Kim Free started her set at Amoeba Hollywood Oct. 24 with a quick violin piece before leaving it to loop while she picked up the bass to play “I Don’t Know Why,” from her album Angel Shadow. Free builds the song beginning with its simple, Cure-style bassline, allowing that to loop while she sings hauntingly over it and adds harmonic bass notes here and there. Her “Breaking Spells” recalled the close intimacy of early Liz Phair, sans the snark and loaded with romanticism. Upon that song, she left her bass standing to unload exquisite violin, teaching a master class in the power of looping as she built towers of melody standing alone. She smiled as she quickly faded the song into a wintry violin piece, at once aching and dreamy, building a shuddering backdrop upon which she could solo with emotional precision, before fading it to a deep pool of bass and whispery vocal. The song shifted back to violin for its stunning conclusion. She then played “Ease Into Piece,” a lighter oceanic piece that allowed her to mellow out without having to shift to violin until the song's baroque climax. She closed the set with a quick, heartfelt song, the composition of which showcased one of the most endearing features of Free’s music — its combination of immediate simplicity with Free’s classical training as a violinist. See more photos of the show here; read my interview with Free here.
Halloween is a week away and that means it's nearly time for our second annual Pet Costume Contest!! Bring your spooky pooch in costume to Amoeba Hollywood on Wednesday, October 31 at 4pm and you might win the grand prize gift basket from Catts & Doggs or other cool treats. Plus, we'll have creepy DJ sets 2-4pm with DJ FANG FACE and DJ LEW SIFFER, candy for the kids and lots more fun.
Amoeba Hollywood will also close at 7pm, so be sure to get your shopping in early.
Need some inspiration? Check out a few of the contestants from last year's inaugural competition:
Kim Free produces spacious, dark pop marked by Free’s otherworldly voice, minimalist bass and keyboards, and her striking violin playing, for which she’s been employed on Zola Jesus’ recent tour. As a solo artist, she had a number of limited-run, lo-fi darkwave releases as Black Church before stepping out on her own this year with Angel Shadow, a more starkly naked collection of songs on which Free played every instrument, as she does live. Kim Free plays Amoeba Hollywood Wed. Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. I caught up with Free before the performance.
PST: The construction of your songs is really interesting. It feels very solitary, despite the presence of other instruments in the background. Did you want the songs and the record to have a sort of intimacy? Or is that just the way you play live, and you wanted to capture that on record?
Free: I didn’t really set out with any intentions for this record. I wrote all the songs in my bedroom, based on the instruments I happened to have at the time. When I wrote the record, I was living with a lot of people, and I would always retreat to my room to kill time between work and whatever else, and Angel Shadow is what came out.
Diamond Rings aka John O'Regan started his set at Amoeba Hollywood Oct. 18 with "Runaway Love," the heaviest song on his new album, Free Dimensional. The song sounded especially full and rocking live, backed by a band of Beastie Boy lookalikes. He dropped the butch guitar for some adorably goofy dance moves and rapping and on "Hand Over My Heart," giving him the chance to indulge his inner Chaka Khan. O'Regan's voice got deep for defiant single "I'm Just Me," which splits the difference between Diamond Rings' rock and Eurodisco leanings, though it definitely was heavier live. "A to Z" was one of the best-sounding songs of the set, with O'Regan's guitar cutting through like an Edge solo, while his vocals came through loosely and clearly. He played his previous hit "All Yr Songs," from his previous album, Special Affections, introducing it as one of the first songs he ever wrote. This kid in the front headbanged to the entire song, it was very cute. O'Regan closed the set with the hip-hoppy "Day & Night," which was a lot more fun live than on record, as some of O'Regan's eccentricities — his rapping, for one — translate better live. The set had the effect of punching up the songs from Free Dimensional and making O'Regan seem like the kind of artist who will take chances and do what he wants, while his attention to detail, from his band's glammy hip-hop look to his songs' nuanced electronic effects, ensure he'll entertain any audience while following his muse. See more photos of the show here!
Chelsea Wolfe released my favorite album of late with Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs. True to its name, it’s a spare set of darkly beautiful tunes with little more than Wolfe’s voice, acoustic guitar and strings, offering a sound that’s at once hollow and spilling over with emotion. Wolfe spoke with me a bit about her latest album before her performance at Amoeba Hollywood Sunday Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.
PST: Why give the album a subtitle like “A Collection of Acoustic Songs”? Did you want to be honest about what to expect from the album, and did you worry that that would set up assumption about what the album would sound like?
Wolfe: I added that because the songs span a period of years; some were written five years ago, and some I wrote very recently for the album. I had planned on releasing a collection of recordings from the past, orphaned songs that I never released on an album, but I found myself writing new acoustic songs, so I decided to do new recordings of the older songs as well and approached them in a new way. I chose the songs I felt would live well together in this home of an album.
PST: I should say I think it’s your best album yet! Was part of the reason in stripping down the music to allow the quality of the songwriting and performances to come through clearly?
Wolfe: Thank you. I don't think about things like that, to be honest. I wanted to get back to my roots a little bit maybe. I love rock ’n’ roll, but I also have this folk side to me, to my music, and it was really a good time getting back into it. I look forward to touring with these songs, it will be a very different energy than how I've been playing the past couple of years.