Beats, Chimera and Life in 2009 by Cas

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 31, 2009 05:48pm | Post a Comment
2009 was an odd year of music listening for me. Unfortunately, my preferred method of absorbing new music (whilst walking around the city) was thwarted by the demise of my iPod. After my computer speakers bit the dust in the wake of the iPod disaster, I was practically denied access to my most comfortable listening spaces. Thus, a lot fell through the cracks for me. At the same time, 2009 was the year I made an effort to wrap my head around dubstep, a genre that had been exciting just as much as it was often confounding in previous years. I can’t say I necessarily understand the genre much better, probably because it’s so ill-defined and constantly shifting. But I at least got a better sense of the elements of the genre I like and the ones I could do without. With a few exceptions, my Best of Electronica 2009 list is loaded with artists and releases that were bright lights in a pretty murky atmosphere of heavy beats and bass.

Telepathe – Dance Mother

Telepathe – Dance Mother

The self-conscious hipster affectations of this Brooklyn based electro-pop duo practically dictate that I should hate them on sight. But Telepathe (pronounced “telepathy”) members Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais, with production assistance from TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, make music that is as casually beguiling as their facade is tiresomely forced. That may be a backhanded compliment, but I dare you to look at the intentionally horrible 80’s choreography and ugly sweaters on display in the video for lead off track “So Fine” without rolling your eyes or groaning at least once. I suggest chucking the visuals and making your way through the album’s mix of synth textures, propulsive beats, shoegazy guitars, and detached schoolgirl chanting and singing that I found undeniably infectious.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2009 10:15am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five: 12:31:09

The Grouch
1) The Grouch Three Eyes Off the Time (Legendary Music)

2) Clipse Til the Casket Drops (SONY)

3) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label)

4) FELT FELT 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers)

5) Gucci Mane The State vs. Radric Davis (Warner Bros/Asylum)

Last week longtime Living Legends emcee and friend of Amoeba The Grouch was the number one chart entry at the San Francisco store with his latest album, Three Eyes Off the Time (Legendary Music). And this week, the prolific artist repeats that feat at the East Bay Amoeba Music, where fans, eager for this short (only ten tracks) but quality CD, have pushed it to number one. Even though The Grouch released his last solo album (Show You The World) last year and his collaboration album with fellow Living Legends emcee Eligh (Say G&E!) just eight months ago, he still manages to come up with fresh and original material.

Less than six degrees of seperation from The Grouch is the number four entry on this week's Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top FIve: FELT, which features Slug of Atmosphere, who collaborated with The Grouch & Eligh on their collaborative album this year, and MURS, who is another fellow Living Legends member. Aesop Rock does production on this third and latest installment in the FELT series of tributes to B-movie actresses, FELT 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez, which appears on the record label that seemingly can do no wrong, Rhymesayers Entertainment.

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Under the Influence: The Dry Spells offer a heady debut

Posted by Kells, December 31, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment

Too often it seems those who write about music resort to whittling albums, by means of record reviews, into a pronged rod of divination in an attempt to dowse the well from which the music-makers' inspirations originated. For San Francisco folk-rock locals The Dry Spells, reviews of their debut LP Too Soon For Flowers (Empty Cellar Records) read alike in that the word "witchy" is summarily mentioned in almost every critique and comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, Espers, Citay, Fairport Convention and even Loreena McKennitt drop in abundance like heavy fruit from a burdened bough. It's easy to see the common understanding, as the Dry Spells are comprised of Citay's one-time and sometime players, though they've been at it since before Citay's inception and their esteem for rocking on traditional folk-ballads perceptibly deals in some of the same magic conjured by Espers, sure, not to mention that both bands share a cover of "Black is the Color" between them (Espers play it like a heart-sick maid pining over a years-dead lover, whereas the Dry Spells almost flaunt the tune, fleshing out into a verdant composition worthy of Willow the inkeeper's daughter on Summerisle). They also lend their trademark harmonies to a beguiling cover of "Rhiannon," arguably Fleetwood Mac's most enchanted mom-rock tune (I fancy many a mother-to-be has considered naming a girl-child after such a spirited strain as this), and I have to applaud the effort, as the Dry Spells manage to leave Stevie Nicks' leather and lace leanings intact despite weaving in their own fibrous skeins of alternating folk, rock and light-in-the-dye psyche threads; indeed, the Dry Spells craft complex song compositions not unlike heavy tapestries laden with meaning, tradition and more than a hearts-worth of woeful devotion.

I could go on along these lines of correlation, offering more aural comparisons to the Dry Spells "witchy" ways (imagine Dolores O'Riordan kidnapped by the Deal Sisters meeting a wayward Meriel Barham altogether singing Steeleye Span and the Trees while on a backwoods journey to liberate the hidden mythology of the lost city of Ys via melody and romantic lyricism), but I'll let it be in favor of the band for who they really are: Thalia Harbour (vocals/guitar/melodica/glockenspiel), April Hayley (vocals/violin/melodica), Adria Otte (guitar/vocals/violin) and Diego Gonzalez (bass/oud/viola). However, I would like to take the focus away from the more obvious sounds-likes to indulge in a little examination of what makes this record great under an entirely different lens. The perspective being that their record is, for me, almost the equivalent of a very good read of high fantasy, or at least as good as any old anthologized, oft-told yarn.

From the very beginning of the first song "Lost Daughter," a slow-burning build from Bedouin streaked bass, oud and sandy rattlesnake-like percussion to an almost heavy, beat-driven rock crescendo, the listener is put in a place of choosing between following the ever present, layered harmonies of the lyrical narrative or being swept away by the twists, turns and overall richness of the sound. It's a lot like picking up a book for the first time and deciding whether to glean what you can from its contents by looking at the pictures or simply starting from "Once upon a time..." But who gives a fig what the illustrator makes of the details visually as long as the quality of the literary content is lively enough of its own accord, right? As it happens, listening to the Dry Spells has thrust me back into a literary cocoon where I once again explore my collection of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of many colors (my favorite of the twelve being the Orange Fairy Book), masterfully illustrated by the adroit  H.J. Ford. This anthology, culled from obscure, far-flung folk tales to better-known, traditional fairy stories, mirrors the work of the Dry Spells in my mind in that the music they make is like the perfect pairing of elegant, lyrical storytelling and moody depiction by virtue of thematic instrumentation, the timeless balance of words and pictures. Perhaps this is why Bob Boilen, host of NPR's All Songs Considered has selected Too Soon For Flowers as 2009's album of the year. 

Maybe I stretch too far to assume that members of the Dry Spells are as influenced by heady Victorian era storybooks as I am, but all the same, I'd like to think they are. I get definite maybes from songs like "The Golden Vanity" what with its wah-washed, sea-faring sailors' voices, and then there's the contrast of the Scandinavian strings that begin "Evangeline" that yield to sunnier sways as voices sing of loss and of a steadiness as "steady as hard times." In "Batwood" the rapidly plunging violin strains evoke the feeling of falling into a rush wilderness and regret after waking "one morning in a hollow tree," and in "Sruti," quite possibly the most beautiful composition of all, chimes and crystalline rings mingle with ethereal vocal highs that sing of a hand reaching out from the trees, pointing to a sea "where hungry voices were calling." As this record has become available just before the crossroads of the year, a time when most folks are granted leave to hole up indoors as seasonal disfavors dictate, doing their best to make cozy with a hot posset and a good book or an equally good record like this one, I cannot recommend this stellar debut from the Dry Spells enough for your fire-side listening pleasure. 

Check out the live video below of the Dry Spells performing the title piece Too Soon For Flowers:

The Dry Spells - Too Soon For Flowers - Luxury Wafers Sessions from Luxury Wafers on Vimeo.

A Single Man - Definitely Singular

Posted by Miss Ess, December 30, 2009 04:22pm | Post a Comment
In many ways, it seems like a bad idea for someone who is a fashion designer to make a film, doesn't it? It seems so egotistical, so over the top, for someone with great success in one highly visible industry to attempt it in another. Sure, occasionally it works out, but for the most part, we've seen enough celebrities try their hands at creative endeavors in genres other than the one they've become popular in to great failure. Bruce Willis, anyone? Mariah Carey? Russell Crowe? Ethan Hawke?

But Tom Ford has, against the odds, done it well. A Single Man, his first feature film, is out now and it is fantastic.

See, for all the reasons that making a film when you are a highly accomplished fashion designer sounds like a potential disaster, there are other reasons that make sense if (big if) it is done right; after all, both film and fashion are visual mediums. And Tom Ford proves yet again that he has a gifted eye by beautifully and movingly capturing the anguish and lasting sorrow of an English professor living in Los Angeles in 1962. After about a year, George Falconer (played by Colin Firth) still can't get over the sudden death of his long term lover. Ford brings precision and artistry to the film, taking the viewer directly into the George's world, showing us how slowly time ticks by, how he feels like he is drowning, his total isolation and all-consuming grief. His world has literally faded to grey and we see its colors through his eyes. There are moments of brightness, but mostly it is dulled.

The film also portrays the suffocating feeling of being forced to stay closeted in the early 60s. Julianne Moore is perfection as Charley, George's desperate, gilded best (only?) friend. Aside from Charley, George is kept from connecting to the vast majority of the world even if he wanted to, simply by his status as a gay man in an unaccepting society. This, along with his unspeakable sorrow, causes him to feel disconnected from pretty much everything and everyone, but the events of the single day in which the film takes place try to show him otherwise.

Befitting a film made by someone who has spent his career in visual design, the film is awash in eye candy, from the sets to the clothing, of course. Being angsty, stereotype shattering and set in '62, of course it's Mad Men-esque, and Jon Hamm even has an appearance in the film, although it is just his recognizable voice over the phone.

The film is based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. If you haven't seen Chris and Don: A Love Story, the documentary about Isherwood and his boyfriend's luxurious, artistic lives in Los Angeles from the '50s to the '80s, please do, maybe even before you check out A Single Man. Understanding Isherwood's life brings a depth to the story that makes A Single Man all the more exquisite and all the more heartbreaking.

Here is the trailer:

Rowland S. Howard - 1959-2009

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 30, 2009 12:47pm | Post a Comment

Rowland S. Howard
was one of his generation’s greatest, most inventive and influential guitarists, as well as one of Australia’s towering but under recognized songwriting talents. Howard was most famous for his noisy, atmospheric, slash-and-burn style, mainly heard during his tenure with The Birthday Party. After their split, Howard continued to support and collaborate with a number of other musicians before finally embarking on a solo career.
Rowland was born October 24th, 1959. The slight, bat-eared youth was always drawn toward the fine arts and his early interests included drawing, reading and listening to The Monkees. In the early ‘70s he began playing guitar, as his musical interests shifted toward Syd Barrett, Roxy Music, David Bowie and prog rock. Eventually he became aware of and enamored with American bands like The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and The Stooges. In 1974, after dabbling with the saxophone, Howard and his school chum Simon Mclean formed their first band, the amazingly-named Tootho and the Ring of Confidence. In 1977, the two joined Graeme Pitt and Rob Wellington in the short-lived punk band, The Obsessions.

That same year, Howard joined the first band that would truly showcase his precocious songwriting genius, The Young Charlatans. Joined by Janine Hall, John McKinnon, Jef Wegener and Ian “Ollie” Olsen, the band played a mere thirteen shows but recorded a couple of demos, including the sixteen-year-old Howard’s composition, “Shivers,” later included on the compilation, Fast Forward 004 (1981). Olsen, however, didn’t want to share the songwriting role and by May of 1978, the band was no more. Wegener played with The Last Words before joining Laughing Clowns. Hall later played in The Saints and Weddings, Parties, Anything. Olsen formed Whirlywirld and later Max Q, with INXS’s Michael Hutchence.

Howard next joined Boys Next Door. At that point, the Nick Cave-led band had been kicking around Melbourne for three years making a fairly dull, undistinguished brand of new wave. They’d already recorded several songs for their debut, Door, Door before Howard became a member. His arrival seemingly invigorated the rest of the band, as evinced by the vast difference in quality between that album’s two sides. Boys Next Door released the Hee Haw EP and The Birthday Party before changing their name to The Birthday Party and finding a larger audience. Under the new name the band released Prayers on Fire in 1981, a widely praised album that showcased both Cave’s and Howard’s songwriting in roughly equal measure; the latter’s marked by a direct and disarming gallows humor and preference for clever twists of phrase. By the time of The Birthday Party’s second album, 1982’s Junkyard, Birthday Party's Mick Harvey was also contributing considerably to the songwriting, nudging in the process Howard’s contributions to the sidelines.

That same year, The Birthday Party’s Howard, Cave, Harvey, Genevieve McGuckin and Tracy Pew joined Lydia Lunch and Murray Mitchell to record Honeymoon in Red (1987-Widowspeak). Another underground supergroup collaboration came about that year when Harvey, Howard and Cave joined The Go-BetweensGrant McLennan, Linday Morrison and Robert Forster as The Tuff Monks, who released just one single, “After the Fireworks” (1982-Au Go Go).

In 1983, after releasing the Mutiny and The Bad Seed EPs, The Birthday Party split and Howard next showed up on Fad Gadget’s Gag album, recorded that November. The following year, Mick Harvey convinced Simon Bonney to revive his band, Crime + the City Solution, who, after forming in Sydney in 1977, had ceased to be active since 1979. In Berlin, Bonney was joined by Harvey, the Howard brothers and Kevin “Epic Soundtracks” Godfrey. 1985’s The Dangling Man EP and Just South of Heaven and the following year's The Kentucky Click/Adventure EP  were further excellent showcases for Howard’s inventive guitar work but he was nonetheless sacked by Bonney, who claimed that his voice and Howard’s guitar occupied the same space. Howard took his brother Harry Howard and Epic Soundtracks with him.

The departing members of Crime + the City Solution were joined by former Birthday Party collaborator (and Howard’s girlfriend) Genevieve McGuckin in his next band, These Immortal Souls, which returned Howard's unique, nasal and tune-shy singing to center stage after many years in the shadows of spotlight hogs. After a couple of collaborations with Nikki Sudden (Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites, Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc and Jeremy Gluck With Nikki Sudden & Rowland S. Howard’s I Knew Buffalo Bill), These Immortal Souls released “Marry Me (Lie Lie)” on September 7, 1987. On December 1, 1987 Get Lost (Don’t Lie!) (1987-Mute) followed, which they promoted with European and American tours.

In 1988 Howard again collaborated with Gluck and Sudden on the Burning Skulls Rise album (1988) before These Immortal Souls returned to Australia for a short tour. In 1991, the Howard brothers and Lunch again collaborated for Shotgun Wedding (1991-Triple X Entertainment). They promoted the release live with future bad seed Jim Scalvunos on drums. Howard also played a one off gig in London in a band called Tender Justice and collaborated with Einstürzende Neubauten on their “Thirsty Animal” single. In September of the following year, Howard joined a partially reformed Birthday Party (with Martyn P. Casey filling in for the late Pew) at London's Town and Country Club.
The following month, These Immortal Souls returned with “King of Kalifornia,” which preceded the December release of I’m Never Gonna Die Again (1992-Mute). After Epic Soundtracks left to embark on a solo career, drummer Chris Hughes filled in on the ensuing tour. Howard’s next recorded contributions were on 1994’s Nick Cave album Let Love In and Lydia Lunch’s Live in Siberia. In the meantime, he continued working with the latter on new Shotgun Wedding material.  After These Immortal Souls’ rendition of “You Can’t Unring a Bell” on the Tom Waits tribute, Step Right Up – The Songs of Tom Waits (1995-Manifesto), they continued without Soundtracks (who died in 1997) until July 23rd 1998, when (with Lunch as support) they played their final show at the Greyhound Hotel in St. Kilda.

Howard finally released an excellent solo album in 1999, Teenage Snuff Film (Reliant Records), featuring support from Beasts of Bourbon’s Brian Hooper on drums and organ, Mick Harvey and Genevieve McGuckin. That year Howard also produced The Dirty Three-like Hungry Ghost’s eponymous album, Hungry Ghosts (2000-Reliant Records). In 2000, he joined his brother on guitar in The Pink Stainless Tail. Two years later, Howard appeared with Hugo Race, Robin Casinader and Aimee Nash as an all-vampire band in the Aaliyah film, Queen of the Damned.
In the 2000s, Howard’s recording and performing output slowed. After the French label Stagger Records released a 2-CD tribute to Howard, A Tribute to Rowland S. Howard (2006-Stagger Records), featuring Mick Harvey, The Drones, Loene Carmen and Warren Ellis, Nikki Sudden and many others; the guitarist joined Magic Dirt and Beasts of Bourbon for a tour of Australia’s east coast.

In 2009, Howard, along with The Primitive Calculators, Ollie Olsen, Phillip Brophy and many other figures of the Australian underground appeared in We’re Livin’ on Dog Food, a documentary/tribute to Melbourne’s music scene of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. That same year Howard produced HTRK’s Marry Me Tonight (2009-Blast First Petite) before releasing his second solo album, October’s Pop Crimes (2009-Liberation). It was even more acclaimed than its predecessor and is tipped as a contender for the upcoming Australian Music Prize. Around that time of the album’s release, Howard announced that he’d contracted liver disease and was waiting for an organ transfer. That month he played his final show at St Kilda's Prince Bandroom, visibly struggling to get through the show, coughing up blood throughout. Nonetheless, he was picked by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to join them for a planned live performance but his declining health necessitated his cancellation. Rowland S. Howard died December 30th, 2009 at the Austin Hospital. He was 50. 

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Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
souls of mischief
The highly anticipated new Souls of Mischief album, Montezuma's Revenge, on Clear Label is the Hieroglyphics collective's first official studio album in almost a decade. There's a good reason why the long awaited record has been selling extremely well at each of the three Amoeba Music stores since it was released early this month. It's an amazing album; one that recaptures the magic of each stage of the longtime, unique East Oakland hip-hop crew. Souls of Mischief first burst on the scene in 1993 when they captured the attention of the hip-hop world with their stunning debut 93 Til Infinity on Jive/Zomba. And of course, having Prince Paul, one of hip-hop's most gifted producers, at the helm for Montezuma's Revenge only helpted bring out the best in the Souls of Mischief.

I recently caught up with Tajai of the group and asked him why it took such a long time for this new official Souls full-length album to drop.  "We have been traveling and promoting a gang of records, from Hiero Full Circle and Full Circle Live to Power Movement, Triangulation Station and My Last Good Deed, from the crew and individual members," said Tajai. And just how did the Prince Paul collaboration come about? "Opio and Domino were on the Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator & Prince Paul) tour a few years back and they tossed the idea of doing an album back and forth. Prince Paul actually followed up and the rest is history," he said, adding, " Working with him {Paul} was incredible. He is a perfectionist and really brought out the best in all of us." 

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out this week 12/1 & 12/8 & 12/15 & 12/21...animal collective...pixies...alicia keys...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 29, 2009 11:44am | Post a Comment

There are not a ton of new releases in December, but there have been a few worth checking out. I have been too busy getting my "best of" lists ready for the end of the year and the end of the decade, so I have not had much time to talk about these new releases, but here is a quick list for you. There's not really much out this week, December 29th, just a couple of DVDs. Come pick up your copy of Paranormal Activity and Jennifer's Body on DVD!

You will have to wait until January for more music new releases. I will get back to my normal new release reviews next year, I promise, and in the next day or so I will be posting my top 100 albums of the decade! It has not been an easy list to compile. It is hard to compare albums from 2001 with albums that just came out last month. But it has been a lot of fun going back and listening to all my old favorites. I only gave myself a couple of rules in compiling the list: I had to really love the album. It had to be an album that I still like or at least look back on fondly. I also only picked one album for each artist, so I didn't let myself pick 3 Radiohead albums and 3 PJ Harvey albums. The list would have been too boring. Or, if I was Rolling Stone, I would have had 2 albums by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, and the White Stripes in my top 25. There are just too many great albums in the decade to let those bigger artists dominate my list, so I picked my favorite album from each artist for the whole decade. I had so much fun making this list that I am also going to go ahead and make a list of my top 100 albums of the 90's. And I also have a list of my top movies of the 90's and the current decade as well! So check out my lists soon! They will be posted any day now....

For now, here is a list of some of the new releases from the last couple of weeks you might have missed. Hope you all had a great holiday! But it's not over. New Year's Eve is right around the corner...

out 12/1...

Untitled by R. Kelly

Minotaur Box Set by The Pixies

out 12/8...

Malice 'N Wonderland by Snoop Dogg

Innocents (Deluxe Version) by Erasure

The Raincoats (Reissue) by The Raincoats

Maxinquaye (Deluxe Version) by Tricky

out 12/15...

Fall Be Kind by Animal Collective

Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys

...and in case you missed these in the theater...these movies are essential watching from this year!
and also belong in your DVD collection...out 12/15 on DVD...

The Hangover DVD and Blu-ray

Inglourious Basterds DVD and Blu-ray

out next week 12/21 (monday)...

Stronger With Each Tear by Mary J. Blige

out on DVD 12/21...

(500) Days of Summer DVD and Blu-ray

District 9 on DVD and Blu-ray


Posted by Billyjam, December 29, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
Rokia Traoré "Yankadi"
Rokia Traoré
Thanks to Amoeba Marc for directing folks to the music video for the great song "Yankadi" by talented West African artist Rokia Traoré. In the video, one of her accompanying musicians is sporting an Amoeba Music T-shirt. (He first appears at :12 but much clearer at :25.) An accomplished, award-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist, the thirty something Rokia was born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group. She has toured extensively and recorded four albums over the past dozen years, including Mouneïssa (1997 & 1998), Wanita (2000), Bowmboi (2003), and Tchamantché (2008).

The multi-instrumentalist (she also plays flute and percussion) was fortunate to collaborate early in her career with Ali Farka Touré, which helped get her deserved attention. Over the years since, she has worked with a myriad of artists, including the Kronos Quartet, who collaborated with her on her album Bowmboï, released by Nonesuch six years ago. For more information on this artist (including some more music videos), check out her MySpace. And, of course, look for her CDs at Amoeba Music.

Ghost Blogging: Ghost World Roundtable

Posted by Charles Reece, December 27, 2009 08:48am | Post a Comment

I guess I should've posted a link to the entertaining Ghost World roundtable that I participated in over at Noah Berlatsky's Hooded Utilitarian. A fun time was had by most, if not all. It begins here.

December 25, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, December 26, 2009 08:35pm | Post a Comment

Top TV on DVD Picks of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 26, 2009 04:48pm | Post a Comment

by Kaitlin

I hate commercials. Really, really loathe commercials. I hate commercials so much in fact that I stopped watching TV altogether for years. But there is a wondrous, magical invention called TV on DVD that allows me to watch TV commercial free!! Not only that, but I can waste hours at a time watching episode after episode. Here, in no particular order, are my top TV DVDs of 2009, some new to DVD, some just new to me but all were found in the DVD room in Amoeba SF:

New to me:

Roseanne Seasons 1-9


I’ve only watched up through season 5, but this show is so funny. Not only is Roseanne hilarious and really cutting edge, but the amazing John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and rest of the Connor clan make this cast so strong. But the best thing about this show is how real it feels; they’re just a working class family trying to survive everything life has to throw at you. With lots of love and humor, they yell and fight and laugh and I really love this show! Their Halloween episodes are some of the most memorable…

How I Met Your Mother Seasons 1-4

how i met your mother

The first thing I have to say is the main character of this show, Ted, is kind of annoying… But luckily he has Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segal and Alyson Hannigan in the supporting cast to make this show very funny. Neil Patrick Harris plays a womanizing scumbag with a heart of gold buried really, really deep, and Jason Segal and Alyson Hannigan play the kooky, kinky long term couple… the supporting cast makes the show!

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Top Forty World Music Releases of 2009 Vol-3

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 26, 2009 02:00pm | Post a Comment

20. Juan Son-Mermaid Sashimi
Juan Son's first solo outing since the demise of Porter is a symphonic collage of songs in both English and Spanish. Musically, the arrangements are sophisticated, capturing the same imagination the likes of Brian Wilson and XTC had in the past. Juan's high, Bjork-like voice sometimes leaves me with a bit of a headache, but I also can’t stop listening to it, especially the track “Nad,a” somewhere between The Rolling Stones “She’s A Rainbow” and Café Tacvba at their best.

19. Tinariwen-Imidiwan: Companions
Tinariwen's latest release finds the band returning home after constant touring to the Sahara desert. Perhaps their homecoming sparked a return to a sound that I felt they lost on their last release, Aman Iman. Imidiwan has the band once again rocking out. In ways it reminds me of their second album, Amassakoul, but with more vision and clarity this time. With this release, Tinariwen continues to remain the standard of the Toureg rock scene that has grown over the last decade.

18. Zizek-ZZK Vol. 2
The first ZZK Records compilation in 2008 showcased the DJ’s that were part of their weekly club in Buenos Aires. Their remixes of Cumbia spawned both international and bedroom producers alike to make their own Cumbia remix. ZZK Sound Vol. 2 is the result of when something local becomes global. No longer exclusive to Argentina, Vol 2. includes producers from Chile, The Netherlands and Brooklyn, among other places. While the root of the ZZK sound is Cumbia, what it makes it interesting is what the producers’ mix with it. Styles include Dubstep, Dancehall, Hip-Hop, Minimalist Techno and traditional Latin music, all resulting in a sound that is like no other and all ZZK.

17. Chicano Batman-S/T
Imagine one of the multitude of gruperas, hoping one day to become as big as Los Bukis and Yndio, touring central California in a seventies Dodge Van. During the drive to Fresno, the band, dressed in matching baby blue ruffled dress shirts, decide to smoke some grass, drop acid and listen to Caetano Veloso and Televison's Marquee Moon. Chicano Batman’s debut is what I imagine that next gig would sound like; Baladas with space jams, Pop songs with Brazilian breaks and Flange drenched Cumbias. Probably my favorite L.A. band at the moment.

16. V/A- Tropical Funk Experience
We played this in the store one day and the track that really hooked me was a cover of Fela Kuti’s "Black Man’s Cry" played on the steel drums by a group called The Gay Flamingoes. It’s ten minutes of bliss and indicative of the many party gems came from the islands back in the day. Compiler Hugo Mendez dug deep in his collection of Caribbean funk gems to put together amazing assortment of rare grooves and covers, some from artists that are known internationally (The Skatalites, Mighty Sparrow), some from names we are not so familiar with (Andre Tanker, Richard Stoute), but each song seems to top the next. One of the best funk comps to come out in a while.

15. V/A-1970's Algerian Proto-Rai Underground
A collection of singles released by influential Rai musicians in the 70’s that have been mostly unknown or ignored by the majority of Rai music enthusiasts. Songs of affairs and drunkenness did not fair well with the fundamentalist, government controlled airwaves, but these artists were club favorites, mixing Algerian traditional music with western instruments such as trumpet, and in one case, an electric guitar with a wah-wah pedal. Forget your preconceived notions of Rai music and dig this.

14. Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics-Inspiration Information
I consider Mulatu Astatke's work to be on par with Jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Sun Ra. The Heliocentrics are somewhat comparable to The Roots in the sense that they are composers in their own right and great backing musicians for others. The combination of drummer Malcolm Catto, bassist Jake Ferguson and producer Mike Burnham, works well with the legendary Ethiopian Jazz composer Astatke’s compositions that give The Heliocentrics a run for their money, and in turn, The Heliocentrics pump some new life into Mulatu’s work that has been missing for some time. Together, they recorded some of Mulatu’s classic compositions and new material that has that same jazz/psychedelic/funk feel of Astatke’s earlier work with an experimental edge.

13. V/A-Orillas Del Magdalena
Domino Sounds goes a bit deeper in this compilation than Soundway Records' excellent Colombia! Compilation (both labels licensed tracks from the Discos Fuentes catalog), focusing on styles such as Vallenato and Gaita. Orillas Del Magdalena contains some of my personal favorites by the likes of Andres Landero and Nafer Duran. It's almost as if they stole a set list from a great Cumbia deejay and put it all on one LP. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to know where the true roots of Cumbia come from.

12. MAG All-Stars-The Best Peruvian Orchestras Of The 50's & 60's, Vol. 2 & 3
The Peruvians may have not been the originators of Latin Boogaloo, Salsa or Descargas, but you can hardly tell by the output that came from the MAG label during the 50’s and 60’s. The Latin music from Peru was on par with the music that came out of New York and Havana during the same period and has been an underground favorite for deejays and Salsa enthusiasts alike. I imagine dance floors covered in sweat all over Peru when these bands played. Each song is played faster, with more intensity and with unconventional arrangements. There's plenty of organ and electric guitar to go along with the standard Latin instruments that give the songs somewhat of an “out” sound, which should appeal to the novices as well as the experts.

11. Staff Benda Bilili-Tres Tres Fort
What was an attempt for the four middle-aged men in wheelchairs that make the core of Staff Benda Bilili to become the best-handicapped band in Africa soon made them the new international darlings of the World Music scene. Tres Tres Fort is packed with coolness from beginning to end, with an incredible sound that is all their own. Combining the rhythm and harmonies of Cologolese Rumba with some completely “out there” soloing by Roger Landu, a street kid taken in by the group who plays an instrument he invented called a satonge, which is empty fish can with a single string stretched across it played like a lead guitar. World Music nerds love to over-romanticize stories of musicians that overcome great odds in impoverished countries to bring music to the rest of the world, ala Buena Vista Social Club and Sierra Leone All Star Refugees. Although the story of the group maybe fascinating, it's not the only reason one should check Staff Benda Bilili out. Their music more than speaks for itself.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 25, 2009 01:10pm | Post a Comment

A second helping of Xmas covers. Included in this batch is the Aroma Disc Christmas album, meant to accompany your pine cone scent disc or something or another. I tried to track down an Aroma Disc ad or two but had no luck...

I did, however, find some excellent Ray Conniff Singers footage-- it really gets no squarer than this. I think that it's even stiffer than the Lawrence Welk footage on my last blog, but I have to admit that the arrangement is actually quite cool.

Ray Connif Singers


Posted by Billyjam, December 24, 2009 03:01pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Ten: 12:24:09
the grouch three eyes off the time
1) The Grouch Three Eyes Off the Time (Legendary Music)

2) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label)

3) BlakRoc Blakroc  (V2/Cooperative)

4) Messy Marv & Berner Blow (Bern One Ent.)

5) Clipse Til the Casket Drops (SONY)

6) Messy Marv Highly Aggressive (Click Clack Records)

7) Snoop Dogg Malice N Wonderland (Priority/EMI)

8) Young Money We Are Young Money (Cash Money/Universal)

big boy young mess9) Gucci Mane The State vs. Radric Davis (Warner Bros/Asylum)

10) Timbaland Shock Value II (Blackground Records)

The Grouch from the Living Legends crew is back with a banger that went straight to number one on this week's Hip-Hop Top Ten from the Amoeba Music San Francisco store. Thanks to Luis for the chart. Titled Three Eyes Off The Time on Legendary Music, this latest release from The Grouch talks about a variety of subjects, including love in the digital age, which is explored in "The Dangers Of Online Dating." He also continues topics such as fatherhood, explored previously by the emcee on Show You The World. That album, with The Grouch pictured on the cover with his daughter on his shoulder, was released last year. And the profilic emcee, who a few years ago teamed up with Zion I to record an entire album (2006's Heroes In The City Of Dope) has not been idle. Earlier this year, along with Eligh, he released the great collaborative album Say G&E! Unfortunately, Eligh doesn't appear on Three Eyes Off The Time, but others do. Rankin Scroo and Marty James appear on the tracks "Daddy's Home" and "Make Em Think," respectively. And Fashawn and Mistah FAB both cameo on the track "Already," which is only available on this CD version of the album.

Continue reading...

Most Fun Live Shows of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 04:08pm | Post a Comment
by Kaitlin

I am a photographer by trade, and combining that passion with my love of live music, I have an insane amount of fun taking photos at shows. Here is a photo diary of a few of my favorite photos from some of the most fun shows I saw in 2009. You can find many more of my pics here.

at Bleakhaus in the Mission 2/28


Shellac at Great American Music Hall 6/17


Sunn O))) at Brookdale Lodge in Santa Cruz 8/9

sunn o)))

Butthole Surfers at Regency Ballroom 10/16

butthole surfers

Flaming Lips at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/18

flaming lips

Kawabata at Terminal 11/6

Continue reading...


Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2009 04:06pm | Post a Comment
Messy Marv, aka The Boy Boy Mess
2009 was another good year for Bay Area rap/hip-hop, with a string of new releases dropping over the past twelve months, including the thirty four full-length releases listed below. Appearing in no particular order, these choices are based mainly on releases culled from the Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop charts compiled by Luis at the Haight Street store over the past year. Not every single Bay Area hip-hop release is included here (feel free to nominate any worthy omissions in the comments below), but many of them are, and they give a good sense of the vibrant Bay Area music scene for the year of 2009.

Three albums appeared on early 2009 Amoeba Hip-Hop charts but did not make the list below since they technically were each 2008 releases (released late last year):  E40's The Ball Street Journal, released on Sic Wid It and distributed through Warner Brothers; San Quinn's From A Boy To A Man (SMC/Fontana); and Keak da Sneak & San Quinn's Welcome To Scokland on Ehustl, which combined the best of "the Sco" (San Francisco) with the "O" (Oakland) on an album that was extremely popular in the Bay in '09.

North Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. may not have released a new solo album in 2009 but he did pop up on countless other artists' releases over the past year, including most recently on The Grouch's just released Three Eyes Off The Time. Mistah F.A.B  appears on the CD track "Mistah F.A.B.Already" with hella popular Fresno emcee Fashawn. F.A.B. also appeared on Fashawn's critically & commercially acclaimed official debut album, following a string of mixtapes, Boy Meets World on Loud, which was a hit at all three Amoebas. Mistah F.A.B. also released joint full-length projects in 2009 with both the Alchemist and Glasses Malone, with whom he unleashed The Sideshow CD.

Continue reading...

Best Jazz Reissues and New Releases of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 03:52pm | Post a Comment
by Scott

2009 was a good year for jazz. As usual, there was a focus on reissues, but there were also plenty of new releases that were worth picking up. The bulk of the items in my best of have a link to Great Britain.


1. & 2. Various - Freedom Rhythm & Sound

This release from the British label Soul Jazz is both a nice hardcover book of album covers and a 2 cd set. Billed as "revolutionary jazz original cover art 1965-83," that description doesn't mention that there are a lot of words in the book giving nice encapsulation of different artists and organizations related to the civil rights movement. Along with this book, which has albums you thought you would never see in a 12"x12" reproduction, the cd version has a beautiful booklet filled with both information on the music and political events relating to civil rights. Along with bigger name folks like Sun Ra and his Arkestra, there are tracks by lesser known artists: the Hasting Street Jazz Experiment, Stanton Davis' Ghetto, and Lloyd Miller. Some of these albums were limited to 500 pieces, so being able to look at the covers and listen to cuts from those albums is a rare treat.

Prince Lasha insight

3. Prince Lasha Ensemble - Insight

The first domestic release of a Columbia LP from 1966 by local horn master Prince Lasha (pronounced "Le Shay," it says in the liner notes) Ensemble: Insight. The disc features Mr. Lasha with a cast of brilliant British musicians, including pianist Stan Tracey and David Snell on a very hip harp. There are beautiful ballads, peppy bop cuts and both original compositions and standards. I had a chance to meet Prince Lasha in our store a few years ago and had him sign an LP of his to me, then after I thanked him, he hugged me.

Continue reading...

Best East Bay Live Shows of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 03:39pm | Post a Comment
Our own Grace, from the Berkeley store's marketing department, compiled a list from all the Berkeley store employees of their top shows of 2009! Here they are, in no particular order:

Black Light District's Best Dark Music Albums of The '00's

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 23, 2009 12:45pm | Post a Comment
Last week, I posted Black Light District's year-end best of list, which was a breeze to compile compared to reviewing the last 10 years for this week's post -- the 20 Best Dark Music Albums of The Decade. I had to whittle away many great titles, but I believe these records have proven to be or will prove to be dark classics for years to come. See ya next year, kids...

1. Coil – The Ape of Naples / The New Backwards (2005/08)

John Balance’s passing was one of the great tragedies in the music world this past decade. It was especially sad to see one of his greatest works be released posthumously. The recordings on The Ape of Naples and its (later-released) sister album, The New Backwards (collected together in the limited Ape of Naples LP box set), date back as far as 1993 when the band was briefly signed to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, but went unfinished until 2004 when the group returned to the abandoned material for their new album. Gorgeous Funeral-Folk, third-eye electronics and captured transmissions from beyond The Threshold.

Listen: Coil "Fire of the Mind"

2. Diamanda Galas – Defixiones, Will and Testament (2003)

Diamanda has been scaring and thrilling me since I was a teenager and first heard the double-miked insanity that is Plague Mass
. Her wrath is visceral and unrelenting, and is not something I would like to incur. EVER. She once referred to her voice as “an instrument of inspiration for my friends, and a tool of torture and destruction to my enemies.” And that is exactly how she uses it on Defixiones, Will and Testament -- which not only stands as one of the best albums of the decade, but also as one of Diamanda’s ultimate masterpieces. This album is meant to give voice to those lives lost in the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides which occurred between 1914 and 1923 via Galas’ other-worldy four-octave voice, piano, tape and minimal electronics. Harrowing, devastating, emotionally eructative, yet scholarly focused. The album, for its weight, intensity and scope, has no peers. 

                                                                  Listen: Diamanda Galas "Holokoftoma"

3. Nový Svět - Chappaqua (2001)

The now-defunct Austrian duo, Novy Svet, while largely associated with the Neofolk genre in the early part of this decade, was a truly singular band. Their post-industrial sound included bits of wonky lounge, Mediterranean folk, minimal wave, electro, krautrock, dark ambient and jazz. Their lyrics are sung in everything from English, Spanish, and German to Italian, French and even Esperanto. One’s inability to pin the duo down to one genre is a testament to their unique genius. While nearly any one of their 11 full-length albums could have made this list, Chappaqua is the first stand-out amongst their many stand-outs. It is the early masterpiece in their catalog for its unnervingly sinister ambience and dark romanticism -- sounding like nothing else in the year 2001, before, or after. 
                                                                  Listen: Nový Svět "En Posesion De Te"

4. The Knife - Silent Shout (2005)

Music for a David Lynch film that doesn’t exist but should from weirdo Swedish Brother/Sister Duo.
The Dreaming-style weirdly-pitched and occasional Eastern scale vocals, memorable melodies, bizarre story-telling and general eerie atmosphere make this one of the darkly defining and classic albums of the decade.

Listen: The Knife "One Hit" 

5. Subtonix – Tarantism (2002)

Subtonix was one of the only Deathrock bands to do it right this decade. They reclaimed the flame and moved the genre forward. Combining elements of Christian Death, X-Ray Spex, Fuzzbox and feminism with a Gothic Horror aesthetic at now- legendarily frenzied live shows, this is the one LP they left us with and it holds up with the classics from the original 1980’s Deathrock-wave.

Listen: Subtonix "Berlin 1930"

6. Cold CaveLove Comes Close (2009)

Like Subtonix were to Deathrock, Cold Cave is to Synthpop. Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired Darkwave and Synthpop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with Synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of
Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

                          Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"

7. The Vanishing – Still Lifes Are Failing (2004)

After Subtonix, saxophonist/vocalist Jessie Evans (then Jessie Trashed) moved on to the more synth-heavy band, The Vanishing. Starting out with a relatively traditional Deathrock-vibe, the group eventually evolved into a more hypnotic dark electro/industrial sound, which can be found on the intense Still Lifes Are Failing. A record very much of its environment, Still Lifes funnels all the fear, war, excess and confusion of the last decade into a tight yet frenetic set that moves from the paranoid to the celebratory and back in under an hour. One of the best live bands of the decade finally was able to distill some of what made them so special live into a studio record. 

                                                                 Listen: The Vanishing "Still Lifes"

8. Wolves in The Throne Room – Diadems of 12 Stars (2006)

Epic, transcendental Black Metal that set the new bar. Folk, Goth, Shoegaze and Blackened Metal collide on the debut (and still the band's best as a whole) from the Olympia, Washington forest-dwellers. As important to American Metal’s evolution as Weakling’s Dead As Dreams.

Listen: Wolves In The Throne Room "(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars" PART 1
                                                                 PART 2

9. Rome – Masse Me
nsch Material (2008)

Honestly, any one of Rome’s records could have made this list, but I do believe Masse Mensch Material is the strongest of
masterstrokes from this young yet wonderfully prolific “Chanson Noir” collective. Rome built its foundation on Neofolk but has brazenly forged its own path, consistently improving and evolving on each consecutive release. They came out of nowhere and knocked all the hapless hushed neo-strummers on their asses and then kicked them into the dirt. The band further evolved on their 2009 release, Flowers From Exile (#7 0f 2009), adding poppier melodies and expanded instrumentation such as flamenco guitar to their soundscape. This definitely made Mensch the closing of the first chapter in the Rome story, and also effectively made it the band’s strongest effort as a ‘post-Industrial’ or ‘Neofolk’ outfit. Also, none of frontman Jerome Reuter’s peers can compete with his classic gothic tenor. 
Listen: Rome "Der Brandtaucher"

10. Ruby Throat – The Ventriloquist (2007)

Stellar debut from Katiejane Garside's Folk-Noir project with guitarist Chris Wittingham. Ethereal pyscho-sexual musings to stark transgressive murder-balladry to sixteen-minute-long Apocalyptic/Psychedelic folk tracks. An amazing new peak for Garside, an already consistently powerful artist.

Listen: Ruby Throat "Lie To Me"

11.  Weakling - Dead As Dreams (2000)

Listen: Weakling "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein" PART 1

12. Der Blutharsch - When Did Wonderland End? (2005)

Listen: Der Blutharsch "So Bring Your Iron Rain Down"

13. Bain Wolfkind – Music For Lovers & Gangsters (2005)

Listen: Bain Wolfkind "I Only Get Turned On..."


14. Ludicra – Hollow Psalms (2002)
Listen: Ludicra "The Final Lamentation"


15.  Piano Magic – Disaffected (2005)

Listen: Piano Magic "Night Of The Hunter"

16. Turn Pale – Kill The Lights! (2003)

Listen: Turn Pale "Lights Melt Away"


17. Cult of Youth – A Stick to Bind, A Seed To Grow (2008)

Listen: Cult of Youth "Torch of Man"


18. The Gault - Even As All Before Us (2004)

Listen: The Gault "Bright White Blind"


19. Spiritual Front - Armageddon Gigolo (2005)

Listen: Spiritual Front "Love Through Vaseline"

20. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping And Hiding (2009) 

Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"

Honorable Mentions:

Nachtmystium – Instinct: Decay

Derniere Volonte – Devant Le Miroir (2006)

Crebain – Night of Stormcrow (2003)

Of The Wand and The Moon - Sonnenheim (2005)
Pest - Ad Se Ipsum (2002)

A Decade of Live Shows in SF! The Best of the Best...

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 10:05am | Post a Comment
by Kaitlin

2010 will mark 10 years since I first moved to San Francisco. One of my favorite pastimes has been going to live shows. I’ve see big shows, small shows, quiet shows, loud shows, good, bad, memorable, forgettable and life changing shows. I’ve enjoyed rock in many forms: metal, acoustic, electric, world, performed by musicians ranging from close friends to the world famous…Here is a list of some of my favorite things about seeing shows in SF and some of my favorite shows in and around SF this decade:

great american music hall

There are so many amazing venues here to see just about any type of music you might be seeking. The Fillmore and The Warfield are classic venues that can pack in a lot of people to check out some big grindermannames, like The White Stripes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Willie Nelson, Patti Smith and many, many more. Bottom of the Hill, the Independent, and Café du Nord are smaller and more intimate, and offer a wide variety of local and traveling bands the chance to be seen. 

The Great American Music Hall is my favorite venue in the city. It was designed and built after the 1906 earthquake, was called Blanco’s back then and served as a bordello up until prohibition. After that, it was a dance hall called the Music Box, and then a jazz club, until it was re-opened in 1972 as The Great American Music Hall. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there, including Ben Kweller, The Mars Volta, Earth, Boris, Neurosis, The Dirtbombs, Grinderman, Shellac, Melvins, and High on Fire, oh, but to name a few…If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out a show there!
dave grohl
But through all the venues and all the shows, here I have listed some of the most memorable ones I’ve seen during the 2000s, mostly rock and metal…I’ve tried to find a video to accompany these shows, although some videos aren’t from the show or even tour where I saw these bands. 

Continue reading...

Best Pop Dance of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 10:00am | Post a Comment
Don Ford, our resident pop dance expert and floor manager extraordinaire here in San Francisco, has made this list of his favorite pop dance releases of 2009! Check em out!

1. Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

lady gaga fame monster

David Guetta- One Love

David Guetta- One Love

3. Patrick Cowley
- Catholic

Patrick Cowley-Catholic

4. Ultra Nate - Alchemy

 Ultra Nate - Alchemy

December 22, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, December 22, 2009 11:03pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2009 02:09pm | Post a Comment

Character actor Arnold Stang, whose long career in radio, television, and the movies included playing oppisite Frank Sinatra in the 1955 film The Man With the Golden Arm and doing the voice of the cartoon Arnold Stangcharacter Top Cat, died of pneumonia Sunday night. He was 91 years of age.  

Diminutive in stature and readily identified by his recognizable mannerisms and trademark heavy glasses, he was a serious actor who ended up playing more comedic roles than sober ones. He once described his image this way: “I look like a frightened chipmunk who’s been out in the rain too long.”

But his distinctive voice alone could carry him, as evidenced in the Top Cat cartoon clip above, in which Stang played the lead character T.C. (Top Cat), the leader of a gang of trouble making New York City alley cats. He effectively played this character, apparantly styled after Phil Silvers, for the 30 episodes of the Hanna-Barbera animated television series that were made in the early sixties and then ran for many years afterwards. In fact, it still runs on TV to this day.

As well as Top Cat, Stang did the voices for numerous other cartoons, including the 1965 film Pinocchio in Outer Space, for which he did the voice of Nurtle the Turtle. In the Otto Preminge-directed Frank Sinatra film The Man With The Golden Arm, a dark tale of heroin addiction, he played the role of Sinatra’s buddy Sparrow. One of the last acting roles Stang played was as the photographer in the 1993 film Dennis The Menace with Walter Matthau.


Posted by Charles Reece, December 22, 2009 01:01pm | Post a Comment

Christmas Gangs and Santa's Village

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 22, 2009 12:05pm | Post a Comment

This Lawrence Welk record inspired me to dig up a little classic LW for your viewing pleasure. It's listed as a "gang" number, a term not usually associated with these kinds of groups. I have a Bing Crosby LP that is a collection of gang songs as well. Below we have Mitch Miller, who was perhaps the most popular of said gang leaders.

The Holiday In Song LP features a great shot of Santa's Village. I have very fuzzy rememberances of visiting the village when I was very small. Check out this excellent website detailing the whole Santa's Village experience. I've included a few minutes of the K. Gordon Murray holiday classic Santa's Enchanted Village, which was filmed on location at the Riverside SV.

Lawrence Welk and the Gang

Santa's Enchanted Village

Top Electronic Albums of 2009

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 22, 2009 11:33am | Post a Comment

A Certain Distance
Ghostly International

Dj Sprinkles
Midtown 120 Blues

Patrick Cowley

Matias Aguayo
Ay Ay Ay

Moritz Von Oswald Trio
Vertical Ascent
Honest Jons

Telefon Tel Aviv
Immolate Yourself

Holger Zilske

Daniel Wang
Presents Balihu
Rush Hour

Three EP's

Dirt Crew


Posted by Charles Reece, December 20, 2009 09:02am | Post a Comment

I can't imagine thinking through Hitchcock, Hawks, Queer Cinema or Horror films without Robin Wood. He was the humblest (his critiques were always in a state of potential revision) and most plain-spoken of all the great theoretically driven critics (never letting theory or dogma dictate his own reactions). Although he did tend to overuse the "to not love movie x, is to not love cinema" (e.g., Marnie), that was part of his charm. Truly one of the good guys.

Summary of his career.
David Bordwell's obit.


Top Forty World Music Releases of 2009 Vol-2

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 20, 2009 08:39am | Post a Comment

30. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey - Echos Hypnotiques, Vol. 2

While last year’s collection of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou work, From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979, dug deep into the group’s rare gems, this collection comes from sessions that they did at the E.M.I. studio in Nigeria. The result? Better sound quality and more great music from the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. Their blend of Highlife, Funk and the Vodoun rhythms that come from their native country of Benin separate this album from the pack of retro-African releases that have been coming out this year.

29. Moncho Rivera - Yo Tengo Lo Mio

In Salsa music, there is nothing better than a great Sonero, a singer who is able to improvise off the top of the dome and give their musicians a run for their money. Moncho Rivera is the nephew of another great Sonero, Ismael Rivera, and continues a family tradition of singers who just destroy their contemporaries. Moncho and his band are red hot on this release, which is one of the few highlights in the Salsa music world this year.

28. V/A - Sensacional Soul Vol 2

I always felt that the best music ever made was during the worst of times. During the oppressive Franco era, conservative radio stations and record companies did not want to explore the Psychedelic movement. However, Motown was big in Spain and all the groups that emulated The Beatles started to get a little soul in them, often incorporating horn and foreign soul vocalists. Sensacional Soul Vol. 2 is a fine mixture of cover songs sung in Spanish and funky instrumentals with plenty of beat influences guaranteed to liven any dance floor.

27. Mahssa - Oyun Havasi! Volume 1

This is a mix CD by Amoeba Hollywood’s very own Mahssa Taghinia. This tasty treat of Turkish, Persian and Arabic Psyche rockers could serve as a guide to explore the many gems hidden in Amoeba Hollywood’s Middle Eastern section. Only drawback to the mix CD is there is no track list. So if you love the sound of Turkish Rock and Iranian Psychedelic Folk, one has to dig, just like Mahssa has. No cheating allowed!

26. Hoseh - Poppy Sol

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you’ll know I’m a fan of the deejays from Mas Exitos. One of their resident deejays, Hoseh, has a weekly radio show on KXLU 88.9 in Los Angeles called Headspace, which plays minimalist techno and experimental electronic music. However, for this mix CD, Hoseh breaks out his extensive collection of Latin America music rarities and obscure tracks from known artists. In Hoseh's world, records from Latin Pop icons Juan Gabriel and Jose Jose can share head space with rarities by Marquez and Tempo 70. Overall, the mixture of Latin Pop, Psychedelia and Soul makes for a better world to live in.

25. V/A - Bersa Discos Vol. 5& 6

Bersa Discos kept pumping out the twelve-inch singles this year, with Volumes Five and Six being some of their very best. Toy Selectah made his long awaited debut on wax and cranked some of his best Electro-Cumbia, and Raverton remixes. Soon Toy will be a household name for sure. On Volume Six, Sabo, known from his Sol Selecta series, steps into new territory with his own Cumbia remixes and comes out sounding like he’s been doing it for years. Two of my dance floor favorites for sure.

24. V/A - Merengue Urbano Vol.1

Merengue Urbano is one of those genres that is completely lost on you if you are not a fan of the following music: Merengue, Bachata, Reggaeton and modern R&B & Rap. The infectious 150 plus BPM’s of Merengue is mixed with auto-tuned crooners and big Reggaeton beats. This is the compilation that introduced me to El Sujeto “Con Cotorra No” and Omega y Su Mambo Violento, “Si No Me Ama,” which I have been bumpin’ at many spots I have played at this year. Certain to bum out the hipsters but will be sure to get all the gente up and dancing…trust me, I know from experience.

23. V/A - Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91

Unlike Soundways' previous two Ghana Soundz collections,Ghana less western funk and more pure African rhythms, focusing on what the title suggests. There are many standout tracks on Ghana Special, such as Kyeremateng Atwede & The Kyeremateng Stars' “I Go Die For You,” a gem of a song if it were made in any country or played in any style. May I suggest getting the vinyl version, which has five LPs, bonus songs not on the CD, and a 44-page booklet with plenty of artwork and history to thumb through?

22. V/A - Si Para Usted Vol. 2

There are many golden ages of Cuban Music. One that hasn’t garnered much attention until recently was the Cuban progressive movement of the late sixties/early seventies. Even those who are Anti-Castro and loathe socialism cannot deny the monster musicians that came out of the Cuban music schools during that era. The second volume of the Si Para Usted series showcases young and veteran Cuban musicians alike who were creating some amazing jams. The result was high-octane Cuban music melded with rock, Funk, Afro-Beat and Samba played by some of the best musicians around the world.

21. V/A - Black Rio Vol.2

The first Black Rio is one of my favorite compilations ever. Back when it was released in 2002, it opened my ears to a funky era of Brazilian music that was somewhat unknown to me. It was something that I would suggest to all my friends but soon went out of print overnight. Copies of the CD and LP are now highly sought collector's items. So when I heard there was a Volume Two, needless to say, I was excited. Once again DJ Cliffy from London’s bi-monthly Brazilian night Batmacumba dug deep and found some gems from an era that some Brazilians give no props to because it is not a “pure’ Brazilian music. However, within the funk you can hear plenty of Samba and Bossa Nova rhythms that make this series undeniably Brazilian. My personal favorite on Black Rio 2 is great cover of Gilberto Gil's ‘Bananeira’ by Emilio Santiago, a perfect combination of funky soul and Samba with a classic break beat intro. 

Travel Time

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 19, 2009 07:00pm | Post a Comment

I feel for any of you out there who might get stuck at the airport this coming week; lucky for me, a family visit just requires dealing with the 5 Freeway. 

I've included one boat cover because I felt that it worked well with the others in the gallery, although I doubt that many people are travelling by sea for a Christmas quickie. Here's a link to my aircraft label gallery.

Eastbound & Down - Down, But Certainly Not Out

Posted by Miss Ess, December 18, 2009 06:13pm | Post a Comment
When was the last time a show made you cry with laughter? If you're me, it'd been a while...

...Till Eastbound & Down got me this week. It took me 5 episodes to get to that point, but watching all 6 episodes of this short seasoned show from HBO was quite the experience in hysterics.

I thought the whole white trash thing was over. The mainstream'd caught on, we got crappy movies like Talladega Nights and then also had to deal with Jeff Foxworthy's career actually continuing...The genre, subculture, whatever you wanna call it, seemed truly played out on the media scale. So, really, when I first heard about Eastbound & Down, I thought there was no reason for what was sure to be yet another deposit into the rednecks-taking-over-the world trashbag.

BUT Kenny Powers (played by Danny McBride) and his brethren proved me wrong. This show is hilarious, mostly because of how smart and detailed it is. It clearly was written and created by people (McBride being one of them) who grew up in the South and got the hell out as soon as they could, but probably still have to go home for the holidays. These writers have an intimate knowledge of the habits of small town Southerners, and that brings much of the pleasure in watching this show.

Eastbound & Down is about an offensive, hardheaded and failed baseball pitcher who once was at the top of his sport but now has been forced to retire and move back, penniless, with his prized purple and leopard print jet ski in tow, to his (Rick Danko lookalike) brother's house in his Southern hometown. Having to face the people he knew before his fame and riches, his old girlfriend April chief among them, does quite a number on the former egomaniac. It's fun to watch him try to readjust to his new and former Southern small town way of life, where he is forced to take a job as a gym teacher at his old middle school. He decides the only way out is to once again get back into the major leagues, however he can. Good thing his old dealer still lives in town and can provide the 'roids!

The characters are loose archetypes we've seen before (the girl next door, the nerdy principal, the conservative wife), but the show pushes them far past anything previous and into wonderfully idiosyncratic territory...Kenny Powers takes on the semi brain-dead Stevie as his assistant. Stevie is one of the most unique characters I've ever enjoyed watching on a show. His parroting of Kenny and willingness to do anything to move beyond assistantship and into true friendship with him make up a key storyline through the six episodes. The show is produced by Will Ferrell, so he makes a cameo in a couple of episodes and kills as a ball-slapping car dealership owner, somewhat redeeming himself for the shallow crap that was the aforementioned Talladega Nights.

One of the themes I enjoyed most was that the show tackles small town life through the eyes of someone who is at once an insider and an outsider, and through Kenny we see the broken dreams and faux-contentment of those he left behind years before and their realities. And then Kenny struggles with the notion of being sunk into all that as well.

Anyway, overall, aside from being fantastic, this show is coarse as hell, so get ready! Plus, whoever is the music supervisor on this show gets a total high five from me. It's awesomely soundtracked. Apparently Season 2 is coming soon, so catch up with Season 1 on DVD while you can! Here's the trailer for Season 1:


Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2009 07:07am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 12:18:09

Snoop Dogg
1) Snoop Dogg Malice N Wonderland (Priority/EMI)

2) BlakRoc Blakroc (V2/Cooperative)

3) Clipse Til the Casket Drops (SONY)

4) Timbaland Shock Value II (Blackground Records)

5) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label)

Snoop Dogg went straight to number one this week on both the Billboard 200 chart and the new Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Chart with his tenth and latest solo outing, the 14 track Malice N Wonderland. He first arrived on the rap world back in 1992, when he premiered on the title track of the Dr Dre produced Deep Cover soundtrack and later that same year on Dre's landmark The Chronic album. Ever since then, Snoop (who dropped the "Doggy" part of his name some time back) has become more than merely a prolific rapper recording a string of solo singles and albums, in addition to making countless cameos on other peoples' records. He has also become a movie and television star and a pop culture icon -- not to mention a controversial figure often getting into trouble with the law, incidents that collectively resulted in him getting legally banned from the UK and Australia. Now that's gangsta!

Snoop is also a notorious weed smoker and earlier this week in his entertaining appearance on the Stephen Colbert Show on Comedy Central, when quizzed about his 420 habit he assured the host that it was prescribed "medical marijuana." "Who's your doctor, Dr. Dre?" shot back Colbert, without missing a beat, to loud laughter. If you missed this great Colbert episode, that also included Snoop doing a song plus a funny soap opera reading with Colbert, go back and check it out on But stoner or no stoner, the ever active Snoop recently added the title of business executive to his resume when EMI hired him as the chairman of the recently reactivated Priority Records on which Malice N Wonderland appears with distribution through EMI. The new album's lead single, "Gangsta Luv," is produced by and features The Dream, who is just one of Malice's many guest contributors. Brandy and Pharrell cameo on "Special," while Souja Boy Tell Em appears on "Pronto," and Lil Jon joins Snoop on the track that he also produced, "1800." Other producers include the Neptunes, Battlecat, and Scoop DeVille, who produced "I Wanna Rock" -- a track that was mixed by Snoop's original mentor Dr Dre. In addition to the album Malice N Wonderland, Snoop also made an accompanying mini-movie of the same name, a la his 1994 short film/soundtrack Murder Was the Case. A trailer for this short film follows immediately below.

Continue reading...

This Week At The New Beverly: Dec. 18 - 24

Posted by phil blankenship, December 17, 2009 11:47pm | Post a Comment
This Week At The New Beverly

Our full December calendar is online:

Friday & Saturday December 18 & 19

New Prints of Rarely Screened Billy Wilder Films

Five Graves To Cairo
1943, USA, 96 minutes - NOT ON DVD!
directed by Billy Wilder, written by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett starring Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Akim Tamiroff, Erich von Stroheim, Peter van Eyck
Fri: 7:30; Sat: 3:30 & 7:30, Watch The Trailer!


Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2009 09:50pm | Post a Comment
El Michels Affair, Wu Tang
I don't know about you, but 2009 zipped by for me, although not without making its mark in terms of music being recorded and released, and also in terms of music news being made. 2009 was a good year for hip-hop. In sports hip-hop was more present than ever, with Jay Z and Alicia Keys performing in New York at the World Series, and the Oakland hip-hop group the High Decibels' music being featured in a beer ad during the SuperBowl and in consequent football games. It was a year when the Wu-Tang crew were omnipresent, it seems, both individually and also with their music being replayed or remixed by others (inc. El Michels Affair). It was also a year when Brooklyn rapper Sean Price was seemingly everywhere -- popping up in cameos on a multitude of other folks' releases and releasing his own great mix CD.
Themselves, Anticon
2009 was the year when Wale finally released his official debut album. It was also a year when the line between mixtape CDs and actual albums released on CD got very blurred. Artists who released both a mixtape CD and an official album in 2009 included Anticon duo Themselves. 2009 was also the year when, thankfully, use of the Auto-Tune technology decreased substantially. With his song "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," Jay-Z may have helped speed up the process of its inevitable passing.  Below is a list of hip-hop and related music items from the past twelve months that caught my attention. Also below (scroll all the way down) is my list of Top Ten releases from 2009 that I really enjoyed.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Laurel Canyon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 16, 2009 03:30pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hollywood, showing the approximate location of Laurel Canyon

This blog entry is about Laurel Canyon. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

The woodsy area in the Hollywood Hills now known as Laurel Canyon was originally inhabited by the Tongva. A spring-fed stream attracted Mexican shepherds in the 18th century. After the region became part of the US, Anglos arrived. About 100 years ago, the area was divided up, cabins were erected and the area was marketed to vacationing tourists. The first movie made in Hollywood was shot in Yucca Corridor in 1910. Though the film industry remained centered in Edendale for a few years, it gradually shifted to Hollywood and Laurel Canyon became the home of some of the burgeoning industry's photo-players.

Famed cowboy star Tom Mix bought the Laurel Tavern and converted it into his residence. Mary Astor had a love nest on Appian Way. Gay Mexican "Latin Lover" Ramón Novarro lived there until his murder in 1968.

Though better known as an escapologist, Hungarian magician Harry Houdini sometimes acted in the silent era and was another resident to Laurel Canyon. Other stars of the silent screen who made Laurel Canyon their home include Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Theda Bara, Bessie Love, Wallace Reid and Norman Kerry.

After most of the movie stars left, the rustic neighborhood was still a draw from some bohemian types. It was there, in 1948, that actors Robert Mitchum and Lila Leeds were busted for possession of jazz cigarettes. Mitchum moved away in the '60s. The next influx of inhabitants were more often part of the music industry.

"she lives on Love Street"

Located as it is, just up the hill from the famed hippie and folk-rock nexus The Troubadour, the nearby bucolic setting attracted members of that scene. In the 1960s, many musicians moved to the neighborhood including Love’s Arthur Lee, The ByrdsRoger McGuinn and David Crosby, The DoorsJim Morrison and Robby Krieger, the Mamas & PapasDenny Doherty and Cass Elliot, The TurtlesMark Volman, The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, Troy Donahue, Fabian, The Beach BoysBrian Wilson, Buffalo Springfield’s Neil Young and The Mothers of Invention’s Frank Zappa.

Laurel Canyon Country Store - "the place where the Creatures meet."

In 1968, Laurel Canyon's navelgazing period truly began -- That year, Crosby, Stills and Nash formed one of the first supergroups, named after themselves, of course. The amount of musicians who referenced the neighborhood in their works is pretty humorous. The great, underrated Jackie DeShannon was first, with Laurel Canyon.  Two months later, John Mayall released Blues from Laurel Canyon. The following year, Joni Mitchell began recording Ladies of the Canyon. David Geffen moved to the neighborhood hoping to exploit the increasingly mellow singer-writer and soft rock scene embodied by new residents like Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, Judee Sill, Linda Ronstadt and members of The Eagles and America. In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang the highly irritating "Our House" about Nash and Mitchell's home. The transition from acid rock psychonauts to self-worshiping cocaine cowboys was completed in 1973, when The Roxy opened down the hill in West Hollywood.

By the ‘80s, most of the singer-writer scene had dried up and blown away but the coke hadn’t. In 1981, four members of The Wonderland Gang (Laurel Canyon’s premier coke distributors), were murdered, leading to the arrest of porn star John C. Holmes. The sleaze quotient rose further when shock jocks Adam Carrola and Tom Leykis moved there (not together).

In the '90s, the neighborhood became the home of mainstream darlings including Jennifer Aniston, Neve Campbell and Trent Reznor. A new generation of cocaine cowboys began to wax about the good old days of Laurel Canyon. In 2001, British band The Charlatans released their album Wonderland. Accepted into the scene, by the time of his solo debut a couple of years later, singer Tim Burgess seemed to embody the Laurel Canyon revival. In 2002, in true Laurel Canyon fashion, a movie about Laurel Canyon was released, titled Laurel Canyon.

World's largest dog park 

Today, Laurel Canyon still exudes considerable charm. The whimsical houses are in a variety of styles, although their current residents are unfailingly scowly types with dogs in their purses and yoga pants on at all times. Their chilly expressions are somewhat fitting in a neighborhood that, despite being surrounded by urban Los Angeles, conveys an undeniably autumnal vibe.


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

Holiday Box Sets Galore!

Posted by Amoebite, December 16, 2009 02:00pm | Post a Comment
We’ve been having a lot of fun “holiday shopping” at Amoeba HollywooBox Setsd lately. But instead of standing pat with standard box-sets and collections, we’ve been imagining what we’d want as a collection, using a broader parallel of titles and themes, and, well, we started putting together our own fun Gift Boxes!

These aren’t your average ordinary “best of...” sets or, you know, “the complete series”, these are the box sets we wish people made. Sets like our ZOMBIES! DVD Pack, which gleefully includes not only Dawn of the Dead, but also Shaun of the Dead (plus 28 Days Later and Zombie! the movie), all packaged up nicely in a little “to go”-style box for only $30 (everything is hand-picked from our awesome used selection to keep the budgets down).

We also made up some Blu-ray Starter Kits with horror classics, football films, Stanley Kubrick, Brad Pitt and more, for all those folks who got a Blu-ray player last year (or have one under the tree this year!), to kick-start their collection. At only $50, these thematic sets are a total steal. We have music packs—World, Jazz, Classical—to Blu-Ray Box Setgive a sampling of different sections in our store; boxes for kids, Christmas music, and even some larger collectible packs for people who like The Beatles or Elvis. These might include a t-shirt or a poster, or some funky collectible item we’ve had in our stash to make the ULTIMATE pack for a true fan.

What I Listened to Most in 2009

Posted by Miss Ess, December 16, 2009 01:31pm | Post a Comment
2009 wasn't my most music-heavy year, I'll admit (my own fault). I mostly stuck to what's tried and true, but each of these were special to me this year for one reason or another. Some are oldies but goodies, some brand new and sparkling...

Alela Diane - To Be Still ("Every Path")

Mountain Man -
Mountain Man ("Animal Tracks") (..and here's an interview with these fabulous gals!)

Fleetwood Mac
- Tusk ("Sara")

Alasdair Roberts -
Spoils ("You Muses Assist")

MIchael Jackson - Off the Wall and Thriller (Workin' Day and Night")

Whitney Houston -
"So Emotional"

Bonnie Prince Billy - Beware ("I Am Goodbye")

Antony and the Johnsons
- The Crying Light ("Daylight and the Sun")

Black Light District's Top Dark Music Albums of 2009

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 16, 2009 01:22pm | Post a Comment
Folks at Amoeba Hollywood like to refer to the area in the store where the Goth/Industrial and Metal Sections reside as the "Dark Corner."  Black Light District is sort of a virtual extension of The Dark Corner (as well as its former resident, the Experimental section), so the year end lists here reflect those flavors and also include those darker-leaning titles from the creepier nooks in the rock section. Next week, we'll examine the 20 best of the decade. Now without further adieu...2009's greatest from the darker realms....

1. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close (CD/LP) [Heartworm/Matador]

Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired dark-wave and synth-pop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"

2. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping & Hiding (LP)

Come-down album of the year! Need a soundtrack while hiding in a secluded cabin in the forest? A score for floating or drowning? Astral-projection? Look no further! Nods to Pygmalion-era Slowdive and Steven Reich....Gorgeous.

Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"

3. Fever Ray – S/T  (CD/LP) [Rabid]

Fever Ray (aka The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson) makes very filmic music. Dark & neon, not unlike Shriekback's contributions to Michael Mann's Manhunter soundtrack but with pitched-down vocals that sound thick and woozy like a NyQuil trip. Psychedelic, creepy, perfect.

         Listen: Fever Ray  "Keep The Streets Empty For Me"

4. Piano Magic – Ovations (CD/LP) [Darla]

Piano Magic call in heavy-hitter Gothic Godfathers Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance for their tenth LP, Ovations. Perry's vocals help the album reach its apparent goal of sounding like an O.G. 4AD release, recalling not only DCD but Cocteau Twins, and This Mortal Coil while also lovingly mining Gloom Pop and Shoegaze territory. Ominous, foreboding, and quite beautiful. Frontman Glen Johnson was on a roll this year, also releasing his stellar solo LP, Details Not Recorded.

            Listen: Piano Magic "Recovery Position"
                                                                                                                        Listen: Piano Magic
                                                                                             featuring Brendan Perry "The Nightmare Goes On"

5. Ruby Throat – Out of a Black Cloud Came A Bird (CD) [Sleepslikewolves]

Katiejane Garside became quite prolific this decade with three separate projects running in tandem with each other; the long-running Queen Adreena with former Daisy Chainsaw cohort Crispin Grey, her solo project Lalleshwari, and her Folk-Noir duo with guitarist Chris Wittingham, Ruby Throat. Out of A Black Cloud... is Ruby Throat's sophomore release and was released in a limited run this past November (no fear, a standard CD edition is on its way soon). Black Cloud finds Garside's unsettling and psycho-sexual fairytale-stylings covered in ethereal-psychedelic dream-wrap courtesy of Wittingham's instrumentation. Her voice is equal parts PJ Harvey, Alison Shaw (Cranes), and Hope Sandoval -- though sometimes a bit of Diamanda's babelogue madness creeps in.

6. Jessie Evans – Is It Fire? (CD/LP) [Fantomette]

Jessie Evans (Subtonix, The Vanishing, Autonervous) reinvents herself as the sultry siren with the orgy-inducing maracas. Budgie (Banshees, The Creatures) and Toby Dammit (Swans, Iggy Pop) show up for the party. See my review from earlier this year here.

Listen: Jessie Evans "Blood & Silver"

7. Rome – Flowers From Exile (CD) [Trisol]

The extremely prolific, self-proclaimed "Chanson Noir" group’s most accessible, textured, and varied album to date. Intricate neofolk arrangements of Flamenco guitar, strings, spoken-word samples and eerie & subtle synths ordered around electronic beats and acoustic percussion. Dark, longingly romantic balladry with deep tenor-Leonard Cohen-via-Andrew
Eldritch vocals from frontman Jerome Reuter. Top Notch!

Listen: Rome "We Who Fell In Love With The Sea"

8. Der Blutharsch – Flying High!(CD/2LP) [WKN]

The Austrian apocalyptic-industrial collective Der Blutharsch’s most seamless and cohesive of its “rock n’ roll” triptych. Read my review from earlier this year here.

9. Funeral Mist – Maranatha (CD/2LP)
[Norma Evangelium Diaboli]

It’s certainly not groundbreaking in the Black Metal genre to hate on religious dogma, but Funeral Mist’s sole member Arioch (aka Mortuus, current lead vocalist for Marduk) makes a gloriously blasphemous racket when he gets his hateration on. Youngsters, take note: Black Metal should be increasingly more like this -- with trumpets and sick-ass choirs!

Listen: Funeral Mist "Anti-Flesh Nimbus"

10. Current 93 – Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain (CD/2LP) [Coptic Cat]

Current 93 adds another landmark to its immense discography. This is David Tibet’s greatest masterwork since Of Ruine Or Some Blazing Starre or The Inmost Light trilogy. Heavy, doom-laden guitars and occasionally-treated vocals accompany Tibet’s feverish tales of apocalypse. It also features the oddest of odd guest appeances, including cameos from Rickie Lee Jones and Erotic Film Star Sasha Grey. Also check out the AMAZING Andrew Liles’ Mono-mix of the album, Monohallucinatory Mountain.

                          Listen: Current 93 "April 26 2007"

11. Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade (CD/2LP ) and Malvolent Grain (12"EP/CD-R)
[Southern Lord]

12. Andrew Liles – Ouarda (CD)

13. Former Ghosts – Fleurs (CD/LP)
[Upset the Rhythm]

14. Xeno & Oaklander – Sentinille (CD/LP)

15. Amesoeurs - S/T (CD/LP)
[Profound Lore]

16. Yoga – Megafauna (CD/LP)
[Holy Mountain]

17. All Hail The Transcending Ghost – S/T (CD)
[Cold Spring]

18. Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light (CD/LP)
[Secretly Canadian]

19. Cobalt – Gin (CD)
[Profound Lore]

20. Yellow Tears – Don’t Cry (LP)
[Hospital Productions]

Honorable Mentions:

Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With The Stars (CD/2LP)

Throbbing Gristle - The Third Mind Movements (CD)

Worm Ouroboros - S/T (CD)
[Profound Lore]

Les Paradisiers – More Tales From The Garden (LP)
[Disques de Lapin]

Beherit - Engram (CD)

Birth! - S/T (Cassette)
[This Head Is For Burning]

Habitat – Code Gray (CD-R) 

Best Compilation of 2009:

Various Artists - Pagan Folk und Apocalyptic Psychedelia
[Steinklang Industries]

Excellent  (and inexpensive!) comp of the ever-growing traditionalist, pagan and psychedelic movements within the Apocalyptic Folk genre. Features exceptional tracks from The Joy of Nature, Jahrtal, Allerseelen, Sangre Cavallum, and TONS more. All songs are taken from releases on the Ahnstern, Heimatfolk, Percht and Vrihaspati labels. An amazing rainy day listen.


Best Reissues/Vault Releases:

1. Bauhaus -
In The Flat Field & Mask Omnibus Editions
(CD Box Sets) [4AD/Beggars]

Skinny Puppy – Last Rights (2LP+CD) [Nettwerk]

3. Coum Transmissions – The Sound of Porridge Bubbling (LP)

4. Sixx - Sister Devil (CD/LP)

[Nuclear War Now Productions]

5. Cold Cave – Cremations (CD/LP)[Hospital Productions]

Honorable Mention:

Death in June - Symbols & Clouds (Box Set) [NERUS]


Posted by Charles Reece, December 16, 2009 10:31am | Post a Comment
* THE 11 BEST * 

Without Qualification


Termite, Transgressive or Just Plain Stupid?


Honorable Films Aimed at Kids That I Enjoyed, but Probably Won't Remember

Film I Most Wanted to See, but Couldn't

Film I Could See, but Most Definitely Won't, or Most Insufferable Trailer

Film I'll Probably Most Regret Seeing, or My Debased Technology Obsession

Top Forty World Music Releases of 2009 Vol-1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 16, 2009 01:39am | Post a Comment

40. V/A-Legends of Benin

There is fallout from all the African funk compilations that have been released over the last couple of years and it’s that they are all too much for most African music listeners to keep up with. What differentiates Legends of Benin from rest is that it concentrates on songs over funky beats, with each song being full of melody as well as danceable. Analog Africa, the label who brought us African Scream Contest last year, has another gem on their hands.

39. V/A-Back To Peru Vol.2

Back To Peru Vol. 2 is chock full of nuggets from the golden years of Peruvian Psychedelic and garage music with a heavy emphasis on the early 70’s period. Peru’s rock bands are raw in comparison to most groups in Latin America that were around during this time and this compilation captures that spirit with plenty of fuzz guitar and snotty anti-establishment anthems.

38. Os Mutantes- Haih Or Amortecedor

A misunderstood album I thought. I think people expected the Mutantes of old to magically reappear after many years on hiatus. Original member Sergio Dias' songwriting and musicianship has preserved well over the years, only his energy has been transferred. Yes, it has modern instrumentation and a new batch of musicians but it also retains much of that great prankster spirit of the original group. This is one I hope people revisit as time goes on.

37. Pa’sumecha-Son Jarocho

This album is as barebones as it gets for Son Jarocho. Most tracks are just the Jarana, Marimbula (a cajon/marimba that doubles as both a percussion and bass instrument), Quijada (jawbone) and voice. The improvisational skills from this small group are pretty amazing. It's as untraditional as traditional can get. The Mexicali based Pa’sumecha just blew the Amoeba doors down during their in-store performance earlier this year, surprising an unexpected and discerning Amoeba staff to prick up there ears and ask, “Who are these guys?”

36. Buika w/ Chucho Valdes-El Ultimo Trago

El Ultimo Trago is a tribute to the great Costa Rican/Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. Buika digs in to Chavela's catalog of standards and reinterprets them into Jazzy boleros. Buika’s Flamenco background serves her well, as her big voice conquers songs that Vargas helped make famous while giving infamous Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes a run for his money. Made to sip tequila to rather than take a shot.

35. Ruben Blades- Cantares del Subdesarrollo

One of my biggest joys this year was meeting Ruben Blades as he hand delivered Cantares del Subdesarrollo to Amoeba Hollywood so his fans did not have to pay the ridiculous import prices. Blades' songwriting is stronger than ever and each song is like reading a short story, full of interesting characters and observations. Done in Cuban Son and Puerto Rican Plena style, this is not one to burn the dance floor to (although it is danceable), but instead, sit and appreciate Ruben’s tales.

34. Son De Madera - Son De Mi Tierra

In laymen Beatles comparisons, if 2005’s Son De Madera's La Qrquestra De Dia was the Sgt Pepper of Son Jarocho, Son De Mi Tierra is like Let It Be, a back to the basics album that proves why Son De Madera are the best at what they do. Ramón Gutiérrez and Tereso Vega’s Jarana and Requito interplay is as seamless and natural as their voices. Along with Juan Perez's baby bass, Son De Madera shows the connection between Son Jarocho and Jazz. The songs are mostly Son Jarocho standards, due to the fact that they were signed to the Smithsonian Folkways label and they are great at selling tradition. However, this would be a great place to start if you are new to the group.

33. Chico Mann- Analog Drift (Muy...Esniqui)

Analog Drift... recalls the days back in the 80's when musicians from the U.S. and England started listening to African and Cuba music. Artists such as The Talking Heads, Grace Jones, Hector Zazou and even Michael Jackson had elements of African music in some of their biggest hits. Chico Mann merges his love of funk and freestyle with Afro-Beat and Afro-Cuban music, making this an infectious, low-key dance record.

32. Amadou and Miriam- Welcome To Mali

I respect Amadou And Miriam for trying something different on each album. They could continue to be the darlings of Malian music just by releasing albums as great as 2003’s Wati over and over again. However, I think most people agree that they are bigger than that and their music should be as revered as most pop artists' is. I’m glad to see them on late-night shows, festivals and even opening for a band like Coldplay. Everyone should see them live at least once. Welcome to Mali has a pop album philosophy behind it. It also has name producers (Damon Albarn produced a few tracks), collaborations (K'Naan) and plenty of industry buzz. At the core are Amadou and Miriam's songs of love for people, places and things; it is a sweet and endearing album.

31. Bomba Estereo-Blow Up

Bomba Estereo from Bogotá, Colombia, cannot escape the sound that is in their blood. The Cumbia rhythm, which seems to define Colombians, is the foundation of their music. However, it is layered underneath the surfy guitar, spacey keyboards, Dancehall vocals and dub bass. The hypnotic beat and the layers of sounds make a perfect background for singer Liliana Saumet's vocals. She is a mixture of M.I.A.and La Mala Rodriguez by the way of Annabelle Lwin from Bow Wow Wow. Their music hits you like a wave. You can resist it but it's better just to ride with it.


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 15, 2009 04:20pm | Post a Comment

Here's a batch of covers from the alternate universe of import bootleg LPs. Most of these are Korean boots that servicemen would bring back from tours of duty during the Vietnam War era. Growing up in such a huge Navy town, many of my friends' fathers and uncles had these peppered throughout their collections. Occasionally referred to as kimchi pressings, these LPs feature covers that are thin paper covered in plastic, though not to be confused with legitimate South American pressings that also feature this cover design. The bootlegs often feature lovely looking colored vinyl that is notorious for its poor sound quality. However, most feature alternate artwork and there's a small but fervent collectors market for big bands like the Beatles and Stones.

I've included a few of these Life Records LPs, as I've never noticed them before. They seem to be a little later, mostly late 70's titles, and some have had the artwork enhanced by hand. Check out the Smokie LP for a good example. Anyhow, I'm not sure what country or region these are from but they make the other records in this gallery look like expensive audiophile issues.

my top 50 albums of 2009...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 15, 2009 01:20pm | Post a Comment

thieves like us play music
Thieves Like Us
- Play Music (Shelflife)

This was one of those albums that I was excited about before I even heard it. I knew I would be falling in love with this one from the review alone. And the love only got stronger as time went on. I couldn't get enough of this one! It may not seem like much at first, but it truly is fantastic. I still don't know too much about this band. All I know is that they are from Sweden and they like New Order. The album is that sort of dark and new wave style but it doesn't really fall into one genre alone. Favorite songs on the album are "Fass," "Miss You," and "Drugs in My Body." The label Shelflife has put out good albums before, but nothing as good as this. I had really big hopes for this band this year to catch on in America but I don't think they ever really got that big here, which is the fate of many bands that I have fallen in love with before. They might just be a bit too weird or dark and slow. The album does not hit you over the head at first but it does get under your skin and the songs are catchy in their own special way. I highly recommend it. They do remind me a bit of the album by The Teenagers that I fell in love with last year, just without the silliness. A fantastic little album.

listen to "Fass" by Thieves Like Us...


buy the CD at

the pains of being pure at heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart -
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Slumberland)

This album still gets me all happy and giggly -- even just looking at the album cover or saying the band's name out loud. The album cover reminds me of Strawberry Switchblade or My Bloody Valentine but The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sound more like Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura. This album is 100% pure twee pop, like nature intended it to be. The songs are cute and adorable but they are also so much more than that. They all tell a story and bring you into a different world, like watching your favorite movie when you are sad. This album can cure any bad mood...unless you hate twee music. Then it might make your mood a bit worse! But even then I think you might have a hard time not falling in love with this album. I saw them live at the Echo not too long after the album came out and it was a great show but I think they still had some stuff to work out. It was just hard to capture the brilliance of the album in a live setting. It is one of those records meant to be listened to in your own bedroom, music for those of us that grew up with The Cure and The Smiths; for those of those that fell in love with The Softies and The Aislers Set in the 90's. Slumberland was the perfect label for this band to end up on -- I really couldn't think of a better label for them. I have been a big fan of Slumberland for a while, since it brought us albums by The Softies, Boyracer, Velocity Girl, The Aislers Set, Henry's Dress, Lodger, Rocketship, and The Crystal Stilts. The Pains are one of my favorite discoveries of the year. I am happy to have them in my life.

listen to "Young Adult Friction" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart...

buy the CD at

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Posted by Billyjam, December 15, 2009 12:16pm | Post a Comment
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Washington has decided to commemorate jazz great Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. The House voted (409 to 0) yesterday to honor the landmark fifty year old recording's contribution to the genre. Kind of Blue, originally released by Columbia Records in August 1959, featured Davis along with saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian ''Cannonball'' Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers, who sponsored the measure, said that Davis and the other album contributors ''made musical history and changed the artistic landscape of this country and in some ways the world.'' Indeed, the album's influence has been far reaching, influencing all types of music far beyond just jazz, including Latin, rock and hip-hop. And over the years many musicians have done their renditions or reinterpretations of Kind of Blue, including Portland, OR blip artist Andy Baio, who earlier this year recorded an inspired 8-Bit reinterpretation of the album that he retitled Kind Of Bloop.

Below is a video honoring Kind of Blue's fiftieth anniversary made in conjunction with Legacy Recordings' recent releasing of the album's Collector's Edition Box set which is available at Amoeba Music. 

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary

(In which Job picks his favorite album of 2009.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 14, 2009 12:13pm | Post a Comment
Aloha, humanity! I’m back from my all-too-brief vacation on the Islands of Hawaii, about which I will tell you soon, but not now, as the time has come for my contribution to the Amoeblog Best of 2009.

As many of you know, I don’t exactly ride the cutting edge of the music scene, and most of the music I listen to was made by people who either died of a smack overdose on the balcony of some plush hotel over twenty-five years ago, or they died trying to free their brothers and sisters from Southern slavery, or they were assassinated in the French Revolution. These are roundabout ways of saying I listen to dead people.

So when I’m in a position to name my favorite picks from the current year, I’m normally a deer in headlights, hoping I can somehow convince people that Helen Kane didn’t actually die in 1966, and has just released this awesome new single…

Really! Morrissey produced it. I know, it sounds like it was recorded decades ago, but that’s because… of… things and… stuff.

This year, however, I am happy to report I have a favorite album that really was released in 2009 by someone who’s really alive and the album is really good!

The album is Get Reasonable and it was recorded by Golden Shoulders, a poetic name that cloaks the identity of Adam Kline – the brains behind the outfit.

"So delicious! And nutritious!"

Get Reasonable is the natural progression of music that blossomed from the ashes of grunge; it is rock music and it is sincere. While a huge swath of people have invested in acts that are devoutly escapist, such as Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, or the cast of Glee, Golden Shoulders has amassed a loyal following of music enthusiasts who value craftsmanship over craftiness and witty lyrics over easily learnable ones. Golden Shoulders’ sound is fresh, inventive, smart and completely devoid of so many of the production gimmicks that plague the airwaves currently.

Adam Kline’s music is at once accessible without being cliché. Obvious influences are The Kinks and pre-disco Bee Gees; he’s also influenced by the folk traditions of the Pacific Northwest, more so in instrument choices than tunings.

The aforementioned brains.

Of particular note are his words. Ever-aware that lyrics are an opportunity not to be taken lightly, he deftly warbles on matters of personal and social conscious in a way befit of master-lyricists such as Morrissey, Dylan, or Phil Ochs – in fact, I would venture to say Golden Shoulders is what Phil Ochs would sound like if he was today instead of yesterday.

This is not to say that Kline is preachy – he’s too pithy to be anything but delightful, but he doesn’t shy away from giving voice to matters more complex than cell phones or botched three-ways.

Get Reasonable covers a lot of sound-territory but remains cohesive. There’s not a single, skipable track on the record; it doesn’t repeat itself.

I recommend putting it in your car stereo and listening to it loud. It will give you better gas mileage. I don’t know how, but it does! This and the reasons above make it my favorite album of 2009. Why not see what all my fuss is about and get yourself a copy? After all, you totally love music that is awesome, d'accord?


Posted by Billyjam, December 14, 2009 08:08am | Post a Comment

Today we have the latest in the ongoing series by guest Amoeblog contributor, incarcerated Sacramento hip-hop artist Anerae "X-Raided" Brown. Here, he continues a topic that he began in a previous Amoeblog about the creative process in prison.

In the previously published first part he wrote about the fact that incarcerated individuals sometimes have an advantage when it comes to being creative because they can focus more easily on their art due to lack of distractions. In this second piece on the same topic, he writes about the importance of certain programs for inmates and one in particular that was cut some years back due to the state's budget crisis. As you know, California's budget crisis has only worsened in recent times and those in the prison system, where things are already chronically overcrowded, are feeling the crunch most.

The Creative Process in Prison, Part Two: by Anerae "X-Raided" Brown

art class in prison

Once upon a time, before California's well documented budget crisis, before the California Department of Corrections indisingeniously added "Rehabilitation" to their name, there existed a program titled Arts in Corrections. For this program, so called Free-Staff, often unpaid citizens that volunteered their time and expertise, would come into institutions to teach inmates such skills as how to play musical instruments, how to paint, or draw, or bead, and many other crafts and hobbies that would allow interested inmates to occupy their time in productive ways. And oftentimes Free Staff would learn a thing or two from random exceptionally talented inmates.       

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Coming Down in a Puff of Smoke: Up in the Air (2009)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 13, 2009 11:51pm | Post a Comment
"Hey, little girl, don't you know he's the devil / He's everything that I ain't / Hiding intentions of evil, / Under the smile of a saint. / All he's good for is getting in trouble, / And shiftin' his share of the blame. / And some people swear he's my double: / And some even say we're the same./ But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose, / I'll only live 'til I die. / We take our own chances and pay our own dues, / The silver tongued devil and I." -- Kris Kristofferson


Unlike my blogging confrère, I somewhat ashamedly enjoyed Juno, but primarily for the comically pathetic character played by Jason Bateman. He's an artistic dreamer compromised by the bourgeois constraints of making an upper-middle class living. He's also the only basically decent adult male protagonist in director Jason Reitman's three-film oeuvre (perhaps due to being written by Diablo Cody, rather than the director). That is, Bateman's character still has some idea -- no matter how illusory -- of making music for something other than its exchange value. If his new film, Up in the Air, and first film, Thank You for Smoking, both of which he wrote, are any indication, Reitman's more interested in the bourgeois male who serves as the beguiling, devilish proponent of Capital. In the earlier film, Aaron Eckhart (who's always been the artier house parallel to George Clooney) plays the chief propagandist for Big Tobacco with absolute zeal, completely committed to the libertarian ideal of capitalism as being best when it's amoral -- let the consumer qua homo economicus make up his own mind. That such corporations pay big bucks to the rhetorical charms of such men puts the big lie to this idealization. Eckhart's character never goes beyond being a fascinating evil in the film, which keeps the audience at a distance from him, making it clear one should put identification on hold. It's for that reason that the attempted dramatic turns fall flat, even though the movie ain't half bad. This time around, Reitman places the capitalist devil in a romantic comedy, using the most seductive of contemporary stars, Clooney.


While Clooney gets compared to Cary Grant a lot (and for good reason), one thing he's never had is a role as good as the ones HitchcockHawks and their writers used to supply -- at least, until now. Ryan Bingham is Clooney's Roger O. Thornhill, a complete narcissistic asshole with whom, nonetheless, you can't help but identify due to his charisma and tragic disposition. Whereas Hitchcock and writer Ernest Lehman provide some phony absolution for the adman Thornhill at the end of North by Northwest, Reitman and co-writer Sheldon Turner remain true to the letter(s) of their character (which might as well be 'R.O.T.,' with the 'O' standing "for nothing"). Ryan is a hatchetman for corporate downsizing, who uses his silver tongue to do what corporate bosses are too cowardly to do directly. In the manner exhaustively detailed in Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided, he uses the depraved double-speak of the positive thinking movement to make employees (supposedly) feel good about being canned -- as if it's a chance for a new beginning, rather than being cast off alone into the void. He's also a part-time self-help guru for management, who's devised a nihilist philosophy that justifies his own inability to connect with humanity except through a miserable way of making a living:

By justifying his life's work as that of the lonely Charon's, ferrying the formerly employed across the river to another plane of existence, Ryan provides succor to management types who might feel bad about firing so many during a recession. The comedy begins when he faces his own potential downsizing by a recently hired Ivy-League graduate, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who's developed a series of flowcharts, scripts and internet software which makes his job capable of being done more efficiently by remote (over a computer screen). Since Natalie's internet approach doesn't possess the simulated warmth of Ryan's person-to-person equivocal skills, the company pairs them out in the field to improve upon her algorithms. In a rare instance in a Hollywood film, a character-too-smart-for-his/her-own-good is actually smart. Natalie's means-end philosophy of life makes for the perfect counterpoint to Ryan's more jaded solipsism. Both have difficulty interacting with others as ends in themselves. 

The romance is provided by Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga, who's like Cate Blanchett with the sex appeal of Veronica Lake). She's pretty much a female version of the Ryan character with some nondescript corporate job that keeps her in the air nearly as much his does him. Their layover-based affair begins through a comparison of frequent-flyer miles and prestigious credit cards. Instead of turning homicidal as it did in American Psycho, this one-upmanship is the "beginning of a beautiful relationship," where Ryan has finally found his mental and existential equal. It's also the first time Clooney has ever encountered an actress playing someone who isn't there for him to simply dominate with his charisma. (If this were the classic Studio-era in Hollywood, Farmiga and Clooney would go on to star together in another 5 or so films.) The problematic difference between the two characters is that she keeps her business and private life separate, whereas he isn't much more than than the protective mask he's created for his job. While the dialog is every bit as clever as that of the classic Depression-era romantic comedies, the film proves to be more modern in its approach to how easily one can cast off such masks. 

A true classic of the Ought decade

December 10, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, December 11, 2009 11:56pm | Post a Comment

Die Cut Gallery Volume 2

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 11, 2009 03:30pm | Post a Comment

Here's another round of company sleeves for you all; there's a few rarities here. The Friday the 13th and the Panorama Disco sleeves are both pretty hard to find, while the Def Jam & Epic sleeves are classics that you see every day.

The U.K. Warner's sleeve picture above is a pretty scarce item, as is the Radar sleeve below. Earlier in the year I did another gallery full of 12" sleeves -- check it out here.

Theme From Friday the 13th Pt. 3


Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2009 07:07am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five: 12:11:09
Souls of Mischief
1) Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear Label Records)

2) FELT FELT 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers)

3) Wu-Tang Meet the Indie Culture, Vol. 2: Enter The Dubstep... (Ihiphop Distribution)

4) Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. (Interscope)

5) Aesop Fables Living The Dream While Awake  (Weed Tracker Music)

Shout out to Inti at Amoeba Music Berkeley for this week's Hip-Hop Top Five chart which finds a local hip-hop crew on top, Oakland's Souls of Mischief and their first new studio album in a decade, the Prince Paul produced Montezuma's Revenge on Clear Label Records. The new album also includes production input from Domino (responsible for their amazing debut 93 Til Infinity). The four emcees, A-Plus, Phesto, Opio and Tajai, are in top notch form here. And, not surprisingly, these diehard Hieroglyphics members, who dropped their debut sixteen long years ago when they were still teenagers, have matured quite a bit, all the while keeping that Hiero/Souls flavor that made them so endearing in the Rosie Perez, Feltfirst place. It sounds like veteran yet ever-envelope pushing producer Prince Paul got the best of out of the crew, as witnessed on standout songs such as "Home Game," "Postal," "Proper Aim," and "Dead Man Walking." Also, Prince Paul can be credited with creating a cohesive album (complete with skits, of course) that deserves listening to in its entirety -- the way albums used to be.

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Little Osaka, the Westside's J-Town

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 10, 2009 11:09pm | Post a Comment

This Los Angeles neighborhood blog entry is about Little Osaka. To vote for another neighborhood(s) to be covered here on the blog, click here. To vote for a Los Angeles County community(ies) to be covered, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Westside

have long been integral to the fabric of Los Angeles. J-Towns have sprung up around the Southland in Gardena, Torrance, Boyle Heights, Pasadena, San Pedro, Terminal Island, Compton, Long Beach, Monterey Park and Sawtelle. As far as I know, only two have acquired nicknames that reflect their Japanese-ness, Little Tokyo and Little Ōsaka. The former is a well known spot downtown.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Little Osaka

The latter is a small district along Sawtelle Boulevard between Nebraska and Tennessee in the Sawtelle neighborhood (and former municipality) favored by Nisei, foodies, otaku, hentai, nipponophiles. With the rainy season just beginning, my ex-roomie Shimbles and I set out to explore the neighborhood.

From around 400 BCE till the arrival of the Spanish, the area around what's today Little Osaka was known to the Tongva as Kuruvunga. In 1896, a neighborhood sprang up known as Barrett. The US postal service objected to the name, on account of its similarity to Bassett. In 1899, the name was changed to Sawtelle. In 1918, Sawtelle became part of Los Angeles. By the '10s, the area was largely populated by Japanese-Americans and the neighborhood was often referred to as "Soteru." From 1920 to '25, the population of Sawtelle grew rapidly, from 3,500 to 10,700.

In the 1920s and 30s, what's now Little Osaka (小大阪) was dominated by Nikkei-run nurseries which mostly served wealthy, white westsiders, although Sawtelle homes themselves often display more thoughtful landscaping than those in average neighborhoods. In 1931, a group of Japanese planted a Japanese garden (designed by Koichi Kawana) in Sawtelle's Stoner Park "for the promotion of better understanding." By 1941, there were 26 nurseries in the area. When Japanese-Americans were unjustly interred during World War II, the neighborhood went into decline. Today there are three nurseries remaining in Little Osaka; The Jungle, Hashimoto and Yamaguchi Bonsai.

Lianne Lin's I <3 Sawtelle

In the '20s, the large Kobayakawa Boarding House was built by Riichi Ishioka on Sawtelle Blvd, housing up to 60 people at a time. It remained in operation until the 1970s. When Japanese-Americans returned to the neighborhood after the war, Sawtelle Gakuin's auditorium was converted to a hostel. In 1946, Toshikazu "Tom" and Midori Yamaguchi opened the store Yamaguchi, a beloved institution in the neighborhood. Yamas remained in business until 2006, when their sons, Henry and Jack, sold it. In the late '80s, many of the existing buildings were destroyed to make way for strip malls and offices. In the '90s, the area began to bustle again, perhaps initially because authenticity-oriented foodies discovered the neighborhood's Japanese-American restaurants. Although most of the pre-war character of the neighborhood was by then erased, the JA character remained and the area began to be referred to as Little Osaka.

There are still multiple sushi, curry and noodle joints -- among others. I suspect the neighborhood may've acquired its nickname (instead of, say, Little Yokohama) because of how densely populated with eateries it is. Big Ōsaka, after all, is the city of kuidaore ("to become poor as a result of one's extravagance in eating and drinking"). Being a cold, rainy day, I had some extra hot curry and sake to warm myself from the inside out. Afterward we stopped by Beard Papa's, a chain founded in the original Ōsaka. I ate the brand new Cookie Crunch Puff. Although my sweet tooth is dwarfed by my bitter, salty, sour, spicy and umami teeth, it was delicious.

There haven't been any films shot in Little Osaka that I know of, except for a couple of short youtube docs, the area does have a connection to Japanese film. First it should be said that Amoeba has a very large selection of Japanese films -- one of the best in the city. However, if you can't find a Japanese movie at Amoeba, there's a good chance they have it at Video Addict, although probably without English subtitles.

Giant Robot
was started in 1994 by Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong as a magazine covering Asian and Asian-American pop culture. It not only filled a void in the publishing world, but its subject matter, its humor, attitude, observation and insight also made it one of the greatest magazines, period. They opened their first store in 2001, in Little Osaka. A few years later, they opened the art gallery, G2. We checked out the Post-It Show.


There are a lot of clothing joints in the neighborhood. As with the world outside of Milan, there are many more options for the ladies than the gents. And for the gents, most of the choices are kawaii t-shirts and outfits you'd see on kids in a jerk video.

As we left Little Osaka, we crossed Nebraska and saw this creepy Brujeria omen...


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

Google's Favorite Places - Amoeba Music

Posted by Amoebite, December 9, 2009 03:59pm | Post a Comment
We're patiently waiting the arrival of our store decal. Stay tuned for how we might use our QR code.

Read more about Google's Favorite Places here.

Google's Favorite Places

Highlights from Our 2009 Instores!

Posted by Amoebite, December 9, 2009 03:34pm | Post a Comment
Celebrate, relive and/or discover some highlights from the year's instores at all three Amoebas along with us right here!


Exene Cervenka


The Legendary X front-woman Exene Cervenka played a captivating set of her folky solo material at Amoeba Berkeley for an adoring crowd of old and young punks alike. After performing, she signed records and chatted with the giddy fans. View more photos here.

Mae Shi


Los Angeles spaz-punks The Mae Shi completely wigged out on the Berkeley stage. Passing a full-sized parachute over the whole stage and crowd in the Jazz room, the band climbed on our CD racks and ran into the aisles while performing songs off their latest album, Hlllyh. View more photos here.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 9, 2009 03:00pm | Post a Comment

The much revered (and missed) nineties alt-rock outft Jawbox performed last night (12/8) for the first time in twelve years! They played a one-off, one-song reunion show live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at NBC's New York studios in the famed 30 Rockefeller Plaza building, performing the song "Savory" (video above in case you missed their charged performance). The Washington DC group played their first show ever back in 1989 opening for Fugazi and were once signed to Dischord before surprising/shocking many by jumping to a major (Atlantic Records). The occasion for this surprise reunion was to celebrate the reissue of Jawbox's 1994 album For Your Own Special Sweetheart -- available at Amoeba Music -- featuring the song "Savory" that was once covered by the Deftones. And, despite the wishes of the many remaining fans of this post-hardcore band, the group's J. Robbins insisted in a recent statement that, besides last night's TV appearance, there would be no other shows or chance of a full-fledged reunion.

Twenty nine years ago tonight ...

Posted by Whitmore, December 8, 2009 11:15pm | Post a Comment

Twenty nine years ago
tonight I was at home, safe in my tiny triplex, watching Monday Night Football, lounging on a very ugly, distastefully yellow and brown recliner, recently found near the dumpster at the local Jack in the Box where my girlfriend worked. We lived together, right around the corner on lucky 13th Street in Newhall, California. I worked at a nearby liquor store in Saugus, which explained our extremely diverse bar in our dining room. Anyway, I was drinking cinnamon schnapps, intent on just wasting away another Monday night watching football. The Dolphins and Patriots game had gone into overtime when Howard Cosell announced to the nation that John Lennon had been shot in New York City. (A guy named Smith, I believe, won the game on a field goal for the Miami Dolphins.) Seconds later the phone started ringing off the hook, there was a lot of confusion and tears and lame hopeless jokes.

Anyway, here are some John Lennon quotes:
“Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it.”
“I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. It's just getting out of one car, and into another.}
"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or my music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it."
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.”
“As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.”
"Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that
ruins it for me."
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”
"Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law. It's nine-tenths of the problem."
“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
“Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.”
“Part of me suspects that I'm a loser, and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.”


Posted by Billyjam, December 8, 2009 07:40pm | Post a Comment
The Dakota, December 8th, 2009

On this date, December 8th, exactly 29 years ago, John Lennon was tragically shot and killed outside his New York City home, The Dakota building on 72nd Street and Central Park West. He was gunned down at approx John Lennon, New York City10:50pm in cold blood by Mark David Chapman, a "fan" who Lennon had signed an autograph for earlier in the day. The former Beatle, along with his wife Yoko Ono, had just returned from a remixing session at the Record Plant recording studio.

While this event stunned Lennon/Beatles fans the world over, for those who lived in New York City it was momentous. While certainly nowhere near as devastating a tragedy as the 9/11 attacks on New York City, Lennon's horrifying murder on a Manhattan's streets was similar in that the event brought the city and its citizens together in shock and mourning. A densely populated metropolitan area, New York City can often be a cold, unfriendly place where strangers may bump shoulders with fellow city dwellers but rarely stop to talk to total strangers.

But on that night in 1980, as news of Lennon being slain trickled out, total strangers in shock gathered in the streets and cried together over the unbelievable news. It hit New Yorkers especially hard because Lennon had adopted New York City as his own. He had relocated there nine years earlier and had always proclaimed his love for the Big Apple. He even titled one of his albums after NYC, the highly politicized 1972 Yoko collaboration and double-album Some Time In New York City. And one of the most common images that comes to peoples' minds of John Lennon is one with him proudly wearing that New York City t-shirt (above). So his death in New York City hit hard. And on the night of the shooting concerned fans converged at both Roosevelt Hospital where Lennon was taken (and died within a half hour of tstrawberry fields central parkhe shooting) and outside the Dakota building, where a huge crowd had gathered, with candles lit and singing Lennon songs. And once word that Lennon had died got back to the swelling crowd outside the Dakota, the crying and mourning intensified. In fact, it continued through the night and into the days after.

Continue reading...

Remember John Lennon October 9, 1940-December 8, 1980

Posted by Miss Ess, December 8, 2009 01:07pm | Post a Comment
"God" - Plastic Ono Band

"Jealous Guy" - Imagine

"One Day at a Time" - Mindgames

"Johnny B. Goode" - on the Mike Douglas Show

"Yer Blues" - from The Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus

"Many Rivers to Cross" - with Harry Nilsson

"Watching the Wheels" - Double Fantasy

Other Christmas Movies - off-beat, under-seen, non-traditional, obscure, forgotten and alternative Christmas movies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 8, 2009 01:00pm | Post a Comment
Come September of every year and kid-friendly Christmas movies began to dominate the airwaves. Movies with muppets and toys and Frosty and Santa and Rudolph. Movies like Babes in Toyland (1961), Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978), A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Elf, Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), A Flintstone Christmas (1977), Frosty the Snowman (1969), Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976), Home Alone (1 and 2), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966 and the live action "reboot"), It's a Wonderful Life, Jack Frost (1998), Jingle All the Way (1996), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and its re-make), Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Nutcracker, The Polar Express (2004), Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976), Santa Claus (1985), The Santa Clause (1 and 2), The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper (1982), and Yogi's First Christmas (1980)... to mention some of the better known ones. Although not all of them are completely insufferable for anyone over the age of seven, none are exactly adult-friendly. 

These here are the other Christmas films, guaranteed to get one in the Christmas spirit, whilst not including (re)incarnated snowmen (except when they're killers), flying reindeer, elves, Scrooge, members of the Claus family, kid friendly fare (unless no kid would want to watch it), Christmas specials or the birthday boy, Christ Jesus!* A few of them have sequels (e.g. Jack Frost and Gingerdead Man) which I didn't list but you can track down if you please. (For the truly adventurous or fatigued, try a silent Christmas film.)

Interview with Moodmusic's Sasse

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 7, 2009 10:51am | Post a Comment

This week sees the release of Moodmusic’s Starstyling compilation, which is a fine selection of some of the best moments from their recent catalog. Label owner Sasse provides a large helping of fresh house and techno featuring tunes from many of the Moodmusic camp, such as Tigerskin's already classic “Holy Grail” along with the newest release from Dave DK and Holger Zilkse, “You Will Find Out,” which we can’t get enough of...Sasse took some time out to answer some questions for all things concerning Moodmusic and what’s in store next.

When and where were you born, and have you always been in Berlin?

Originally born and raised in Finland in May 1973, I´ve been in Germany for the last 10 years, in Berlin for 6 years now. As much as I Iove the city for its vibrant scene, it´s a very nice and chilled place to live.

What got you interested in house/techno music?

It must have been the first wave of acid house which hit the UK, and eventually also the rest of Europe in the end of the 80s which made the impact. I remember taping radio shows in late 80s with italo, proto house and early Chicago stuff and dreaming of going into clubs, as where I lived in a small industrial city in Finland there [were] only shitty pubs and discos. Eventually I started traveling to London and NYC to buy records and visit clubs, which led to promoting my own nights in the early 90s, first doing proper raves, then doing club nights and so on..

When and why did you choose to start to make your own music?

I started spinning house and techno in the early 90s, after a few years of more commercial dj jobs at shitty normal discos. Eventually we started throwing rave parties and one thing led to another so we started looking for off locations, smaller things, which also was more fitting with the deep house sound we were spinning back then. Anyways, I always wanted to understand how to make the music, but as there was no real producer scene, no mags and no internet back then to talk about, I had no clue how to produce house and techno. Some friends heard about the 909 and bought one for 300 bucks and another one bought an Yamaha FM synth and some analogs for next to nothing; it was totally non-fashionable to use analog synth back then -- it was all about workstations!

I built a dj-sampler from a DIY company and it was a big revelation to be able to sample shit, as Akais and E-Mu samplers were just too expensive. So we multitracked on normal cassette tape machines and somehow could overdub new samples on to the tape; can´t remember how it was working but it was great! This must have been around '90-'91 I think…

How would you describe the Moodmusic sound?

I think there´s always a certain deepness or emotion in the sound we create and bring out. Moodmusic stands to me for my personal taste in music, which of course has and will change over the years as a dj, but foremost as a music lover. So it´s everything under the sun, really, as long as we can call it house music !

The Starstyling mix has a whole slate of talented remixers and producers involved. Who are you going to be working with on future releases, and what are some of the sounds you’ve really been feeling these days?

The mix has a lot of our regular artists involved and we´re always looking for fresh new talent, so there´s no big master plan who will be featured on the next releases. I´ve just been in the studio with James Flavour and Phonogenic, and will work with Martin Eyerer in January on some tunes, so there will be more Sasse output in 2010 on Moodmusic. There´s a few interesting remixers which I´m really happy to feature on Mood, namely Tony Lionni will do a remix of a tune for the new James Flavour vs. Sasse single, and $Me is remixing my new Sasse single. Really excited about that!!

What's your opinion of what's going on (musically) in Berlin right now?

Berlin is mixed bag actually...Really happy about the deeper side of things, house rules the clubs here again.. But I have to say there´s great techno nights as well. I´m quite a lot on the road, and when I´m in Berlin I tend to hang around in the studio rather than going out, so I cannot only comment on the night I play out myself.

What's a typical day in the life of Sasse?

Wake up, coffee, studio, long dj lunch, studio, pick up my son, home, sleep

How do you like US clubs -- how do they compare to what's going on in EU?

From the technical side I really enjoy the sound systems in US clubs; there seems to be more detail and care put towards the perfect sound system, but I can only comment on clubs I´ve been to, which have been in bigger cities like NYC and Miami. European clubs, of course, also have nice sound systems, but that´s only in the top clubs like Berhain/Panorama Bar, Fabric, Robert Johnson and Watergate.

How important do you think it is for a DJ to be remixing and producing as opposed to just DJing?

I really have to say I do respect people who are djs only, but being only a dj today is almost impossible. I mean, I know a few peepz who´ve been djing only, but they´ve been 20+ years in the biz and have their respect. I myself would find it boring to dj only, as studio is my 2nd home and I need the studio as a creative space for my dj-sets as well.

Has the Moodmusic business plan had to change with the digital era -- will you continue to press vinyl, etc?

Yes, for sure. The days of vinyl sales are gone, but we keep doing small pressings for the fans out there. I´m pretty sure there will be a day when we cannot do vinyl anymore; it´ll be sad, but it´s just normal, I think. If the market does not want a Moodmusic release on vinyl I don´t give a toss about it...We do music for fans, and they will find it -- be it vinyl, CD or digital. I´m also pretty confident that the digital market will massively change in then next 5-10 years; we´ve just begun and are learning how to play the game. So yes, it´s exciting times and being an old fart aint´making it easier, but at least keeps you in form...

Anything else you'd like to say?

Not really, keep it deep and real -- and support your artists, label and djs!

Finally, do you have a chart or a top 10 for us?

Sasse - December 2009 Chart:

1. Nick Chacona - "Fear" (Beg To Differ Remix) - Moodmusic
2. Alland Byallo - "My City" (Alex Kid Remix) - Missive
3. Yosa - "Margaret" - Dirt Crew Records
4. House of House - "Rushin to Paradise" (DJ Harvey Streets Mix)
5. Black - "Reject My Love" - Black001
6. Siopsis - "Really Love Ya" - Get Physical
7. Chymera - "The Rumours of My Demise" - Komplex De Deep
8. Hakim Murphy -  "Jupiter Poop" (Original Mix) - Black Robots Having Sex
9. Steffen Nehrig - "Randomize Me" (Tigerskin's on hold rmx) - Inclusion
10. Felipe Valenzuela - "Recordo" - Room 9

Starstyling - Tracklisting:

1. Stel - "The Nail That Sticks Out" (King Roc remix)

2. Sasse
- "Friday Sessionz" (Daso remix)

3. Dave DK - "Cinema Paraiso" (Ada remix)

4. Kiki & Sasse - "Belvedere" (Till Von Sein remix)

5. Filippo Moscatello - "Pagliaccio"

6. Tigerskin - "Holy Grail"

7. Dirt Crew - "Deep Cover"

8. Penner & Muder - "Wonder"

9. Lil Tony - "Checkpoint Charlie"

10. Holger Zilske & Dave DK - "You Will Find Out" (feat Richard Davies)

11. Filippo Moscatello - "Kleinmond"

12. Sasse
- "Wrapper"

13. Nick Chacona - "Especial" (feat Anthony Mansfield)

Starstyling is now available on and in our stores.


Posted by Billyjam, December 7, 2009 09:00am | Post a Comment
Anerae "X-Raided" Brown
Today we have another installment in the ongoing exclusive Amoeblog series Hip-Hop Behind Bars: A First Person Account by X-Raided, in which long-incarcerated Sacramento rap artist and label owner Anerae "X-Raided" Brown writes from behind the bars of Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, CA  where he is serving a 31 year to life sentence. In this edition, he writes about his two most recent releases, the two volumes in the Unforgiven series, which are available at Amoeba Music.

As outlined in his last Amoeblog entry, X-Raided, who somehow manages to run a record label and release albums from behind prison bars (he's released a dozen projects since his incarceration back in the early nineties), has released three albums just this year, all with Unforgiven in the title. One is entitled Eternally Unforgiven, recorded, he said, "to get my voice back out there" after a gap in releases. Meantime, The Unforgiven 1: In the Beginning is an updated version of the album he released ten years ago via Sacramento's Black Market Records. The new 2009 version, released on the artist's recently formed Bloc Star Entertainment label, features completely different sequencing, added tracks, and remixes. The goal of this release was to bring new fans up to speed and to prepare them for The Unforgiven 2: Assisted Suicide, which, according to X- Raided, "is here to let y'all know I'm back and I'm serious. Anybody think we ain't on fire, listen to the "Mortal Combat" remix and tell me we ain't the best. I put the rhymes on Unforgiven 2 against anything out there." What follows is X-Raided's track by track breakdown of each of these Unforgiven volumes.


Posted by Charles Reece, December 6, 2009 10:50pm | Post a Comment
As I recall, dreams of hats are supposed to signify genitalia. Obviously, psychoanalytic interpretation can go overboard.

Here a cowboy is merely grabbing his hat to leave.

Forty Guns is a available on dvd.

How to Dramatize with a Hammer: Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

Posted by Charles Reece, December 6, 2009 10:04pm | Post a Comment

"Why so hard?" the kitchen coal once said to the diamond. "After all, are we not close kin?" Why so soft? O my brothers, thus I ask you: are you not after all my brothers? Why so soft, so pliant and yielding? Why is there so much denial, self-denial, in your hearts? So little destiny in your eyes? And if you do not want to be destinies and inexorable ones, how can you one day triumph with me? And if your hardness does not wish to flash and cut through, how can you one day create with me? For all creators are hard. And it must seem blessedness to you to impress your hand on millennia as on wax. Blessedness to write on the will of millennia as on bronze — harder than bronze, nobler than bronze. Only the noblest is altogether hard. This new tablet, O my brothers, I place over you: Become hard!
-- Zarathustra, quoted in "The Hammer Speaks!" from Friedrich Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols

The most inclusive description of the art is that, termite-like, it feels its way through walls of particularization, with no sign that the artist has any object in mind other than eating away the immediate boundaries of his art, and turning these boundaries into conditions of the next achievement. 
-- Manny Farber on what he called "Termite Art"

I wasn't going to see Lee DanielsPrecious, figuring it would be a bunch of liberal claptrap about the struggle of an inner-city black teenager overcoming adversity to make the rest us feel better -- something along the lines of what Manny Farber used to call White Elephant Art. That is, the big Hollywood message films of old, the style and substance of which now tend to be relegated to the Sundance circuit due to multiplexes focusing on big budget spectacles (albeit, such films are making a commercial comeback, cf. Sandra Bullock's current star vehicle Blind Side, or Will Smith's recent Happyness). But, being on a Sam Fuller kick, a recent Fresh Air review of his new box set piqued my interest by suggesting that Daniels was carrying on in the exploitative, knee-to-the-groin style of the Termite master. Rather than practice a nuanced argument in his films, Fuller would pummel you with so many messages (the difference between textual and subtextual mattering little) that any overt ideological points would become buried, challenged or eaten away, leaving you bewildered as to what exactly he was trying to say. Consider his critique of racism from Shock Corridor, where a black patient has taken on the oppressive iconicity of white supremacy as a defense mechanism, donning a Klan hood to repress another black patient:

There's no subtlety in the scene, but it defies any easy categorization. It manages to be both vile and comical at the same time. The insightful Dave Chapelle did a twist on this in his show where he had a blind, black Klansman spouting white power slogans, never having seen his own reflection. Was Fuller deadly serious with this sort of exploitation, or did he see the comedy in such lurid, almost literal, metaphors? I'm not sure, which is why I can't stop watching his films. I bet that Chapelle could see the humor in Precious, though, which, despite being promoted as some monumental indictment of urban destitution by producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry (leaving the former "breathless," while the latter could only say "powerful"), is as comically exploitative as anything Fuller ever came up with. If you're the type who regularly bursts out laughing during an Aronofsky or Von Trier film, then this is the movie to see. Precious, in fact, borrows the Von Trier formula for existential drama: heap so many social tortures on a female character until the only plausible reaction can be be a hearty, absurdist laughter. Any social realism hinted at in the trailer disappears in the first 10 minutes when you see Precious get knocked unconscious by a bottle her mom throws, resulting in a nightmare montage with boiling pigs snouts and dad's hovering gut as he expresses his "love" for his little girl. 

There's just about no current stereotypical urban plight not foisted on the character of Precious: illiteracy, aids, welfare, obesity, teenage motherhood, Mariah Carey, etc. Where Requiem for a Dream just comes across as pretentiously goofy in its approach to drug addiction, Daniels and his scenarist Geoffrey Fletcher create a dark comedy of ill-manners (which might or might not be intentional). Precious's relation with her mother is the evil distaff version of Sanford & Son, in which mom constantly berates her as a "dumb bitch" who needs to "forget school" and get her "fat ass down to the welfare office." This is punctuated with mom attacking her with the aforementioned bottle, a frying pan and eventually a TV set.

Beware: spoilers follow!

Make no mistake, this is modern day blacksploitation, which always bordered on empowerment and stereotyping. In one scene, they have the rotund Precious running down the street, chomping on fried chicken after having stolen it from a local grease pit. It's pretty much impossible to reconcile the conflicting thoughts this scene elicits: it's played as a comic respite for the films darker moments, but it recalls the infamous racist stereotype of blacks and fried chicken, while critically suggesting something about the unhealthy dietary constraints determined by the impoverished inner-city economic situation (where shitty food is the most affordable). Plus, are we supposed to find humor here, given that the theft was initiated by Precious' mother not caring enough to feed her girl at home?

Even more in defiance of safe categorical judgments is the treatment of Precious' first child from her father (she's pregnant with his second through the first half of the film). As she explains to her teacher at an "alternative school" that she's attending to get a GED, her daughter doesn't think too well, is stupid, so is referred to as "Baby Mongo," never having been given a proper name. The film veers into Harmony Korine's territory in using a child with Downs Syndrome to play the part. Precious is learning to read and write by expressing her thoughts in journal, which she turns in to her teacher for written responses. So there's a prolonged scene, backed by schmaltzy music, that cuts between Precious in a hospital bed (after giving birth to her second child) and her teacher, who's lying at home on her stomach with feet in the air and pen to mouth (like Gidget thinking about a crush on a boy) as they discuss in voiceover Precious' decision to take care of "little baby Mongo." Finding humor in this is likely related to how funny one found Gummo. Regardless of ironic detachment, it is without a doubt tasteless and insensitive. But to react to this stuff in a purely straightforward manner, as a literal portrait of the urban poor borders on seeing them as savages, rather than as destitute. Perhaps Oprah felt such scenes function as parody of bourgeois caricatures when she decided to fund it. Because surely she doesn't share the same views of poor blacks as the average conservative radio talk show host. No, that would mean Marx was right about money eroding meaningful cultural distinctions.

I could go on, but suffice it to say Precious is indeed hyperbolical drama in the tradition of a Fuller or Aldrich, where social issues are delivered like a series of grapefruits to the face. If atomic energy were still a front-page worry, Precious would've been afflicted with radiation poisoning, too. Nuance means here that there wasn't enough time to fit in drug addiction and prostitution. If Kafka's depressing narratives are funny, why not this? What keeps the film from being the kind of ridiculous miserabilism that Von Trier practices (where you laugh at him, not with him) is the character arc of Precious. You actually do get emotionally invested in her struggles in this absurdist universe, like an attachment to the protagonist in an existentialist novel. Upon learning she has aids (of course), she accepts a life that isn't ever going to improve; a new misery awaits her in every act. She's both Sisyphus and his rock, taking pleasure in the fact that no smug government worker trying to help her could endure what she does. Von Trier's characters remain slaves to their own misery, whereas Precious becomes a hardened, Nietzschean heroine (a character type born of hyperbole, I might add).

Silent night - Christmas movies of the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 6, 2009 11:55am | Post a Comment

Happy St. Nicholas Day! For your enjoyment, a little somethin' to break the monotony of all that hardcore Christmas that has gotten to be a little bit out of control...

Santa Claus
(1898) was directed by George Albert Smith (Weary Willie, Making Sausages), a former portrait photographer and member of the UK's Brighton set. In 1906, he and Charles Urban patented the world's first commercial color film process, Kinemacolor. Smith was something of an English Georges Méliès, employing and pioneering the use of special effects, mostly in the fantasy genre.

Scrooge; or Marley's Ghost (1901) was apparently the first adaptation of seemingly millions of Dickens's novel.

The Night Before Christmas
(1905) was directed by the great Edwin S. Porter (Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel, Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show, The Gay Shoe Clerk) and is a pretty loose adaptation of the famous poem by Clement Moore. It will undoubtedly appeal to fans of dioramas and vintage children.

A Winter Straw Ride
(1906) is another Porter effort. It's pretty light on plot, mainly focusing on the titular straw ride (sleigh ride) and the hijinks surrounding it. Warning: the score is pretty corny on this clip so you may want to play something else to accompany it.

A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus (1907), co-directed by James Searle Dawley and Edwin S. Porter depicts a rich boy going to great lengths to delude a jaded poor girl into believing in the supernatural.

Essanay's version of A Christmas Carol (1908) starred Tom R. Ricketts (The Lavender Bath Lady, The Dangerous Maid, Bobbed Hair) as Scrooge; the film was released in December 1908 and probably launched the concept of the Christmas box office. Unfortunately, it appears to be lost, although it's often confused with later silent versions.

A Trap for Santa (1909) is a typically melodramatic effort of celebrated racist D.W. Griffith (The Greaser's Gauntlet, The Zulu's Heart, The Feud and the Turkey). I couldn't find it online, but it's available (as are most of these silent Christmas films) on DVD in the Kino collection, A Christmas Past -- available in Amoeba's Christmas section.

The second filmed version of A Christmas Carol (1910) was directed by James Searle Dawley and  starred Australian actor Marc McDermott (Satin and Calico, The Girl and the Motorboat, The Man Who Could Not Sleep) in the role of Scrooge.

Making Christmas Crackers
(1910) begins as a rather too in-depth look at the tedious process of making Christmas Crackers produced by George Howard Cricks and John Howard Martin. However, in the final minute or so, it thankfully veers into poetic realist territory.

A Christmas Accident (1912) is a story of two households whose residents couldn't be more different, the rich, cranky Giltons and the poor, good-hearted Biltons. However, during the magic of the holiday, the two end up finding something they didn't expect -- love. Another warning, the version here suffers from a random, repetitive and robotically performed score.

Scrooge (1913), starring Sir Seymour Hicks (Always Tell Your Wife, Sleeping Partners, Young Man's Fancy), was re-released in 1926 as Old Scrooge. He again reprised the role of Scrooge in 1935's film, Scrooge. It's available on the DVD A Christmas Carol & Old Scrooge, in stock in Amoeba's Christmas section.

The Adventures of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914) as subtitled, An Adventure of Octavius -- Amateur Detective, stars Herbert Yost (A Drunkard's Reformation, The Faded Lilies, A Troublesome Satchel) as the private dick in question. Although the character is as unfamililar to modern audiences as Ecks and Sever, filmgoers in the teens were familiar with him from The Adventure of the Extra Baby, The Adventure of the Hasty Elopement, The Adventure of the Actress' Jewels, and many, many more.

Santa Claus Vs. Cupid
(1915) stars Raymond McKee (Two Lips and Juleps; or, Southern Love and Northern Exposure, T. Haviland Hicks, Freshman, Shoddy the Tailor) and Billy Casey as rival Santa-suited suitors attempting to win the affection of Helen Bower, played by Grace Morrissey (Curing the Office Boy, Blade 'o Grass, The Tell-Tale Step). It's also available on the aforementioned Kino set.

The Dividend
(1916) was directed by Thomas H. Ince (The Hateful God, In the Land of the Otter, Shorty's Adventures in the City) and Walter Edwards (The Colonel's Adopted Daughter, His Superficial Wife, The Sin Ye Do). It concerns the yuletide misadventures of a drug addled man named Frank, played by Charles Ray (Bread Cast Upon the Waters, One of the Discarded, The Conversion of Frosty Blake).

The Right to Be Happy (1916) was another adaptation of A Christmas Carol, this time directed by and starring Kiwi Rupert Julian (The Heart of a Jewess, In the Days of his Youth, The Boyhood He Forgot, ) as Scrooge).

Bab's Diary (1917) was directed by James Searle Dawle, who called himself "the first motion picture director." It was, however, at least his third film in the Christmas genre.

Scrooge (1923), starring Russell Thorndike (The Dream of Eugene Aram, The Audacious Mr. Squire, The School for Scandal), is availble, re-titled A Christmas Carol, on the aforementioned DVD, A Christmas Carol & Old Scrooge. In reality, both films on the DVD were released in theaters as Scrooge, but the DVD company in question, Jef, are not known for the care they put into their releases.  

The Goose Hangs High (1925), directed by James Cruze (The Golf Caddie's Dog, The Ring of a Spanish Grandee, Why Reginald Reformed), has something to do with socialism, Christmas and a snobbish grandmother.

Santa Claus (1925) was shot in the Alaskan arctic and concerns the goings on in the Land of Winter the other 364 days of the year. It's also available on the Kino collection, A Christmas Past.

Acetates, Test Pressings & Promos

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 5, 2009 02:30pm | Post a Comment

Todd is Godd: Rundgren tours his legendary album A Wizard, A True Star.

Posted by Kells, December 5, 2009 08:30am | Post a Comment
I have only ever twice before been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a live performance of an entire album from beginning to end. I'll never forget the dorky glee I felt once upon a time in 1990 hearing Geoff Tate of Queensryche ask his band mates a few songs into their show in support of their album Empire, "guys, shall we do Mindcrime?," only then to crush non-stop through their hour-long progressive rock-opera Operation: Mindcrime. Then there was the surprise and delight of hearing Joanna Newsom say during her show a couple of Christmases ago, "I'd like to perform my new album for you now," and just like that, her nearly hour long Ys magically unfurled its sails with everyone in attendance on board. However, Todd Rundgren's performance last Tuesday night of his stellar album A Wizard, A True Star at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco was a mess of fandom-fueled joy that I knew I was getting into and, to a certain extent, almost dreaded.

I mean, compared to the prior two experiences where my "being there when they unexpectedly played the album" aspect of the live performance became a highlight of each show, I wondered how will I look back on this --- a show where I know not only the set list beforehand, but also already anticipate the overall feeling that I get when listening to the album on my own terms. In other words, how could this show present anything but the record I love as a less-than-perfect rendition with low-lights glaring where the highlights would be (a lot like Todd's white-on-black hairdo actually). Maybe I was a little concerned as to Todd's ability to deliver, at age 61, his genre-smearing, progressive futuristic rock magnum opus of 1973 in a live, staged setting --- an album that has aged so well that Todd admits to caving in to fan demands for a tour when asked, "why this album," and "why now?" C'mon, who would go through all the trouble to embroider the back of their jacket with album art from a record that wasn't sent from Utopia itself? If the exemplary piece of fan craftage above (as seen at the show last Tuesday night) gives any indication, Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star must be nothing less than the shit, impervious to crumbling under the constraints of staged presentation! Still there's more...

I know now that I was wrong to doubt Rundgren's ability, regardless of age, to deliver anything but a jaw-dropping display of pure showmanship and theatricality. And I was wrong to expect the expected too. For one thing, I had no idea Todd was to be his own opening band. To everyone's surprise, Todd, flanked by three other dudes similarly clad in black on black and wearing black shades, took to the stage and, after announcing the world premiere of "Todd Rundgren's Johnson," played a robust set of Robert Johnson covers. Todd explained at one point that this particular cover band thing had something to do with either business or karmic obligations, probably both. In any case the set provided a means for a world class shredder like Rundgren to really strut his stuff and look effortlessly cool doing so. But that didn't last long, as Todd's taste for rotating guises in the second act, or rather the show we all came to see, had me wondering if Rundgren's "style icon" status has rendered him immune to aesthetic criticism or has been downright revoked.

When the lights went down and the familiar churning synth-warps of A Wizard, A True Star's opening track "International Feel" began to reverberate, exciting everyone in the theater to their feet, the last thing I thought I'd see was Todd bobbing forth in an astronaut suit. It wasn't so strange given the space-age vibe of the song, but when he disappeared momentarily to emerge seconds later in a full tailed tuxedo for "Never, Never Land" I almost barfed from sheer overstimulation. He even carried a magic wand. Before I could wonder whether he'd be changing looks and serving fresh face for each song, he poofed away only to pop out again shortly thereafter in an electric puce body suit that looked as if it could've been crushed velvet. There was a genie/whirling dervish number in shiny silver and coppers, a flared and floppy pant paired with a mauve smoking jacket and frilly poet-blouse, an inflatable Tweedle Dee (or Tweedle Dum, who knows?) costume complete with lollipop, a feather-fringed, deranged-looking S & M bird-inspired ensemble, your run-of-the-mill gold "Elvis" suit, an "Italian" chef's costume with giant eyebrows, a silver and shimmery black scuba-suit look, a dark druid's robe in glittery purple, etc. Costume changes galore. Though it may be the tamest of the stable, I prefer the matte-on-glossy orange sherbet suit he wore while baring his "soul" performing the "I'm So Proud, Ooh Baby Baby, La La Means I Love You, Cool Jerk" medley portion of the album. Here it is, prefaced with Kasim Sulton filling in for Todd singing "Does Anybody Love You" --- I guess complications involved with this particular costume change called for a stand in.

I gotta say that, all sour notes and wonky starts aside, being there was well worth the time, dollars and effort. It was an amazing performance of an amazing work of musical genius, I'm still a little high from the experience. However, I also harbor some conflicting feelings about the show, as I can't seem to shake the feeling that Todd was making fun of us for putting him up to this AWATS tour. Sure, he could keep on keeping on and play the odd cut from his classic albums during any given concert, as wile and whimsy dictate, but there was something there that echoed of laughter and I felt like it was directed at the audience from the stage. Could it be that I am feeling lame for having narrow-minded misgivings about attending an "album" show? No matter, I'm just so pleased to be able to gush about it and say, "yeah, I was there and it ruled and Todd is Godd!" I know it seems like there's a bit of a bandwagon (no pun intended) trend of late where it seems more and more acts are touring this or that specific album, but I wouldn't poo-poo it for gimmicky nonsense if I were you. I can't recall talking down the trend, but I know I never will. If anything it makes me more aware of the recent "album" shows I passed up. (Echo & the Bunnymen's Ocean Rain, anyone?). Todd's no spring chicken, but his chops and sense of humor are just as golden as the early-seventies material he's currently brandishing again. If touring albums by popular demand is what it takes to get these would-be old timers off the couch and back on stage then so be it; I'm pretty sure no one in that auditorium Tuesday night uttered any semblance of "I'm getting too old for this." See this while you can and expect the unexpected!

Edgar Allan Poe auction goes stratospheric ...

Posted by Whitmore, December 4, 2009 09:40pm | Post a Comment

“Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.”
At Christies Auction House today in New York, an 1827 first edition copy of an Edgar Allan Poe poetry collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was sold for $662,500 -- the most ever for a 19th century book of poetry. The 40-page collection, and Poe’s very first publication, was inspired by the work of British poet Lord Byron. Only a dozen copies are known to exist of the fifty initially pressed. Oddly enough Poe did not attach his name to Tamerlane; the author is only indicated as "A Bostonian." Also sold at auction was a two-page, hand written manuscript containing the first 8 stanzas (of 16 stanzas) of "For Annie" ("Thank Heaven: the crisis --- the danger is past....") from 1849, written just months before his death at age 40. The manuscript, which was written for a one of Poe's loves, Nancy L. Richmond, far exceeded the $50,000-$70,000 estimate, netting a mind blowing $830,500 at auction, breaking the 19th century literary manuscript record.
The book and manuscript, both somewhat worn and wrinkled, came from the private library of television producer William E. Self (he was the executive in charge of production for such classic shows as Batman, Lost in Space, The Green Hornet, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, and Land of the Giants). Both pieces were sold to anonymous bidders.
“As for myself, I am simply Hop-Frog, the jester — and this is my last jest.”

New 12" Electronic Releases at Amoeba Hollywood: Matias Aguayo, Ziggy Kinder, Kollektiv Turmstrasse and more

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 4, 2009 01:35pm | Post a Comment

Rollerskate 12"

"Rollerskate" is the first single from Matias Aguayo's full-length Ay Ay Ay (KOM 205LP/KOMP 076CD). Aguayo has already established significant buzz, and "Rollerskate" was already included on Pitchfork's "Best New Music" list. It's easy to get drawn into the organic earthiness of Aguayo's musicianship -- his voice is the source of the song, ingeniously layered and contextualized into what seems like an endless mantra. Remixes by Marcus Rossknecht, Diegors & The Don, Sanfuentes & Alex Thunders, and Rebolledo.

TIEFSCHWARZ - Fall In/Keep On 12”
N/A (FEAT. ROSINA) - Fables And Fairytales 12"

KZA - A 12"

BRIGITTE FONTAINE & KHAN - Fine Mouche Remixes 12"

LOSOUL - Care Remixes Pt. 1 12"

First Day/Last Day 12"

"They have come a long way. Remixes for Hot Chip, releases on Cocoon, and part of the Diynamic family from the very beginning. So we are very proud to present the next release from our boys -- Christian Hilscher & Nico Plagemann, better known as Kollektiv Turmstrasse. They return with one of their finest tunes to date. Always loyal to their own label-mission, Music Wins Friends (Musik Gewinnt Freunde), this new release upholds this principle! With this new EP, they once again confirm that they are one of the very best in their class. And we are certain it will win them many new supporters for sure!"

First Day

Last Day

ALEXI DELANO & ALEJANDRO SAB - Slipping Through The Cracks EP 12"

STEVE BUG - Collaboratory The Remixes Vol. 1 12"

KEZ YM - Butterfly EP 12"

BLACKISBEAUTIFUL - Purpur Remixes 12”

Assbomb/Longcat 12"

Ziggy Kinder treats us to another killer, Ware's first double A-sided Assbomb/Longcat. "Assbomb" is an insane funk trip into the deep realms of Ziggy's humor, a track with maximum party factor and plenty of potential for eternity. "Longcat" docks on to the house-y tracks of the Ribbon Twist B-side, with the clever addition of well-dosed hymn genes. Featuring a chic double-front cover with graphics by Tim Stadie.

CASSIUS - Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes. Remixes 12"


SIGHA - Rawww 12”

MEMBERS ONLY - Historical Archives Volume 15 12"

Leave Your Mind 12"

"The Revenge is the hottest new producer on the nu disco-house scene from Glasgow. His past releases on Jiscomusic, Instruments Of Rapture, and Delusions Of Grandeur are already huge. This debut release on Mule Musiq have his deepest two new songs. A side is a hi-tek deep Chicago house sound with male vocal and B side is a dark house sound."


VA - 10 Years Sender Part 01 12"

O.N.O. - Signa EP 12"


Bare Feet EP 12”

"Maryland resident Maxmillion Dunbar caught our attention on a desperately limited 7" last year on his own Future Times imprint. Swerving the current contrived reference points, B-Boy Max forges his own path mixing a kaleidoscope of boogie, electro, hip hop & analog soul. Max's first EP for Ramp starts with 'Bare Feet' clipping sparse soul loops with epic flourishes, 'Loveloop/Socket Bonus' marrying cascading synths and 808's, 'Wouldn't Matter' chops up a relentless boogie loops and epic disco strings, and 'WAVs' draws the EP to a close with '80s beat boxes and ramshackle synth lines." RAMP

MATT-U - Can't Wake Up 12"

BAOBINGA & I.D - Tongue Riddim 12"

WU-TANG CLAN - Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture Vol. 2: Enter The Dubstep 12”

Gremlinz (The Instrumentals 2003-2009)

Terror Danjah isn't a household name -- he's not as well-known as Wiley or Dizzee Rascal -- but he's considered by the grime cognoscenti to be the best grime producer ever, and this new collection of instrumentals, remixes, and tracks for others shows off his singular genius to the rest of the world. The title of the album refers to his gremlin cackle audiologo that indicates a Terror Danjah production, much like Timbaland's singing / beat boxing on his early productions. And the comparison with Timbaland doesn't stop there: both producers work with a signature palette of sounds, adding to them occasionally, which make their productions instantly recognizable; both use shifting, syncopated rhythms. What sets Terror Danjah apart is that he's British, he works around the tempo of 140 bpm, and his music is part of the aggressive, post-garage grime movement. Despite the pared-down palette he uses, Terror fills his productions with brilliant ideas, complex rhythms, and pop hooks. He has worked with both MCs and vocalists from Nasty Crew, Skepta, and Wiley to Shystie, Shola Ama, and now Mz Bratt. These tracks were mostly issued in limited vinyl quantities on the Aftershock label, as either instrumental tracks or as backing for MCs and singers. If one wants to hear a precursor to Joker and the new Bristol producers, here it is.

RUSKO/L-WIZ - Girls From Codeine City/Acton Dread 12"

MARLOW - Druid/Cattle Prod 12"

RUSKO - Cockney Thug (Buraka Som Sistema Remix) 12"

The Fantastic Mr Fox Is Indeed Fantastic!

Posted by Miss Ess, December 4, 2009 01:31pm | Post a Comment

Like many film fans, I have something of a complicated relationship with Wes Anderson's movies. While I love that they have a strong individual viewpoint that is unlike any other filmmakers' and is far from the norm, at the same time, they can be sort of...well...whiny.

To illustrate with his older films, I would say that The Royal Tenenbaums was a smashing, story-book-like portrait of a profoundly dysfunctional family, each member with his or her own fantastical, intricate back history covered in full-on idiosyncratic detail. This, I loved.

Then, there's what I consider one of his lows: The Darjeeling Limited, which I wrote about here. To sum up though, in that film the self absorption of the characters and the overly labored acting and plot were total turn offs.

Anyway, I went to see his newest film, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and was completely re-energized! It was an explosion of preciousness and warmth, from the carefully designed outfits on the puppets (corduroy suits and apple printed dresses) to the beauty of the Fox family's dollhouse-like home in a tree. The characters are darling puppets, yet they are each as multi- faceted and original as any others you've seen at the movies. This film takes Anderson's strengths -- his detail orientation and sense of whimsy (god, I hate that word, though it is apt here!) -- and plays them out to perfection. Oh yeah, and I enjoyed the Beach Boys saturated sound track. It seems like it wouldn't work at all...but it does, and just adds to the charm.

Mr. Fox is mischievous, and, as a wild animal, even though he was supposed to settle down once he started a family, he can't keep himself from doing what he is genetically predestined to do: hunt and steal food. He devises a secret plan to break into three nearby farms and pillage their desirable goods. The movie follows him, his family and his community as his plan plays out and turns into an all out war.

I haven't been so captivated by a rag tag anthropomorphic group of forest animals since Emmet Otter first paddled down the Frogtown Hollow's river in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Fantastic Mr. Fox has sweetness, subtle humor and a great deal of appeal. This film is a winner for both adults and kids, and it got three enthusiastic thumbs-up from my little family. Haters may still hate, but in my opinion, Anderson has, for the first time, created an all-around crowd pleaser!


Posted by Billyjam, December 4, 2009 09:00am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top FIve: 12:04:09
Black Keys, RZA, Blakroc, Mos Def
1) BlakRoc Blakroc  (V2/Cooperative)

2) Lil Wayne The Carter Documentary DVD (Cash Money/Universal)

3) Birdman PRICELE$$ (Cash Money/Universal)

4) DOOM Unexpected Guests (Gold Dust Media)

5) Juvenile Cocky and Confident (Atlantic Records)

Blakroc by BlakRoc, the number one new hip-hop release from the Hollywood Amoeba store this week, is one of those refreshing albums that pushes the boundaries of what rap or hip-hop is, or can be. The Blakroc project, which was initiated by rapper Jim Jones and produced by Damon Dash, is a large scale collaborative affair between the Black Keys (who you'll recall worked with Danger Mouse on their last album) and a slew of high profile hip-hop talents including Mos Def, Q-Tip, Raekwon, RZA, Pharaohe Monch, Ludacris, and the late ODB. But to label BlakRoc simply another rap-rock fusion (a melding that so often comes off sounding forced) is selling it short. The album comes off sounding fresh and never forced with the Black Keys' (guitarist & vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney) dirty, guitar driven, big drum beat sound proving to be the perfect match for the album's numerous emcees. Because it is far from your typical cliche rap release, this album will not appeal to all rap fans, which is why it is so worth listening to. For a taste of this album, check out the video below for the album track "Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)" featuring Mos Def and Jim Jones.
Birdman Cash Money Lil Wayne
Cash Money Records holds down two new releases on the new Top Five, a CD and a DVD from Birdman and Lil Wayne respectively. The 90 minute documentary takes an in-depth look at the highly successful New Orleans rap artist Dwayne Carter Jr., aka Lil Wayne, aka Weezy, aka the self-proclaimed 'greatest rapper alive." It includes lots of interviews, behind the scenes segments, and, of course, concert footage. The movie, which won positive reviews when it screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival, also offers a pretty revealing look at Wayne and what makes him tick (and also what gets him high). You get to see the popular and prolific artist, who has been a star since his early teens, as an alternately funny and short-tempered fellow. Unfortunately -- due to the timeline of its creation -- the film doesn't include his latest legal problems (gun possession) and the likely jail time he may soon serve. There is a ten minute excerpt from the documentary below. 

This Week At The New Beverly: Dec. 4 - 10

Posted by phil blankenship, December 4, 2009 01:14am | Post a Comment
This Week At The New Beverly

Our full December calendar is online:

Friday December 4

Eric Caidin and Brian Quinn
with Grindhouse Releasing present

The Grindhouse Film Festival

Stunt Rock
1978, Australia, 86 minutes - BRAND NEW 35mm Print!
dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, starring Grant Page, Monique van de Ven, Margaret Gerard, Richard Blackburn and SORCERY!
11:59pm, All Tickets $8, Watch The Trailer!

Amoeba Hollywood World Music Charts

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 3, 2009 12:57am | Post a Comment
Since I skipped October’s World Music bestseller chart last month, I decided to make a comprehensive chart that includes the best sellers for both October and November.

1. Poncho Sanchez - Psychedelic Blues
2. Shakira - She Wolf
3. Bomba Estereo – Blow Up
4. Rodrigo Y Gabriela –11:11
5. Bebel Gilberto – All In One
6. Gustavo Cerati – Fuerza Natural
7. Mercedes Sosa – Cantora
8. Aventura – Last
9. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - Echos Hypnotiques Vol. 2
10. Buika - El Ultimo Trago

Both Poncho Sanchez and Bomba Estereo had recent successful instore performances at Amoeba Hollywood and their chart positions reflect that, with each of them coming in at number one and three respectfully. Shakira was a no-brainer at number two, as people have been waiting for She Wolf since rumors of its release over the summer. Her chart position is a cumulative number based on sales of the import version and the domestic release. Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bebel Gilberto, Gustavo Cerati, Aventura and Mercedes Sosa continue to sell well into December. Wow, can you believe it is December already?

Here is a chart just for the month of November:

1. Bomba Estereo-Blow Up
2. Shakira-She Wolf
3. Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou-Echos Hypnotiques Vol. 2
4. V/A -Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91
5. Buika–El Ultimo Trago
6. Rodrigo Y Gabriela –11:11
7. V/A - Panama! Vol.3
8. Poncho Sanchez -Psychedelic Blues
9. Bebel Gilberto –All In One
10. Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos–Cantan En Español

Soundway Records has two new compilations on the charts. At number four is Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91, which comes in a two CD set or a five LP set with tracks not available on the CD. I have to say the LP set looks mighty impressive and I just might have to drop some bones for that one. At number seven is the third volume of Panama! Series, which I have dropped some money on and it was well worth it. The Panama! Series seems to get better with each volume.

Buikas latest, El Ultimo Trago, is a tribute to the great Costa Rican/Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. Buika's tribute comes from all the right places. Not only can both singers interpret songs like no other (mostly singing songs traditionally meant for men to sing for women) but both are open with their sexuality, as Vargas has been out for many years and Buika is bisexual. Chavela calls Buika “my black daughter” and says, “She has the most amazing and personal voice I have heard in many years.” El Ultimo Trago is also a collaboration between Buika and Chucho Valdes, the infamous Cuban pianist, who I compare most to Herbie Hancock as far as diversity in compositional skills and arrangements. With Chucho's guidance, Buika is able to bring to life all the classic rancheras and boleros that Chavela has made popular since her first recordings in the early sixties.

Some new releases to watch out for December are Manu Chao’s two CD/one DVD live album, Baionarena, Alejandro SanzParaiso Express and Draco Rosa’s Draco.


Posted by Billyjam, December 1, 2009 07:27pm | Post a Comment

Grotus live in Rouen, France - 1994.

The expression "ahead of their time" pretty much sums up the musically unique, genre blending, multi-media 1990's Bay Area group Grotus. Grotus was an amazing band, especially live, that appealed to fans of punk, industrial, metal, two drum-set percussion, samples, and politically outspoken lyrics. Unfortunately though they were also one of those really good bands that never fully got the type of credit grotusor, more importantly, the level of success that they deserved and the band called it quits in 1996, only five years after they released their debut album.

Grotus' original members Adam Tanner (keyboard, guitars, sampler) and John Carson (keyboards, bass, sampler) formed the band in San Francisco in 1989. Drummer/vocalist/sampler player Lars Fox joined afterward and together they honed their unique sound and steadily built up a strong local following, getting much airplay on stations like KUSF and KALX, and gigging at a variety of venues, often with the band Consolidated with whom they were friends. Drummer and DJ Bruce Boyd joined the group after they released their debut in 1991. His addition gave Grotus the two drummer sonic assault that helped define their powerful sound.

Grotus' record labels included Spirit Music Industries, Alternative Tentacles and the major London/Polygram, and between them all the band released a series of singles, EPs, and albums. They played on stages alongside such groups as Nine Inch Nails and Mike Patton's Mr Bungle, for whom they opened on a 1992 US tour. For the next four years the band toured tirelessly, winning diehard fans along the way in countries such as France, where the above live concert clip was shot and where they recorded a live album in 1994. Grotus' three studio albums are Brown (1991), Slow Motion Apocalypse (1993), and Mass (1996). While most of the Grotus catalog is out of print (Slow Motion on Alt Tent is still in print on CD), you can usually, with a bit of digging in the vinyl and CD sections, track down copies of their records at Amoeba Music. Recently I caught up with member Bruce Boyd to ask him some questions about this great SF group.
Amoeblog: You joined the band after it had been around for a minute. Can you give folks an idea of what point Grotus was at when you joined and how you came to join the fold?

Calfornia Fool's Gold -- Exploring Canterbury Knolls

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 1, 2009 06:13pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Canterbury Knolls

Canterbury Knolls
is a South LA neighborhood bordered by Manchester Square, Morningside Circle and Vermont Knolls to the south, Hyde Park to the west, Chesterfield Square to the north, Vermont Square to the northeast, and Vermont-Slauson to the east.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of South Los Angeles

For the estimated two dozen or so semi-regular readers of this blog, the way this works is clear. People vote for a Los Angeles neighborhoodor an LA County community (vote here). To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Then I go there -- often with my trusty sidekick, Shimbles. Then I attempt to explore the connections the area has to movies and music to keep it Amoeblog-relevant. And so, faced with more than two votes for Canterbury Knolls, Shimbles and I set out at the crack of noon to see what we could see in the fabled neighborhood. Preliminary internet research had proved mostly fruitless. Aside from a flame war between some internet gangstas on a 50 Cent message board and some girl’s Livejournal, I could find few firsthand acknowledgements of the neighborhood.

Artistic Welding, one of several iron works in the neighborhood

The way neighborhood names work in LA is this: the more ghetto the neighborhood, the more quaintly English sounding its name. Therefore, I had some notion of what to expect of Canterbury Knolls. Not surprisingly, when we arrived, there were neither knolls nor Kentish people to be seen. (The name "Canterbury" is derived from the Olde Englishe Cantwareburh, meaning "Kent people's stronghold.") In fact, when the Eighth District Empowerment Congress officially nicknamed every neighborhood in the area in 2002, no one in Canterbury Knolls seemed to get the news… or be consulted for the Naming Neighborhoods Project. Further research yielded two claims that the area is more commonly referred to simply as “da hood.” The LA Times even wrote an article, "Asphalt Jungle or Green Meadows?," which addresses the incongruity of the South LA's new neighborhood names and people's ignorance of Canterbury Knolls specifically.

Amazing art on a van belonging to Eric's Blog fan, Jesus Cruz!

I couldn’t find any musicians associated with the neighborhood, nor any actors. Although the neighborhood shares initials with Citizen Kane, the only film I could find that was shot in the neighborhood the brutal, senseless beating of Reginald Denny at the hands of Damian Williams, Henry Watson, Antoine Miller, Gary Williams, Anthony Brown and Lance Parker during the LA Riots of ’92, filmed at the intersection of Florence and Normandie. There’s not much along that patch of Florence aside from Gabe Motors, which was packed with restored and waiting-to-be-restored vochos. I’m sure that there are aspiring and possibly practicing musicians, actors or filmmakers in the neighborhood, so if you live in Canterbury Knolls and have a connection to the entertainment business, make yourself heard.

The decidedly deco Green Dog & Cat Hospital, built in 1934

As I mentioned earlier, there are no Kentish people in CK. In fact, nearly everyone we encountered  was black, Latino or Korean. Shimbles and I were the only "people-not-of-color" (to employ the politically correct Anglo-exclusion). Perhaps this is why a kindly old woman asked me if we were brothers as she bade me “good afternoon” and handed me a copy of Watchtower. In fact, Shimbles and I were continually greeted with almost pleasant but almost wearying regularity, making Canterbury Knolls the friendliest neighborhood blogging experience I’ve had to date (in stark contrast to the scowling yoga-pants-horde we encountered in Laurel Canyon the day before).

The gargantuan Slauson Super Mall

Physically, most of Canterbury Knolls is -- like most of South LA -- comprised of small, single story homes, box apartments and tiny stores arranged in grids. There are many churches, auto shops, small markets, discount stores, party suppliers, laundromats and carpet houses. There's a conspicuous absence of chains, for the most part, but they do have an Autozone and a 76. There are few restaurants, just a sprinkling of Burger, Chinese, Mexican and Salvadoran joints.

The northern portion of the neighborhood, along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, is much more industrialized and mostly comprised of large, aging warehouses. Many of the businesses around Slauson, which forms the northern edge of the neighborhood, are furniture manufacturers. In fact, it was either in or near Canterbury Knolls that I procured one of my couches.

The largest of the warehouses is the awesome, sprawling Slauson Super Mall – an enormous, 177,129 square foot swap meet where one can get their nails done, get one’s shine on, buy rainbow-colored everything, eat pupusas and Icees, and pick up a memorial tee of a recently passed black celebrity. Last time I came here I saw one for 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley. Not surprisingly, Michael Jackson is the favored subject for airbrush artists of the moment. It was shown in the video for Tupac's "To Live and Die in LA."

Inside the Super Mall -- my photography doesn't begin to reflect the scope of this place

Well, that's about all I could figure out about Canterbury Knolls. If you have any corrections or additions, by all means let me know. Thanks.


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

out today 11/17 & 11/23...them crooked vultures...annie...adam lambert...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 1, 2009 04:50pm | Post a Comment

Wow, everybody. It is officially December! The last month of the year. The last month of the decade! Most people complain that time goes by too fast. I usually say that myself -- but it has been a long decade. Remember Y2K? That really does seem so long ago. I don't think that the 00's will ever be remembered as such a decade as the 70's or 80' or 90's. It really seemed like all of those decades got smashed together to form this last decade. But does anybody ever really talk about the 1900's? Or even the 1910's? It really is all about the 20's! It will be interesting when the 2020's come to an end. I guess the 1920's might be forgotten by then but still, you will have to be specific when you say the 20's...although not that many people think you are referring to the 1880's when you say "80's."

The 80's came back in a big way these last 10 years -- the music and fashion for sure. The 90's will always be remembered by me for certain genres of music. I will always remember it as the decade of raves and electronica. I got into all this music in this decade and it reached the height of its popularity in the 90's. Britpop and Teen Pop also took over. I was into listening to Blur, Suede, Pulp, Gene, Elastica, and Oasis while most everyone else was listening to The Spice Girls, N SYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. The beginning of the decade was really all about grunge though. Nirvana and Soundgarden somehow faded into Britney and The Spice Girls by the end of the decade.
american idol
This decade will be remembered for American Idol and reality TV. It all started with shows like Survivor but now everybody has a reality show. It will be remembered for digital music and Ipods. DVD and Blurays. I think that indie labels really took over this decade too. Labels like Matador, Sub Pop, Touch and Go, and Secretly Canadian put out some of the best music of the decade. Indie music of the 2000's sort of came out of the Alternative 90's. It will also be the decade that marked the end of most chain Music Stores. I think the early 00's were probably the best time for most records stores -- or at least the very late 90's and very early 2000's. However, the good times did not last long. In the second half of the 00's, many indie stores closed down as well. Still, many have survived and these last couple of years have even seen new small indie music stores popping up all over the place.

This decade has maybe seemed long for me because I moved so many times. I moved down to Los Angeles in August 2001 to help open up the Hollywood Amoeba. A year later I moved back to San Francisco, spent a good 6 years up there and then moved back to Los Angeles, again, a couple of years ago. It is always kind of hard to look at a decade right as it is ending. I never really thought of the 80's as a decade when I lived in it. And I really never thought of 90's music being "90's Music" until well into this current decade. It takes a while to reflect back on a decade. You need a couple of years' distance to know what stays with you. Albums and movies that may have been super important to you at the time might not mean so much in a couple of years. Other albums may not have seemed so important to you at the time but 10 years later they become so much more important. The albums and movies that you experience get attached to memories and people and become more important because of the other memories that they are attached to.

I always work on my top 50 albums of the year in December but this month I am also working on my tops of the decade. I am gonna do a list of my top 100 movies of the 00's. I did one for the 70's and 80's already. I also have one for the 90's that I never posted on the blog. I am also doing my favorite albums of this last decade. I will probably do a list of 100. At this point it seems so much easier to do a top 100 albums of the 90's, so maybe I will just do that list instead. I think it will be easier to do a top 100 of the 2000's in a couple of years. We will see how much I can get done in these next couple of weeks. I would also like to do a review of my favorite concerts and live shows of the last decade. Maybe I will even have time to make a list of my favorite TV shows of the decade. 

Every year around this time the music releases slow down. It is sort of the exact opposite of movies. If an album has not come out by now it usually is not coming out this year. There are always a couple of releases that sneak in to the end of the year but not many. Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream... came out last week and might end up being the quickest selling album of the year. R. Kelly comes out this week. Alicia Keys comes out 12/15. Mary J. Blige comes out 12/21. And that is it. You have to wait until next year for your new Beach House, Vampire Weekend, Goldfrapp. 2010 will also have new albums from Spoon, The National, Liars, MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, Massive Attack, Magnetic Fields, Joanna Newsom, Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Arcade Fire, Glass Candy, CSS, Xiu Xiu, !!!, Panda Bear, The Shins, Sigur Ros, Four Tet, Hot Chip, Frightened Rabbit, The Hold Steady, Los Campesinos!, and maybe a new Radiohead! So yeah...there is a lot to look forward to next year. But there have also been some great albums out this year too. You will see my list soon enough...

The end of the year is always the best time for movies. This is mostly because of the way the Oscars are run. All the Oscar hopefuls come out at the end of the year. It is always better to be fresh in people's memories when it comes time to pick the Oscar nominees. This is not always the case. Maybe people forgot how bad Crash was. That might be how it walked away with Best Picture a couple of years ago. This last month has already seen the release of Precious, Where the Wild Things Are, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Road. This weekend will see the release of Brothers, Up in the Air, and The Last Station. On December 11th we get Invictus, The Lovely Bones, and A Single Man! December 18th brings Avatar, Nine, and Crazy Heart. December 25th is Sherlock Holmes! I have already decided that A Single Man and Avatar will be two of my favorites of the decade. I am just basing this on the trailers and what I have heard about these movies but I don't think I will be wrong.

So I might not be listening to many new albums this month but I will be in the movie theater a couple of times a week all this month. And I will be listening to my favorite albums of the year trying to figure out what to put in my top 10. The hardest thing for me is to figure out what is #10 and what is #11. It is an important transition point in a list. It will be keeping me up at night. 

There really has not been a whole lot out the last couple of weeks. But here are a couple of things that got my attention...

also out 11/17...

Don't Stop by Annie

Two Suns-Special Edition by Bat For Lashes

Beak by Beak

Swords-Deluxe Version by Morrissey

Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures

Bird-Brains by Tune-Yards

also out 11/23...

Fever Ray-Deluxe Edition by Fever Ray

Daptone Gold

Ghostly International Presents: Moongadget

Not Fade Away (BOX SET) by Buddy Holly

For Your Own Special Sweetheart (REISSUE) by Jawbox

Catalogue (BOX SET) by Kraftwerk

For Your Entertainment by Adam Lambert

Precious Soundtrack

Rated R by Rihanna

She Wolf by Shakira

Bob Keane R.I.P. (1922-2009)

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 1, 2009 10:11am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles
lost one of its great independent operators a couple of days ago. Bob Keane died of renal failure at the age of 87. Previously he had conquered lymphoma (at age 80) and survived decades of ups and downs, including battles with drugs, alcohol, the record industry & himself. 

His early years were spent as a successful clarinetist and big band leader, at one point taking over Artie Shaw's band -- he even took a crack at acting. In the early 50's, after a stint in WWII, he hosted a local variety show on channel 2, but looming in the near future was his true calling.

Keene Records was started by Keane and John Siamas & their first hit was a doozy. "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke made over a million dollars and made an international star out of Cooke. Unfortunately, Keane hadn't any contracts with Siamas and soon Siamas gave him the business and Bob was left to his own devices. Never one to remain passive, Keane turned around and formed Del-Fi Records, releasing records from Frank Zappa, Little Caesar and the Romans, The Lively Ones, Surfaris, Johnny Crawford (of Rifleman fame), and Brenda Holloway, as well as an endless list of one off singles. Of course, the biggest Del-Fi sensation was Ritchie Vallens, but my favorite is the Eden Ahbez LP. Keane went on to more success and troubles with Bobby Fuller and eventually helped to kick start Barry White's career on the Mustang label. According to Keane, a bullwhip was Mr. White's weapon of choice back in his 50's street gang days.

Anyhow, for the straight dope check out Bob's autobiography The Oracle of Del-Fi. I wouldn't say that he pulls NO punches, but he sure paints an amazing picture of Hollywood in the 50's & 60's: walking unknown singles into KRLA and having them turn into major hits, street freaks walking into Hollywood studios & gaining record contracts, pills, booze, murder, etc. 

Little Boy vs. Man on Stilts

Posted by Smiles Davis, December 1, 2009 02:04am | Post a Comment
This video really made my night, so much so that I felt inclined to blog about it. At first, the sense of fear creeps in as a man on the stilts approaches a tiny tot on the Santa Monica Pier. All worry is laid to rest the moment the kid starts to boogie. Haven't seen anyone move like this since the king of pop himself. This kid's got mad moves!

Bohemian Rhapsody Shuts Down Arpaio

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 1, 2009 12:48am | Post a Comment
So why is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona in a music blog? Because of the band Queen, of course!

For those who aren't familiar with Sheriff Joe, his heavy-handed approach to law enforcement has caused much controversy over the last fifteen years. He has won fans in conservative Arizona, but to the rest of the world, he is seen as one of the worst violators of human rights. According to Phoenix New Times, from 2004 through November 2007, he was the target of 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts, with more than $50 million in claims being filed. His tough on crime tactics have crossed over into immigration issues. After Arizona passed a law that would make it a felony to smuggle undocumented immigrants into Arizona, Arpaio took it upon himself to instruct his sheriff's deputies and members of his civilian posse (known as The Minutemen) to arrest “illegal aliens.” They soon took to harassing any persons of color without regards to their legal status. Earlier this year The Department of Justice began investigating Arpaio's targeting of Latinos and Spanish-speaking people. Two months ago, The Department of Homeland Security removed the authority of Arpaio's deputies to make immigration arrests in the field.

Arpaio is a master at eluding questions in the vein of Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, another master of the game. However, on Monday night, Arpaio was being interviewed "Meet-the-Press" style at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Protestors soon tired of him dodging questions and broke out into a cacophonous version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" to disrupt the interview. Check it out below.