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Essential Records: Portishead's 'Dummy'

Posted by Amoebite, October 27, 2014 04:24pm | Post a Comment

Essential Records Portishead Dummy

During the summer of 1996, I became obsessed with Portishead. Dummy had been released two years earlier, so generally speaking, I was late to the game, but in the suburban town where I was about to start high school, I was definitely way ahead of the game. Because when it came to underground music, culture or film, there was no game.

I was just about to turn fifteen and leave all the friends I'd known for nearly a decade to attend the state's largest high school on my own. It was a deeply mopey time. At the same time, I was starting to realize that the music on Top 40 radio made me feel like something was missing, that musically-speaking, there must be more out there. So, I started tuning into the local alt-rock station after school, alone in my room, and that's where I first encountered Portishead's "Sour Times."


Portishead - Sour Times
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I hated this song. I thought it was irritating and abrasive. Singer Beth Gibbons would wail "Nobody loves me/it's true/not like you do" with her '60s jazz influenced vocals and I would get pissed off that I'd have to sit through it for the next three or four minutes. (For some reason I never went as far as actually turning the radio off.) Every time I heard it, I would get angry at it, angry that I had to sit through it, angry that the station's Music Director had poisoned the rotation with this grating, slightly terrifying few minutes of song. 

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The 90s...the best albums of 1992...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 26, 2012 06:00pm | Post a Comment
1992 was a big deal for many reasons. This was my last year of High School. The year I turned 18. My last year living at home. It was also my first year at college. My first year living away from home. And another year that I got even more obsessed with music. And it all happened 20 years ago! Hard to believe. By 1992 I had really worn out my copy of Disintegration by The Cure. So I was ready for the new Cure album. Wish was released in March of 1992. It would really become the album that I most associate with 1992. I can remember listening to it for the first time. It became the album that I would listen to most throughout the summer and well into 1993. I was still primarily listening to cassettes at this point. I don't think I got a CD player until 1993. I held out for a while for some reason. The Cure was one of the first bands whose catalog I upgraded to CD as soon as I got a CD player. 1992 was also the year that I discovered Lush, Curve & Pale Saints! The year I discovered Bjork & The Sugarcubes. The first time I heard PJ Harvey and Red House Painters. These bands would all become a huge part of my musical life throughout the 90s. I became a lifelong fan of both PJ Harvey and Red House Painters. And I seriously can't imagine my life without these guys. I was still listening to a lot of radio in 1992. KROQ was starting to become a bit annoying this year though. It seemed that every other song was Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers or U2. I didn't like any of those bands and had to constantly change the station whenever they came on. But KROQ still played a lot of Morrissey & The Cure. It is where I first heard Lush, The Sugarcubes, The Lemonheads, James, Cause & Effect, Catherine Wheel, Soup Dragons, St. Etienne, Curve & Utah Saints. So I did still manage to listen to it quite a bit. I also watched 120 Minutes every Sunday. Dave Kendall was the host until 1992 when Lewis Largent took over. 1992 was also the first year of Alternative Nation on MTV. I became a big fan of this show and its host Kennedy! She probably annoyed most people. But I loved her. And I loved being introduced to new bands by watching their videos. 120 Minutes was always cooler though. There was too much Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers on Alternative Nation just like on KROQ. Just to give you an idea of what was being played on KROQ in LA here is their top 20 songs of 1992...

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under the Bridge
2. Pearl Jam - Jeremy
3. The Cure - A Letter to Elise
4. Nirvana - Come As You Are
5. U2 - One
6. Toad the Wet Sprocket - All I Want
7. Shakespear's Sister - Stay
8. Pearl Jam - Even Flow
9. Morrissey - Tomorrow
10. R.E.M. - Drive
11. James - Born of Frustration
12. Sugarcubes - Hit
13. The Cure - Friday I'm in Love
14. Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike
15. L7 - Pretend that We're Dead
16. Peter Gabriel - Digging in the Dirt
17. The Charlatans - Weirdo
18. Cause & Effect - You Think You Know Her
19. Annie Lennox - Why
20. Alice in Chains - Would

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50 Favorite Albums of 2011

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 18, 2011 12:00am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. As you may know, I've worked in Hollywood for 8 years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2011 releases that I fell in love with or had hot and heavy affairs with this year.

50 Favorite Albums of 2011



  1. Wild Beasts Smother

In 2008, Brit quartet Wild Beasts released their shaky-legged -but- stunning debut, Limbo Panto. In the four years since, the band has released two thoroughly dazzling masterpiece full-lengths of deceptively delicate indie rock, lyrically bent towards looking in the dark recesses of the heart and libido, largely sung by co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe in his trademark falsetto. Smother finds the band adding a new restraint to their arrangements that allows the tension in the lyrics to hit with hair-on-end chills. It is a singular LP by a singular band that I expect will eventually reach a Radiohead-level stratosphere. 

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Best of 2011: PST

Posted by Billy Gil, December 14, 2011 06:30pm | Post a Comment
Oh hey! It's time for some top 50 album love.

1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
 
Longtime devotees of Anthony Gonzalez’s M83 got to see him make good on the promises of his previous albums, all of which are great in their own way, on this unabated masterpiece. Across two albums’ worth of material, Gonzalez’s childlike ethos spreads across synth pop dreamscapes taken to arena-level sonic and emotional territory in a way that never feels trite or untrue. If he overreaches, he does it in the best way possible.

2.  Toro y Moi – Underneath the Pine
 
Chaz Bundick’s second album is a light-year’s jump over 2010’s chillwave capsule Causers of This, an album that seems to take a young lifetime’s worth of backseat radio listening and picks just the choicest bits, whether its early hip-hop or psychedelic rock or cool jazz, filtering it through Bundick’s too-cool specs.
 
       3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
 
PJ Harvey’s perfect instincts have guided her through the starkest of emotional territory with only the most necessary accompaniment. She continues that trend here, on an album reflecting on war and England’s history in a way that feels loose and not heavy-handed, aided by strangely fitting samples and tasteful effects, but still allowing for the emotional sucker punches she’s so adept at (“I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat” in “The Words That Maketh Murder” is one for the ages).

4.  Dirty Beaches – Badlands
 
Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai is a master of minimalism. Over pitch-black surf riffs he plays and then samples, he breathes, whispers and cries tales of teenage longing inspired by ’50s rock ‘n’ roll (“Sweet 17,” “True Blue”), unearthing the dirt beneath the saccharine. At only eight tracks, two of them wordless, Badlands is the year’s most beguiling release.
 
       5. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
 
Hip-hop that feels worlds removed from the realm of hip-hop, this forward-thinking album manages to stay fun while its psychedelic tones intimate something more cerebral and transcendent.
 
      6. Real Estate – Days
 
While Real Estate seemed primed to take the throne as leaders of the reverb pack with their self-titled debut in 2009, this glorious jangle-pop opus puts them more in line to grab the torch from the departing R.E.M.
 
        7. Iceage – New Brigade
 
Real noise punk from Danish teens that rocks so hard it puts just about every other band alive to shame in comparison.

(On the advent of Halloween.)

Posted by Job O Brother, October 24, 2011 02:16pm | Post a Comment



halloween
Worst... lollipops... ever.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! It’s almost time for Halloween! And you know what that means? Stressing out about costumes, making the Sophie’s Choice over which parties to attend (basically an exercise in letting your friends know who you like most) and experiencing undue suspicion of apples. (Is an apple stuck with hidden pins healthier if it’s organic? And do child-killers have a preference between Braeburns or a Cox’s Orange Pippin?)

red apples

Halloween: the scary holiday. You know what’s scary? How my body can turn two, tiny Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into a week’s worth of adult acne.

If it sounds like I’m anti-Halloween, know that I’m not. It’s just that, unlike Walrus Day, this holiday bears with it certain responsibilities, just like all the other more pious celebrations. Granted, one usually isn’t pressured to hang out with family members on Halloween (I actually like my family, but a lot of people have to settle for loving theirs), and no-one’s expected to cook lavish feasts (unless you count opening a fun-size Snickers “cooking”), but you are expected to have a lot of fun. This presents someone like me with real challenges.

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