Amoeblog

10 Record Store Day Picks

Posted by Billy Gil, April 19, 2012 06:55pm | Post a Comment
Record Store Day is great for any number of reasons — supporting record stores and the music community, hearing DJ sets from the likes of Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. But in the end it’s all about the exclusive and new releases. Here are 10 picks from the many releases coming out April 21. (Read a more comprehensive list here, and download the full list here.)
 
animal collectiveAnimal Collective – Transverse Temporal Gyrus
 
Ripped from elsewhere on the Amoeblog: In March 2010, Animal Collective and visual artist Danny Perez put on an installation called "Transverse Temporal Gyrus" at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. For the audio, each member of the band made individual sounds and songs. Over the course of two 3-hour performances, the basic tracks were fed into a computer program that randomized the track order, and sometimes randomly combined stems from one track with stems from another. The program also panned the music in various directions around a 36 channel surround sound system that ran through 36 speakers set up from the top of the Guggenheim's ramp to the bottom. The music on this 12" is a collage made consisting of the original tracks, as well as live recordings made inside the Guggenheim before the doors were opened to the public. It will be the only physical format on which any of the music will be released.
 
Plus it’s new Animal Collective!
 
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II
 
Arcade Fire’s Blondie-ish “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” was undoubtedly the highlight of The Suburbs and showed the band still has some tricks up its sleeve. The Soulwax remix included here tastefully gives it the dancefloor feel it calls for without just throwing a house beat over the song and calling it a day.
 

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Amoeba's Youtube Playlist of the Best Music of 2011

Posted by Amoebite, December 26, 2011 06:41pm | Post a Comment
Youtube asked us to create a playlist of our favorite music of 2011. That's a pretty big task given how much music we all loved this year. We tried to keep it as close to 20 videos as we could (but we ended up with the random number of 22 faves). Check out our little intro video and then dive into our playlist...



Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus
Conatus
Sacred Bones

Conatus
 continued Zola Jesus' evolution to full-fledged goth pop star, with dance beats and hooks underpinning her freaky awesome voice.


Tinariwen
Tinariwen
Tassili
Anti- / Epitaph

Malian Touareg band Tinariwen are joined by Kyp and Tunde from TV on the Radio on this beautiful single.




Girls Father Son Holy Ghost
Girls

Father Son Holy Ghost
True Panther Sounds

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Best of 2011: PST

Posted by Billy Gil, December 14, 2011 06:30pm | Post a Comment
Oh hey! It's time for some top 50 album love.

1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
 
Longtime devotees of Anthony Gonzalez’s M83 got to see him make good on the promises of his previous albums, all of which are great in their own way, on this unabated masterpiece. Across two albums’ worth of material, Gonzalez’s childlike ethos spreads across synth pop dreamscapes taken to arena-level sonic and emotional territory in a way that never feels trite or untrue. If he overreaches, he does it in the best way possible.

2.  Toro y Moi – Underneath the Pine
 
Chaz Bundick’s second album is a light-year’s jump over 2010’s chillwave capsule Causers of This, an album that seems to take a young lifetime’s worth of backseat radio listening and picks just the choicest bits, whether its early hip-hop or psychedelic rock or cool jazz, filtering it through Bundick’s too-cool specs.
 
       3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
 
PJ Harvey’s perfect instincts have guided her through the starkest of emotional territory with only the most necessary accompaniment. She continues that trend here, on an album reflecting on war and England’s history in a way that feels loose and not heavy-handed, aided by strangely fitting samples and tasteful effects, but still allowing for the emotional sucker punches she’s so adept at (“I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat” in “The Words That Maketh Murder” is one for the ages).

4.  Dirty Beaches – Badlands
 
Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai is a master of minimalism. Over pitch-black surf riffs he plays and then samples, he breathes, whispers and cries tales of teenage longing inspired by ’50s rock ‘n’ roll (“Sweet 17,” “True Blue”), unearthing the dirt beneath the saccharine. At only eight tracks, two of them wordless, Badlands is the year’s most beguiling release.
 
       5. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
 
Hip-hop that feels worlds removed from the realm of hip-hop, this forward-thinking album manages to stay fun while its psychedelic tones intimate something more cerebral and transcendent.
 
      6. Real Estate – Days
 
While Real Estate seemed primed to take the throne as leaders of the reverb pack with their self-titled debut in 2009, this glorious jangle-pop opus puts them more in line to grab the torch from the departing R.E.M.
 
        7. Iceage – New Brigade
 
Real noise punk from Danish teens that rocks so hard it puts just about every other band alive to shame in comparison.

Album Picks: Veronica Falls, Björk, Zola Jesus

Posted by Billy Gil, October 12, 2011 12:29pm | Post a Comment
Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
 
While listening to Irish Grimestep or whatever genre happens to be unfathomably cool at the moment is great and all, sometimes you need meat and potatoes. In my case, that would be C86, shoegaze, college rock and that sort of thing, and Slumberland Records keeps serving up bands like sloppy joes that fulfill this particular hunger. Their latest band is Veronica Falls, which, despite their late-‘90s CW Network show sounding name, are actually a great garage pop band in the vein of Slumberland alumn Crystal Stilts, Girls Names and Black Tambourine. “Right Side of My Brain’s” bouncy pop gets C86 so right that it could have been on the original tape that spawned that genre. “The Fountain” is delectable guitar goth pop that displays one of the band’s best and at first easily overlooked tricks — pristine harmonies. “Beachy Head” injects a welcome bit of surf-rock meanness to an otherwise well-mannered album. It’s pretty much candy all over.
 
Björk – Biophilia
 
With all the hubbub surrounding Björk’s latest album (corresponding iPad apps to songs, a street date delay and rejiggering of sound), it may be easy to dismiss the album beneath it all. That would be a shame, because Biophilia is as brilliant as anything in Björk’s catalog, but that brilliance is quieter and takes repeated listens to understand compared with some of her previous efforts. Whereas she tried to recreate the violently happy turns of Debut and Post in 2007’s Volta, here she’s back to forging new sonic territory, using newly invented instruments (such as the gameleste, which combines Indonesian gamelan instruments with the key-based celeste instrument) and employing iPad-made music and programmed beats. Of course, none of that matters if it doesn’t end up sounding great, and you probably don’t need to know any of that to enjoy the songs on Biophilia, but it helps to understand the otherworldly nature of a song like “Crystalline,” which relies on the strange gameleste to build atmosphere before breaking into a hyper-intense hardcore breakbeat section. That that song and “Cosmogony,” a musical cousin to Björk classics like “Isobel” and “Bachelorette” that builds beautifully before disintegrating into a sea of descending vocals, are the most accessible songs tells you more. At its core, Biophilia is a wildly strange, even disturbing album, from the dissonant and gibberish-laden “Dark Matter” to the blood-curdling electronic sounds and ghostly vocals of “Hollow.” Then there’s “Mutual Core,” in which Björk tosses her fans a bone (although one on which the meat is tough and sinewy) with more typically “Björk” musical movements and more overtly clubby beats. But there’s something new to uncover with each listen, despite a somewhat hollow-sounding veneer, such as unusual time signatures, haunting lyrics and hidden, loping melodies. Biophilia really sounds nothing like anything else Björk has done, or anything anyone else has done, for that matter, and will probably upset some fans and detractors alike. For its gutsiness alone, it’s great; and for its more inspired moments, it’s something no music fan should miss hearing.
 
Zola Jesus – Conatus
 
For those who were expecting Zola Jesus aka Nika Roza Danilova turn around from last year’s winning Stridulum II with an album of glossy pop, think again. Sure, Conatus is her most accessible statement yet, but the album is still teaming with the experimental electronic music and ethereal vocals on which she built her name, only with slightly more of an emphasis on the electro balladry she exhibited so well on Stridulum’s “Night” and “Lightstick.” “Hikikomori” begins with throbbing synths and Danilovato’s yearning vocals intoning “blisters on my hands,” underpinned by subtle strings. On this track and several others on Conatus, you can hear the effort Danilova has put into carefully considering the album’s every movement, building songs gradually and deliberately, pulling at the heartstrings but always from afar, sometimes coming through clearly, sometimes unintelligible in a vocal styling reminiscent of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser. Her best songs manage to do it all at once, such as in the soaring “Seekir,” in which she aims for the gut (“Is there nothing left of the mess we made?” she asks in a moment that clears the sonic din to cut through) as well as the dance floor, although the result, with intertwining, ghostly backup vocals, is too complex to simply label a dance song. You sometimes long for more moments like that on Conatus (the epic choral build of “Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake” being another), but its balancing act of restraint and putting it all out there makes for intriguing listening that will keep fans happy and pull in plenty of new ones.
 

7" Fix: Crystal Stilts "Love is a Wave"

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 21, 2010 09:15pm | Post a Comment
Another January day in San Francisco, another forecast calling for gloomy weather with a ninety percent chance of cabin fever for all you would be picnickers, window shoppers and beach combers out there. Well, don't let the gray days get you down! Turn on the ol' hi-fi and turn up the heat with a hot nugget of a jam like "Sugar Baby," the b-side on the Crystal Stilts Love is a Wave seven-inch single, and try your gams at dancing the "stanky legg" like these limber ladies:


Don't you just love it when the girl in the white pants fans herself during her mesmerizing little solo? It's understandable because attending to such greatness just plain gives me the vapors too, honey. I suppose we need extend our thanks to Texas rap ensemble GS Boyz for introducing the world to the stanky legg via their hit single called (can you guess?) "Stanky Legg" (which also, for your information, includes other sensational dance moves known as the "booty dew" and the "dougie"--- dance moves that apparently also entertain their own corresponding singles, but I digress), which just goes to show that now, more than ever, hip hop is not back on the dance tip but still on it. As far as the Crystal Stilts' association with this dance craze goes, well, I guess they just got real lucky. And why not? It totally works.
Crystal Stilts Love is a Wave seven inch vinyl sugar baby slumberland records new wave garage psych beach rock

As for the video and A-side single "Love is a Wave," though nowhere near as hypno-dope as the ass-tacluar wonder featured above, it also deserves inclusion here, as it is pretty stellar in its own right. I love the A.D.D. editing style mixed with the kind of satisfying feeling that comes from viewing a bunch of scavenged gems apparently culled from heaps of "lost footage" and cutting-room fodder. It really suits the making-the-old-new-again vibe of the Stilts sound --- you know, that post-punk, neo-garage psych-pop revival sound that has within the span of a year become so popular a wave that it has virtually churned over to swell almost tsunami-sized in terms of underground (street) credibility. It's no secret that this scene has become especially celebrated in Northern California, what with such local heavy hitters as Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall and Girls (the latter two having performed sweaty, fantastic in-stores at Amoeba Music San Francisco last summer), each seeming to enjoy their respective rides atop the crest of the movement that shows no signs of diminishing anytime soon.

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