in 2011 - even shooting his video for "Distractions" @ Zuccotti Park
In 2011 hip-hop lost some great artists and most of them were young; tragically taken from this earth long before they should have been. These included 44 year old, Golden Era hip-hop star Heavy D who died of a heart attack while climbing the stairs to his Los Angeles apartment back in early November. Even more recently, just three weeks ago, Special One of The Conscious Daughters (aka TCD) died suddenly the result of a blood clot. The Bay Area hip-hop community was really shaken by this news but glad to learn that the rapper's longtime partner in rhyme, fellow TCD member CMG (Cash Makin Girl) would continue the TCD legacy and about a week ago announced that she would be (sometime in early 2012) be releasing a posthumous TCD album. A famous Bay Area rapper who didn't die but was rumored to have in the latter half of 2011 was Too $hort. This was around the time that $hort had a run in with fellow Bay rapper Messy Marv who foolishly started a beef (at first on the internet and then in rhyme) with the "godfather of Bay rap."
This happened with quite a few tracks I first discovered this year in the Free Downloads section of Amoeba.com. Since it's the season of "Best Of" lists and looking back at 2011, I wanted to share some of my favorite discoveries (in alphabetical order):
2 Hearts and Chemicals - "Coming Home"
2 Hearts and Chemicals is a bi-coastal band featuring childhood friends Eli Lhymn (who is based in LA) and Stephen Biebel (who is based in NYC). Through the magic of the Internet they exchanged tracks created in their individual studios to produce the Coming Home EP. The title track is an ‘80s synth meets ‘90s shoegaze pop soundscape featuring female background vocals by Iameve.
XD Records released Coming Home on November 11, 2011. Download "Coming Home" by 2 Hearts and Chemicals.
Aeroc - "For Sake"
We Stay Together / Passed Me By
Many electronic artists are entering a compelling new phase of progression and evolution, like Andy Stott, Rene Hell, Demdike Stare, Raime, and the Sandwell District roster -- and have crafted out their own hauntological niche in the modern music world. Brooding, visceral, and encompassing like a thick veil, sounding of a darkness that speaks psychically to the lonely silhouette of a dancer in the shadows of a warehouse party long after the crowd has dispersed. Slow, syrupy syncopated beats that are swirling in some sort of autoerotic blackhole, something like a VHS of loops thrown into a compression chamber. This music might slowly shut down your nervous system before transcending into brightly gaseous atmospheric bliss. Andy Stott mines in the deepest voids of sound and texture to craft what is at once real yet incredibly uncomfortable and subconsciously recessed in the depths of our emotions. Bondage wrapped electronica for those who wish to explore those existential darkrooms.
Purchase We Stay Together / Passed Me By here:
What Have We Learned
This experimental techno free-form jam makes for one of this years best electronic albums. Recorded in only two days Rabih Beani has created a masterpiece that oozes with emotion and strays from traditional production methods and styles. The result is 10 tracks of abstract techno filled with dark kraut influenced bliss. Essential listening.
Join us on January 6th from 5-10 p.m. for a live performance from Mariachi El Bronx and El-Haru Kuroi, KCRW DJs Anthony Valadez and Travis Holcombe, and a lecture from Dr. Michael Shermer on "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods To Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them As Trusts!” Wow!
Read more about this First Friday of 2012 HERE!
NOIR CITY X
NOIR CITY -- the most popular film noir festival in the world -- celebrates its 10th anniversary with a 10-day film extravaganza featuring San Francisco treats, a Dashiell Hammett marathon, freshly preserved 35mm rarities, by-popular-demand encore screenings, surprises galore, and super special guest star ANGIE DICKINSON!
Noir City promises that this will be the darkest and most delirious incarnation yet of San Francisco's popular classic film festival!
As an added attraction, this year's festival features the live event Everyone Comes to Eddie's: The Noir City Nightclub, a nocturnal celebration of noir style, presented Saturday night, January 28, at theSwedish-American Hall. Entertainment includes Mr. Lucky and the Cocktail Party with Ralph Carney, torch-song temptress Laura Ellis, renowned burlesque queen Evie Lovelle (flying in from France!), and Kansas City's cutting-edge noir-rockers The Latenight Callers. Revelers can party like it's 1949!
1) The Roots Undun (MCA)
2) Elzhi/Will Sessions Elmatic / Elmatic Instruments (Fat Beats)
3) Oddisee Rock Creek Park (Melo Music)
4) Blu & Exile Below the Heavens (Sound in Color)
5) Snoop Dogg Doggumentary (Priority)
This is the second in the three part Best of 2011 Hip-Hop series for the Amoeblog. The first Best of Amoeba Hip-Hop 2011 featured all the releases in 2011 that were popular sellers at the three Amoeba stores over the past year. The next, third will be this Amoeblogger's personal favorites of 2011. Meanwhile this one features the hip-hop picks by Amoeba staffers (both current and former) from the three Amoeba stores. The above top five is from the great Luis F. Soria who, up until recently when he left Amoeba to undertake some other projects, was the main hip-hop man at Amoeba Music San Francisco. He is missed but his former position, has been taken over by Robert whose list is down below, is in good hands.
Conatus continued Zola Jesus' evolution to full-fledged goth pop star, with dance beats and hooks underpinning her freaky awesome voice.
Anti- / Epitaph
Malian Touareg band Tinariwen are joined by Kyp and Tunde from TV on the Radio on this beautiful single.
Father Son Holy Ghost
True Panther Sounds
V/A: Brazil Bossa Beat-Bossa Nova & The Story Of Elenco Records
Best World Music Album Title:
Joan Sebastian-Huevos Rancheros
Best Of The World Music Releases That NPR Likes:
Best World Fusion Album:
Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal-Chamber Music
Best Retro World Release:
V/A- Chicas: Spanish Female Singers
Best New World Release On LP
Frente Cumbiero- Frente Cumbiero Meets Mad Professor
Best World Music Box Set:
V/A-Opika Pende: Africa At 78 RPM
Best World Music Compilation:
V/A-Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque
"That's someone shooting Tiny Tim for his PS3"
Of Christmas, the wise Ebenezer Scrooge cynically but rather sensibly wondered, "What was Christmas but a time for running into debt and getting one year older without getting even one hour richer?" That was 1843 and not even the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come could foresee the horrorshow to come in which people would trample minimum wage employees to death and unleash thick clouds of acrid pepper spray into the weeping faces of innocent babes in the effort to procure a Tickle Me Elmo, Furbie or whatever mass-produced crap has in any given year temporarily excited the mindless, collective consumerist impulse. Happy birthday, Christkind!
The crappy Christmas Carol-free zone!
Christmas Carols too have been given a bad wrap, sullied by their association with joyless, joint-zapping visits to the mall. For those working in retail, imagine how much worse it is. The fact that the same roughly eight or so songs mercilessly begin mannheim steamrolling anyone that ventures outdoors around mid-September is enough to justify anyone feeling like the Grinch. However, having avoided malls and shopping centers altogether this Yuletide, and running my own store (Brightwell - shameless plug) have allowed me to hear Christmas music in a new and holy light. I decided in this newly-awakened joy/mania to attempt to come up with my Top 10 Christmas Carols.
1) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)
2) Childish Gambino Camp (Glass Note)
3) Mac Miller Blue Slide Park (Ingrooves)
4) Wale Ambition (Warner Bros.)
5) MF Doom Operation Doomsday (Metal Face)
Special thanks to Robert at the San Francisco Amoeba Music for this latest Hip-Hop Top Five Chart that includes the 2011 vinyl reissue of MF Doom's Operation Doomsday - the debut solo album by hip hop artist born Daniel Dumile that was initially released by Bobbito's Fondle 'Em Records in 1999. Two years, with an altered track list, it was reissued by Sub Verse Records in 2001 with a slightly altered track listing. Doom's own Metal Face label re-reissued it three years ago, and now again this year several months ago with new cover art designed by Jason Jagel, who also did the cover art for Mm.. Food. The other entries on this week's hip-hop chart at the San Francisco Amoeba store are Childish Gambino's Camp, Mac Miller's Blue Slide Park, Wale's Ambition, and Drake's hugely popular second album Take Care. The artist's latest video for the album bonus track "Motto" which is dedicated to Mac Dre features a quick outside shot of the Amoeba San Francisco store.
It's Christmas eve eve and whether or not you're reeling in feeling the frenzy of the heightened excitement of the season there's always room for a little plaintive introspection. Local auteur/chanteuse Laura Weinbach and her chamber-pop ensemble Foxtails Brigade are among many who have released a special album for the holidays this year, but no seasonal tribute has ever so sweetly serenaded the ghosts of Christmas past quite like their single "I'm Not Really In The Christmas Mood This Year" from the album Time Is Passed. The song is a beautiful if painfully heart-tugging reminder that the Christmas monster needs taming, a glockenspiel and brush lullaby for the lovers of the true meaning. Plus, it comes perfectly packaged in a ruefully gorgeous, must-see visual medium, do check out the video below!
We have been shooting What's In My Bag? episodes for about three and a half years, but in our latest video with Numero Group founder Rob Sevier, he turns the tables on us a bit. His vision was to give our series the Numero treatment: research its history, interview some of the integral players, and compile his favorite moments and videos from the series.
Rob shadowed us for about a full day, even serving as a host in a separate WIMB with Cheech Marin. He spoke with Brently Heilbron, the host for our very first What's In My Bag? video (an impromptu shoot with Weird Al Yankovic at the end of the registers at Amoeba Hollywood). He interviewed one of the current series producers, and dug deeper into our videos with sketch comedy troupe Human Giant, musician Dave Grohl, Pinky of TV Carnage, internet video sensation Leslie Hall, comedian Neil Hamburger, hip-hop producer/MC Large Professor, and cartoonist Joe Matt.
The video is an homage to the Bay in general and in particular to Mac Dre (the late great Vallejo rapper born Andre Hicks whose mom Wanda Salvatto appears at the beginning of video) and some other Bay Area landmarks including Amoeba Music San Francisco at the 1:10 mark in the above video - making it the latest in a long line of music videos, movies, and TV commercials to feature Amoeba Music.
Drake's new excellent video features lots of other Bay landmarks (a lot of footage shot on Treasure Island) and familiar rap figures including E-40 and Drake lovingly shouts out Mac Dre and even paraphrases some of his music ("Feelin Myself") in the song/video. You can buy Drake's Take Care on CD and also Take Care on vinyl from Amoeba Music.
Headnodic "The Mondays (feat. Kat O1O)" (2011)
Record collectors/vinyl fanatics are sure to fully appreciate the latest video (above) from Headnodic which features a non-stop display of approximately 200 different record album covers. How many can you recognize? The video for the song "The Mondays" featuring KAT 010 and is taken from the album Red Line Radio on Traffic Entertainment which was released back in July by the Bay Area producer who came to fame as a member of the Crown City Rockers.
The video, which is also directed by Hednodic, is described by the record-loving artist as, "an open love letter to vinyl." The track features Hednodic on the bass and drum programming, with Kat O1O on the Rhodes, Crumar Orchestrator, and melodica. Purchase the album Red Line Radio either from Amoeba.com or in one of the three Amoeba Music stores.
His memorial service was held today (Wednesday, December 21st) at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. Reports say that more than 1,500 turned out to honor this great patron of the arts.
Footage from the memorial service can be viewed on the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass website.
According to the festival's website, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass will continue and the 2012 dates have been announced: October 5 -7!
It's come to this. I'm indulging today in posting what just might be the "fiiiive goooolllld riiiiiings!" equivalent to my most beloved personal favorites when it comes to this addition to the 12 Days of J-Pop Christmas countdown, the wonderful, white Christmas-y 「雪が降る町」(or perhaps "Snow Town" for a blunt translation) by late 80's/early 90's Japanese pop/rock unit Unicorn. This song isn't necessarily a Christmas song, but something more of a New Year's jam replete nostalgic lyrics fed by an emotional current moated with eddies of loss and regret, the kind of feelings a winter home-coming begets. Depending on how it gets to you, that feeling alone is Christmas-ish enough to warrant inclusion here. Also, there's snow!
It's no wonder the song begins with a lyric indicating a dislike for going out among the the holiday crowds, the city boy opting instead for an "over the river and though the woods" type of getaway to his down-home backwoods beginnings with the knowledge that snow is already falling there "again this year". He ponders getting a souvenir for his sweetheart and then contemplates the few remaining days in the year before adopting something of a fuck it, it's the end of the year attitude, reveling in the simpler times realness of the postcard perfect country snowscape.
Maybe it's because I always get a little homesick around this time of year, maybe I'm swimming against my own emotional currents and eddies linked to Christmases past. Maybe, just maybe I'm overdoing it a bit, but I like I said up top I'm indulging myself today. :p
Unicorn - 「雪が降る町」(Yuki ga furu Machi)
Headed by Berkeley, CA's Leroy Moore, the krip-hop movement, tagged Krip-Hop Nation, is a loose knit global collective of hip-hop artists with disabilities. As outlined in the two in-depth Amoeblogs on the krip-hop movement earlier this year, that featured an interview with Leroy Moore, some krip-hop artists are born with disabilities while others sustain them later in life. In the case of Kounterclockwise it was the latter.
For the duo, who had spent most of their earlier career working behind the scenes in production capacity for others including their production work with DJ Swamp and Yela Wolf but only recently released their own album, this occurred four years ago when Deacon Burns had a very serious accident that at first looked like it would signal the end of Kounterclockwise forever. On November 17, 2007 Burns got into an accident in Ohio in which he broke five vertebrae, several ribs, collapsed both lungs, and had a hairline neck fracture. This resulted in him suffering a severe spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis of both legs and has restricted him to use of a wheelchair to get around. But rather than be defeated and allow this tragedy to halt his life and his love of music, Burns has slowly rehabilitated himself and recently returned fully to making music.
We documented the Jingle Cat's first ever shopping spree at Hollywood's music mecca, in a raw, uncensored look behind the scenes that shows you what the secretive meower of holiday favorites is REALLY like. From graffiti-ing our passenger elevator to digging for kitty flicks on the mezzanine, to unsuccessfully attempting to pay for a Cat Stevens record with a seed ball, this tough-talking tomcat proves that he AIN'T your grandma's fluffywuffles.
You love his Christmas carols, now see him up close and personal, and DON'T rub him the wrong way!
Chara - "X'mas Spirits!"
"I got my name from my hood: the notorious Acorn Projects - the only projects in Oakland period. They say everybody in my hood is Shady. I'm from a shady hood and Acorn niggas ain't cool and all that. So I named myself Shady Nate just to let people know what it is," Nate told me. Known for caring about his West Oakland neighborhood and giving back to his community (Nate has been responsible for throwing BBQ's in his neighborhood for the kids coming up over the past two summers) I was curious to know what Nate thought of West Oakland today versus ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. Is it better or worse than when he was a kid coming up? "That's a tough one," he answered, pausing for a second and considering all of the so-called "development" that taken place in West Oakland in the past decade. "Yes they're putting money into the city; they're rebuilding but they're not putting money back into the right places. They're not putting money into the schools so while they're rebuilding the structures, the buildings, they're not rebuilding the community, the people. So the people is getting worse. It's a lot worse from when I was a youngster. People might have thought I was crazy but now the people that is coming up under me they is even more sick. I can't say it's getting better. I really think it's getting worse."
At 7:00pm on Tuesday, December 20th, Zach Rogue, lead singer and songwriter for the band Rogue Wave, will perform songs and light the candles for the opening night of Chanukah 2011.
Zach Rogue’s latest solo recording, Come Back To Us (which he released under the artist name Release The Sunbird), features sun-kissed, joyful songs that are likely some of the loveliest tunes you’ll hear this year.
Get your FREE tickets HERE!
We just expanded our selection of headphones at Amoeba Hollywood to include a broad spectrum of gear from Eskuche, Funko Tronics, Skullcandy, Sony, Urban Ears, and more.
Below is a sampling of the headphones we're carrying. We have additional colors in most of these styles, particularly the Skullcandy headphones. Hesh, Agent, Lowrider and Uprock are the names for their different lines of headphones and each come in a variety of colors/designs. Same for Eskuche, whose lines include Control, 33iG, and Kassette.
Swing by soon and pick up a pair. Your ears will be glad you did!
2011 Hesh - Paul Frank Devil Julius
2011 Agent - Retro Hoops
Studio Monitor Series
ZX Series Studio Headphones
AKB48 miming for Coca-Cola:
I've owned this on a compact disc for ages, and then I see the magnificent film, "I Am Love" with the great Tilda Swinton and I see a vinyl copy of it and my head goes, "BUY THIS"! This record was cut up and used as the score in such a wonderful, effective way, swooning, tilting and fanfare-ing the scenes making the picture so much more intense and sentimental. Bravissimo. The wax sounds amazing, too, as is the ECM tradition.
Complete Piano Music
Cameo Classics 1981
Amazing moods and very sound writing for piano. Think Debussy, Copeland, Ravel, Mozart, Haydn, Bryars and Gershwin and all this rolled into one fellow born in the U.K. in 1876. The great sound on this disc makes it so enjoyable, and being a wonderfully produced U.K. pressing with a brilliant performance by Peter Hill seals the deal.
This is the first of two Best of Hip-Hop in 2011 Amoeblog posts. This post features most of the hip-hop releases that were popular at the three Amoeba Music stores over the past year while the next (more subjective) Best of 2011 Amoeblog will feature personal favorite top five or top ten lists of the year by such Amoeba folks as myself, E Lit, and Ray Ricky Rivera. As you will see from the list of approximately one hundred hip-hop albums listed (scroll down) that were popular at Amoeba Music in 2011 there was a wonderfully diverse melange of both mainstream/pop rap and underground hip-hop releases by a wide range of talented artists; some that may only be regionally popular and others that are phenomenally popular on a national and global level.
This wide array of artists included Drake, LiveWire, The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West), San Quinn, Murs, The Beastie Boys, Curren$y, Lateef The Truthspeaker, Lil Wayne, Evidence, Talib Kweli, Wale, Dregs One, The Roots, Philthy RIch, Beans, Lupe Fiasco, Zion I & The Grouch, DJ Quik, Moe Green, Wiz Khalifa, Del Tha Funky Homosapien. Mac Miller, The Jacka, Tyler the Creator, Doomtree, Pharoahe Monch, and Ski Beatz to name but some. If you missed out on any of these releases over 2011 now might be the time to catch up. Most of them are still available, in stock at Amoeba in stores or online with their to-buy link embedded in bright blue in the long list below. Also immediately below are some randomly chosen videos with accompanying text from the past year to give a flavor of the year that was 2011 in hip-hop. Feel free to add in the comments below any of your favorites of 2011 that you think we missed.
My first experience with Omara Mochtar (Bombino) was on the Sublime Frequencies release, Music from Niger: Guitars from Agadez, Vol. 2, which was recorded live and sounded like something recorded in a juke joint in Mississippi. On Agadez, Bombino recorded in a studio where all the richness of his guitar tone comes through, making this the guitar album that all guitar players should own from 2011. Much like their contemporaries Tinariwen and Group Inerane, this album is heavy on the Toureg blues, with trance-like guitar drones that conjures the sound of many lonely desert nights in Niger. Soulful without effort, Agadez has led Bombino out of the desert and hopefully into your stereo.
Adanowsky- Amador CD/LP
With the rep of being the son of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Santa Sangre) and being a kid that hung out with members of The Beatles, you would expect Adanowsky to be either the second coming or some spoiled kid with talent and nothing to say. (i.e. Sean Lennon) Well, Adanowsky is neither. Is Amador a psychedelic masterpiece? No. Is Amador some over-indulgent dribble? Far from it. Amador is a heartbreak record. It’s full of pain and letting the heartbreak of broken relationship take over. From the heartfelt piano ballads to the tequila-fused Rancheras, it all stages of a post break-up. Much like John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band, it’s very minimal in instrumentation and lets emotion carry the songs. In the end, I can’t imagine Adanowsky being single for that long. Amador is too charming of an album to let that happen.
View this video HERE at the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive!
Blouse - Blouse (Captured Tracks)
Last year was when I first got obsessed with the label Captured Tracks. Both Wild Nothing and Soft Moon ended up in my top ten last year. This is the year of Blouse, Soft Metals and Craft Spells. This label can do no wrong and keeps putting out amazing albums one after the other. This album continues the Captured Tracks tradition of capturing that early 90's shoegaze sound that I am still obsessed with. This Blouse album fits in more with the soft rock side of shoegaze and dreampop. It is more like Beach House than the darker sounds of label mates Soft Moon. It is a beautiful album and I can't get enough.
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
This is not his first album but it really is his first album for me. This is the year that I fell hard for Kurt Vile. I could not stop listening to this album for a couple of months. There is just something about it that really got to me. The album is on the more folky side of things. Something that I need in my life every once in a while. He reminds me of Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters. And listening to this album makes me remember the first time I discoved Mark Kozelek and was hooked for life. It really is that good.
Zola Jesus - Conatus (Sacred Bones)
Zola Jesus has given me exactly the album that I wanted from her. It is majestic and beautiful and dark and moody. This album is for fans of the The Knife and Fever Ray. And while we patiently wait for the next album by The Knife out next year, this album more than fills the void. It is a dark emotional roller coaster. I really wish that artists like Bjork or Kate Bush would have moved in this direction. But thankfully we have Zola Jesus to bring us the album that we all needed in our life. A perfect album for dark and rainy winter nights. You should not live your life one day longer without Zola Jesus.
Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls (Slumberland)
Slumberland has been another one of my favorite labels this year. I have always been a fan but they have really done a great job these last couple of years of sort of reinventing themselves and discovering a whole new group of twee sort of artists. It is the darker side of twee. This is really a fantastic little album from these folks from London. They released a couple of singles on Captured Tracks and have now given us this perfect pop masterpiece of a debut album.
Exile - "Last Christmas"
Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. As you may know, I've worked in Hollywood for 8 years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 - at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2011 releases that I fell in love with or had hot and heavy affairs with this year.
- Wild Beasts Smother
In 2008, Brit quartet Wild Beasts released their shaky-legged -but- stunning debut, Limbo Panto. In the four years since, the band has released two thoroughly dazzling masterpiece full-lengths of deceptively delicate indie rock, lyrically bent towards looking in the dark recesses of the heart and libido, largely sung by co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe in his trademark falsetto. Smother finds the band adding a new restraint to their arrangements that allows the tension in the lyrics to hit with hair-on-end chills. It is a singular LP by a singular band that I expect will eventually reach a Radiohead-level stratosphere.
So I recently went on a much-needed vacation to Cabo San Lucas with a motley assortment of friends. Cabo San Lucas was chosen because it was a friend's birthday, a friend whose father owns a bar, Happy Ending Cantina.
To be completely forthcoming, Cabo San Lucas has never been high on my list of desired vacation destinations, placing somewhere between Gilbert, Arizona and Hutchinson, Kansas. Admittedly, my ignorance on the subject of Cabo San Lucas was vast... I only knew that Sammy "The Red Rocker" Hagar (Montrose, Van Hagar and now, Chickenfoot) owns a bar there... and that it's frequently referred to simply as "Cabo" by people who I'm guessing neither know what "cabo" means or that there are many other "Cabos."
However, despite my well of cynicism, reservations and the somewhat awkward circumstances, I can honestly say that I had a great vacation. My opinions of Cabo San Lucas might come off as sarcastic and snide but I honestly don't mean in any way to insult or discourage the tourist for whom Cabo San Lucas might be Heaven on Earth. I am merely not the typical "Caboholic." I've also little interest in visiting Acapulco, Cancún or taking a Disney cruise. On the other hand, if you, dear reader, are in the position -- or know anyone who can -- get me a free vacation to Mexico I'm very, very interested in visiting and blogging about Oaxaca, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Guadalajara, Mexico City or Monterrey. I'm pretty sure I'll love any of them.
On the 8th Day of J-Pop Christmas: KARA Christmas for Family Mart Fried Chicken
KARA - "Winter Magic"
End of the year usually means the major labels release all their biggest releases of the year and Latin Music is no exception. On the pop side we have releases from Paulina Rubio's Brava and Laura Pausini latest, Inedito, which has a ’Spanish and Italian version. Former Aventura singers Romeo Santos and Henry Santos release their first solo albums. Henry Santos Introducing and Romeo long-anticipated Formula Vol. 1 has been selling like crazy. Even solo, these guys are still the Kings Of Bachata. Not to be outdone is Shakira with another live CD/DVD, Live In Paris.
On The rock side, Mana has yet another deluxe version of Drama Y Luz, with a DVD with videos and bonus tracks not on the original deluxe version. We had another monstrous in-store; this time it was Enrique Bunbury promoting his newest release, Licenciado Cantinas with an autograph session. We sold over 300 advance CDs for the signing and a bunch more online and now we have the vinyl version, if you are so inclined.
It seems to get harder every year, as -- thanks to the internet -- the world becomes smaller and choice becomes more vast. How can you find that perfect gift for someone that not only has everything, but can get whatever they want online in a matter of minutes?
Here's the answer: outsmart them. Use this guide to scoop them on their own desires. They may not yet know they lust after these amazing items, but with the Amoeblog's help, you will reign victorious as this year's King / Queen of Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Festivus / Winter Solstice.
For your old school punk:
San Francisco’s seminal punk band Crime was formed in 1976 and ripped post-hippie San Francisco a metaphorical new one when they released their first (and many say Punk’s first) single“Hot Wire My Heart / Baby You're So Repulsive.” They mixed a rebellious and sexually-charged image (they were most often seen flaunting their vampiric, just-outta-rehab good looks in tight leather, regulation police uniforms, or old-time gangster duds) with their unique blend of intellectual and furious lo-fi rock and roll. Crime found local refuge at the now legendary Mabuhay Gardens, but became nationally notorious after playing a gig at San Quentin Penitentiary in full police uniforms. (Read more about them on the Amoeblog.)
Now, after many years, you can purchase official Crime merch directly from original member Johnny Strike and his business partner Faustino Mendonça. Bootleggers be damned! Get some stunning shirts, posters, and pins from the source!
Remember when Black Flag, Fear and The Stains played Devonshire Downs (CSUN) back in '82? How about The Damned gig at Godzilla's from the same year? Well, these are only two of the memorable shows that make up the T-shirt collection.
The punk shirts are part of our expanded t-shirt section at Amoeba Hollywood. Nestled in the corner of the jazz room, you'll find shirts from all genres and generations of music.
Watch the shirts in action:
Speaking of labels, this blog is named after Big Shot Records which went from 1968 to 1971. Big Shot was a subsidiary of Trojan Records that started in 1968, gaining popularity with releases from Judge Dread and The Tennors. Big Shot released over 130 45RPM singles and a handful of LP releases. The label itself has stayed active due to the popularity of Judge Dread and the iconic image of the Big Shot cannon. Most modern Reggae labels try to achieve the visibility that Trojan Records has and garner the appeal to counter culture kids as Big Shot did in 1968.
Peter Tosh - Legalize It (legacy Edition) [CD]
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 12:16:11
1) The Roots Undun (MCA)
2) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)
3) Pusha T Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (Fontana)
4) Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic)
5) J Cole Cole World (Columbia)
Special thanks to Ray Ricky Rivera at the Amoeba Music Hollywood store for this week's Amoeba Hip Hop Chart which includes staples of the past few weeks Drake's Take Care on Cash Money/Universal, J Cole's Cole World on Columbia Records, Pusha T's Fear of God II: Let Us Pray Fontana, and Eligh & Amp Live's Therapy At 3 via Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic. Meantime the number one hip-hop seller is the brand new album from The Roots Undun which was released last week (December 6th). Undun is the Roots' eleventh studio album but it is their first concept album. As outlined in the Undun preview video above that concept follows the life and times of the fictional young Redford Stephens - "a kid who becomes criminal, but wasn't born criminal" and who is "neither victim nor hero." As the online Amoeba reviewer accurately wrote of Undun: "Don’t let their spot as Jimmy Fallon’s house band fool you — The Roots haven’t softened one bit. Their latest release is a concept album about a youth drawn into street life until it results in his death, told in reverse. Despite all the inherent bleakness that would imply, lyrically, musically Undun is not so dour, buoyed by vibrant soul and touched by flourishes both electronic and orchestral that suggest how far the Roots have come as a band and as conductors of a sound they alone seem to inhabit.
Amoeba Music has partnered with filmmaker Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World, Bad Santa) in producing a T-shirt of iconic Delta blues singer Robert Johnson drawn by underground comic artist R. Crumb from the first found photo of Johnson. This T-shirt is an Amoeba Music exclusive, available only through Amoeba.com or at all three Amoeba stores.
Here's a brief history of the image on the shirt. Up until 1973, there was no known photo of Robert Johnson, the haunting, mysterious Delta blues singer lionized by countless rock and roll bands. A postage stamp size photo taken by Johnson himself in a photo booth in the early 1930s turned up in 1973 and was published in Rolling Stone in 1986. After it was published, underground comix artist R. Crumb, a life-long 78 collector and blues fan, drew it as a cover for a highly specialized collector's publication called 78 Quarterly, a magazine specializing in stories on rare pre-war blues and jazz artists and their impossibly rare, highly coveted 78s.
After publication of the 78 Quarterly issue with the Robert Johnson R. Crumb drawing, Terry Zwigoff got permission from both the publisher and Crumb to produce T-shirts with the image, and they were available for a few years in the mid-1990s. Since then, the T-shirts with the R. Crumb rendering of the Robert Johnson photo have been unavailable. Terry is a friend of Amoeba and recently a deal was struck to produce the shirt again. It is now available on a high quality 100% Egyptian cotton T-shirt as an Amoeba exclusive.
The collectors of early Hawaiian 78s are mostly drawn to the steel guitar giants Sol Hoopii, King Benny Nawahi, and the rare as hen's teeth discs by Madame Riviera's Hawaiians featuring Tau Moe. In addtion to the traditional vocals, Kalama's Quartet features twin steel guitars, playing lead and harmony – more bang for your steel guitar buck, plus the exquisite Hawaiian falsetto singing of Mike Hanapi. Along with Hanapi (front) singing tenor and falsetto, their core personnel included the deep resonant bass voice of Bob Nawahini (left), the baritone of Dave Munson or Dan Pokipala (right) and the lead voice of Bill Kalama (behind Hanapi). They didn't bother to change their name to Quintet when somewhere along the way Bob Matsu was added as a second steel guitar.
Oh hai! メリークリスマス again everyone! I'm here again with today's installment in the 12 Days of J-Pop Christmas wherein we celebrate the wild wonderful spectrum of J-Pop Christmas hits both classic and funky fresh. If you're keeping up with this list, checking it twice as it were, welcome back! Today's addition pays homage to award winning musician, composer, producer, writer, singer, pianist and actor Mr. Ryuichi Sakamoto! If you think you've never heard of him chances are you have at least heard a sampling of his work whether it be while strapped into the dentists chair, waiting for some elevator doors to open or watching the Last Emperor. His other works include a career pioneering electronica with his band Yellow Magic Orchestra, a successful career as a pop music producer and a semi-successful career as a pop musician, his international notoriety stemming from numerous Golden Globe, Academy Award and BAFTA nominations and wins as a film composer.
So without further ado here's Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra playing his beautiful work "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" live in Europe 2009. And remember: I'll be adding to the 12 Days of J-Pop Christmas line-up everyday until the hull on my Christmas vessel breaches in a holiday display both beautiful and terrible to behold.
"Wanna Come To My DJ Night?"
Funny because it is so true of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or anywhere USA. Loved every episode of the all too short first season of this TV show but this skit, with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein desperately trying to escape DJ night, from the new upcoming second season of IFC's Portlandia, has even outdone all the previous ones. Hilarious! Season 2 of Portlandia begins on the IFC channel on Fridays January 6th, 2012 at 10pm. Check local listings. Meantime purchase Portlandia Season One on DVD from Amoeba.
1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Crosley Keepsake 249 USB
Numark Portable PT-01 USB
- Available Online -
Jensen JTA-460 Compact USB Turntable System
- Available Online -
Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB
Holland's deep electronic specialist Conforce releases his second full-length. Still riding high on the praise from his last EP, Dystopian Elements, Boris Bunnik has crafted another album of deep digital and authentic analog bliss. As well as on Delsin, it's appropriately classy labels like Clone and Rush Hour which have released Conforce's work in the past -- the results of which have helped mark out the man behind them as one of the day's most considered sonic craftsmen. All but one of the album tracks is new and exclusive, with "Lonely Run" the only one heard thus far, given its inclusion on the aforementioned EP. It was a track which perfectly surmised the man's musical mission -- to combine elements of futurism with real hardware, decent software and to simply go wherever it takes him, be that a landscape doused in dub, formed from a firmer techno template or built on a house groove. As such, the aptly-entitled album is a wholly immersive listen from start to finish. Operating in its own deep and subliminal world of rhythm, it goes from lateral and dubby to more upright and kicking, touching on ambient moments and the odd classist moment along the way. Rather than ten shades of the same color, Escapism investigates a number of different moods and tempos. Opener "Revolt DX," for example, suggests a lively pace, despite being drenched in echo and reverb. "Elude," meanwhile, is a more roughshod roller torn apart by blistering synths, crisp percussion and prying claps. "Shadows Of The Invisible" is a mysterious journey into the tense, unknown world of deep space, while "Aquinas Control" floats in a murky, churning and dark underwater abyss... like the album overall, it's hugely evocative stuff that bares little resemblance to the populist motifs of Chicago-this or Detroit-that. From start to finish, Escapism grabs your attention without being rushed, hurried or over-complicated. It's the sort of album which works on both headphones up-close, but also on a dancefloor at a distance, thanks to its devilish detail but palpable presence. Unsurprisingly, one of today's most reliable producers has turned in one of the year's finest albums.
Jonathan has thrown West Coast versions of his Soul Clap parties all over Los Angeles (The Downtown Standard, Nomad Gallery, Spaceland, etc). LA Record and Vice Magazine are presenting a benefit for Jonathan on Friday, December 16 at The Monty. All of the DJs are volunteering their services and 100% of the proceeds will be donated directly to the official paypal account for his medical expenses.
If you can't make it in person, you can paypal funds of love and words of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, December 16
1222 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Suggested donation $5-10
On the 12th Day of Christmas: Hello Project / Morning Musume - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
As you've no doubt already read, vinyl sales are up so to meet the accompanying increase in demand for turntables Amoeba Music recently began selling various turntable models. As outlined in the excellent recent Amoeblog about buying a turntable at Amoeba Music, the three Amoeba stores each have a really good selection of turntables for sale. Recently I stopped into the Berkeley Amoeba store to talk a bit with turntable expert Brendan about the variety of turntables to choose from at the Telegraph Avenue store. Note that the San Francisco and Hollywood Amoeba stores may each have a slightly different array of turntables to chose from. Call ahead to your local Amoeba (scroll down for phone numbers) to double check on which models are available.
As outlined by Brendan in the video interview clip above, the Audio-Technica model on display is a wonderful hands-on, easy to operate, sturdy model that comes with a good quality, built-in cartridge (so you don't have spend any extra time and money getting the needle cartridge) for only $129.98. This exact same model - including the extra feature of a USB connection that is geared for folks who, as well as listening to their records, want to dub off their vinyl into a digital format to have on the go in their iPod and other mp3 listening devices -- sells for $179.98. A great deal if you plan on doing a lot of digitizing of your vinyl collection is the Numark TTUSB model with USB compatibility, on sale for just $149.98. As Brendan says in the video clip, this belt-driven model is "a really solid design for 150 bucks!" It also comes with pitch control, which is perfect for DJs and anyone who wants to increase or decrease the speed of the record being played.
"We have set up a memorial fund so the family can give her a beautiful home going. She meant so much to so many people. No contribution is too small as she also [has] a son who will need to be cared for," wrote CMG who is pictured to right in accompanying TCD photo album cover art for their final release together - The Nutcracker Suite from 2009. The Memorial Fund for Karryl "Special One" Smith has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank Acct# 193939865. Folks can also donate via SpecialOneFund@Yahoo.com "any amount" by PayPal. Meanwhile funeral services for Special One are scheduled for 11am, Saturday, Dec 17th at a still to be announced East Bay location.
"Why couldn't I have been the year with Obamacare?"
Oh, 2011! Can it be it’s only been a year since I knew ye? This was a year of firsts: The first time I had a kitten who liked to lick new, clean plastic with an almost fetishistic zeal; the first year I lived in Los Angeles without working the floor at my beloved Amoeba Music Hollywood (I miss you, desperate holiday shoppers!); the first year I grew more than one grey hair at the same time (I blame you, traffic on Fairfax!)
It was also the year I suddenly, and without any obvious explanation, decided I loved and wanted to see any and all films of the horror genre. This came as a surprise to me. My boyfriend accuses me often of only liking films where nothing ever happens – preferably with a lone clock ticking in the corner of an otherwise quiet room. It annoys me when he claims this, mostly because I cannot defend myself.
The horror section in Amoeba Music’s DVD section provided me with many hours of happy judging-a-book-by-its-cover moments. Some gems I was hypnotized by were…
You can find them on display at Amoeba Hollywood right in the entryway into the Jazz Room.
Here are close-ups of some of the bags we are currently carrying:
The Film Noir Foundation presents the second annual NOIR CITY XMAS this Wednesday, December 14th at the Castro Theatre! This double-feature of rare noir-stained yuletide classics will darken your spirits this holiday season. The evening will also feature the unveiling of the full schedule for NOIR CITY X, the 10th anniversary of the world's most popular film noir festival, coming to the Castro January 20–29, 2012.
Here's what's going down at NOIR CITY XMAS:
Lady on a Train (1945) Dir. Charles David. 94 min. 7:30 p.m.Nikki Collins (Deanna Durbin) witnesses a murder while waiting for a train, but can't get the police tobelieve her when no body is discovered. While they dismiss her as daft, she enlists the help of a mystery writer to sleuth out the culprits on her own. Based on a story by veteran mystery writer Leslie Charteris (The Saint), this is a wildly entertaining mix of comedy, musical, and suspense, rendered in evocative noir style by cameraman Woody Bredell (Phantom Lady, Christmas Holiday, The Killers), and featuring a superb cast of sinister and suspicious supporting players swirling ominously around "America's Sweetheart."
Christmas Holiday (1944) Dir. Robert Siodmak. 93 min. 9:20 p.m.
A young soldier gets more than he bargained for on a holiday stopover in New Orleans when he is introduced to a young "singer" (prostitute) and a local "nightclub" (brothel) and he learns the tale of her descent into degradation. Venerable scribe Herman Mankiewicz hews Somerset Maugham's novel into a brilliant script, directed with delirious intensity by Siodmak. Deanna Durbin is memorable in her first adult role, and Gene Kelly is unforgettable as the murderous cad with whom she tragically falls in love. Unquestionably the most romantically soul-crushing Christmas movie ever made.
The Beastie Boys "Sabotage"(1994)
Besides the group members themselves one person who was very happy about last Wednesday's announcement that the Beastie Boys were among the new inductees into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame was long time hip-hop ambassador James Bernard. Bernard, a former editor at The Source magazine, is one of the members of the nominating committee for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and, as such, responsible for nominating the Beastie Boys to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame for the 2012 list. Bernard told the Amoeblog that he was "really pleased" about the Beasties getting in but added that many of the other acts he has nominated have not been as fortunate in the final leg of the process. "We tried to get LL [Cool J] in last year and it didn't really work. We got Eric B & Rakim nominated this time," he said. "And Rakim was so happy but that [nominating] might be as far as we get."
Bernard added that he was also happy that the rap/funk fused rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers also got into the upcoming Rock And Roll Hall of Fame awards but that he would like to see more hip-hop acts added and will continue to work on that happening in future years. In a prepared press statement last week about their Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction the Beasties collectively wrote that, "While we are very proud of the music we make, we have to acknowledge the inspiration from our families, friends and musicians like The Slits, Bad Brains, X-Ray Spex, The Treacherous Three and too many others to possibly name. And most of all, we give thanks to New York City and the world of musical influence it provided for us."
I was a bit slow on finishing it (big surprise), so my essay on Jean-Luc Godard's One Plus One went up today over at the Hooded Utilitarian. Check it out!
The other artist I've been obsessed with lately is Blaze Foley, particularly the recently released LP, Clay Pigeons, which collects some of his itinerant, and absolutely brilliant, performances. He's the best country artist I've heard since Townes Van Zandt ... really, check out the title track:
Really sad news for Bay Area hip-hop fans has been spreading online all day today that much loved femcee Karryl Smith, aka Special One of longtime East Bay hip-hop duo Conscious Daughters, has died. So far the cause of death is unknown of the artist who first came to fame care of The Conscious Daughters' (TCD) 1993 debut album Ear To The Street (on Paris' Scarface Records label) and its hit single (video above) "Something to Ride To (Fonky Expedition)."
Since then TCD released only two albums, 1996's Gamers and The Nutcracker Suite from two years ago, while CMG recently released a solo album The Jane Of All Trades featuring the lead single/video "All My Life (Let's Do It) featuring Truth Speaks" that was featured just yesterday in the Hip-Hop Rap Up Amoeblog. About an hour ago a still in shock CMG, via her Facebook page, made this statement about the tragic passing of her musical partner and best friend: "Thank you to everyone for your prayers I need them. I am sick over the loss of my sister. The cause of death is still unknown but I will try to share info when I get it. Pray for me and Karryls other sisters Jessica and Tonya. We are all together trying to get through this."
Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 12:10:11
1) Doomtree No Kings (Lazerbeak)
2) Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic)
3) Grap Luva Neva Done EP (Redefinition Records)
4) Big Quarters Party Like A Young Commie (Big Quarters)
5) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)
Thanks to E Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba for this latest hip-hop chart and new releases update that includes super-talented Minneapolis duo Big Quarters latest/third album Party Like A Young Commie on which members Brandon Allday and Medium Zach deliver their best work to date (even better than their previous two memorable works - Cost of Living and From The Home of Brown Babies & White Mothers) with some simple but sick beats like htat on the album track "C'mon" (video below). The album's few guest spots include “Humble Servants” featuring Benzilla and the Julian Fairbanks (Audio Perm) produced “Savings Bonds.” Also new to this week's chart is the long awaited release from Grap Luva AKA The Younger Soul Brother (as in Pete Rock's brother) who, after a decade and a half in the game, the producer/emcee finally releases his own first official solo record. This may only be an EP but it is a great EP featuring collaborations with Kev Brown, Damu The Fudgemunk and Joc Max.
The other chart entries are Eligh & AmpLive's wonderful Therapy At 3 (see "Tattoo Song" video below), Drake's ever popular Take Care and the Mid West's Doomtree collective's collaborative full-length No Kings. Check the recent interview below with the Doomtree family by 89.3 The Current. Also below is the brand new video from Andre Nickatina for the track "Heelz" that features longtime collaborator / fellow SF rapper Equipto.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! 'Tis the season for the Yule Log's holiday tour-a-thon which also means that the 7th annual anything-goes seasonal revue "Christmas is the BEST!" - going down this Sunday, December 11 at Amnesia SF with hosts Uni & her Ukelele and Dr. Trucker, with the Yule Logs headlining the gig. I borrowed a Log or two for a fleeting yet intriguing interview - do read on, below:
Described as an intimate look at the visionaries, the movers and the shakers, and the pioneers who have helped shape the world of hip hop signed copies by BUA and Qbert of this must get book are available online from Amoeba for $34.99. Among the diverse array of other hip-hop figures chosen by BUA to portray in his unique self-described Distorted Urban Realism style of art are Jay Z, James Brown, President Obama (hip-hop's first president), and Run DMC (BUA joins DMC from the legendary hip-hop group at LACMA on Monday for another free event tied into his new book - for full info scroll down). In addition to Run DMC's late great DJ Jam Master Jay and DJ QBert, other DJs honored in the book include Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash.
BUA readily recognizes that without DJs, in particular Kool Herc who created hip-hop, there could be no hip-hop and he has always had great respect for turntable masters like QBert. "I grew up around DJs. I know DJs. I love hip-hop. I'm a graffiti writer. I'm a b-boy and I just love this type of icon," he said of his iconic The DJ which "turned out to be one of the most popular poster images of all time." Of his inspiration to do The DJ art a decade ago he said, "I wanted to do something that was representative of my culture and that was it." Hence to have QBert perform at the Amoeba instore "was really awesome" he said via phone recently. "It was spectacular being there at Amoeba with DJ QBert and having both the real music heads and the art lovers all together in one place was a beautiful thing," said the proud New Yorker who has lived in LA for several years now, teaches Figure Drawing in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Southern California, and calls LA "the second best city in the world."
I asked BUA how tough was it narrowing down his subjects for The Legends of Hip Hop down to just 50 and were there many that he didn't get to include in the book? "Yes absolutely there were a lot of legends from a historical point of view that were not reflected in my book" he said due to space requirements noting how those included are all, "Personal legends without whom I wouldn't be the person I am and I think a lot of people in this culture wouldn't be the people they are without these people. Every single person in this book is a tsunami of the culture. In other words everyone in this book has affected the culture in a seminal way such as Run DMC. If you didn't have Run DMC then hip-hop doesn't go global. If you don't have no James Brown then there really is no hip-hop because we took all of his samples. We took all of his footwork. We took all of his grunts, his moves, his music and we use them on turntables. We use them to dance to. He is the most sampled artist in the history of hip-hop. So without people like that you don't have the culture."
A hardcover book that would make the excellent holiday or anytime gift for that true hip-hop fan The Legends of Hip-Hop is available from Amoeba for $34.99 - signed copies by Bua and QBert while supplies last. BUA's artwork is accompanied by an engaging autobiographical narrative in which he talks about the impact of each figure on him personally and hip-hop at large. As you might have guessed Public Enemy are also included in his book. "Oh yeah Public Enemy is in there," BUA told me, adding that. "In fact Chuck D actually wrote my forward which is a really beautiful forward."
First up, right on schedule, we had the elusive "powered by crystals" act Liquid Karma. Now, I know what you're probably thinking - "Liquid Karma? The all-natural plant growth stimulant?" No, silly! I'm talking about the signed-up-by-his-no-good-co-worker, one-man, guru-level experimental drone-core laptop wizard that opened Amoebapalooza 2011 - guess you had to be there, man. The only way he could've improved his performance is with the addition of a fog-machine. I really liked his senior shades.
Following Liquid Karma's wall of WTF we had the good fortune to enjoy fifteen delicious minutes of SCHNITZELKLIT - a newlywed duo performing songs like "Blue Moon" and a heart-swelling rendition of David Lynch's and Angelo Badalamenti's Fire Walk With Me slow jam "Sycamore Trees," complete with an on-hand portable tape recorder playing the sax solo to lend a true Twin Peaks air to the affair. Lovely indeed!
After that we had our very own self-styled "Jesus with a bun" Gabi Back strumming out a solid set of poignant acoustic covers what closed with an especially emotional rendition of Radiohead's "Lucky" proving that, within the span of just three brief acts, the spectrum of musical tastes and talents of our Amoeba brethren is as enthusiastic as it is expansive.
The next act in the line up took their love of George Harrison to new heights as Darkhorse: the one man/three women tribute act that featured our resident Jazz-man/Metal dude/Kate Bush enthusiast (every record store should have one) on guitar, steaming up the inside of his GH mask as he shredded his through the acoustic set accompanied by a Kaitlin, our lady of the Darkhorse tattoo on drums and vocals, with further vocal accompanyment provided by Amoeba ladies both dear and fair of voice. Everyone of them in some way sporting a likeness of Mr. Harrison. I know that sounds like kooky fun, and it totally was, but there are unfortunately no pictures the act to make true said observation. [sigh] I hope the images above, them kooky masks and Kait's Darkhorse tat, make up for it even if it's just a little bit.
School of Seven Bells just released "The Night," the first single from their forthcoming third album, Ghostory. The album features SVIIB's signature dreampop influenced by ‘80s pop, shoegaze, and ambient electronic music. But it's also kind of a concept album in that it tells the story of a young girl named Lafaye and the ghosts that surround her life.
Free download of "The Night" by School of Seven Bells.
School of Seven Bells is vocalist Alejandra Deheza, formerly of On!Air!Library, and guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis, a former member of Secret Machines and Tripping Daisy. They formed in 2007 in Brooklyn, New York with Alejandra's twin sister Claudia (who left the band in 2010). Their debut album, Alpinisms (Ghostly International), was released in October 2008. Their second full-length album, Disconnect From Desire, was released in July 2010 on Vagrant Records. Ghostory is out February 28, 2012 on Vagrant Records/Ghostly International.
Watch our What's In My Bag? video with Alejandra & Benjamin:
To check out extensive LP label and price guides, head to the Vinyl Beat website!
When Jimi Hendrix joked that “you’ll never hear surf music again,” in his song “Third Stone from the Sun,” he was only four years removed from the heyday of the surf music craze. However in 1967, with psychedelic music flourishing in the midst of the hippie movement, surf music seemed incredibly square and white, like ancient history.
Surf music started out as reverb-drenched instrumental garage music by the likes of Dick Dale and The Bel-Aires and was centered in Southern California. In 1961, The Beach Boys recorded the song “Surfin’,” and a genre was born. By 1964, car themes were also included.
Living in California, there’s still an abundance of surf related vinyl to be found in your favorite record haunts. At Amoeba, there’s also many vinyl reissues of classic albums, such as the Sundazed Dick Dale series. And we recently enjoyed having Brian Wilson sign his Smile reissue at the S.F. and Hollywood stores.
Here’s some live clips of the original hits:
Surf City - Jan & Dean
Many in the Bay Area already know radio & print journalist JR Valrey from his tireless work with both KPFA radio and the Bay View newspaper in San Francisco but others beyond the Bay have also been finding out about him in recent months courtesy of his book Block Reportin'
Valrey's 300+ page book features an impressive array of interviews with such subjects as Paul Mooney, Gil Scott Heron, Umar Bin Hasan, Cynthia McKinney Lil D, Mos Def, and Freeway Ricky Ross.
These engaging interviews, like Valrey's radio show which is accurately described as being "pertinent to the survival of Black and Brown oppressed people," were culled from KPFA broadcasts by Valrey who has worked at the Pacifica station for a decade.
Recently I caught up with Valrey to ask him about his work with KPFA, the content of his book Block Reportin', and various other topics that the scholar spends time researching and presenting for his listeners/readers.
Amoeblog: For those who may know little about you can you break down your role in the community and your personal history - things like KPFA and Bay View newspaper?
JR Valrey: I am a journalist from East Oakland California, who specializes in radio, print, journalism, and overtly fights for what I believe in. In my teenage years I was fortunate enough to meet other journalists who stood for something that helped me learn my craft, as well as they debated with me about how I saw the world; people like Davey D, Kevin Weston, Malcolm Marshall, Dev Ross, Ri'Chard Magee, Anita Johnson, and yourself among others. About ten years ago, I started working with the San Francisco Bay View New, a national Black newspaper based in the Hunter's Point district, the biggest Black community in the city. I gradually worked my way up from writer, to additionally being the main photographer, to the Associate Editor. The one-time weekly turned monthly shrunk, so my work load was sliced, but I still contribute regularly to this newspaper.
Trance Mutation LP
Recorded in just one week, “Trance Mutation” is a departure from the sound of Aquaplano and one that delves into experimental territory. The result is a beautiful rhythmic and textured journey through the mind of Manuel Fogliata.
Purchase Trance Mutation here:
Sound Sampler 12"
One of the most magical & original house projects with deep roots in classic Chicago House offers its multiple facets on one EP .
Purchase Sound Sampler 12" here:
It Goes On 12"
Morgan Geist returns with his Storm Queen project with another anthemic vocal jam, limited vinyl only release!
Purchase It Goes On here:
PST: After the band's hiatus in the mid-2000s, there seems to have been a renewed sense of urgency and energy and productivity to the band. Can you tell me about that, why that break may have been necessary and how the band has regrouped and proceeded?
Prekop: I did a solo record in that time, and those usually take more time than I expect. John McEntire did Tortoise stuff during that time. Archer [Prewitt] played on my solo record. But as time is escaping and by the time you get back to it it's like, oh no. ... I remember the first week or so being really difficult, but we fell pretty quickly into it after that. ... If I ever take a break where I don't make music, I don't know what that'd be like.
PST: Can you talk about the recording of The Moonlight Butterfly? What did you guys do differently on this record?
Prekop: I think we went into not feeling like we had to make a full-length record, which in our mind is 10 songs (Note: For the record, The Moonlight Butterfly stretches past half an hour in length). For whatever reason, I wanted to get it out by a certain time. We were pleased with the results and didn't leave anything off. ... It's liberating to do different kinds of stuff. Yo'ure off the hook to do whatever you want [on an EP].
As someone who has travelled the world extensively as both a hip-hop artist and a journalist Fernandes is more than qualified to tackle this topic and as a result delivers a most engaging work that is part hip-hop tale and part travel guide. Being that these are two of my personal favorite things in life - traveling and listening to hip-hop, and that I really enjoyed reading her book I was psyched to be able to catch up and interview Fernandes who, from reading her book, realized that I know her first cousin back in Sydney Australia.
Amoeblog: What are some of the greatest offerings that been an on-the-go globetrotting hip-hop observer has given you?
Sujatha Fernandes: Traveling with hip hop was like wearing a badge that allowed me to avoid the tourist lane and check in to some less worn and usually more interesting paths. I had the luck that I arrived in each of the different cities in the book at a time when their respective hip hop cultures were at a peak, and I got to see and meet some real legends and characters in each place. There’s also nothing like the craziness of hip hop travel to make you profoundly reassess your life. When I found myself – a long-time supporter of the Cuban revolution – threatening a Cuban official by making reference to my American credentials, I knew I had to get a grip.
Today December 5th, 2011 rock n roll living legend Little Richard celebrates his 79th birthday. The justifiably self-proclaimed "architect of rock and roll," whose influences are wide and reaching up to this day, began his music career back in the 1940's while he was still in his teens but it wasn't until the mid 1950's, under the mentorship of Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, that the artist born Richard Wayne Penniman's career took off in a major way. That was when he unleashed his full on wild showman delivery of funk fused rock n roll unlike anyone else, and cranked a jaw-dropping series of hit singles (two and a half dozen hit singles in a three year period!).
These Little Richard hits included such time worn rock n roll classics as "Tutti Frutti," "Rip It Up", "Lucille" (above), "Jenny, Jenny", "Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Keep A-Knockin'." You can find these plus many more Little Richard gems on various releases at Amoeba Music (his official discography lists approximately 50 album releases over the decades including many Christian/gospel ones) but personally I find his greatest hits packages such as 2006's Little Richard 20 Greatest Hits CD to always be good reliable purchases - and good holiday gift ideas too.
I'll be participating in a roundtable on Jean-Luc Godard over at The Hooded Utilitarian. My own piece (appearing this Friday) will be on his mixture of radical democracy, black militancy and the Rolling Stones, 1968's One Plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil). The whole shebang has begun with a lovely introductory essay by Caroline Small. Check it out!
Amoeba Music Berkeley Top Five Week Ending: 12:02:11
1) Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic)
2) Doomtree No Kings (Lazerbeak)
3) Jet Life Jet World Order (Jets International / iHipHop Distribution)
4) Senor Kaos The Kaos Effect (High Water Music)
5) Dregs One The Wake Up Call (Infinite Potential)
Thanks to E-Lit for always been on top of everything new in hip-hop including lots of under the radar releases and for this week's top five and run down of new releases. See video above for E-Lit's overview which includes the brand new collaboration Therapy At 3 between Living Legends emcee Eligh and Zion I producer Amp Live, Curren$y's Jet Life crew's new release Jet World Order, and Senor Kaos' The Kaos Effect. Also on the new top five is the midwest hip-hop collective Doomtree's new joint recording No Kings (available on CD and vinyl) and including such Doomtree talents as P.O.S. and Dessa.
Two of my favorite movies of the year so far came out a couple of months ago. Both Beginners and Drive are two of my favorites and they both have great soundtracks to go along with them. The Drive Soundtrack features songs from The Chromatics and Desire and an amazing score by Cliff Martinez. Beginners features songs from Jelly Roll Morton, Josephine Baker, and Mamie Smith. Another one of my favorite films of the year was the latest by Woody Allen. However, Midnight in Paris did not get a proper soundtrack release. The Soundtracks to Drive and Beginners are out now..
Join Peaches Christ at the Castro Theatre on December 17th for a Christmas extravaganza screening of THE SHINING featuring the "Torrance Family Christmas Review" stage-show hosted by Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance. Be afraid! Be very afraid. The stage-show stars Peaches Christ and the Midnight Mass Players with special guest numbers by "The Twins," "Lady In A Bath-tub," and more!
Dress up for the Crazy Christmas Costume Contest f where your mentally ill wardrobe can win big prizes, and be ready to barely make it out alive.
Doors at 7:00pm, festivities at 8:00pm. Rated R.
Get your tickets here!
As with so many music and book publishing projects in these challenging economic times Paul Stewart's small LA based publishing company Over The Edge Books is turning to Kickstarter to help launch the excellent hip-hop photo book West Coast Hip Hop: A History in Pictures by veteran music photographer Michael Miller. The photo-journalist, who was in LA as well as other West Coast spots, during hip-hop's golden era and beyond, has compiled an impressive collection that offers an invaluable view of the key West Coast hip-hop artists of the era including Ice Cube, NWA, Too $hort, Cypress Hill, 2Pac, Snoop Doggy Dogg, House Of Pain, Souls of Mischief, Coolio - most of which were shot for album covers and have gone on to become iconic symbols of that historic era in hip-hop music. The publication of the limited edition book, which has already surpassed its Kickstarter goals, will coincide with many of the book's photos been exhibited in galleries in both California and New York City. This week I caught up with publisher Paul Stewart, who has a long rich music history, and photojournalist Michael Miller, who has also worked with non hip-hop artists, to ask them each about the book and the hip-hop history presents.