Album Picks: Melody's Echo Chamber, Chris Cohen, The Soft Pack, Lavender Diamond, Plus Albums Out Tuesday

Posted by Billy Gil, September 25, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
Album Picks:
Melody's Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo Chamber
My favorite new band out right now is Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose enchanting self-titled debut is a study in ebullient dream-pop perfection. The story goes that Melody Prochet hooked up with Aussie psych-rock greats Tame Impala, calling on the band’s Kevin Parer to beef up her beauteous, French-pop-inspired arrangements with the kind of soaring sonics employed by that band. What comes out is indeed a perfect marriage. It’s one of those records where the cover perfectly captures the mood: mysterious, colorful and ethereal, you get lost in the folds of this record and don’t want to come out. Fans of Broadcast and Blonde Redhead, take note. The only downside is that aside from a few strong standouts, like the garage rocky opener “I Follow You” and lush (and Lush-esque) “Endless Shore,” the record blurs together. No matter — for fans of this kind of thing, you won’t know where the time has gone. As with like-minded peers A Sunny Day in Glasgow, the emphasis is more on album as experience, following dissociative dream logic in which melodies and arrangements are allowed to meander and linger and flow into one another in a singular happening. In a word, divine.
Chris CohenChris CohenOvergrown Path
Chris Cohen is one of the great underappreciated guitar players of our generation — listen back to Deerhoof records from when he was in the band for proof of his and John Dieterich’s insane riffery and interplay. Since leaving that band, he’s spent time with projects such as Cryptacize, but now on his first solo album and John Cale Paris 1919 moment, we get to see what a strong singer, songwriter and arranger he is, as well. “Monad” opens the album with the sort of skewed guitarwork that will make early Deerhoof fans squeal, but that quickly fades into a brisk, smart soft-pop track punctuated by splashy drums, not unlike one of Yo La Tengo’s more ornate songs. Cohen packs his intricate guitarwork into skilled compositions, such as the Latin-psych vibing “Caller No.99,” in a way that was never as apparent in his flashier Deerhoof contributions. Though his voice is unremarkable, its nice-guy pleasantness carries listeners swiftly through mellow but tricky compositions, avoiding the sort of fussiness that could have resulted with punchier performances. By the time you arrive at the sweet “bum bum bum bums” of the irresistible “Optimist High,” you’re floating on a cloud of contentment and ready to follow Cohen just about anywhere. Overgrown Path is really the perfect fall album, cozy and warm and subtly, almost magically, life-affirming.

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"Rap is like the lowest art form of art on the planet earth," Says MURS in latest WIMB

Posted by Billyjam, August 28, 2012 11:40am | Post a Comment

MURS What's In My Bag? (2012)

  Since the above What's In My Bag? (WIMB?) Amoeba video clip with MURS was uploaded to YouTube yesterday it's been drawing a lot of strong, mixed reactions mostly focusing on the bold statement on the art of rap made by the longtime Cail emcee. "Rap is not good enough to be associated with great music," said MURS when asked if he might sample an Ethiopian album he had picked up at the Hollywood Amoeba store. "Rap is like the lowest art form of art on the planet earth," he continued, semi-apologizing, "Sorry. I love it. But it's true." He then qualified this statement by saying that, "There's no other form of music in the history of music that totally denigrates women and promotes violence and killing of one another for senseless reasons." "We have to call it what it is and hopefully by calling it what it is we can improve it." he said adding, while he sincerely felt that way, that he was also a fan of rap and was about to pick up a Waka Flocka Flame album. YouTube comments related to this video, which rated 67 likes to 1 dislike at time of posting this Amoeblog, ranged from "haha this guy is awesome! best explanation of rap ever" and "this guy seems really cool. his views on his own genre are really interesting," to "Completely idiotic point of view" and "WTF?….if you think that murs why the fuck do you want a Wocka Flocka cd?"

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Bay Area Hip-Hop TV Show "Distortion 2 Static" Calls It Quits After Ten Years

Posted by Billyjam, November 25, 2011 08:08am | Post a Comment

For the past decade the Bay Area half-hour, hip-hop TV show Distortion 2 Static (D2S) has been diligently covering the wide world of hip-hop with an emphasis on both homegrown and national hip-hop, from each element of the genre and providing viewers with a steady stream of talent. Additionally, as its website states, it "offers an intimate perspective into a progressive Hip Hop culture by highlighting the current events within the community and profiling those who are committed to advancing its art forms. The D2S brand also extends itself into fashion, music, and nightlife entertainment." But this week, after one long decade, D2S will call it quits (ten years is "the perfect time to move on" they say) and rather than mourn will celebrate the departure of the show that began in 2001 with a big party on Friday night (Black Friday 11/25) at club Mighty, 199 Utah Street in San Francisco in a farewell party that they are dubbing All Black Everything: Celebrating 10 Years of D2S. that will include sets by DJ Neil Armstrong.

What I personally liked about D2S, which aired on the WB channel in SF, whenever I caught it, (and I watched it mainly in the first half of its decade run on TV and online in clips for the second half of its run) was its genuine love of hip-hop culture in all its elements from graffiti to b-boying and DJing and rapping: and how it lovingly covered so many areas from classic underground 1990's hip-hop videos to (then) new hyphy artists - and amazingly managed to squeeze it all into a half hour show with commercial breaks. The impressive list of artists who appeared on the show is so long that it might be easier to list those who did not grace the screen of D2S. Even more impressive to me was how, despite its budget restrictions, the hard working folks behind D2S did a super slick job on editing and graphics etc. etc.  I have talked to many other fans of the show over the years who similarly thought highly of its commitment to hip-hop's legacy with many comparing it to Yo! MTV Raps back in its early days. Clearly the show was a labor of love with its makers going out of their way to make a quality show for little or no profit.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 10.28.11: Evidence, People Under The Stairs, Murs, Exile, Freestyle Fellowship & more

Posted by Billyjam, October 28, 2011 07:40am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 10:28:11


1) Evidence Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers Ent.)

2) Murs Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation (DD172)

3) People Under The Stairs Highlighter (Piecelock 70)

4) Exile 4 Trk Mind (Soulspazam/Fat Beats)

5) Freestyle Fellowship The Promise (Decon)

Thanks to Ray Ricky Rivera at the Hollywood Amoeba store for this week's hip-hop top five chart which, you will notice upon closer examination, features exclusively acts from the SoCal store's surrounding area. As Rivera has told me in the past LA area customers have traditionally been highly supportive of their homegrown hip-hop talent. This week those talents include the LA producer/emcee Evidence who first came to fame as part of Dilated Peoples and who recently connected with the respected Mid West Rhymesayers Entertainment label who have released his highly recommended new  Cats & Dogs album.  LA's Murs, the Living Legends star who for a time lived in the Bay Area, is getting positive feedback all over for his latest release - a collab with Ski Beatz, Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation including down in New Orleans where, just before the album's October 11th release date, he did a unique promo for the new release on DD172 as seen in video clip below.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:14:11: Video Version with E Lit, Murs, J Cole, Eligh & AmpLive, Indecent the Slapmaster & 1 Vallejo, Lateef the Truthspeaker, 9th Wonder, The Knux, Danny Brown, & DJ Drama

Posted by Billyjam, October 14, 2011 11:20am | Post a Comment

E-Lit @ Amoeba Berkeley Wk ending Oct 14th, 2011

Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 10:14:11

1) Murs Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation (DD172)

2) J. Cole Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation)

3) 9th Wonder The Wonder Years (It's A Wonderful World Music Group)

4) Dessa Castor, The Twin (Doomtree)

5) Danny Brown XXX (Fools Gold)

Thanks to ever-knowledgeable E-Lit at the Amoeba Berkeley store for the latest Top 5 Hip-Hop chart and in-depth overview of the many new hip-hop releases: many underground ones that you may not otherwise hear about.  These include Top Five entrants from both one-of-a-kind Detroit emcee Danny Brown (XXX) and Doomtree female artist Dessa (Castor, The Twin CD which comes with a limited edition fiction book Sleeping With Nikki - if you pick it up at Amoeba Berkeley). Also on the new Top Five are the ever popular J Cole album (#1 in the US this past week), the brand new Ski Beatz produced Murs album (Love & Rockets Vol. 1), and 9th Wonder The Wonder Years.  Other artists with brand new or recently released hip-hop releases include Bored Stiff's White Mic, Madlib,  The Knux, RJD2, DJ Drama, Boom BipEvidence (Cats & Dogs), and maker of the new album This Is Our Science - Astronautalis who, as E Lit was mentioning in the above interview about his Bay Area concert earlier this week, is a truly gifted freestyle artist. Below are a slew of new videos from some of these hip-hop artists as well as some other ones including  the brand new videos from Indecent the Slapmaster along with the best of Vallejo rap talent and  Eligh & Amp Live that is taken from their forthcoming collaboration album Therapy at 3. Oh and don't forget that today (October 14th) at 6pm at the San Francisco Amoeba store that Mayer Hawthorne will be doing a live in-store DJ set and signing of his new second album How Do You Do (note on Universal this time out for the former Stones Throw act) . Details here.

Murs "Remember 2 Forget" (from Love & Rockets Vol. 1, 2011)

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