Amoeblog

The Best Albums of 2014 So Far

Posted by Billy Gil, June 27, 2014 04:54pm | Post a Comment

sun kil moon mark kozelekmadlibst. vincentIt is now almost exactly halfway through 2014! It’s time to look back on the last six months and see what’s it’s had to offer music-wise. There’s already been a bunch of great records released this year, including a couple of excellent ones released just this week. If you haven’t checked these out, they’re all worth getting—pick ’em all up and catch up on what you’ve been missing.

Sun Kil Moon Benji

sun kil moon benji lpSome people write memoirs. Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek write songs crammed with details, from a brutal story about a distant cousin’s death by a freak fire to mundane details about Panera bread and sports bar shit on the walls, that somehow come together to form something called a life. Just when you feel like the songs are too stuffed to keep up, Kozelek will let his breathy “sadcore” folk open up and focus on a seemingly trivial line like “blue crab cakes” in the song “Ben's My Friend,” and in doing so perfectly captures the weird things that stick out in our heads when we reflect. Simply put, listening is like attending a master class in songwriting.

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Album Picks: A Sunny Day in Glasgow, How to Dress Well, Kitten, Robyn & Royksopp, The Cleaners From Venus, Slint

Posted by Billy Gil, June 24, 2014 10:36am | Post a Comment

A Sunny Day in GlasgowSea When Absent (LP, CD)

a sunny day in glasgow lpOne of my favorite bands of the past few years makes their “breakthrough” record, moving the vocals to the forefront, dialing back some of the dairy farm’s worth of milky reverb and cutting some of the more atmospheric pieces in favor of straight dream pop, though newcomers to the band may still feel plenty disoriented. This is dream pop in the truest sense, moving in unexpected and imaginatibe directions, with only the minimally required regard to typical pop song structure. On songs like “Byebye, Big Ocean (The End)” and “In Love With the Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing),” ASDIG mastermind Ben Daniels builds towers of seafoam guitars and Annie Fredrickson and Jen Goma’s strung-together vocals, ebbing and flowing and wafting into the background before surrounding and overwhelming you once again. It’s a wonderful experience getting lost in the album’s twists and turns—you come away half-remembering melodies and bits of guitar like some amazing dream you can’t describe, though this time the songs themselves are more concrete, easing new listeners’ entry into the band’s strange soundworld. It’s their strongest album yet, and surely one of the year’s best.

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Amoeba Presents Shlohmo Live at the Fonda!

Posted by Billy Gil, March 12, 2013 03:49pm | Post a Comment

Shlohmo AMoebaThe latest Amoeba Presents show comes to us from electronic artist Shlohmo. In conjunction with Goldenvoice and FYF, the show, billed as a “Live A/V set,” will also include R&B artist Jeremih, with whom Shlohmo will be collaborating, as well as sets from underground songstress Nite Jewel and the Wedidit DJ Team.

The show takes place at the Henry Fonda Theatre Saturday, April 6. Tickets are available in-store at Amoeba Hollywood for $20 (plus a $2 service fee). The show is all-ages and starts at 8 p.m.

L.A. artist Shlohmo layers analog-warm samples of synth, funk, reverbed guitar and blissed-out vocal loops over one another on releases such as 2011’s Bad Vibes album and the recently released Vacation EP. His most recent release, the Laid Out EP, sees him collaborating with How to Dress Well’s Tom Krell on the ethereal track “Don’t Say No.”

See photos from Shlohmo’s Locavore DJ set at Amoeba Hollywood here.

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My Top 50 Albums of 2012

Posted by Billy Gil, December 17, 2012 07:24pm | Post a Comment

50. Purity RingShrines

purity ring shrinesPurity Ring make Cocteau Twins­-style dream pop by way of Salem’s hard-hitting witchhouse on an album more notable for its smooth blending of related genres than for its actual songwriting, but they’ve got a sweet sound nonetheless.

 

 

49. Cold ShowersLove & Regret

Cold Showers Cold Showers’ short and sweet debut heralds the arrival of a great new L.A. band, beaming shoegaze guitars over darkwave synths and goth-style vocals. (Read my review of Cold Showers' show here.)

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Album Picks: Grizzly Bear, James Iha, Allah-Las, How to Dress Well, Plus More Albums Out Today

Posted by Billy Gil, September 17, 2012 05:23pm | Post a Comment
Grizzly BearGrizzly Bear – Shields

One of the year’s finest rock albums comes with Grizzly Bear’s Shields, improbably even even more consistent album than 2009’s excellent Veckatimest. Beginning with the soft explosion of “Sleeping Ute,” in which Daniel Rossen sings of his “wanderings dreams” amid regal electric guitars, fluttering synths and acoustics, Chris Taylor’s grounding basslines and Chris Bear’s dynamic drumwork, Shields continues through a back-and-forth between the more immediate pop thrills of Veckatimest and more ambient feel of their older material. “Speak in Rounds” has the same sort of glorious harmonies we heard on “While You Wait for the Others” but with more rock propulsion than the band usually employs. Meanwhile, tracks like the wordless “Adelama” and slowly shuffling “The Hunt” highlight their placid side. But Shields is also a progression of their sound in addition to a refinement of it. “Yet Again” scales back the grabbiness of an older song like “Two Weeks” for a lushly expansive take on the rock single, perhaps showing some influence from Radiohead, with whom they toured a few years back in a dream bill. Similarly extended and confident, “A Simple Answer” is one of Daniel Rossen’s finest showcases to date, building on his typically mysterious melodies to a gratifying, grandiose chorus. An addictive listen, it’s easy to lose yourself in the layers of Shields and find something newly impressive each time.
 
james ihaJames Iha – Look to the Sky
 
Anyone who’s been a big Smashing Pumpkins fan knows the pleasures the Pumpkins’ “George Harrison” could bring with his subtle guitarwork and gorgeous songs like “Go,” “Blew Away” and “Take Me Down.” Fourteen years after his first solo album released while still in the Pumpkins, James Iha is back with a fuller sound that capitalizes both on his folky Neil Young-inspired leanings and his ability to create spectral space rock soundscapes. Both qualities are in full flair on the beautiful “To Who Knows Where,” which features a typically beautiful Iha chorus and an awesome space-folk breakdown in the middle. Classic Pumpkins fans can find plenty to sink their teeth into in songs like “Gemini,” which moves from eerie folk to swoony big-chord rock. Elsewhere, he breaks from his past more decisively, as on the ’60s by way of ’80s pop “Till Next Tuesday” and the addled blues of “Appetite,” moments that show Iha has more tricks up his sleep than at first appears. Some of his folkier tracks veer toward sappy, but Iha’s smart production, learned from the interim years of producing for acts like Cat Power and Isobel Campbell as well as various remixes, usually saves things with orchestral flourishes and surprises like the twinkling synths that pop up at the end of the Karen O duet “Waves.” It’s an assured work that speaks to the talents of Iha as a guitarist, producer and songwriter who knows how to paint wonders from a modest palette.

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