Amoeblog

Album Picks: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Bill Fay, Lorelei, Plus Albums Out Today

Posted by Billy Gil, August 21, 2012 06:46pm | Post a Comment
ariel pinkI haven’t had any picks per se over the past couple of weeks. Truth be told there just wasn’t that much I was excited about. Then this week comes Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s new album, Mature Themes. I was concerned about this one — reports of the band breaking up, then not; an inter-band lawsuit; and a lovely yet somber cover (“Baby”) chosen as the first single. But not to worry; Mature Themes proves to be a tongue-in-cheek title, though its title track does tuck quarter-life crisis neatly into clever lines and jaunty ’70s AM Gold (“I wish I was taller than 5-foot-four/Thirty-five years old/My life spent computing it all”). Ariel Pink has a way of making even self-destruction sound amusing, bouncing lyrics like “Who sank my battleship? I sank my own battletrip” off gooey guitar riffs and organs on Mature Themes’ opener, “Kinski Assasin” (another sample lyric: “suicide dumplings dropping testicle bombs”). It’s as much fun as its predecessor, Ariel Pink’s lo-fi pop breakthrough, Before Today, but with more of a focus on songcraft. “Only in Dreams” has its fair share of neat production flourishes, but it wouldn’t need them to send its ’60s pop hooks into your brain. And with repeated listens, the breadth of bargain-bin pop and forgotten sources reconfigured through Ariel Pink’s art school lens becomes more apparent, and more bewildering. Is “Live it Up” meant to sound like the dream-pop soundtrack to an early NES game? Is “Symphony of the Nymph” both the name and theme song to a sexy straight-to-VHS ’80s comedy? Is “Schnitzel Boogie” actually a boogie, and does that mean I should learn more about boogie? With Ariel Pink, every song seems to occupy its own little sound wave, and surfing between their brilliant colors makes all others seem monochromatic in comparison.
 
bill fayAlso out today is the first album in 40 years from British singer-songwriter Bill Fay. I hadn’t heard Fay’s music previously, but after hearing the stunning Life is People, I’ll be sure to check out his earlier work. “There is a Valley” is a spiritual of sorts personifying the trees, sheep and flowers that surround humanity, detailing how they’ve born witness to the destruction caused by humanity. It doesn’t come off as preachy, but rather, when taken with the album’s title, allows its listeners to see the bigger picture of humanity as one element that impacts its environment more than any other. It helps that Fay’s voice evokes rare wisdom, like a subtler Leonard Cohen or calmer Patti Smith. While many of the songs on Life is People invite somber meditation, based around ominous orchestration, there’s also a fighting spirit that saves Life is People from too much cynicism — even as lines call to mind the struggles of the working poor on “This World,” a collaboration from admirer Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco, who covered Fay’s “Be Not So Fearful” in their documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart), the song benefits from a sunny, alt-country delivery. Similarly, “The Healing Day” is so lush that even its bittersweet tone feels comforting, as Fay sings a simple line like “it’ll be OK” and sends shivers down your spine. But you don’t have to take my word for it — listen to a full album stream below and pick up a copy of Life is People.
 

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New Albums Coming from Yeasayer and Bloc Party

Posted by Rachael McGovern, July 18, 2012 05:07pm | Post a Comment
YeasayerYeasayer's third album, Fragrant World, is being released August 21 on Secretly Canadian. On Fragrant World, the band continues to embrace electronic instruments and effects, with hardly any guitar presence. In many ways, it's a progression from the sound of their sophomore album Odd Blood, an album I much prefer over their debut, All Hour Cymbals (as fellow Amoeblogger Billy Gil mentioned in his recent post).

Chris Keating, Ira Wolf-Tuton and Anand Wilder recorded Fragrant World in Brooklyn, (side note: for some reason I have it in my mind that Yeasayer is an Australian band and have to constantly remind myself that they are, in fact, New Yorkers). Keating recently told Under the Radar that he was listening to a lot of R&B while working on the album and "wanted to make a record that was legitimately, to use a bad word, funky." That is music to my booty-shaking ears. He also went on to describe it as "Sci-fi Pam Grier music," which made my booty stop shaking and instead looked a tad quizzical. But my booty and I will hold out final judgment until we can listen to the entire album. So far I've only heard "Henrietta," which Amoeba.com offers as a free download (get it here), and "Longevity" (video below), but I love both of those tracks already. And I can kind of see what he meant with the Sci-fi Pam Grier comparison.

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New Albums Out Today, New Ones Coming in July/August

Posted by Billy Gil, July 3, 2012 06:36pm | Post a Comment
Today saw the releases of new albums by Belle & Sebastian member Stevie Jackson, comedian Doug Benson and a 7” from Animal Collective, among others. Check out what’s out today and what’s coming down the pipe:
 
Stevie Jackson
Stevie Jackson – (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson
 
(I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson makes a name for itself quite outside of Belle & Sebastian, coming off like the next in line of a lineage of singer-songwriters who exist on their own terms, from John Cale to Brian Eno to Elvis Costello. Far from just being twee, Jackson rocks out to a new wave beat on “Try Me,” singing “I got pills and I’m lookin’ for thrills/At the same time I want to start a family.” The distinctive, reverb-laden lead guitar he lends Belle & Sebastian is on songs like the lovely display on the Kinks-y “Richie.” And even at his most clearly indebted to Summer of Love-era rock, he creates a varied and thoroughly rewarding listen, notably on the swinging, Mamas & Papas-style “Where Do All the Good Girls Go?”

doug benson
Doug Benson – Smug Life
 
Huge pot fan and hilarious comedian Doug Benson releases two different versions of the same jokes on Smug Life, both performed on April 20 (4/20!) at the same club. It plays like a case study in how varied performances of the same material can yield such different results — in one case, you hear a comment yelled from the audience that gets incorporated into the joke in the later performance.

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New Irish Rock Band The Cast of Cheers Deserve Hype They've Been Receiving

Posted by Billyjam, June 19, 2012 03:25pm | Post a Comment

The Cast of Cheers "Family" (2012)

To my ears it's impossible not to get drawn in by the catchiness of new Irish rock band The Cast of Cheers' single "Family" (above) which is the title track off the much heralded band's forthcoming debut album c/o School Boy Error/ Cooperative Music - just released in continental Europe, and to be released in UK/Ireland next month, followed by Stateside a few weeks later in mid August. The track, which is also available as a 7" import on Rough Trade, conjures up the irresistible shiny pop/rock vibe of Andy Partidge's hook-driven XTC whose sound, among other bands including British indie rock bands Bloc Party and Foals, they're rightfully been compared to. In fact Foals' producer Luke Smith produced the new album Family for the quartet who take their name from the American TV show Cheers (popular in reruns on European cable television.) 

The band quickly a following based on live shows and their popular self-released underground first full-length 2010 release Chariot which led to the guitar band getting nominated for a prestigious Choice Music Awards. They didn't nail the award but the exposure helped spread their name, winning them a lot of positive justified press, as well as build anticipation for their new ten track album Family which includes the recent second single "Animals" (below) . For more on the band check out The Cast of Cheers website and also their Facebook page.

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The 12 Days of Coachella: 12 DJs DJing

Posted by Amoebite, April 5, 2010 03:19pm | Post a Comment
"One man's attempt to dissect the method to 3 days of madness in the desert."
  - By Scott Butterworth


On the 3rd weekend of April my Coachella will give to me.....

....12 DJs DJing:

Deadmau5
Benni Benassi
DJ Lance Rock
Tiesto
David Guetta
Kaskade
Z-Trip
Bassnectar
Pretty Lights
Infected Mushroom
Craze vs. Klevar
The Glitch Mob

The word "DJ" can be a very ambiguous term. It can mean a turntablist, music producer, remixer, someone who curates music for an audience, an artist using electronic based instruments; also, some straddle the line of electronic artist and full on rock band, and any number of additional definitions. But for the purpose of this blog, the term "DJ" is going to mean the group of artists holding residency in Coachella's Sahara Tent, aka "The Dance Tent," and by any means necessary, they are are going to get your off your ass and make you dance.


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