Taiga is a pop album, but its creator has made that way intentionally while retaining, and perhaps improving upon, her artistry. Rather than cashing in, the album finds Zola Jesus (aka Nika Rosa Danilova) returning to her roots of sorts, as she largely wrote Taiga on Washington’s Vashon Island, as though returning to the rustic forests where she was raised in Wisconsin, singing “do you wish you could go back to it all?” on the creaking opening title track, which erupts into a jungle beat. From here, we head into powerful pop songs like “Dangerous Days” that find Danilova singing clearly and boldly over dance-pop beats, but with the same paralyzing strength her voice has always commanded. “Go (Blank Sea)” is a little sultrier, built on a slower beat that swells into big, booming pop chorus and disintegrates into fluttering synthesizers, while Nika Roza Danilova’s voice rises and falls with soul and precision. “Hunger’s” hyperkinetic beat and incisive synth riff make for some of the album’s most grabbing moments. And though “Lawless’,” beautiful melodies sound buried under the ice, they’re still firmly pop. Perhaps because of the way in which it was written, the album has a certain isolation to it that comes through on tracks like “Ego,” in which Danilova undergoes thorough self-examination (she pairs similarly painful reflections “I fought against the ego, I know it brought me closer to losin’” and “I fed into the ego, I knew it brought me closer to hubris”), while synthesizers and strings quietly battle around her, sounds creaking cavernously in the background. On Taiga, Danilova sounds as though she’s faced her inner demons and come through on top with an album of powerfully moving pop music.
Spaceships have come up from being outsiders to L.A. who just started a band together in 2010 to being written up in LA Weekly as darlings of the DIY community. The band, consisting of Kevin LaRose on drums and Jessie Waite on guitar and vocals, recorded their first LP, a blast of brash, melodic noise pop called Cool Breeze Over the Mountains, in the apartment they shared (look for the record in-store!).
Now they've got a month-long residency at Melody Lounge in Chinatown every Thursday night. Oct. 9 will be Amoeba Night, featuring Amoeba employees performing and DJing all night, with Spaceships (LaRose works at Amoeba Hollywood), myself playing in Crystales and DJing with Subtle Cues, and with Amoeba's Sean Evans DJing as well. I took a minute to speak with LaRose about how they got to where they are and what they're up to now.
You self-released your first LP last year. I know you guys recorded it in your apartment, can you talk a bit about how you managed that? Did your neighbors ever complain?
We recorded parts of it in our apartment, but stuff like the drums were recorded in various practice spaces around Los Angeles. Thankfully, no one ever complained.
Cozz & Effect – “Cody Macc” video
South L.A. rapper Cozz & Effect is only 21 and just started seriously rapping last year, but he was good enough to land on J. Cole’s Dreamville label (via Interscope), who will release the young rapper’s debut, self-titled album on shelves Oct. 27. The video for his track “Cody Macc” sees Cozz rapping with increasing ferocity throughout an eerily empty Los Angeles, which kind of matches the solitary quality to the song’s production. Something about that combination of sounds and images makes this compelling, like he’s fighting for his life to be heard over the anonymity of an oppressively large city like L.A.
Cool Ghouls – “And It Grows”
Cool Ghouls are digging deeper into their native S.F. for the sound of their next record, mining the hippie Nuggets of yore to come up with their own garage spin on psychedelic pop. Following the excellent “The Mile,” now we’ve got “And It Grows,” which builds with thick twangy guitars and choral vocals until it unleashes a big, snaking riff over a smoldering groove. I’m lovin’ it. A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye is out Nov. 11 on Empty Cellar. Here’s my interview with them a while back.
This week's Weekly Wednesday Steal, is Captain America: The Winter Soldier for $10 on vinyl (regularly $26.98).
The acclaimed comic-book film from this year is the follow-up to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, both starring Chris Evans in the titular role. It also features several characters/actors from the "Avengers" films.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo stopped by Amoeba Hollywood for a DVD signing in September, and who showed up but comic book legend Stan Lee! See photos from that event here.
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.
Chromeo's new video for "Old 45's" (from White Women) stars the band's Dave 1 in a dance-off vs. some roadhouse waitresses. Look for cameos from HAIM and Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder. The video is a collaboration with SSENSE, who did the fashion and styling, including clothes from Chromeo's new fashion line with Surface to Air.
White Women is out now. Watch the booty-shakin' video below: