring contributions from Graham Maby (Joe Jackson Band), Kevin Salem (Dumptruck), Marshall Crenshaw, Marc Ribot, Mark Spencer (Blood Oranges) and David Schramm, who worked repeatedly with the Db's' Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, This Perfect World is a perfect pop record. Most of it is deeply written, deeply produced and played rock-pop, though in places ("Gone Like the Water") it reveals Johnston's beloved folk-country roots. I've heard the criticism that Butch Vig sucked the edge out of it in the production, but I wasn't noticing that in 1994 and don't really notice it today, 15 years later, listening to it (still) from beginning to end.

Continue reading...
<<  1  2  3  >>  NEXT