Amoeblog

Ten reasons why last year didn't suck: another Best Music of 2011 list

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 1, 2012 12:00pm | Post a Comment
2011, what can I say? A great year for music if not for anything else. So without further ado, I'm pleased to present my very own "Best of 2011" list, because listing is fun (unless, of course, you're on a ship in danger of capsizing). Let's sail on shall we, beginning with the top of the best, old Mr. Natural himself:

little wings black grass best of 2011 album record review indie surf folk rock klye field rad rcords
Little Wings

Black Grass
Rad

This apple made a monumental leap from the tree in that it was many years in the making. It seemed that Kyle Field, the man behind the Little Wings mystique, had gone on hiatus only to return on his own terms with this juicy bramble of soft melodies, surf-salted served with a side of Lil Wayne-influenced folk-rock jammage. Field spins wooly yarns that sound like a conversation gone unspoken in the moment regaining shape in memory, voiced to oneself longingly. It's introspective almost to a fault, but the overall sound and vibe offers enough volume and warming to light even the darkest reaches of your keep and stay the ghosts of Black Grass' pasts at bay. Without a doubt the best new record and best instore performance of the year.

Little Wings - "Black Grass"


sandwitches san francisco band grace cooper heidi roxy girl group americana best record 2011 rock folk swing shuffle album local music
The Sandwitches
Mrs. Jones Cookies
Empty Cellar

Continue reading...

my top 50 albums of 2011...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 18, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment
blouse#1
Blouse
- Blouse (Captured Tracks)
Last year was when I first got obsessed with the label Captured Tracks. Both Wild Nothing and Soft Moon ended up in my top ten last year. This is the year of Blouse, Soft Metals and Craft Spells. This label can do no wrong and keeps putting out amazing albums one after the other. This album continues the Captured Tracks tradition of capturing that early 90's shoegaze sound that I am still obsessed with. This Blouse album fits in more with the soft rock side of shoegaze and dreampop. It is more like Beach House than the darker sounds of label mates Soft Moon. It is a beautiful album and I can't get enough.

Listen to "Time Travel" by Blouse...


kurt vile#2
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
(Matador)

This is not his first album but it really is his first album for me. This is the year that I fell hard for Kurt Vile. I could not stop listening to this album for a couple of months. There is just something about it that really got to me. The album is on the more folky side of things. Something that I need in my life every once in a while. He reminds me of Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters. And listening to this album makes me remember the first time I discoved Mark Kozelek and was hooked for life. It really is that good.

out this week, 9/13 & 9/20: the drums...wild flag...girls...neon indian...jens lekman...veronica falls...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 13, 2011 01:01pm | Post a Comment
the drumsHello! Welcome back to my new release blog. I am so sorry that I have been neglecting you. It has been a busy two months of new releases! Maybe you didn't notice...but it is already October. Not sure how that happened. It is already October 13th actually! This is absolutely one of my favorite months. I wish it was October every month!  Although I was not exactly enjoying the warm weather yesterday. Although we did not really have a crazy hot Summer this year in Los Angeles. So I can't blame Summer for trying to squeeze a couple of more days into October. But October is most certainly here and November is quickly approaching. All of the music labels are rushing to get their best new albums out to you before the end of the year. And all the movie studios will soon be rushing to get their best movies out before the end of the year! So lets go back in time and catch up a bit on what has come out the last couple of weeks. Then we can actually move onto October! First up is the week of 9/13 and 9/20...

I fell in love with The Drums when they put out their Summertime EP last year. How could I not the drumslove this band. It was the perfect pop record. Brilliantly pop friendly songs heavily influenced by The Smiths and Joy Division. But adding more modern sounds and synths. I fell in love. They also released their debut self titled full length album last year. Which was also fantastic. And now they have unleashed their second album called Portamento. You can never capture that excitement of a first record. But I am still loving this new album. The songs are catchier than anything and they just make me happy. A nice way to end my summer for sure. If you have still not joined the cult of The Drums. You should start with their first album The Drums or the Summertime EP. You will not be disappointed.

Album Picks: Veronica Falls, Björk, Zola Jesus

Posted by Billy Gil, October 12, 2011 12:29pm | Post a Comment
Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
 
While listening to Irish Grimestep or whatever genre happens to be unfathomably cool at the moment is great and all, sometimes you need meat and potatoes. In my case, that would be C86, shoegaze, college rock and that sort of thing, and Slumberland Records keeps serving up bands like sloppy joes that fulfill this particular hunger. Their latest band is Veronica Falls, which, despite their late-‘90s CW Network show sounding name, are actually a great garage pop band in the vein of Slumberland alumn Crystal Stilts, Girls Names and Black Tambourine. “Right Side of My Brain’s” bouncy pop gets C86 so right that it could have been on the original tape that spawned that genre. “The Fountain” is delectable guitar goth pop that displays one of the band’s best and at first easily overlooked tricks — pristine harmonies. “Beachy Head” injects a welcome bit of surf-rock meanness to an otherwise well-mannered album. It’s pretty much candy all over.
 
Björk – Biophilia
 
With all the hubbub surrounding Björk’s latest album (corresponding iPad apps to songs, a street date delay and rejiggering of sound), it may be easy to dismiss the album beneath it all. That would be a shame, because Biophilia is as brilliant as anything in Björk’s catalog, but that brilliance is quieter and takes repeated listens to understand compared with some of her previous efforts. Whereas she tried to recreate the violently happy turns of Debut and Post in 2007’s Volta, here she’s back to forging new sonic territory, using newly invented instruments (such as the gameleste, which combines Indonesian gamelan instruments with the key-based celeste instrument) and employing iPad-made music and programmed beats. Of course, none of that matters if it doesn’t end up sounding great, and you probably don’t need to know any of that to enjoy the songs on Biophilia, but it helps to understand the otherworldly nature of a song like “Crystalline,” which relies on the strange gameleste to build atmosphere before breaking into a hyper-intense hardcore breakbeat section. That that song and “Cosmogony,” a musical cousin to Björk classics like “Isobel” and “Bachelorette” that builds beautifully before disintegrating into a sea of descending vocals, are the most accessible songs tells you more. At its core, Biophilia is a wildly strange, even disturbing album, from the dissonant and gibberish-laden “Dark Matter” to the blood-curdling electronic sounds and ghostly vocals of “Hollow.” Then there’s “Mutual Core,” in which Björk tosses her fans a bone (although one on which the meat is tough and sinewy) with more typically “Björk” musical movements and more overtly clubby beats. But there’s something new to uncover with each listen, despite a somewhat hollow-sounding veneer, such as unusual time signatures, haunting lyrics and hidden, loping melodies. Biophilia really sounds nothing like anything else Björk has done, or anything anyone else has done, for that matter, and will probably upset some fans and detractors alike. For its gutsiness alone, it’s great; and for its more inspired moments, it’s something no music fan should miss hearing.
 
Zola Jesus – Conatus
 
For those who were expecting Zola Jesus aka Nika Roza Danilova turn around from last year’s winning Stridulum II with an album of glossy pop, think again. Sure, Conatus is her most accessible statement yet, but the album is still teaming with the experimental electronic music and ethereal vocals on which she built her name, only with slightly more of an emphasis on the electro balladry she exhibited so well on Stridulum’s “Night” and “Lightstick.” “Hikikomori” begins with throbbing synths and Danilovato’s yearning vocals intoning “blisters on my hands,” underpinned by subtle strings. On this track and several others on Conatus, you can hear the effort Danilova has put into carefully considering the album’s every movement, building songs gradually and deliberately, pulling at the heartstrings but always from afar, sometimes coming through clearly, sometimes unintelligible in a vocal styling reminiscent of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser. Her best songs manage to do it all at once, such as in the soaring “Seekir,” in which she aims for the gut (“Is there nothing left of the mess we made?” she asks in a moment that clears the sonic din to cut through) as well as the dance floor, although the result, with intertwining, ghostly backup vocals, is too complex to simply label a dance song. You sometimes long for more moments like that on Conatus (the epic choral build of “Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake” being another), but its balancing act of restraint and putting it all out there makes for intriguing listening that will keep fans happy and pull in plenty of new ones.
 
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