Hip Hop Rap Up: Action Bronson, Death Grips, J-Live, Your Old Droog, Greg Grease + more

Posted by Billyjam, April 9, 2015 10:20am | Post a Comment
                         Amoeba Music Berkeley Top Five Hip-Hop Chart April 09, 2015

1) Death Grips The Powers That B (Third Worlds) also avail in vinyl

2) Action Bronson Mr. Wonderful (Atlantic)

3) Greg Grease Born to Lurk x Forced to Work (Sound Verite)

4) Your Old Droog Your Old Droog (Your Old Droog)

5) J-Live His Own Self (Mortier)

The new Amoeba hip-hop chart number one album is The Powers That B by one of a kind NorCal group Death Grips.  The new double album (avail in both CD and vinyl formats) is the group's fourth studio album and is essentially a two-in-one LP release since it includes both the previously released June 2014 free digital download full-length Niggas on the Moon, plus the second half of the 2 album set been Jenny Death - aka Disc 2.  Now some protest that Death Grips do not qualify as "hip-hop."  E-Lit, who supplied the above current Berkeley hip-hop chart, does not. And neither do I. My feeling is that this totally unique Sacramento trio do not fall under any already established genre or sub-genre of any music and that hip-hop is as good a descriptive starting point as any other to label the band with or, as accurately labels the group's aggressive sound and crediting them with, "basically created their own genre of aggressive electro noise, Zach Hill’s wildman drumming and MC Ride’s berserk raps."

Album Picks: Sufjan Stevens, Lower Dens, Death Grips, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Soft Moon, Male Gaze

Posted by Billy Gil, March 31, 2015 11:30am | Post a Comment

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

sufjan stevens carrie lowell lp“Death With Dignity” opens Carrie & Lowell as a touching elegy to Sufjan Stevens’ mother, yet it also could describe his relationship to his own music. “I don’t know where to begin,” he sings, and “I’ve got nothing to prove” over a familiar bed of bluegrass-inspired folk. Stevens was like the A-plus student of indie pop, turning out album after album of perfectly manicured orchestral folk-pop, but I felt like he lost his way a bit with The BQE, an album and project that felt unwieldy, as well the hectic electro-folk of The Age of Adz. Carrie & Lowell, by comparison, is one of his most stripped-down albums to date. That’s not to say it doesn’t have his trademark fixation on detail— songs shift halfway through, like “Should Have Known Better’s” turn into stuttering, laptoppy acoustics and choral touches, or “Drawn to the Blood’s” extended string finale; “you checked your text while I masturbated,” he sings casually, telling a girl she looks like Poseidon in the sexually turbulent “All of Me Wants All of You.” Lyrically and musically, Stevens remains a curious tinkerer, but Carrie & Lowell never feels busy in the slightest. It’s an intensely focused work, one that places Stevens’ voice and songcraft over bells and whistles. Whereas locations and history seemed to hold Stevens’ interest in the past, here he’s death-obsessed (and still spiritual as ever). “Fourth of July” feels romantically morbid and carries the happy refrain “we’re all gonna die,” and on “The Only Thing,” he sounds stricken with grief to the point of barely being able to keep going on. Stevens’ way with language, drawing on mythology and Christian imagery, and ascendant voice keeps the songs from wallowing too deeply, even as they describe an immense sense of loss, allowing those moments when he does break—“No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross’” “Fuck me, I’m falling apart”—to land all the more effectively. Without the filter of a state’s history or the heavy religiosity of Seven Swans, Carrie & Lowell finds Stevens turning his studious eye inward to fully explore his own grief, and the results are never short of breathtaking.

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Weekly Roundup: Earl Sweatshirt, Death Grips, Girlpool, So Stressed

Posted by Billy Gil, March 20, 2015 09:22am | Post a Comment

Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief”

earl sweatshirtOdd Future cohort Earl Sweatshirt has announced a new album without much notice (as seems to be the going trend these days) called I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, and true to that sunny title, “Grief” is an anxiety-riddled trip through Earl’s psyche, over a digitally degraded, hollowed-out beat and cloudy synth. Thankfully, Earl hasn’t gone the slightest bit soft since releasing the excellent Doris in 2013, promising much for I Don’t Go Outside.


Death Grips – “On GP”

death gripsThe second track from Sacramento’s Death Grips’ supposed last album throws us for another loop, as MC Ride barks imperiously over Zach Hill’s unpredictable rolls a huge riff that sounds like a Neil Young record played through a turbine. Then the whole thing shifts for a dreamier second half, during which Ride’s words become more desperately pointed. It’s an utterly gripping seven-and-a-half minutes of music, one of the best things the band has done. Orders for The Powers That B (due March 31) are through the roof, so get on it!

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10 More Albums to Look for in Early 2015

Posted by Billy Gil, January 26, 2015 10:33am | Post a Comment

bjork 10 albums blog

A little while ago, we called out 10 albums to look for in this nascent new year (some of them are out now, and they’re great!). Here are 10 more that we’re excited about.

A Place to Bury StrangersTransfixation

a place to bury strangers transfixiation lpOut Feb. 17

Available on LP, Colored Vinyl and CD

A Place to Bury Strangers are known for their high-volume shoegaze played with custom-built guitar pedals, but new album Transfixation is said to be more experimental. The first single, “Straight,” sounds a little like Spacemen 3 jamming with Battles, with a frantic beat and strange noises rounded out by Oliver Ackermann’s cool delivery. We’re so down.

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10 Record Store Day Releases to Look For on Black Friday

Posted by Billy Gil, November 17, 2014 12:09pm | Post a Comment

record store day black friday amoeba

Black Friday launches the holiday shopping season the day after Thanksgiving with lots of great deals. Instead of yanking someone by the hair off of that $10 barbecue set at Wal-Marts or whatever, you can come to Amoeba for a variety of deals on turntables, Blu-rays, gift certificates and more. Additionally, there will be nearly 140 Record Store Day exclusive Black Friday releases to choose from—see the whole list (.pdf) here. That’s a lot of records, bro/broette! Here are 10 that stood out to me.

David BowieSue (Or in a Season of Crime) 12”

david bowie sue or in a season of crime“Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” is an unsettling new David Bowie track full of jazzy horns and creepy lyrics about a dissolving relationship that may end in murder. It’s backed on this 7” by another new Bowie song, “Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” a fluctuating electro-rocker that shares its name with a play from the 1600s by John Ford. Both songs will also appear on the Bowie retrospective Nothing Has Changed, which came out today, but here’s your chance to get them separately from that. Hear both tracks in all their maddening glory below:

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