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The 90s...the best albums of 1994...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 8, 2013 05:44pm | Post a Comment
The year is 1994. Here we are in the middle of the 90s. This list of my favorite 10 albums of 1994 was not hard to come up with. But I honestly can't think of too many other albums that I loved this year other than these 10. I listened to a lot less music back in 1994. What I mean to say is that I listened to a lot less different bands. I listened to music a lot and it was a big part of my life. But in these mid 90s years I mostly listened to the same artists and albums over and over again. I was very into Britpop throughout the mid 90s. But there are really only two albums on this 1994 list that were really classified as Britpop. But there are some big albums missing from my list this year. Definitely Maybe by Oasis was of course also released in 1994. But I am saving them for my 1995 list. Blur released Parklife and Suede released Dog Man Star in 1994. And these albums was also a big part of my life and two of my favorites of the year. But I have already picked my favorite Blur and Suede albums for 1993. Split by Lush was another one of my favorites of 1994. But I already have them in my 1992 list. Maybe I should take another look at my self made rule of only putting one album by each band in my entire 90s list. But I still think it is a good idea. I don't need to keep talking about each band over and over again. And I always have my favorite one album for each band. There is just also usually a second album by each band that I love almost as much. Both 1993 and 1994 were two of my favorite years of the 90s. They were very similar and included many of the albums that I can't imagine my life without. Six of the albums on my list for 1994 were from bands from England. So no surprise there.
So here it is. My top ten albums of 1994...

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50 Essential Albums Released in 2012

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 5, 2012 11:00am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for eight years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2012 releases that I fell in love with or had serious affairs over the past 365 days. 2012, for me, was a surprising and amazing year in music. Nearly all 50 releases here could have been a Top-Ten contender almost any other year, and the Top Ten is full of records that could easily have been #1.



50 Essential Albums of 2012


1.  SCOTT WALKER Bish Bosch (4AD) 

The 6-year-long wait was well worth it, as is usually the case with Walker. This isn't the latest indie background music du jour - It's an Absurdist's symphony. Melody is eschewed for repetition, but you still walk away with the damned thing in your head. E-bows, machetes as percussion and disturbing (as well as amusing) scatological metaphors are some of the unlikely ingredients that make up this terrifying (and weirdly infectious) beauty. There's really nothing else like it, so enjoy figuring it out for the rest of your life.  






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Flying Lotus Rocks Amoeba With Killer Set

Posted by Billy Gil, October 4, 2012 12:05pm | Post a Comment

Flying Lotus AmoebaThe subtleties of what goes into creating a Flying Lotus song could be seen when he took the stage at Amoeba Hollywood Oct. 1, the day before his new album, Until the Quiet Comes, was officially released. Fly Lo worked busily over a minimal setup of a couple of laptops and samplers/sequencers. He played bits from the new album, like the bass-heavy “Sultan’s Request,” but kept things moving quickly — much like his albums do — never lingering long on a particular sound or song before flowing it into the next. A large and very appreciative crowd head-bobbed furiously to the music (the beatheads’ equivalent to head banging) as Fly Lo worked the heavier side of his sound spectrum, unlike the mostly chilled-out quality of his latest album. He paused a minute from the beat assault and spinning bits of songs like Schoolboy Q/A$ap Rocky’s “Hands on the Wheel,” Jay-Z/Kanye West’s “Ni**as in Paris,” Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You,” Portishead’s “Machine Gun” and Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” to welcome the audience and later ask for Transformers 3 on Blu-ray — which he got, and held up with glee, before passing it off quickly to continue hyperactively turning knobs and setting off sequences. Watching Flying Lotus at somewhere like the Hollywood Bowl, it can be easy to dismiss the work he puts into everything. In closer quarters Flying Lotus appears as a virtuoso, animatedly hunching and bouncing over his machines and stroking them like a piano with ease. They don’t call him a beat maestro for nothing. Flying Lotus was joined by fellow artists from his Brainfeeder label Teebs and Jeremiah Jae, the latter of who released one of my favorite hip-hop albums this year, Raw Money Raps. See more photos from the performance and Flying Lotus’ signing session here!

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Album Picks: Fiona Apple, King Tuff, Grass Widow, Liars

Posted by Billy Gil, June 19, 2012 07:27pm | Post a Comment
fiona apple the idler wheelToday Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel … was released. The first time I spun the album my jaw dropped. I grew up listening to Fiona Apple. She was one of my favorite artists in high school, and I’d followed her since the Tidal days, through her more “mature” albums When the Pawn … and Extraordinary Machine. I’d always still liked her, but my fervor had subsided a bit since those awkward teen years when her brand of super-confessional experimental pop really hit home. Well, this is something wholly different. As great as her previous three albums were, The Idler Wheel is the gutsiest thing she’s put out yet. Even more so than on Extraordinary Machine, Apple sounds uninterested in storming the radio with The Idler Wheel. She’s after something bigger here. Lyrically, she exposes her greatest wounds and digs at them with extraordinary candor and self-directed venom. “I root for you, I love you, you you you you” she sings on one of her lovelier tunes, “Valentine,” but even then, that devotion has a desperate tone that makes it hard to take at face value. Similarly, on “Jonathan,” lines like “I like watching you live” are accompanied by a fairly dissonant arrangement, deranged drumwork by collaborator Charlie Drayton and musique concrète that makes the whole thing sound like a ship coming apart. Vocally, Apple has never sounded stronger, scarier and more assured, frequently unleashing shiver-inducing cries, growling and singing with unchained vibrato within the same breaths, on songs like the searing “Left Alone.” And just when things get too grim, she closes the album with a jazzy, sexy ode to a guy who cuts through her like a “hot knife.” From start to finish, across its jagged edges and soaring heights, Idler Wheel is an exhilarating, simply astonishing listen.
 
king tuffI’m a big fan of garage rock but not necessarily of its sometimes limiting factors — guitars and vocals have to have just enough care balanced with slop, that sort of thing. So it’s nice to hear a couple of great up-and-coming albums from bands who subscribe to garage rock aesthetics but not “surf rock fun times” generic modes. King Tuff’s self-titled album is a real riot, from its opening track “Anthem,” which delivers perfectly delivered riffery the likes of which is pretty rare these days. Along with like-minded peers Ty Segall and the late Jay Reatard, King Tuff write songs first and foremost, and the ground covered here becomes more apparent upon repeat listens, which isn’t hard to do with an album that’s this much fun to listen to. “Alone & Stoned” has terrific ascendant vocal lines and a cool ’80s vibe under its garage veneer. “Unusual World” is a touching garage ballad that doesn’t shy away from varying its instrumentation, with synths and vibes adding nice touches to Tuff’s Marc Bolan-esque delivery. What I’m most taken with on King Tuff is that it delivers catchy garage pop tunes while refusing to adhere to one tempo and one sound like so many albums of a similar ilk. My personal favorite: the Vaselines-ish “Stupid Superstar.”
 
Grass Widow Internal LogicAlong those same lines, I really can’t get enough of Grass Widow’s Internal Logic. Starting off with its lo-fi sci-fi opener “Goldilocks Zone,” Internal Logic is a perfect example of a band perfectly executing a much-missed particular sound while adding its own peculiar flair of cool nerdy girl chic. Not to be limiting, but the album in some ways plays like a master class in post-punk girl bands: the multiple harmonic voices of Stereolab; the out-of-step tempos of Kleenex and ESG and their progeny, like Erase Errata and Electrelane; and off-kilter charm of bands like The Breeders. Fun and clever without biting off more than it can chew, Internal Logic pretty much leaves me with a smile on my face from start to finish.
 
liars wixiwLast but not least, I hope the new Liars album doesn’t get lost in the shuffle ‘cause WIXIW is every bit as good as their previous few releases, in my mind. Thought it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Drum’s Not Dead, I’m digging this new, quieter yet just as paranoid edition of Liars. WIXIW is pop in the way the Silver Apples or Portishead’s Third are pop, equal parts sinister and beautiful, with a throbbing heart underneath its digital beats. “Octagon” is disturbing, atonal at parts, yet its whole is instantly memorable, sticking mean hooks into you that feel better than they should. “No. 1 Against the Rush” sends goth down the autobahn, playing out like a krautrock variation on The Cure’s “A Forest.” WIXIW has been compared to Radiohead’s Kid A, and, listening to the title track — which disintegrates eerily under waves of oscillators and comes pulsing back for a haunting chanted chorus — it’s not hard to see why.

Show Report: Portishead at the Shrine, Cut Copy/Washed Out at the Palladium

Posted by Billy Gil, October 20, 2011 05:55pm | Post a Comment
Portishead’s two-show run at the Shrine Auditorium began Oct. 18 with a night of new and old songs filtered through the band’s singular and sour lens. The set was heavy with songs from the harsh, emotional Third, my personal favorite Portishead album, as they began with “Silence,” singer Beth Gibbons gripping the microphone as if for dear life (and rarely leaving this pose) and singing as if it were her dying breath. Their more well-known songs (“The Rip,” “Sour Times”) sounded perfectly rehearsed and terrific, but even more revelatory live were songs that are subtler pleasures on record —“Magic Doors” and “Threads” aren’t my favorites on Third, but live they erupted with power, particularly “Threads,” in which Gibbons let ’er rip in the show’s most moving moment. Weirdly, a song a lot of Portishead fans don’t like — the spare, militaristic “Machine Gun” — got a huge response, accompanied by some extremely creepy visuals that looked like someone crawling through an attic, somewhere between The Shining and “Ghost Hunters.” I couldn’t help but notice how wonderful it really is to have a band like Portishead be so popular as to sell out the Shrine two nights in a row, culling together young and aging hipsters and normies alike to listen to music that, at its core, is very strange and disconcerting.
 
Cut Copy
Someone was clearly "feelin' the love" at Cut Copy.

Last week I saw Cut Copy with Washed Out opening, and I have to say for a show that wasn’t really on my radar, it really blew me away. The bands played Oct. 12 at the Palladium (which smelled like garbage to me for some reason). Washed Out was typically great, although a problem with seeing them live is that, like on record, the songs bleed together and it’s hard to recall which song is which. But their set was involving nonetheless, managing to sound melancholy through all the chill vibes. Cut Copy pretty much blew the roof off, playing songs from this year’s great Zonoscope like the “Owner of a Lonely Heart”-ish “Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat.” You forget how many great, guitary dance singles Cut Copy has until you hear them all at once, like In Ghost Colours’ badass “Lights & Music.” I don’t remember hearing Zonoscope’s “Alisa” (bummer), but there were enough jams to make it through the night — “Pharoahs & Pyramids,” “Hearts on Fire” and “Need You Know,” songs that occupy some fabulous middle space between My Bloody Valentine and Ace of Base.

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