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Show Recap: Kan Wakan at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, June 25, 2014 07:18pm | Post a Comment

kan wakan amoeba hollywoodKan Wakan's sound on their recent Moving On album, a stew of stirring strings, classic rock organs, gleaming guitarwork and sensual vocals, seemed like it would be difficult to pull off in a live setting. But my first time seeing the band, June 18 at the store, showed just how skilled the band is at taking a heady and heavily orchestrated sound and making it work live. Beginning with cool polyrhythms and arpeggiating synths, singer Kristianne Bautista's vocals sounded husky and soulful one second, lilting the next, reminiscent of Bjork in their elasticity. Kan Wakan's sound is decidedly not small, playing as a seven-piece and creating grandiosity with surging crescendos, bells and tribal drums. Their songs sway and move, sultry and mysterious, oceanic amid surging guitars and crashing cymbals. The overall effect and intention seems to me to stir something up in you rather than smack you upside the head with something catchy, a nice antidote to the flood of overly excitable indie pop bands in L.A. Bautista's vocals were sometimes muffled by all the sci-fi synths and other craziness but would come through loudly every so often with a breathy forcefulness. For a band that trades in atmospherics and post-rock vibes, live, they're as gripping as a punk band.

See more photos from the show here.

Show Recap: Cate le Bon at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, May 2, 2014 06:00pm | Post a Comment

cate le bon amoeba hollywoodCate le Bon’s songs have a ragged glory, spare, yet intricate and propulsive like Television and Patti Smith Group before her, with a world-weary soul cutting through via le Bon’s swooping vocals. Backed by her sturdy, three-piece band, they launched into the clockwork shuffle of “No God,” from her most recent release, 2013’s excellent Mug Museum, at Amoeba Hollywood April 30.

Le Bon shifted gears from icy to sultry for single “Are You With Me Now,” which has the feel of a classic reggae ballad covered by a CBGBs band. The set picked up for album opener “I Can’t Help You,” its interlocking post-punk guitars and le Bon's sultry voice moving into a snarling chorus while le Bon's nimble-fingered guitarist doubled as keyboardist, playing jaunty synth organ to balance the songs jagged edges. They got playful for “Duke,” a song whose singsongy melody ends in a banshee wail from le Bon.

Her set moved from le Bon’s most immediate songs to some of her most challenging ones. “Sisters” started harmlessly enough with an upbeat jangle but ended in atonal guitar jabs and a ping-ponging bassline. “Wild,” Mug Museum’s heaviest rocker, saw some of le Bon’s wildest guitar playing as the song ended in a krautrock freakout. And for anyone not new to the le Bon fold, she pulled out Cyrk’s “Fold the Cloth,” its ornate arrangement balancing Mug Museum’s directness and ending things with eerie harmonies and spurts of carefully orchestrated guitar noise.

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Cate le Bon Chats With Us Before Her Performance at Amoeba Hollywood April 30

Posted by Billy Gil, April 28, 2014 06:24pm | Post a Comment

cate le bon amoebaWelsh singer-songwriter Cate le Bon produced one of our favorite, underappreciated (well, by those who didn’t hear it) albums of 2013 with Mug Museum. Blending the cool demeanor and husky voice of someone like Nico with jagged post-punk guitars and beats, Mug Museum sounds like a hard-to-place unearthed precious relic, like something whispered into your ear.

She’ll perform at Amoeba Hollywood April 30 at 7 p.m. Before the show, we caught up with le Bon, who recently moved to L.A.

What spurred your move from Wales to Los Angeles?

I have always been intrigued by Los Angeles ever since coming to the city to rehearse with Neon Neon way back when. When the opportunity presented itself to record an album out here, which has always been a dream of mine, it felt like it was time to bite the bullet. Money mouth etc. ...The weather is also a definite perk.

I read that you wrote most of the album in your home country, but I do feel a bit of SoCal sunshine poking through in Mug Museum. Do you think the new locale affected the sound of the album?

It has most definitely seeped into the album, but how, I am not able to say yet. I think that will become apparent to me when I listen back in many years.

cate le bon mug museum lp amoebaIt has to be a huge change. How do you feel playing and recording music here differs from doing so in the U.K.?

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From the Vault: Julia Holter

Posted by Billy Gil, August 29, 2013 05:18pm | Post a Comment

julia holter live at amoebaI interviewed performer Julia Holter a while back, last year when she played at Amoeba Hollywood upon the release of her album, Ekstasis. Now the CalArts-bred experimental pop artist is back with a new album, Loud City Song (available on CD or LP), and it’s one of the year’s best, combining cerebral electro-pop and neo-classical orchestration, with a piano-based, singer-songwriter heart. Read our conversation below about Joni Mitchell, TLC and the vastness of L.A. Make sure to check out Loud City Song and see photos from her performance here.

 

Me: Were you always able to sing growing up, and who were some of your singing idols?

Holter: I didn’t sing much until I was—well I sang in secret—and when I was like 15, I started listening to Joni Mitchell a lot, like her later stuff that’s really cool, not just the early, folk stuff, but the weirder stuff.

Me: Like her jazz records?

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Show Recap: Pretty Lights at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, July 19, 2013 11:45am | Post a Comment
Pretty Lights Amoeba Hollywood

The kids came out in full force to see Pretty Lights at Amoeba Hollywood July 18. A decidedly young crowd enthusiastic about the rising EDM star lined every row of the store. It was tough to even get around the kids dancing in every empty space available to them.

Pretty Lights aka Derek Vincent Smith started out by playing “Yellow Bird,” the prettiest and mellowest of songs from his latest album, A Color Map of the Sun. From there, the energy to his nearly hourlong show seemed to grow exponentially.

pretty lights a color map of the sunThough his music squelches and booms like Skrillex, the methods he employs to get there are anything but simple. He composed each part to the new record and had them recorded before sampling and manipulating those sounds. Live, he played with a laptop and series of samplers, not going too crazy on them like Flying Lotus but instead focusing on getting the audience pumped, dancing and encouraging fans to raise their hands, employing judicious breaks to call out to the audience and get them riled up.

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