Music is always a great gift, but even when it's gift-wrapped, a new LP or CD isn't fooling anyone with its distinctive shape. Why not surprise the music lover who has everything with one of these unexpected items? Some of them are kinda fun, while others are more practical, but they are all definitely not your typical music gift.
Hot sauce seems to be a thing that a lot of bands create (i.e. Bastille, Joe Perry, The Offspring's Dexter Holland's line of hot sauce, Gringo Bandito). The punk rockers of Bad Brains created their own hardcore hot sauce that combines sweet and heat, just like they do.
Legendary English rock group TheZombies formed in 1962 and were first signed by renowned label, Decca Records. The band's debut single, "She's Not There," peaked at #12 on the UK charts and hit #2 on the U.S. Billboard Chart. Due to the success of their single, The Zombies were subsequently sent overseas for a U.S. tour, where they were greeted by screaming teenage girls at their first television appearance on NBC's Hullabaloo.
In 1968, The Zombies recorded the cult favorite, Odessey and Oracle,and the single "Time of the Season" became a surprise hit despite the album's indifferent reception. To this day, the album remains a fan favorite and continues to top "best of" lists every year. Rolling Stone gave it a ranking of 100 on the magazine's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Despite their initial break up right before Odessey And Oracle was released, The Zombies have reunited several times throughout their career. In 2014, the lineup features original members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, plus Tom Toomey, Jim Rodford, and Steve Rodford. After a busy year performing at the Austin Psych Festival and the San Francisco Stern Grove Festival, The Zombies are back in the studio recording a new album.
The best album in the store? Maybe. Well, that's what the sign above the 1968 Zombies classic Odessey And Oracle clearly reads, so it must be true. I spotted the sign and the accompanying classic '60's psychedelic rock album while roaming the aisles of music in the cavernous Amoeba Hollywood store yesterday. Seeing the album, which is the only proper album recorded by the short-lived supergroup, and its claim prompted me to dig up my own copy of the album once I got home and to throw it on the turntable to see if it lives up to the advertising. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't - for that's subjective and ever changing - but one thing is for sure; the album, which was overlooked upon its initial release but would years later become critically acclaimed, is one helluva rock album. I was glad to hear it again after not listening to it for several years.
The 12-track album, which includes the "surprise hit" single "Time Of The Season," has been released in over 30 versions over the years since 1968. The original album, recorded in a rushed fashion due to budget restrictions, was recorded in mono but had to be redone in stereo for the US release on Date Records - a CBS subsidiary label that released "Butcher's Tale" as the first single off the album in the US (“Care of Cell 44” was the first UK single off the album). Below are YouTube versions of the album tracks "Time of the Season," Beechwood Park," and a recent era rendition of the track "A Rose For Emily." Buy the Zombies' Odessey And Oracle at Amoeba's three stores or find it on Amoeba.com in various versions.
This year is turning out to be a good one for Allah-Las. This week saw the announcement that the L.A.-based band, who weave strains of ’60s Nuggets-style garage rock with ’80s Paisley Underground jangle and au currant surf rock swagger, would be releasing their self-titled debut album Sept. 18 on Innovative Leisure. Additionally, Allah-Las were announced as part of the FYF Fest lineup this week, taking place Sept. 1-2. And the band also is playing this weekend at Moon Block Party in Pomona Saturday June 23.
Allah-La's debut album was recorded at the Distillery Studio, a Costa Mesa-based haven for analog recording, and was produced by label mate and local rock hero Nick Waterhouse. The band, which consists of bassist Spencer Dunham, singer/guitarist Miles Michaud, guitarist Pedrum Siadatian and drummer/singer Matt Correia, already has released a video for the album cut “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind),” a jangly powerhouse that calls to mind Them’s garage classic “Gloria,” but relaxed instead of manic, resplendent in its analog sheen and laid-back cool.
I checked in with Dunham, a fellow South Bay native, to ask about the new album and what it was like for 3/4 of the band to work together at Amoeba.
PST: Has it been difficult to capture the exact sound you've been looking for on record?
Dunham: We tried recording a bunch of ways with different people but were never really satisfied until we went to the Distillery.
PST: What has recording with Nick Waterhouse and at the Distillery afforded the band in terms of sound and direction?
Dunham: Nick grew up in Orange County and has known the owner, Mike, since he was about 16. Mike loves to tinker with weird electronics to create one-of-a-kind instruments and effects, like microphones that go through record player needles. Sometimes those kind of things can be very complicated and time consuming, so it was really helpful to have two people working together to set up strange reverb tracks and whatnot.
PST: Can you talk a bit about working at Amoeba and how that affected the formation of the band and development of its sound? And what did you do while working at the store?
Dunham: Pedrum, Matt and I all used to work upstairs in the warehouse as “case switchers,” which is where you take bins of used CDs and put them in fresh jewel cases. You get a CD player and a hold box and basically just listen to music all day. It's pretty mundane work, but you get to see a lot of unusual albums, and we were all exposed to a lot of new music.
PST: In addition to the screaming girls and whatnot, have you had a lot of older “Nuggets” fans and people like that be into you guys? Have you had any particularly strange fan experiences so far?
Dunham: We definitely have a healthy contingency of garage fans, but our main audience remains American Apparel models. Not too many strange fan experiences yet, but Patrick Campbell Lyons from the ’60s band Nirvana (UK) befriended us after hearing our old radio show on KXLU a while back.
PST: I was never really that into the punk and stuff that a lot of other kids from the South Bay were into. Were you guys always attracted to more of the rock n roll stuff compared to what the area is known for? Were you exposed to it by parents, older siblings etc.?
Dunham: I used to listen to punk and it will always have a place in my heart, but in high school we mostly listened to a lot of classic rock: Hendrix, Who, Rolling Stones etc. We also used to hang around Scooter’s, which was a legendary Hermosa Beach record store owned by Uncle Tim, who hosts my all time favorite radio show, “The Bombshelter,” on KXLU. His shop was about the size of a closet, and while the majority of it catered to the punk scene, he also kept an eclectic selection of rock and got us turned onto stuff like The Velvet Underground and early Moody Blues.
PST: Can you give me a top five garage rock and paisley underground list of records you're particularly fond of?
Dunham: Here's a mix of classics and current jams:
My right hand hurts. I keep bending my fingers back, trying to stretch it, but I’m “double-jointed” – the fingers go all the way back to my wrist – so it takes a lot of muscle-power to stretch the hand, causing me to worry that, in my effort to stretch my right hand, I’m going to injure the left.
I’m pretty sure there’s an ancient, Chinese proverb about this exact situation. If only I’d have paid attention in third grade, when they teach Chinese mysticism and philosophy – then I could quote it. Alas.
My 3rd grade class. Can you find me?
I suppose I should explain why my right hand hurts. God knows I don’t trust you to come up with a reason yourself. I know you, dear reader, and know that your twisted imagination has already concocted an offensive reason for why my right paw aches; something like:
The reason my right hand hurts is because I have been addressing envelopes for wedding invitations, using large, calligraphy pens and ornate lettering. It’s my wedding gift to Carrye and Jared, who’s wedding it will be.