Amoeblog

December Album Picks: Charli XCX, D'Angelo, Nicki Minaj

Posted by Billy Gil, December 23, 2014 03:30pm | Post a Comment

December often doesn’t have the same number of big new releases as other months. But in this age of Beyonce-ing albums at the end of the year, there are still a few winners that slip into the end of the year.

 

D’Angelo Black Messiah (CD, LP out 2/10)

d'angelo black messiah cd lpThe long-awaited Black Messiah caps off 2014 as the year’s best soul album. But to call it soul or R&B would be reductive. Even more so than D’Angelo’s previous two albums, the excellent Brown Sugar and neo-soul masterpiece Voodoo, Black Messiah eschews any preconceived notions of what R&B, pop, music in general should be. Black Messiah draws upon a rich history of black music, notably blues, jazz and gospel and funk, and blows them out into billowing, smokey jams that seep under your skin, work their way into your veins. “Ain’t That Easy” rides hard on The Vanguard’s hip-hop beat and raunchy funk chords, while D’Angelo delivers an impassioned vocal and conciliatory lyrics like a sleek modern-day update of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” “1,000 Deaths” lays out Black Messiah’s other theme, starting with a powerful passage by an African American preacher that rails against the presentation of Jesus as a white savior. Over The Vanguard’s stuttering, skronking beat, D’Angelo’s multitracked vocal paints a harrowing picture but makes its most memorable couplet a rallying cry for the oppressed (“A coward dies a thousand times/But a soldier only dies just once), ending in an ecstatic, Prince-worthy cry and Hendrixy guitar explosions. Like Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah albums, or (aesthetically) like Kanye West’s Yeezus, Black Messiah is remarkably adventurous throughout. “The Charade” shuffles along a beat reminiscent of Radiohead’s “There, There,” dazzles with springs of sitar and builds to a thick climax. Similarly, “Back to the Future (Part I)” and “II” breaks up a future-funk suite about breaking up, keeping you engaged with its heady groove. Black Messiah’s more accessible moments make for some of the loveliest songwriting D’Angelo’s put to tape, with lush devotionals like “Till It’s Done (Tutu)” and “Really Love” and the jaunty alien jazz of “Sugah Daddy” making for perfect mixtape material. D’Angelo definitely kept us waiting a while for this one, but his remarkably consistent catalog to this point shows that the best things come to those who wait. Truly, Black Messiah is a densely layered soul masterpiece.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up: YG & Nicki Minaj's new movie shorts, Ghostface Killah, J.Cole, Phryme

Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2014 01:15pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week End 12:22:14


1) YG  Blame It On The Streets (Def Jam)

2) J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Roc Nation)

3) Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] (Cash Money)

4) Ghostface Killah 36 Seasons (Tommy Boy)

5) Prhyme Prhyme (Prhyme)

In the latest Amoeba Music hip-hop chart's number one slot with a bullet is YG's brand new Blame It On The Streets on Def Jam that was released one week ago to coincide with the online release on that same day of the film of the same name. The Blame It On The Streets soundtrack CD is an EP length, nine track release that's a nice follow up to his March 2014 hit debut album My Krazy Life. It even includes a few tracks off My Krazy Life including a remix of "Bicken Back Being Bool" and a live in the Bay version of "BPT."  Meantime the movie version of Blame It On The Streets (which you can see in full below) is directed by Lucky Rodgers and Alex Nazari. It is a ghetto gangsta tale that, while not totally original, is well made with good acting and production values. In fact it could have even run a bit longer than its well paced but tad too short thirty minutes. And likely there'll be a sequel in the works since the overall response by fans to the film has been overwhelmingly positive. Not to mention that it acts as a nice promotion tool for the new release. Similarly Nicki Minaj, whose brand new The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] c/o Cash Money is this week's number three chart entry, has just released a corresponding movie short. Also featured below Minaj's movie runs about a quarter hour and is a co-promote of both her album and Beats By Dre who bankrolled/produced the project that is technically actually a long form music video of four songs than a movie. As for the album it promotes - the The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition] explicit version CD that arrived into Amoeba this past week care of Cash Money Records - it boasts 19 tracks including the unavoidable current pop hit "Only" that features guest shots from Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown. The album features other big name guests too including Beyoncé (on "Feeling Myself"), Ariana Grande ("Get On Your Knees"), Meek Mill ("Buy A Heart"), and Skylar Gray ("Bed of Lies").

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In Praise of the “Troubled” Artist and Bloated, Overreaching Album

Posted by Billy Gil, August 9, 2012 05:21pm | Post a Comment
smashing pumpkinsToday I woke up with the song “Raindrops + Sunshowers” by The Smashing Pumpkins in my head for no particular reason. I was grateful — despite the dubious quality of that syrupy, electro-shoegaze song, the tunes that usually populate my head first thing in the morning aren’t usually the kinds of things you actually want to hear upon waking. Nu Shooz's “I Can’t Wait” is great and all, but waking up humming it, as I often do, is like being slowly slapped awake. But I digress. Why the hell I was humming a not-great song from my favorite band’s worst album, who knows. But I relistened to Machina later in the day, trying to avoid fast-forwarding to the good bits and listening to the regrettable parts, just as I had with the recently released (and recently troubled) Oceania, and realized part of the fun of a band like The Smashing Pumpkins is the digging. Make no mistake, digging is not necessary on Siamese Dream (or Adore or the recently reissued Pisces Iscariot, in my book), but even on their other great albums, Mellon Collie, Gish and Machina II, yeah, there are parts you want to skip past. I’d say that’s true of most bands. But what sets the band apart is not only how frustratingly uneven they can be, as I’ve had to admit over the years, but how much you still care about that band anyway.

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Album Picks: Death Grips, Light Asylum, Santigold, Lower Dens

Posted by Billy Gil, May 2, 2012 03:09pm | Post a Comment
death gripsLots of great new stuff came out on Tuesday, and I’ll get to that, but I need to talk about Death Grips a bit first. The Money Store is surely one of the best things anyone has recorded yet this year, a discordant fusion of early hip-hop energy and noise-rock chaos. Hella and Marnie Stern’s Zac Hill is on production duty, along with Andy Morin, and Hill brings the same mania to Death Grips as he does obliterating the drum kit. Stefan Burnett’s guttural spit cuts through but get processed and falls into the background when it needs to, pulling you in and pushing you back simultaneously. Study music, this is not. The entire album feels exactly like this moment:
 


Check out the dubsteppy “Lost Boys” and head-spinning electro-rap of “Get Got” for a taste.


 

Coming out Tuesday was the first full-length release from light asylumdarkwave purveyors Light Asylum, who floored us with 2010’s In Tension EP. Light Asylum delivers as frontwoman Shannon Funchess growls over black rainbow of electronic sound — like freestyle dance music put through the industrial meat grinder. Fuchness and collaborator Bruno Coviello are as capable of extreme aggression (the chilling “Pope Will Roll”) as they are of creating pop thrills with real bite (“IPC” and “Heart of Dust”) and genuinely affecting electro-ballads — “Sins of the Flesh” and “Shallow Tears” dig past their electronic veneers given Funchess’ operatic howl, a Grace Jones-meets-Trent Reznor monster of a voice that can break your heart just as it can make you cower. This is the real deal, an enthralling and sometimes harrowing listen, and a must-hear for any fan of bitterly great music.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 04.29.12: Amoeba SF Top Five, Death Grips, K-Rek, E-40, Odd Future, Nicki Minaj

Posted by Billyjam, April 30, 2012 04:42am | Post a Comment

Death Grips "Guillotine (It goes Yah)" (2012)


Amoeba Music San Francisco Top Five Week Ending April 29th, 2012

1) Death Grips The Money Store (Epic)

2) Nicki Minaj  Pink Friday...Roman Reloaded (Cash Money)

3) K-Rek No Roads Can Hold Me (Dyverse Productions)

4) E-40 Block Brochure Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 (Heavy on Grind)

5) Odd Future The OF Tape Vol. 2 (Odd Future)

Thanks to Suzanne at the San Francisco store for this latest Amoeba Hip-Hop Top Five chart that features (with a bullet) in the number one slot the anticipated brand new release from Death Grips. Released last Tuesday The Money Store , which is one of two 2012 releases from the Sacramento, CA trio, is a raw in your face release that at once presents Death Grips' unique spin on the horrorcore rap subgenre. Sure its on a major label but you would never know from its lo-fi raw punk rock meets hip-hop sound and accompanying cover art.  Think Brotha Lynch Hung meets Flipper with appeal for fans of (fellow chart entrants) Odd Future. As Amoeba.com recently wrote of this release "Death Grips sound like little else around, combining early hip-hop energy with futuristic industrial noise bursts and grimy beats, courtesy of Andy Morin and Zac Hill (the latter being the hyper-intense drummer from Hella and Marnie Stern). Stefan Burnett’s guttural spitting cuts through and then takes to the background when it needs to, getting cut up and spliced into the mix, remaining both viscerally appealing and intellectually stimulating. Songs like the dubsteppy “Lost Boys” and head-spinning electro-rap of “Get Got” feel like putting your ear to a wormhole into the future of several genres." But really talking/writing about music is not the same as simply listening to it. So I suggest - if you have not already heard Death Grips - that you check out the above low, low-budget video (looks like it was done in ten minutes including editing and uploading to YouTube!) for "Guillotine (It Goes yah)" to get a good idea of the band's unique sound. Also below is a band promo video along with videos from the other Amoeba Top Five Chart entrants this week including newcomer K-Rek from San Mateo, Odd Future in San Francisco, and a fan video of E-40 from Saturday night (4/28/12) of his concert in Santa Cruz.

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