Amoeblog

Albums Out March 19: Justin Timberlake, Palma Violets, Phosphorescent, and More

Posted by Billy Gil, March 19, 2013 12:00pm | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 ExperienceCD $13.98

LP $27.98

The latest in epic pop albums comes from Justin Timberlake, whose first album in seven years is an hour-long tour de force that aims to put Timberlake firmly back on top as one of the top entertainers of his generation. Following grandiose albums from some of his peers — Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, to name the most noteworthy — Timberlake goes big with The 20/20 Experience. Though nearly each song stretches past six, seven, even eight minutes in an apparent bid for every track to hit like Ocean’s huge “Pyramids,” 20/20 thankfully mostly avoids the excess of, say, Beyonce’s I Am… Sasha Fierce and doesn’t pander to his audience of now-grown-up, former teenyboppers, actual teens and “serious music fans.” Producer Timbaland, with whom Timberlake previously collaborated very successfully, shows up to produce 20/20 with Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon (Jay-Z, Chris Brown). Timberland and Harmon keep things relatively mature and redolent of classic soul and R&B, wisely avoiding the sort of europop faddism that has drowned recent efforts by Madonna and Rihanna. “Pusher Love Girl” is funky and spare, allowing Timberlake to unleash the high-end vocals he first debuted on “Cry Me a River” and showing the strongest bit of the Stevie Wonder influence that crops up all over the album. First single “Suit & Tie” moves from slo-mo, tripped-out hip-hop of the classic Timbaland variety before morphing into a swirling, orchestral soul jam and then back again for an unflashy but welcome spot from Jay-Z. The longer song lengths works for Timberlake when the songs have something to say — despite its confectionary name, “Strawberry Bubblegum” is a glorious pastiche of the sort of psychedelic soul pioneered by Shuggie Otis and ’80s radio R&B, shifting its beat several times and sounding inspired throughout. When they’re less inspired, the songs drag as Timberlake occasionally goes too low-key. But for the majority of 20/20, Timberlake and Timbaland keep things equal parts interesting and entertaining, like on “Let the Groove In,” which can only be described as a futuristic version of Debarge or the Miami Sound Machine. On “Mirrors,” an appealing, sweet radio ballad in the vein of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” or Rihanna’s “What’s My Name,” Timberlake delivers the goods that have thrilled kids since the late ’90s. It’s hard not to let your inner 12-year-old squeal.

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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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