-- By Brett Stillo
Rock & Roll guitarist Lonnie Mack died the same day as Prince. Call it fate, call it show business... whatever, but the death of a big name celebrity will always overshadow the death of a lesser name. C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Farrah Fawcett, or Groucho Marx all were pushed to the back pages as well.
Lonnie Mack and Prince share a connection beyond a date in an obituary. Both of them played the electric guitar like proverbial bats out of hell. They were players among players with a command of the instrument beyond mere technique. Indeed, their fingers seemed electric, boosting the sound and texture of their guitar solos to stratospheric levels.
Mack, born in 1941, was a first generation Rock and Roller -- part of an echelon of pioneer guitar heroes of the early 1960s that included Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, and Link Wray. Among his peers, however, Mack was ahead of the curve with a cutting-edge guitar style born from the formative sounds of Blues, Gospel, and Bluegrass. Mack took these traditional elements and supercharged them to create a raw, electrifying sound that screamed from his trademark Gibson Flying V, “Number 7” (the seventh model to come out of the factory in the Flying V’s original run in 1958).
-- By Brett Stillo
"I realize what a pleasure it is going through racks, and actually finding things. That reminds me of my childhood, but also of times, not quite so far away, when you had that choice," says Nick Rhodes, keyboardist and founding member of Duran Duran, about shopping for DVDs at Amoeba Hollywood. Amoeba hosted a signing with the legendary band for the release of their latest album, Paper Gods, and we got a chance to meet up with the band after they went hunting for music and movies.
Duran Duran are one of the quintessential bands to emerge from England's new wave/synth pop scene in the 1980s. Formed in 1978 by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, over time the lineup solidified to include drummer Roger Taylor, frontman Simon Le Bon, and guitarist Andy Taylor. Initially inspired by post-punk and art school ideas and aligned early on with the New Romantic scene, Duran Duran quickly became superstars on the strength of their innovative music videos, fashion-forward image, and impressive number of chart-topping singles.
The band's career took off with the release of their 1981 self-titled debut, which reached number 3 on the UK charts. Success in the US came shortly thereafter, when Duran Duran's sophomore LP, Rio, clocked in at number 6 on the Billboard 200. The band's string of successes continued with 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger and 1986's Notorious, with the band touring the globe and being feted as teen heartthrobs. By 1993, Duran Duran was back at the top of the charts, thanks to the release of a second self-titled album, dubbed The Wedding Album to differentiate it from the band's debut. Duran Duran continue to release new albums and will be touring the US this summer, including a stop in San Francisco for Outside Lands.
On July 1st, the mighty R.E.M. are reissuing three of their landmark releases for I.R.S. Records, as well as their major label debut, Green. These albums showcase an interesting point in the band's history, when Michael Stipe and co.'s reputation among indie and college radio circles was translating into more commercial success. Coming courtesy of Capitol Records/Universal Music, the vinyl reissues of Life's Rich Pageant, Dead Letter Office, Eponymous, and Green will keep their original artwork.
Peaking at #21 on the Billboard charts, R.E.M.'s fourth studio album was their highest chart-topper in the US. The album was recorded at John Mellencamp's Belmont Mall Studios in Indiana and recorded by his longtime producer Don Gehman. It features "Fall on Me," a personal favorite of Stipe's plus the classic "Superman."
-- By doubleay
Antwon’s Double Ecstasy EP is the merging of an artist’s influence, style, and sound, cohesively culminating into a formula for success. Antwon’s roots lie in San Jose’s punk scene, and his tone and delivery are reminiscent of Hip-hops’s big bodies like that of Biggie Smalls, but his music is completely original. Since first coming onto the scene in 2011 with projects My Westside Horizon and Fantasy Beds, Antwon has undoubtedly never released anything subpar. Over the past five years he has indulged in new frontiers via intercontinental touring and connecting with artists at different platforms such as Lil Ugly Mane, Wiki of Ratking, and producer Hot Sugar, all while improving his craft. These experiences and connections have allowed him to develop a wider source of content to draw from in his music.
The video for Antwon’s break-in record “Helicopter,” from his 2011 Fantasy Beds Mixtape:
It seems many long and wild evenings in Europe’s night clubs have influenced Antwon on Double Ecstasy, both in terms of lifestyle as well as production. The EP displays rap music’s familiar turn up content but in a scene foreign to the average American rapper. Several times he cites accounts of partying, debauchery with females, and drug use in European clubs, which express and reflect his recent lifestyle. Meanwhile, the progressively drilling 808’s, almost more comparable to electronic dance music than Hip-hop, shape the upbeat yet atmospheric sound of the album (“Club,” “Luv”). Ignorant, fun, and accurate, Antwon is really rapping how he’s living on Double Ecstasy.
This Summer, join us for free outdoor concerts under the stars at Pasadena's Memorial Park. See 50 free concerts from a variety of artists at the Levitt Pavilion, the park's restored 1930s band shell, including Bobby Rodriguez on July 3, Albert Lee on July 23, David Lindley on July 29, and many more. While you're there, visit the Amoeba Music booth, spin our prize wheel, win gift certificates, and more. More info on Levitt Pavilion Pasadena's Summer line-up HERE.