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Show Recap: Jhene Aiko at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, September 12, 2014 04:48pm | Post a Comment

jhene aiko amoeba hollywood

For an artist who was essentially just releasing her first LP, Jhene Aiko certainly came across as a star when she performed at Amoeba Hollywood Sept. 10.

Aiko, of course, is not unknown; she has guested on numerous hip-hop tracks, perhaps most notably singing the heartfelt opening to Drake’s “From Time,” off of one of the biggest albums of the past couple of years. Still, despite her apparent rolodex of big-name artists, Aiko herself has remained curiously in the shadows.

Until now, that is. Her first full-length LP, Souled Out, is an elegant collection of breathy L.A. soul with just the right hip-hop touch. It’s an album that puts her front-and-center, unlike her .sailing soul(s). mixtape and Sail Out EP, which drew on such high-profile guest stars as Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. This time, save for a last-minute guest spot from Common, Aiko’s pretty much sailing alone. That seemed just fine with the line of fans who stretched around the block at Amoeba for the chance to see her:

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Show Recap: Spoon at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, August 8, 2014 02:33pm | Post a Comment

spoon britt daniels amoeba hollywoodI was curious to hear how Spoon’s sonically brilliant new album would come across live. Though they’ve always been a solid, rhythmically interesting band, producer David Fridmann gave the band an extra something special on this new album that made them really come alive on record.

Live, the album’s varied songs really popped, from the workmanlike “Rent I Pay” to the thumping yet introspective “Inside Out.” Clearly, the band is as enamored of their new songs as are critics, as the band counted off songs gleefully and seemed to up the volume of the groove every time for maximum impact.

spoon they want my soul cdThough they’re an engaging live band, Spoon are also knob twiddlers at heart, and by the third song, the space-Motown of “Rainy Taxi,” their sound had been perfected, erupting into a noise break at the end. Britt Daniels was reliably on throughout, his gritty vocals cutting through a loud mix.

It was great to hear the band bust out “I Turn My Camera On” (from 2005’s Gimme Fiction), the song’s carefully cultivated beat serving as a nice counterpoint to their noisier new material, as well as the comparable “Small Stakes” (from 2002’s Kill the Moonlight). The songs served as a reminder of Spoon’s many strong albums—remember the Beatlesesque “Don't Make Me a Target,” from 2007’s excellent Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga? It sounded great, even if Daniels seemed frustrated for a moment while on his knees wailing on the guitar (funny, since he could just stand still, looking and sounding perfect and people would be happy).

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Show Recap: Robyn & Royksopp at the Hollywood Bowl

Posted by Billy Gil, June 30, 2014 12:37pm | Post a Comment

robyn royksopp

Screenshots via YouTube

Robyn & Royksopp absolutely tore it up for a sold-out, double-headliner bill at the Hollywood Bowl last night. The pair were promoting their new collaborative mini-album, Do It Again, and while that album is plenty terrific and they did play songs from it, both acts also made good with the hits, and Robyn played a couple of rare and/or new songs.

Royksopp played a set healthy with songs from their earlier albums (such as A.M.’s “Eple” and “Poor Leno”) and perhaps understandably with fewer tracks from their most recent album, Senior, a darker and instrumental affair compared with the flashing lights and high-profile guest spots of 2009’s companion album, Junior. The songs from that album sounded fantastic here, with a guest singer standing in nicely for The Knife/Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer Andersson (no terrifying mask, though) on Junior highlight “This Must Be It.” It sounded fantastic, though perhaps a bit subdued, but that may have been due to me having nosebleed seats.

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Show Recap: Kan Wakan at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, June 25, 2014 07:18pm | Post a Comment

kan wakan amoeba hollywoodKan Wakan's sound on their recent Moving On album, a stew of stirring strings, classic rock organs, gleaming guitarwork and sensual vocals, seemed like it would be difficult to pull off in a live setting. But my first time seeing the band, June 18 at the store, showed just how skilled the band is at taking a heady and heavily orchestrated sound and making it work live. Beginning with cool polyrhythms and arpeggiating synths, singer Kristianne Bautista's vocals sounded husky and soulful one second, lilting the next, reminiscent of Bjork in their elasticity. Kan Wakan's sound is decidedly not small, playing as a seven-piece and creating grandiosity with surging crescendos, bells and tribal drums. Their songs sway and move, sultry and mysterious, oceanic amid surging guitars and crashing cymbals. The overall effect and intention seems to me to stir something up in you rather than smack you upside the head with something catchy, a nice antidote to the flood of overly excitable indie pop bands in L.A. Bautista's vocals were sometimes muffled by all the sci-fi synths and other craziness but would come through loudly every so often with a breathy forcefulness. For a band that trades in atmospherics and post-rock vibes, live, they're as gripping as a punk band.

See more photos from the show here.

Show Recap: Cate le Bon at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, May 2, 2014 06:00pm | Post a Comment

cate le bon amoeba hollywoodCate le Bon’s songs have a ragged glory, spare, yet intricate and propulsive like Television and Patti Smith Group before her, with a world-weary soul cutting through via le Bon’s swooping vocals. Backed by her sturdy, three-piece band, they launched into the clockwork shuffle of “No God,” from her most recent release, 2013’s excellent Mug Museum, at Amoeba Hollywood April 30.

Le Bon shifted gears from icy to sultry for single “Are You With Me Now,” which has the feel of a classic reggae ballad covered by a CBGBs band. The set picked up for album opener “I Can’t Help You,” its interlocking post-punk guitars and le Bon's sultry voice moving into a snarling chorus while le Bon's nimble-fingered guitarist doubled as keyboardist, playing jaunty synth organ to balance the songs jagged edges. They got playful for “Duke,” a song whose singsongy melody ends in a banshee wail from le Bon.

Her set moved from le Bon’s most immediate songs to some of her most challenging ones. “Sisters” started harmlessly enough with an upbeat jangle but ended in atonal guitar jabs and a ping-ponging bassline. “Wild,” Mug Museum’s heaviest rocker, saw some of le Bon’s wildest guitar playing as the song ended in a krautrock freakout. And for anyone not new to the le Bon fold, she pulled out Cyrk’s “Fold the Cloth,” its ornate arrangement balancing Mug Museum’s directness and ending things with eerie harmonies and spurts of carefully orchestrated guitar noise.

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