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The Muscle Shoals Documentary: A Tale of Two Studios, One Sound

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 17, 2013 03:50pm | Post a Comment
fame studios muscle shoals alabama sheffield documentary music hit songs single sound soul country funk rock southern rick hall muscle shoals sound studio fame rick hall swampers 3614 jackson highway music soul documentary film southern rock funk country sheffield alabama recording hit singles songs

From Dave Grohl's Sound City to 20 Feet From Stardom there have been some really great music-related documentary films released recently, perhaps none so overwhelmingly transcendental as the story of a reliable hit-maker and an iconic sound rooted in a sleepy corner of Alabama called Muscle Shoals
muscle shoals welcome sign alabama soul music fame rick hall studios documentary

Between providing the most literal rendering of "I'll Take You There" and dabbling in discovering the metaphysical origins of what has come to be lauded as the "Muscle Shoals sound," Muscle Shoals blends reflective interviews of those who lived and tracked the music, bolstered by snippets and loops of the iconic sound itself, with layers of pastoral vistas and rustic rural vignettes of the surrounding countryside, playing like a gorgeous cinematographic back-mask. Combined with the fleeting highs and the tragic lows experienced by musician, songwriter and Fame Studios producer Rick Hall, his session players, The Swampers (who would later found a similarly nondescript recording studio across town in a former casket factory), among others still living in the glory of the Muscle Shoals nexus, the film also depicts the triumph of a phenomenon bigger than anyone can fully understand nowadays: the earthly crossroads of soul, country, funk and rock and roll at a time when "separate but equal" was the order of the day. 

Show Recap: AlunaGeorge at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, September 14, 2013 11:00am | Post a Comment

alunageorge amoeba hollywoodOne thing I love about seeing shows at Amoeba is getting to see bands perform in a different way than they normally would. British R&B act AlunaGeorge played a short, stripped-down set at Amoeba Hollywood Sept. 12, playing as a three-piece with only piano, electric drums and the velvety smooth vocals of singer Aluna Francis. They began with their single "You Know You Like It," playing it looser and jazzier than the dance-pop original. Francis danced close to the mic as she sang, gesticulating along to the lyrics. She sounded more confident than her chilled-out demeanor on record while singing on "Outlines," the opener to their excellent, recently released Body Music album (order on CD or download). You could really hear the detail and subtlety to AlunaGeorge's music on a song like the Robyn-ish "Attracting Flies," as Francis' cohort George Reid snuck in sly hooks on his piano. "Your Drums, Your Love" benefitted greatly from the minimal set-up; while the studio version is befitted with flashy studio tricks, its catchy chorus shone in this version, dressed up with jazzy improvisation and skittering beats.

See more photos from the performance here.

Amoeba Hollywood to Hold a Mayer Hawthorne Listening Party July 12

Posted by Billy Gil, July 3, 2013 03:33pm | Post a Comment

mayer hawthorne where does this door goAmoeba Hollywood will be spinning the new album by retro-soul star Mayer Hawthorne, Where Does This Door Go, Friday, July 12, at 7 p.m. The album will be released July 16 by Republic Records.

Amoeba will be giving away posters and holding a giveaway of a signed and framed Where Does This Door Go LP. Come by to listen and enter to win!

Following two successful albums, 2009’s A Strange Arrangement and 2011’s How Do You Do, Where Does This Door Go sees Hawthorne getting production help from Pharrell Williams, who’s on a roll lately, following his inclusion in Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The album also features production by Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar) and Oak of Pop & Oak (Nicki Minaj, Kanye West).

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sOuL, Woodstock, and Headnodic Team Up To Pay Tribute To Gil Scott-Heron

Posted by Billyjam, January 14, 2013 09:00am | Post a Comment
         

Oakland emcee sOul recently teamed up with fellow Oaklanders Crown City Rockers members Woodstock and Headnodic to write and record a tribute to the influential late great Gil Scott-Heron. Simply titled “Gil Scott Tribute” the song was recorded in one take (captured in the video above - a video blog session recording with Headnodic who mixed the track) and features Woodstock playing the beat live on his MPC and sampling Gil Scott Heron's “We Almost Lost Detroit” (off Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson's 1977 album Bridges) as well as recreating previous hip-hop interpretations of the original sample. Intricate stuff, and it works nicely too, with sOul on the mic spitting socio-political commentary along personal life monologue.

The song was recorded simply as a tribute to Gil Scott Heron and is not for sale but available as a free download here. Gil Scott Heron, who died at age 62 in May 2011, has been called the "godfather of rap" - a term he himself dismissed, preferring to label himself a "bluesologist." After the artist's sudden death a couple of years ago Chuck D of Public Enemy saluted Scott-Heron as a highly influential figure saying, in a heartfelt tribute to the man, that, "We do what we do and how we do because of you!" I agree with Chuck D as to the impact on hip-hop and music in general that Gil Scott Heron has made.

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Personal Picks: Kelly's Best of 2012 Year-End Recap

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 31, 2012 02:30pm | Post a Comment

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Well, here we are. We weren't thrust into a new dark age oblivion, the world didn't end and neither did my workaday quest for the best music for the day. This year was rife with records that just had to be snatched -- reissues, compilations, and a fair few newbies too.

Here follows my personal, "show and tell" style best-of list for 2012:  the year that didn't stop the big wheel a-turnin'. Rather than just dicing up a list of cold-cut favorites, I've included personal events and trends herein that shaped the music I sought and gravitated towards within the past year.


BEST NEW ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Jessica Pratt - JP. No contest. I have naught but the best of things to say about this disc of spun gold and I'm not alone. It seems every Barry, Rob, and Maurice in the blogosphere has been falling all over this record like autumn leaves in the rain. If you really want to know my take check out my real talk review of JP here, otherwise please do enjoy the album's opening track, "Night Faces" below.





 
BEST 2012 REISSUE: It's a tie between two (Numero related) comps: WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronze and & Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974 - 1984. Both platters piled high with private press oddments and rarities one could hardly go more wrong than to miss out on these two exemplary feats of the compilation arts. The former being a point of revision for many in that it is essentially a mix of largely unheard "yacht rock"/AOR triumphs of seventies song-writing sensibilities (man, is it ever sensibly sensitive) that confronts one's moral definition of guilty (listening) pleasures. The latter comp, Personal Space - a seemingly dark horse among the usual reissue fare fleshing out the the tom findlay groove armada late night tales music for pleasure yacht rock am gold smooth music sailing soul comps shelf space, made the rounds among Amoeba staff regularly thus enjoyed a healthy amount of in-store play as well. Chock full of rhythm-box workouts a la Sly Stone, Timmy Thomas and Shuggie Otis, it's a far-out soul/funk excavation of the highest order. Both of these are solid front-to-back listens for the home vinyl library/curio corner.

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