Amoeblog

The 90s...the best albums of 1991...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 15, 2012 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Things had not changed much from 1990 to 1991. I was still obsessed with all things British. Still listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Still very much living in the '80s. I had only just been introduced to Morrissey the year before. I listened to Viva Hate and Bona Drag all the time. I was a fan of Morrissey first since The Smiths had broken up before I even knew who they were. So it was fun to go back and discover The Smiths' albums for the first time. I started with Louder Than Bombs which was a fantastic way to introduce myself to the band. I then went back and discovered their studio albums one by one. Queen Is Dead, Meat Is Murder, Strangeways Here We Come and then The Smiths. I was hooked on Morrissey and The Smiths and there was no going back. I became a vegetarian in 1991. I started reading magazines more obsessively and trying to find out as much as I could about my favorite bands.

Both Morrissey and Erasure had new albums in 1991. These albums would both be a big part of my life that year. I can't really think about 1991 without thinking about Kill Uncle and Chorus. Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991. This album would change everything. Not everything exactly, but it did change a lot! I still remember my dad having the conversation with me about grunge. He asked me if I was "grunge." I probably answered "sort of." It was like me coming out of the closet. I also listened to so much Erasure in high school that I should have never really had to come out to my mom! I was still very much obsessed with my British bands. I was still into the goth, shoegaze, grebo and indie bands of the UK. But I also became a huge fan of Nirvana. I really had no choice. I didn't really notice Nirvana until Nevermind came out. But I listened to this album probably more than anything in 1991. Although I was probably still a bigger fan of my UK favorites then all the bands coming out of Seattle. Brit pop was just around the corner and would completely take over my life in the years that followed. But it was nice to actually be into a band from the US for a bit. Nirvana are actually one of three bands on my top ten of 1991 from the US. But the other two I actually always thought were British! They may have come from the US but they fit more into the British sound of the era. Nirvana sort of don't really fit in. But this album was too big to ignore and not put on this list. I couldn't deny its place on this list. I was quite obsessed with it. A lot of us were.

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Local Stuff: Sweet Valley, Heaven, Wild Eyes, MellowHype, Plus Shows

Posted by Billy Gil, July 20, 2012 12:35pm | Post a Comment
Sweet ValleySweet Valley and Heaven
 
There’s a new Sweet Valley track out. Who’s that, you ask? It’s Nathan Williams of Wavves, along with his brother, Kynan. “Total Carnage,” from their upcoming debut record, Stay Calm, is warped, instrumental surf rock that makes its looping riff sound like an endless summer. You want to just put it on, lay at the beach and never have that moment end. Stay Calm is out Aug. 7 from Fool’s Gold.
 

 
And speaking of Wavves, Wavves drummer Jacob Safari debuted songs from his new project Heaven via Vice’s blog this week. “Hanging Out” is kind of industrial and cool, with a foreboding beat and spacey vocals, while “Can’t Grow Up With Poison” is more of a straight-up shoegazer with a driving beat and a more melodic bent. I’m really digging this, obviously. An EP is due soon!
 
 
Wild Eyes – Blue Haze
 
New band crush: Wild Eyes, a So. Cal. shoegaze band with heart-and-brain-melting tracks that recall the best of the genre — Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine. Found this one over at Buzzbands.la, where I learned they recorded their Blue Haze EP in a garage and rehearsal space. For such humble beginnings, the thing approaches Creation status. Gotta love those garage-gaze bands!
 

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Local Stuff: Videos From Poolside, Best Coast, Kitten

Posted by Billy Gil, June 15, 2012 11:30am | Post a Comment

Poolside – “Slowdown”
 
Poolside(Sally Struthers voice) Do you like watching scrawny L.A. hipsters swim and sing catchy tunes that sound like hip-hop without the rapping? Sure, we all do.
 
Poolside’s big summer single bowed yesterday on Pitchfork, along with its trashy summer vibes video. This thing was made to soundtrack the Ace and Standard hotels, all easy beats and lush synth hooks. Scoff if you must; this sort of thing is rarely done as well as it is here. Their nicely titled Pacific Standard Time album comes out July 9.




Best Coast – "The Only Place" video and KCRW performance
 
Best Coast
Best Coast
debuted a super cute video for “The Only Place,” from the album of the same name, this week where Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno run around L.A. and give viewers a tour of the “real” L.A.: tacky souvenir shops, backyard pools, bikes, our gross but awesome river. And lots of Bobb! It’s as sweetly low-key and breezy as the song.
 

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Album Picks: Beach House, Best Coast, My Bloody Valentine

Posted by Billy Gil, May 15, 2012 06:08pm | Post a Comment
Beach House BloomAnticipation has been high for the new albums from Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House and Cali-cool pop-rock duo Best Coast, and luckily neither disappoints. Beach House continues the upward trajectory set by their previous three album — the haunting, murky lo-fi of their self-titled debut, the more grandiose Devotion and its modern classic follow-up, Teen Dream —with an even fuller, more confident statement on Bloom. The album jumps from the springboard set by Teen Dream’s “Norway” into more definitively pop territory, albeit the sort of cerebral goth-pop pioneered by Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins. Like that song, “Lazuli” emits a sky-searing chorus of Victoria Legrand’s cloudy vocals that is simply glorious, the kind of thing directors dream about hearing in their film’s opening sequences, eliciting sudden and unspeakable emotion. The band combines this with verses that are more mysterious and harder to recall — it’s a perfect example of the band’s strength in fusing archness and pop structure, retaining their intrigue while delivering hooks. Every song on Bloom is a highlight, as the album moves from the cascading keys and chiming guitars of opener “Myth” to propulsive “The Hours” and “New Year,” perhaps their clearest stabs yet at radio-ready pop-rock, through closer “Irene,” which stretches its music-box arrangement to epic proportions, boosted by Alex Scally’s hauntingly spare yet melodically uplifting guitar lines. Every song on Bloom somehow sounds strange and new, yet somehow feels intimately familiar upon first listen. Listening is like unearthing someone else’s memories, each song like a glittering diamond that has just been waiting to be found.
 
Best Coast The Only PlaceMeanwhile, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino documents the process of entering adulthood and looking for lasting love the way few singer-songwriters can on The Only Place. Her sophomore full-length album is a more grown-up affair than the anxiety-pinned sunshine pop of Crazy For You, aided by springy, shimmering production from Jon Brion, but luckily Cosentino hasn’t changed too much. The longing Cosentino communicated in songs like Crazy For You’s “Boyfriend” is still present in songs like the swaying countrified ballad “No One Like You,” asking “if I sleep on the floor, will it make you love me more?” The simplicity of her lyrics belies their cleverness, as she pleads with her subject by offering to leave in order to make him stay. Throughout The Only Place, Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno reference ’50s and ’60s country starlets and girl groups, creating Phil Spector-style melodrama with crystalline guitars and lyrics yearning for individualism within codependence in songs like “How They Want Me To Be.” Throughout, Bruno and Brian keep things chugging along nicely in order to allow Cosentino’s personality to shine and not wallow too much in sentimentality, giving the haunting, Julee Cruise-style ballad “Dreaming My Life Away” some nice propulsive drum work, an improvement from an earlier, sparer recording, while “The Only Place” and “Let’s Go Home” burn with college-rock energy to spare. And Cosentino has never sounded better, her voice now brimming with confidence and pulling the heartstrings directly rather than from behind a shield of reverb and lo-fi sonics. It’s impossible not to be affected as she sings simple lines like “I wanna see you, for ever and ever” in the show-stopping “Up All Night.” She makes us feel the simplest sentiments as deeply as the first time we felt them, a hallmark of a truly great songwriter and performer. (The LP comes with a free bonus 7" while supplies last.)
 
My Bloody Valentine Loveless And I would be remiss not to mention the reissues of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Isn’t Anything and EPs 1988-1991, including songs released between those two albums, plus previously unreleased songs from that era. I’m not the biggest reissue person — often seems like a money grab with few good unheard songs and tweaks only an audiophile can hear, but this is My Bloody Valentine we’re talking about. The band’s two shoegaze classics sound better than ever, as only the most delicate nob twiddling has taken place at the hands of Kevin Shields. Anyone who doesn’t own these two albums, two of the best ever in my humble opinion, should get these import CDs right now. Even if you don’t buy CDs anymore. It’s time. Meanwhile the EP collection is a no-brainer for any fan of the band, as My Bloody Valentine’s throwaways tend to be better than most bands’ entire catalogs. Superfans may have the material Tremolo and You Made Me Realise EPs already, all excellent of course, but not songs like “Good For You” and “How Do You Do It,” terrific jangly pop songs gnarled by shuddering noise that sound nearly as good as anything on Isn’t Anything.

out this week 5/1 & 5/8...My Bloody Valentine...Isn't Anything...Loveless...EP reissues...Aphex Twin....

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 11, 2012 06:25pm | Post a Comment
my bloody valentineMy favorite time period for music will always be the late 80s and early 90s. This was the era in which my high school and college years took place. I know I am not alone in loving this period of music. And I know that most people are sentimental about their high school and college years. These are the years when you really start making up your own mind about what you like. When you start buying your own music and making up your own mind about what albums to listen to and what shows to go see. I was of course very influenced by my friends during this period. But I also made my own informed decisions about what music that I wanted to listen to. I wasn't going to get obsessed with just what was on the radio and MTV. That is what I did throughout most of the 80s. I was searching for stuff that was different. Stuff that made me feel different. Or stuff that somehow made me feel normal. I got really into both shoegaze and dance music in the 90s. And two of the bands that I got most obsessed with both have reissues out in the last couple of weeks. Both My Bloody Valentine and Aphex Twin became a big part of my 90s and have had a huge influence on my life then and now. They are two of those bands that I can't really imagine my life without.

aphex twinSelected Ambient Works Vol. II by Aphex Twin has finally gotten officially reissued on LP this week. Moby Ambient was probably the first album that got me obsessed with ambient music. It came out in 1993. Selected Ambient Works Vol. II came out in 1994. Two years after Selected Ambient Works 85-92. I got into both these albums eventually. But it was really Vol. II that got me obsessed with Aphex Twin. I am not really sure that I could have handled these albums in high school. But I was full on ready for them in my early 20s. I really couldn't even believe that music like this existed. I remember being so excited at the time to hear these albums for the first time. They really did change my life. They sort of became my thinking music. I spent aphex twincountless hours listening to them on my headphones or listening to them before I went to sleep. Every time I listen to these early Aphex Twin recordings they take me right back to that point in my life. I can't even really describe the feeling. But I cherish these albums. I seriously have some crazy obsession with them. They helped me through some tough emotional times. So I sort of feel grateful to them. Like I owe them something in return.  The label 1972 has just reissued Vol. II  as a gatefold triple LP. And I hope that Selected Ambient Works 85-92 will soon get an official reissue as well. It looks fantastic and sounds just as amazing as it did the first time I listened to it. I only ever had this album on CD. So it was exciting to hear it on vinyl for the first time. This album is tragic and heartbreaking and beautiful and dreamy all at the same time. I can't get enough of it. Aphex Twin went into some different directions throughout the rest of the 90s. Some of it I liked and some of it I did not like. But these albums will always be close to my heart and near the top of my list of my favorite albums of all time.

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