Amoeblog

Albums Out March 12: My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Girls Names and More

Posted by Billy Gil, March 12, 2013 11:09am | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

My Bloody Valentine - mbv

MBVCD $22.98

LP $34.98

One of the greatest guitar bands ever finally delivers a new album after 22 years of false starts and promises. If you're looking for another Loveless, move on. mbv is its own beast. It's an acquired taste, just like the rest of their records, starting with a familiar, melodic first third; turning to a more ethereal and beat-driven middle third, featuring Belinda Butcher's ever-heavenly vocals; and finishing with a punishing, noise-rock final third that explores the extreme scope of Kevin Shields' mangled-guitar sound. Within this scope, mbv delivers as many moments that will challenge its cult following as well as delight them. Opener “She Found Now” is as classic My Bloody Valentine as the album gets, with a soft focus wash of guitar sound, a gentle pulse of drums relegated to the background and whispered vocals lapping overhead, achieving a similar feel to Loveless’ “Sometimes.” “Only Tomorrow” aims for the gut, with chainsaw guitars not unlike those found on Isn’t Anything, which in retrospect rivals Loveless for innovative sound. The songs aren’t exactly poppy, but they offer new, thrilling hooks — the way the guitars halt like a bullet train at full speed suddenly stopping in “Only Tomorrow” ranks high in the band’s moments of pop mastery. “Who Sees You” rounds out the album’s first third with scenic, shiver-inducing guitars that shame any followers in their wake — plenty of bands have dissected the My Bloody Valentine guitar sound, but few have been able to wield it in the unconventional, multidimensional ways Shields does, turning odd directions, doubling back and somehow coming together in a way that can’t be fully comprehended at first, but is eminently intoxicating. The record gets progressively more difficult from there, but fans will grow to love songs like the watery “If I Am” and especially the bouncing “New You,” a shoegaze pop song in the proud tradition of Loveless’ “Soon” with a heavy fuzz-bass thud that knocks you flat. “In Another Way” grinds its guitars into a blender of sounds that emerges with a sweet, instrumental portion that sends the song sailing. “Nothing Is” loops brutal, chugging guitars with a heavy jungle beats that doesn’t relent for three-and-a-half minutes, leading into closer “Wonder 2,” which sounds like the inside of tornado. With spiraling arrangements that draw you in on multiple listens, mbv is subtly rewarding and offers new revelations with each listen.

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Albums Out March 5: Youth Lagoon, Rhye, How to Destroy Angels and More

Posted by Billy Gil, March 5, 2013 10:16am | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse

Youth Lagoon Wondrous BughouseCD $12.98

LP $19.98

Youth Lagoon aka Trevor Powers at only 22 was the precocious new kid on the indie block with 2011’s The Year of Hibernation. Though a strong debut, the album could get a bit precious as one would expect when listening to a 22-year-old’s debut indie pop album. But if The Year of Hibernation was sugary, Bughouse is coated with codeine syrup. It’s a woozy collection of psychedelic pop, as eccentric as it is rousing. “Mute” sprawls with epic grandeur in its first minute before breaking down into spiraling sounds of broken-down toys and keyboards. Powers’ vocals climb to the top of his manic creation, which gradually becomes a psych rocker with a gorgeous guitar solo. “Attic Door” is prime Syd Barrett in Wonderland weirdo psychedelia, while “Pelican Man” takes a similar notion to Sgt. Pepper’s-style pop heights. As Wondrous Bughouse progresses, it seems to grow more assured, as mid-album cut “Dropla” makes for the album’s catchiest moment — an eyes-wide-open pop song in the vein of Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips’ finest, built on the naïve, repeated couplet “you’ll never die.” True to its Strawberry Alarm Clock title, “Raspberry Cane” is a beautiful slice of acidic sunshine pop that moves from esoteric to a crowd-pleasing refrain that marks Powers’ most classic pop moment to date. It’s a wondrous thing to hear, indeed.

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Albums Out Feb. 26: Atoms for Peace, Johnny Marr, Kavinsky and More

Posted by Billy Gil, February 26, 2013 08:55am | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Atoms for Peace AmokAtoms For Peace - Amok

CD $12.98

Deluxe CD $16.98

LP $19.98

Deluxe LP $32.98

Download $9.98-$14.98

Thom Yorke further blurs the line between organic and electronic, emotional and mechanical on his latest release, with Atoms for Peace. Keeping the more electronic-based notion of his 2006 solo album, The Eraser, Yorke balloons the tinny sound of that album with living, breathing collaborators — Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and session drummer Joey Waronker. “Before Your Very Eyes” wipes the floor with most songs on The Eraser with its fully realized sound and emphasis on Yorke’s robofunk riffs and supernatural, swooping vocals. “Default,” too, is like the gnarled single the last Radiohead album, The King of Limbs, was missing. “Ingenue” boasts some of the catchiest synth riffs on the album, and its backbeat, a sort of digitally created, organically reconstructed afrobeat/dubstep hybrid, demands careful attention. Though Amok is sequenced well, some of its tracks fail to make a lasting impression, but by album’s end, the acoustic guitar spiderwebs, handclaps and layers of heavenly Yorke vocals on “Judge, Jury And Executioner” save the day, along with the trippy jazz beat, mathematical guitar, buzzing synths and gurgling, cut-up vocals of “Reverse Running.” Musically there’s something new to glean from each listen, from allowing the densely sequenced beats to firmly etch themselves in your brain to appreciating Yorke’s croon as it echoes out and drowns in reverb. Those who closely follow Yorke’s forward-looking adventurousness will get more from Amok than those looking for songs with the emotional heft of, say, a “Karma Police” or “Kid A.” However, Amok is a more than striking debut, sending new spores to grow on you with each listen and establishing Atoms for Peace as a welcome project from Yorke and co.

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Albums Out Feb. 19: Iceage, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Beach Fossils and More

Posted by Billy Gil, February 18, 2013 11:01pm | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Iceage - You're Nothing

iceage you're nothingCD $12.98

LP $16.98

Turning on Iceage’s You’re Nothing at first feels like jumping headfirst into a cold pond. On openers “Ecstasy” and “Coalition,” the Danish band turns up the distortion to brutal levels and works itself into a frenzy of speedy hardcore riffs and singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt’s anguished Ian Curtis-esque wail. But Iceage’s post-punk fury is no monolithic sound, as its dynamic push and pull recalls My Bloody Valentine at their Isn’t Anything roughest, allowing songs to bend and turn at will but with a strong base and memorable hooks, like “In Haze’s” sudden textured guitars and pummeling chorus. The band’s foreboding marches and chugging guitars never get too mechanical, splintering off into chaotic noise whenever possible, as how the tense near-ballad “Morals” breaks from its severe structure into searing choruses. They’re the rare band you trust to always take you somewhere worthwhile even while blowing your hair back with pure noise. Crash into You’re Nothing like an iceberg.

 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

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Albums Out Feb. 12: Veronica Falls, Lisa Germano, Pissed Jeans and More

Posted by Billy Gil, February 12, 2013 12:23am | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Veronica Falls - Waiting For Something To Happen

Veronica FallsCD $12.98

LP $16.98

Veronica Falls make a huge songwriting leap on their second album for Slumberland Records. Where their first self-titled album was sweet and catchy, Waiting for Something to Happen explodes with teenage energy, overflowing with emotion and honesty. Frontwoman Roxanne Clifford is no belter, but she knows how to land a line, singing “driving late at night, I’ll let you listen to the music you like” in a way that digs into you with unforced adolescent earnestness on “Teenage.” Musically, Veronica Falls touch upon ’80s jangle and ’60s garage rock without falling prey to forefather worship — their easiest comparison for influence is early R.E.M., constructing straightforward guitar pop that wear honesty and naivete as badges of pride. Similarly to that band in its early incarnation, Veronica Falls sound like a gang of close-knit misfits, with Clifford’s cohorts surrounding her smooth voice with harmony and melodic counterpoint on a song like “If You Still Want Me,” wringing new energy out of a chord arrangements older than sin played as though it were entirely new. The band’s confidence and ability to guide a song smoothly carries them through simple arrangements until you’re completely sold — witness how the band makes “Everybody’s Changing” into their own “Everybody Hurts,” with a handful of chords, simple statements and the panache to carry it off. While it may have been tempting to enjoy Veronica Falls as merely one of the best bands to recreate a beloved old sound, they make the case for being as strong as several of their forebears on Waiting for Something to Happen’s strongest moments. When Clifford sings “You’re a broken toy, it’s true/But I am broken too” on “Broken Toy,” the teen angst in you will come flooding right back. Don’t resist the urge to give in.

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