Amoeblog

Essential Records: The Pharcyde's 'Bizarre Ride II'

Posted by Billyjam, November 17, 2014 02:23pm | Post a Comment

The Pharcyde

Each person has their own personal way to judge and rate the music they love. For me the criteria for rating an LP an "Essential Record" includes two key qualities: first, it's an all killer, no filler album (no temptation to ever skip over any track); and secondly, it is such a quality release that it doesn't age one bit over time (the timeless factor). Sometimes an Essential Record gets even better over the years. Such is the case with The Pharcyde's remarkable 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II (Delicious Vinyl), which sounds even more amazing today than it did when I first heard it 22 years ago. I say this after playing the 57 minute record from start to finish twice in a row today, having not listened to it in a few years. Damn, that J-Swift-produced album is so incredibly good! It's packed with soul, passion, and richly varied but cohesive beats and flows - from jazzy to old school to next generation - with varying BPMs. But, most notably, the album was totally unlike anything else at the time.

In late 1992, the SoCal-based Delicious Vinyl record label released Bizarre Ride II within just a few weeks oThe Pharcyde Ya Mamaf fellow LA based hip-hop artist Dr. Dre's G-Funk classic, The Chronic. While the two landmark hip-hop releases may have been linked by timeline and geography, they could not have been further apart in sound and style. Even Bizarre Ride's wild, fun, cartoonish cover art set it apart as a record that did not take itself too seriously. The album effuses a feeling of nonstop fun all the way through, as proven by the numerous impromptu-sounding hilarious studio bits that were mixed in or left in the final recording, like at the end of "Ya Mama" where they are just riffing off of each other. Unique, too, is how many of the "skits" on Bizarre Ride sound like songs, such as the 2:10 long "Quinton's on the Way (Skit)" which is like a Louis Armstrong inspired jazz song that captures the guys having fun in the studio with their different sounding voices and tones perfectly in contrast with each other.

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Album Picks: Cult of Youth, Royksopp, Cool Ghouls, Dream Police, Dirty Beaches

Posted by Billy Gil, November 11, 2014 11:02am | Post a Comment

Cult Of Youth - Final Days (LP, CD, Download)

cult of youth final days lpCult of Youth’s self-described “post-industrial Pet Sounds” begins with the instrumental “Todestrieb,” its eerie synths and tribal drums setting a foreboding tone for the album. “Dragon Rouge’s” acoustic strums and Sean Ragon’s intoning vocals give the track the feel of a classic Church song or stripped-down Sisters of Mercy track, while additional touches like cello and orchestral percussion pump up the grandiosity. Elsewhere, the band plugs in and goes full-tilt, with B-52’s riffs and post-punk rhythms on “Empty Faction” and goth-jangle on “Gods Garden.” Ragon’s voice is used terrifically throughout, judiciously given echo to resonate or often without effect to let his throaty post-industrial growl run free without trampling over the gorgeousness of these tracks. He’s at his best screaming through the nocturnal desert scene set by “Down the Moon” or kicking up dust on the rollicking “No Regression.” Like Iceage’s recent Plowing Into the Field of Love, Cult of Youth’s Final Days successfully marries Americana to post-punk rooted in traditions of hardcore and industrial music. It’s an unholy union, and it’s awesome. Check out "Empty Faction" via Stereogum.

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Album Picks: Bob Dylan, Dean Blunt, Deerhoof, Arca

Posted by Billy Gil, November 4, 2014 09:48am | Post a Comment

Bob Dylan - Basement Tapes Vol. 11 (LP out 11/24, two-CD set, CD box set)

bob dylan basement tapes vol. 11In between the albums Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding, Bob Dylan holed up in Garth Hudson’s Woodstock home with his band (that would be The Band), where the group tore through multiple recordings a day for the summer of 1967. Those recordings would not only provide the seeds of hit songs for other artists, they would go on to spawn The Band’s Music From Big Pink. Though a collection of these recordings was released in 1975, the entirety of this legendary fertile period had never been released until now. Vol. 11 of The Bootleg Series gives Dylan fans what they’ve dreamed of having. Running in chronological order, we start with the sweet “Edge of the Ocean,” a simple, rough-and-tumble recording that of a never-before-released song that represents the seedlings of Dylan and The Band’s momentous summer. We get early versions of “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere” with cool, scattershot lyrics about feeding cats. There’s an early take of The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” that is stunning in its shambolic simplicity. You can almost feel the room around which “Quinn the Eskimo” was recorded as the band casually rolls through the future Manfred Mann song. Some of the recordings can be a bit rough, sure. But listening through these recordings and finding your favorites is the next best thing to having been there yourself during these epic recording sessions. And the prime cuts from Vol. 11 taken together still represent the great lost Dylan album. For fans of Dylan and The Band—really, for all fans of music history—Basement Tapes Vol. 11 is an essential listen. Hear "Odds and Ends" via Rollingstone.

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Pete Rock's Mixtape Tribute To Nas' "Illmatic" And Its Accompanying Documentary

Posted by Billyjam, October 29, 2014 10:48am | Post a Comment

Fans of Nas' widely acclaimed 1994 debut album Illmatic (recently featured here in an Essential Records Amoeblog) will be pleased to know that legendary hip-hop producer Pete Rock has just unleashed a remix of the hip-hop classic and a documentary. Amoeba friend Pete Rock (who was one of the contributing producers of the essential album along with DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, and L.E.S.) uploaded the 44 minute album/documentary remix tape simply titled Time Is Illmatic earlier this week as a download via SoundCloud.

The film Time Is Illmatic is being screened during Nas' ongoing tour in which he is performing Illmatic in its entirety live onstage. The tour stopped in the past couple of weeks at the Fox in Oakland and the Orpheum in LA. Both the tour and the documentary have been earning rave reviews. So too has Pete Rock's new celebratory mixtape since it was uploaded on Monday of this week.

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Album Picks: The Twilight Sad, Medicine, Useless Eaters, Bell Gardens

Posted by Billy Gil, October 28, 2014 10:56am | Post a Comment

The Twilight SadNobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (LP, CD, Download)

the twilight sad nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave lpThe Twilight Sad are masters of misery, plying heartbreak directly into their guitars on their stunning fourth album. “There’s a Girl in the Corner” is an epic breakup song, with James Graham’s repeating “she’s not coming back,” his Scottish brogue piercing through sheets of minor key noise. “Last January” is propulsive with a perfect layering of synths, displaying at how well The Twilight Sad have folded their recent new-wave leanings into their core noise-pop sound. The band also continue to show an uncanny ability to repurpose familiar influences like R.E.M., Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine and still come out with something fresh and enjoyable on tracks like “It Was Never the Same,” touching on these influences without being beholden to them, or letting Graham’s voice soar over a Suicide-style drum machine on the title track. The band has often been noted more for its atmospherics than hooks, but “Drown So I Can Watch” is one of their catchiest songs yet, with a relatively light, lilting melody that eases some of the downer mood. And they allow for more space on Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave than on previous albums, ending on a pair of spare, beautiful tracks. It’s the best thing they’ve done since their electrifying debut.

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