Amoeblog

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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James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard: a cheap and beautiful Folk-Rock stunner!

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, October 31, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment
james yorkston year of the leopard
Los Angeles is beautiful right now. The sky is almost completely blanketed with a thin layer of cloud, each cloud undercoated with gray as if it could start raining any moment. It won't, though. Not yet. We have a few weeks, maybe even a month before there's any significant rain, but still, this weather holds a promise that L.A. is moving out of its summer monotony of heat and dust. The wind is moving everything around, warm and round and humid, unlike the Santa Anas and their hot, lip-chapping blast. I'm ready. I want to have a good excuse to sit on the couch and watch a movie as the rain pours off the roof and through the huge oak in my front yard. I'm ready for a day that will welcome a centrepiece like James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard.

Yorkston plays a beautiful acoustic guitar and he writes a beautiful song. He kicked around Scotland and England for years in punk bands and the like, settling down to write the type of gorgeous tomes that Pete Paphides of The Times (London) called, “...songs that sound not so much written as carefully retrieved from your own subconscious, played with an intuition bordering on telepathy. " He's got a great, simultaneously warm and brittle voice that sometimes reminds of fellow Scot, David Gray. His songs are not too far afield from Gray's work, either, often underpinned by burbling electronics and synth washes that, surprisingly, never pull them out of the Brit-Folk context from which they emerge. Yorkston has toured with Beth Orton, David Gray, the Tindersticks, Turin Brakes, Lambchop after having come to many fans' attention through his opening slot on all 27 dates of John Martyn's 2001 tour.

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out today 4/29...madonna...portishead...

Posted by Brad Schelden, April 29, 2008 11:30pm | Post a Comment

I really wanted to spend this blog talking about the new releases from our old favorite bands Def Leppard and White Lion, but there are some other more important albums out this week that might have more people excited. Both Madonna and Portishead have some highly anticipated albums coming out today. I wanted Madonna to have to battle with Mariah Carey for the #1 album of the week, but Mariah came out a couple of weeks before Madonna, so we are left with Portishead instead to battle it out with Madonna-- a much better competitor I think.

So yes really, Def Leppard and White Lion both have albums out today. And there is a new Brett Michaels on the way as well. It has been over 20 years since White Lion released their second album Pride back in 1987. The album featured the massive song "When the Children Cry." You really could not get away from that song back then. The album did really well and I remember being obsessed with it myself. I ordered the cassette of it along with Hysteria by Def Leppard from one of those record clubs that  shipped you like 7 albums for 7 cents. Hysteria was Def Leppard's fourth album but it also came out in 1987. This was the album that really got me obsessed with Def Leppard. I was listening to the deluxe reissue version of Hysteria a couple days ago. I always forget until I listen to it, but the album is still amazing. I still have every song memorized. I am sure the album was overplayed for many and there are still many people out there scarred for life because of this album, but I really do love it. I could probably live my life without listening to White Lion again, but that one song still gets me whenever I hear it.

Just in case you were trying to remember 1987, Madonna did not release an album that year. It was the year after True Blue and we were all still in love with "Papa Don't Preach" and "Live to Tell." We had no idea of the controversy that lied ahead of us with Like A Prayer in another couple of years. I am sure there were a lot of Def Leppard fans out there that did not like Madonna, and I am sure they are still out there, but I really did love them both. I was young and really did just love myself some popular radio music. These albums made a huge impact on my life and are still somehow a part of me. It is a bit crazy to think that 20 years have passed since then, but they all have new albums out this week. I have not ventured into the new albums from White Lion or Def Leppard, and I might just skip them altogether so I can keep my memories somewhat sacred. But Madonna has been quite the busy lady since 1987-- it does really seem like her last album just came out. She seems to be always ready with a new one just when you have finished the last one. You have either worn it out or been sick of it since it came out and finally got it out of your head. I have pretended to not be a fan of Madonna a couple times over the last 20 years, but I just can't resist her or her music. She got me back then and I have not really been able to shake my love of Madonna. I have had mixed feeling about the last couple albums. I always sort of love it and like many of the songs, but I also always hope for a bit more that I get. I do respect the lady for continuing to be relevant and make albums that sound different than the last. The new album is mostly a Timbaland and Justin Timberlake album, but it is also most definitely a Madonna album. Justin Timberlake would not really exist without Madonna, so if you think about it that way, she is just using the people that she influenced to help her create a new album. I have been trying to get coworkers to place bets on what album will come out on top at Amoeba this week. Madonna will most certainly have the top album in the country this week. But I have my faith that Portishead will win the competition at Amoeba. Although based on first day sales today, the race will be much closer than I thought.

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