Amoeblog

December 31, 2013: Frozen

Posted by phil blankenship, December 31, 2013 09:17pm | Post a Comment

Billy Jam's Best of 2013

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2013 05:27pm | Post a Comment

Aceyalone "Leanin On Slick" (title track of 2013 release from longtime LA emcee)


BILLY JAM 2013 TOP 10 HIP-HOP ALBUM LIST


1) DJ Frane Hi Dusty Stranger (Self-Released)

2) DJ ADA The Work Album (self released)

3) RJD2 More Is Than Isn't (RJS Electrical Connection)

4) Deltron 3030 Event II (Bulk Recordings) 

5) Run the Jewels (Killer Mike + EI-P) Run The Jewels (Fool's Gold)

Amoeba Bloggers' 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 31, 2013 02:20pm | Post a Comment

We've been compiling our Best of 2013 lists for a while now. Here's the combined efforts of Amoebloggers who submitted their favorite albums of 2013, compiled in a quasi-scientific fashion.

1. My Bloody Valentine - mbv

It should come as no surprise that the favorite record of the year from a bunch of record store geeks was My Bloody Valentine's long-awaited return with mbv.

"A year heavy with vets, but no one had anybody more excited than My Bloody Valentine (this guy included.) The logical follow-up to Loveless – 22 years later – and it’s a total stunner. mbv is MBV doing what they do best, and quite certainly, it was worth all those delays and the epic wait. It has familiarity that’s instant, but still pushes guitar rock into new terrains like no one else can." —Aaron Detroit

 

 

2. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

The Knife's divisive fourth studio album was a favorite amongst those who were up for the challenge from the Swedish experimental duo.

"As always, The Knife mean to disturb and provoke you, and Shaking the Habitual represents their most adventurous statement to date." —Oliver/Matt/Jordan

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: 30 Years Later DJ Chill & DJ Chino of Bay Area's Midnite Cru Deejays Look Back

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2013 11:45am | Post a Comment
        

Back in 1983, a time when Bay Area hip-hop was just beginning to take root, there were a handful of dedicated early era DJs around the Bay starting to fully embrace the still relatively new genre including both DJ Chill and DJ Chino (above) who formed the Midnite Cru Deejays that year. With hip-hop being such a globally popular and ubiquitous musical genre in 2013 it is hard to imagine a time when it was otherwise but back thirty years ago things where very different. Back in '83 hip-hop records (of which few were albums, mostly only 12" singles) were comparatively limited in supply and hence DJs like the Midnite Cru Deejays would typically mix in other types of music (freestyle, pop-dance, Minneapolis 80's funk, and new wave) into their mixes.

In addition to the above video interview with Midnite Cru Deejays' DJ Chill (who you can also follow on Twitter) and DJ Chino (conducted at Gellert Park in Daly City during Cue's Records Reunion BBQ in October of last year), in which they name check such legendary SF/Bay hip-hop spots as the Palladium, Creative Music, and Bobby G's Soul Disco Records' store and DJ pool, this week I again caught up with the two Bay Area DJ pioneers to ask them each a few questions on their hip-hop DJ legacies: Chino from Daly City and Chill from San Francisco. These questions and their replies appear below.  DJ Chino, who is DJing in the new year tonight at The Connection in the Outer Mission district of SF at 5740 Mission St (flyer below), shared of his long DJ history that, "I never thought I would make it this far as a DJ but time just flew by, and here I am thirty plus years later and still doing what I love to do, DJing. It's my natural high (mixing). I get these goose bumps that just make me want to do it again and again."  Meanwhile Chino's longtime turntable partner DJ Chill offered this wonderful insight on why not to bother a DJ at work - something that any club/party DJ can relate to - via this series  of rhetorical questions: "Do you bother a fireman in the middle of a fire? Do you bother a doctor in the middle of surgery? Would you bother a cop in the middle of an arrest? Then why the fuck would you bother a DJ in the middle of the mix?!"

Continue reading...

Tune Into Amoeba Hollywood's Rick Frystak on KPFK Today For Best Of 2013 + 5 Versions of Auld Lang Syne

Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2013 10:21am | Post a Comment


Enjoy checking out all the Amoeba staffers Best Of 2013 lists? Then tune into KPFK radio Los Angeles this morning into early afternoon between 11am and 1pm (PST) when Amoeba Hollywood staffer, musician, musicologist, and Amoeblogger Rick Frystak will be manning the boards and working the turntables, sitting in for Betto Arcos on the ever popular weekly Global Village program.

What to expect from Rick's two hour live mix today? will be digging into his 2013 crates and playing many of his personal favorite releases from the past twelve months (including some "new finds"), along with some rare sounds, and to properly prepare us for a new year "five versions of 'Auld Lang Syne'!"  If you are in the Los Angeles area tune in on your radio dial at 90.7FM. Otherwise tune in online from anywhere at KPFK.org. And after the show has aired view the playlist and listen back to audio archive of show on the KPFK website here.

Artists Pick Their Favorite Albums of 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 30, 2013 02:33pm | Post a Comment

We've been compiling our own Best of 2013 lists for a while now, so why don't we ask some of our favorite local artists what they were spinning this year?

Gabe Fulvimar of Gap Dream

“I really, really really did like [Daft Punk’s] Random Access Memories. I’ve seen it make it on the lists this year, but it seems like it’s not really getting too high up there. People are being kind of shitty to that record. It’s like a Rocky soundtrack or something. When that record came out this year, I was so stoked, I didn’t even know a new Daft Punk record was coming out. I know the one that came out before this last one didn’t do too well, and I knew they were kind of moving into soundtrack territory. That’s usually a clue that they’ve found their way into the golden land of making cinema scores. I was like, good for them, they’re geniuses. But I was blown away. It’s such a great blending of like modern pop music, which isn’t really that great, with classic pop music. Overall it’s just a really good pop record.”

Gap Dream's latest album is Shine Your Light.

Read my interview with Fulvimar here.

Continue reading...

Amoebapalooza in San Francisco & Berkeley, January 12th

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 30, 2013 01:13pm | Post a Comment

Amoebapalooza, Amoeba Music's annual tradition of musical mayhem featuring bands comprised of Amoebapalooza San FranciscoAmoeba San Francisco employees & friends, is back!

SAN FRANCISCO:
Join us on January 12th, 2014 at Brick & Mortar Music Hall for this celebrations of employee creativity. The doors open at 8:00pm and admission is just $5! Yes! Just $5 to see all of these bands and hang out with Amoeba tastemakers:

Windham Flat
Kiss Me on the Butt
Starjob
JFKFCDC
Cairo Pythian
Boeuf Couture
Haight Street Shakers

Special thanks to our friends at SIR SF for donating the backline for the third year in a row! We highly recommend SIR for all of your equipment needs.

Please note that we will be closing Amoeba SF early that night at 7pm.

Check out the photos from last year's Amoebapalooza SF!

 

 

BERKELEY:
Also on January 12th, Amoeba Berkeley is holding their Amoebapalooza in Oakland at The Night Light at 9pm. Featuring entertainment from The Senile Men, comedian Keith Swiggart, members of MUSK, and DJ Halo, this is a FREE event!

Continue reading...

Join Amoeba at First Fridays With Youngblood Hawke and Conway Jan. 10

Posted by Billy Gil, December 30, 2013 12:36pm | Post a Comment

Join Amoeba Music for January's edition of First Fridays! Once a month, Los Angeles's Natural History Museum stays open late and features live music, exciting scientific discussion, and behind-the-scenes curatorial tours as part of the First Fridays program. Amoeba is excited to sponsor this fabulous series of live music, discussion, concessions, tours, DJs and more.

Join us on January 10th from 5-10 p.m. for live performances from Youngblood Hawke and Conway, special DJs, and a guest lecture from Kathryn Bowers and Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz!

Look for the Amoeba booth, where we'll be handing out free swag and selling Amoeba merch.

Find out more HERE!

 


 


Kell's Best of 2013: A Year of Sounds and Feels

Posted by Kells, December 29, 2013 04:20pm | Post a Comment
2013 was a pretty great year for music and nothing quite cures that "where did the time go?" feeling like recollecting a year's worth of music enjoyment with conclusive consideration and whittling it down to a year-end list of bests. For putting together this here post I decided to drag out all the records I bought since last Christmas, spread them out on the floor like tarot cards, and listen to each of them one by one, like this: 



And then write about them, like this:
The rub was trying to keep my list trim and fit thus accompanying my select "bests" are other titles I've enjoyed within the last twelve months. Happy New Year everyone! Peep my Best of 2013 on the downhill scroll...


Little Wings - LAST
(RAD Records)

LAST comes first not just because I'm a longtime avid supporter of Kyle Field as an artist and musician, but it just so happens that LAST was one of the very first new records I bought in 2013. LAST is one of those "total package" records about which I could spin infinite yarns of praise n' things regarding the songwriting, the recording, the artwork, and total overall vibe and I kind of already did that in the interview piece I put together last Spring and so I urge anyone interested in this two-fer plate of odd hip-hop with a lotta folk-rockin' goin' on to check it out as it'd be redundant to put further shine on this diamond.



 
"Neptune's Next" is one of my favorite songs on this record and a great gateway track. Check it:





Worth mentioning: Bummer jams ahoy with Grouper's The Man Who Died in his Boat. It's choice rainy day music for those grey Winter days when the surf conditions are very poor indeed. For something equally as quiet and intimate sounding yet more playful and upbeat I recommend checking out Unknown Mortal Orchestra's II, especially the track "So Good at Being in Trouble". Better yet get into that reish-alanche of R.Stevie Moore's bedroom jammers that hit the shelves this year -- sometimes his voice sounds like Kyle Field. Anyway, Glad Music gives me life!



Clothilde - Clothilde
(Born Bad)

Don't sleep on this limited vinyl release! This compilation includes all of yé yé girl Clothilde's fantastic recordings, complete with the Italian language versions of both EPs as well as the stereo version of the much beloved “Fallait pas ecraser la queue du chat”. Superb psychedelic pop arrangements and very original songwriting skills of this caliber are the stuff current California throwback garage/psych/jangle/Burger pop scene's wet dreams.

It's just like Marvin and Tammi said: ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby. 


Clothilde - "Fallait pas ecraser la queue du chat" [stereo]




Max + Mara - Less Ness
(Dark Entries)

I have vivid memories of getting ready to go out a-gothing with like-minded friends when I was nineteen or so. Though I never preached the Gothpel as a way of life I've always felt a keen affinity for theatrical costume and dramatic dancing in the dark and relished dabbling in the scene whenever in the mood. The minimal waves marching steadily forth from this record at once had me wondeering what had become of my fishnet sleeves while instinctively reaching for my coal black eye-liner. However, this is NOT a goth record, but like early aughts Adult and Trust's TRST for example, there's a decidedly vintage sound here (inherent to the hardware) and a vibe that just urges one to "go darker" and I have to wonder if Max + Mara would agree.





Warm Soda - Someone for You
(Castle Face)

The primary color scheme and simplicity of the cover art of this record immediately appealed to me when I first saw it leaning against the shelf of a friend's record collection (indicating that he had just been listening to it). "They sound like The Strokes," he replied when I asked him about it, "that is, if The Strokes had continued to make albums as good as their debut." I don't usually go for fill-in-the-blank "sounds-like" record reviews, but he could not be more right. It's an all killer, no filler power pop teenage dream in worn denim and leatherette -- ripped, faded, lean in all the right places. 





Worth mentioning: Shannon and the Clams' new jam for 2013 is fun fun fun and I dig most of the new Kelley Stoltz record as well, especially "Kim Chee Taco Man". I really want to love the Sonny Smith curated I Need You Bad comp featuring  "a buncha bands from Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland", but I'm hung up on the sucky oversight crediting "Sun in Rain" to The Sandwitches when it is actually a solo effort composed , arranged and performed by Sandos drummer Roxy Brodeur. Still, there are so many rad exclusive tracks etched into that slime-green wax and, personally speaking, it's worth it just for the Little Wings, Warm Soda, and Jessica Pratt inclusions alone. 



Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound
(Numero Group)


It's worth keeping up with the Numero label because they've become quite the powerhouse of researching, compiling, and purveying some of the nerdiest, heaviest and most enriching precious gems of deep cut musicology. This latest compilation spans more than two hours and focuses on the sounds of funky pre and post-Prince sophisticated paisley groove scene that bubbled up from the Twin Cities' funky, muse-cestuous wellspring once upon a time in the 70s and flowing freely throughout the 1980s. More than just a mishmash collage of Funk and New Wave, this sick nugget is a journey to the center of a sound.
 
 

Cue excellent promotional preev. vid:

 
 
Worth mentioning: I'm such a glutton for compilations and 2013 did right by me. Spanish label University of Vice a re-upped on their wonderfully weird Poco Loco in the Coco collection, delivering a second volume of demented international surf/lounge/novelty/trash to tide me over until someone (pretty please) releases a third installment in the Jungle Exotica series. Soul Jazz also gave the people what they want this year (according to me) when they dropped New Orleans Funk Vol. 3 which, if you count their Saturday Night Fish Fry comp, really amounts to the fourth volume in this most excellent curation of vintage NOLA soul/ funk vibrations.



Hot Lunch - Hot Lunch
(Tee Pee Records)

This band riiiips! We were lucky to host a live in-store performance with Hot Lunch (as well as with Golden Void who are also totally rad 'n' smokey, riff-heavy rockers) in conjunction with  those Converse Rubber Tracks gigs this past Fall (a collab that  also spawned an exclusive 7" split). As with most any band, the Hot Lunch record does not nearly capture the shreddy energy of their live show, but if you listen to it loud enough  you're kind of half there. Srsly, we're lucky we still have curtains on our stage; this one goes to e-lev-en. Check out the album opener, "Handy Denny" (that title!) below. 

p.s. They also have a song called "Lady of the Lake" which, for me, fulfills several requisites at once when it comes to the zone where the many flavors of rock and my personal music preferences collide.


 




Worth mentioning: The self-titled Fuzz record that got gooey-gobs of critical acclaim earlier this year (because: Ty Segall?) is a decent riff-heavy rock record and the latest Queens of the Stone Age joint is, well, worth mentioning, but coastal rockers Mammatus recently dropped the smokiest brain-bomb of mind-blowing extended heavy lifters called Heady Mental. I'm still crawling out from underneath it. 

[Note: I had to listen to Golden Void's self-titled 2012 LP again before moving on. It rules so hard!]


Frederico Durand - El Idioma de las luciernagas
(Desire Path)

The title translates to "The language of fireflies" but it just as easily could be called the gentle piano breeze or pulse warming cricket or weathered memory gauze or wind breathing chimes because it presents those sort of quiet, found sound elements, field recordings, and barely there compositions as one woven piece of work like a meditation/spa ambiance piece that doubles as a super dope HDTV 5.1 surround sound demo reel. The impression is akin to admiring a sonic tapestry from afar yet this is totally a blanket record for burrowing into.





Worth mentioning: looking for more far out relaxation jams? Ariel Kalma's rainforest saxophone odyssy Osmose was reissued this year on Black Sweat Records and Numero Group put out a collection of San Francisco-based New Age guru composer Iasos called Celestial Soul Portrait. Both really great, reeaalllly ethereal transmissions from the ambient spirituality zone. 
 

Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu
(Ribbon Music)

One of the derpy-est headlines in music news was made earlier this year when Syrian recording artist Omar Souleyman was denied entry to Sweden due to fear of the "extreme risk" that he'd apply for a residence permit as a refugee of war. Though this "embarrassment" was later corrected, not without heaping helping of filing difficulties and skepticism on behalf of the Swedish government, however allowing him to make up for his cancelled performance due to the previous hang up, Souleyman said of the incident, "As troubled as it is, I love my country. I would never defect to Sweden." That such a beloved performer, regardless of his nationality or creed, suffered such senseless indignation for the wholly unpolitical act of touring with intent of sharing music with the world was a bummer indeed.

Good thing Souleyman's latest LP, Wenu Wenu is the ultimate bummer remedy. I think this is his best effort to date and it seems a bit strange that that might have everything to do with the fact that it was produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet). And yet, maybe he has little or nothing to do with the way the record sounds at all as there is nothing remotely Four Tet-ish coming out of your speakers when you drop the needle on this platter. The signature Souleyman sound --  that commanding, sweaty dance party-starting Dabke sound -- is all up on this record only this time it's more visceral, more crystalline and more brilliant than ever. Gone are the crunch and gristle that edge and obscure previous offerings, characteristics I reckon to be indicative of less sophisticated recording/transfer processes involved in delivering Souleyman's earlier works to a larger audience (with many thanks to the good fellows at Sublime Frequencies), thus lending fierce clarity to the marathon synth-bending rips and rich vocal tears that have rendered this music beloved worldwide. The vinyl pressing is rather limited so, like, don't miss out on this one either. 

Here's the official video for "Warni Warni" -- so much going on here.
 


 

Worth mentioning: David Byrne's Luaka Bop label just released a collection of Nigerian synth-slaying funk pioneer William Onyeabor called Who is William Onyeabor (World Psychedelic Classics 5). It's kind of an expensive record but there is perhaps no better value for your dollar if you're looking for an influential electronic record as rhythmic and epic (yes, epic) as this. For it's infotainment value I have have have to recommend Mirror to the Soul: Music, Culture and Identity in the Caribbean 1920-72. Soul Jazz as always offers a nothin'-but-class presentation but this time it includes a DVD full of very rare footage of a time and place where music and people could not be more strikingly jubilant given Britain's complex relationship with the region at the time. Such a dense nugget, but a pleasure to digest.

 

Egyptian Sports Network - Interstitial Luxor 
(New Images)

Listening to Omar Souleyman put me in mind to throw this on next. It's a real far out spacer but there was a time when this came out that I listened to it a lot, over and over. There's some constructed context involving a zero gravity sports network transmission over an Olympic Space Station trans-global intergalactic satellite feed or whatever that supposedly relates to the hows and whys that inspired these tracks but the only thing anyone really needs to know about this record is that it's a collaborative effort by Matt Mondanile (Ducktails) and Spencer Clark and that it's worth listening to at both 33 and 45 rpm. 



 
Worth mentioning: I don't know what I'd ever expect a record called Bitchitronics by an outfit called Bitchin Bajas to sound like. Maybe the slowest, longest bong rip through a didgeridoo? More like Aquarian flute flutters over eddying layers of synths signifying a new dawn or something like an inner-self awareness birth ritual for that is the sound this Chicago trio relinquished to Drag City for release. Again, Bitchitronics. And it doesn't suck. If that doesn't coax your third eye open try yanking it directly out of your head with Tim Hecker's minimalist Steve Reichian echo-phase vibrationairum album, Virgins



Takako Minekawa & Dustin Wong - Toropical Circle
(Thrill Jockey)

Waiting thirteen years for a beloved music maker to create and publish new music, or any music at all for that matter, just sucks. When I fell in love with Takako Minekawa's music I had zero clues that the first piece of her music I ever got my paws on would be her last for a long, lonnng time. Of course I had her entire back catalog to digest, however that only sharpened the void that remained when it seemed she'd gone for good. But lo, 2013 marked her return to the realm of public music-making, praise be to Dustin Wong whose singular looped guitar stylings not only inspired Minekawa's resurfacing, but lead to this excellent experimental electro-pop collaborative record. 


The title of this song "Party on a Floating Cake" pretty much says it all. See vid below:



Worth mentioning: the best J-Pop album of 2013 is without a doubt Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's Nanda Collection. Producer Yasutaka Nakata's mixed bag of tricks -- much informed by the Shibuya-kei old guard, pulling inspiration from arcade ambiance and dance house sensibilities as well --  pairs well with blogger/fashionista/model/pop artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's ever-evolving visual aesthetics and charming animatronic savoir-faire. On the other end of the spectrum, somewhat closer to Ms. Minekawa's leanings, is Sapphire Slows 2013 release Allegoria on the always interesting Not Not Fun label. Bordering on the edge of electronica and indie singer-songwriter instrumentation, Kinuko Hiramatsu recorded her vocals at a whisper for every song (as to not disturb her neighbors) with compositions ranging from Chicago house-inspired dream pop confections to evocative dub-techno melancholia -- a sound that comes of channeling the club music scene in the intimacy of a confined, private space. Makes me wonder what Tujiko Noriko is up to these days.



Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister
(Slumberland)

You can play the "sounds like this" and "rips off that" shame game all day with this band, but in the end there's no escaping their being great at making the music they make. Nitpick and diss their influences, however mapable or obscure, all you like but give this Cardiff outfit more than a cursory listen before soaking that waffle in judgey arguments, bent interpretations and personal preferences. Even if this band has a dumbass name or makes crap videos they rule harder and push/pull that sweet twee/punk punch with more authenticity than any of the "death to false riot grrl" etc. criticism hurled at them. So good. 

Here's their crap video for "Sugarcrush" 





Worth mentioning: MBV, GBV and YLT also put out great records this year --  I recommend them all heartily, especially for all a youse so focused on looking back while looking ahead.



Mount Eerie - Pre-Human Ideas 
(P.W. Elverum & Sun)

If the cover of this record isn't enough forewarning that this is gonna be straight-up weird guy jams then you're not staring directly into the donut, friend. Phil Elverum is no stranger to slicing out alarming amounts of fuckery (most of it really, really good), but this auto-tuned, Garage Band created re-contextualizations of previous Mount Eerie works is like stumbling across the "fun" version of a class picture taken after a series of intense and introspective, detail-laden sonic nature portraits. Which is, you know, laughable. Doubly so because this record is so surprisingly satisfying for being so corny.

 



Worth mentioning: I don't know what to do with the new Death Grips record. I think I like it? It's a challenging listen to say the least. Add to that the explicit album cover art for No Love Deep Web and subsequent  outpouring of comedic "decent" alternates (the above censor-sandwich version is my fave). Another album I really like but kind of don't know what to do with is weirdo kiwi crooner Connan Mockasin's Caramel. He achieves an unsettling sort of smoothness, like he's channeling Pure Guava era Ween slow-dancing the ghost of Ariel Pink's cocaine-based post nasal drip or something, grinding perilously close to Bob Welch's French Kiss era seduction (stand out track "I'm the Man, That Will Find You" is the totally creepy contagious). While I'm at it here let's add Sky Ferreira's Night Time, My Time to the WTF file as well. I like it, lawd, I do. I have deep, behind-the-scenes reasons why this record confounds me (as my Cloud City brethren no doubt understand) but I find her fame intriguing and the music makes me think of Laura Palmer, but really dumbed down in a Bling Ring kind of way. That said, how perfect is that cover art? 
 
Total Destruction To Your Mind, 2013: the year of the Swamp Dogg reissues!


Swamp Dogg and I have one thing in common: we both claim the same podunk tidewater town as a birthplace. However, we exist 35 apart and we've never met yet I feel his inspiration, ambition and ability to interpret that into music on a soul-deep level. Before this year I had only heard a teeny sampling of his genius thus when the great Swamp Dogg reish-a-thon of 2013 hit back in March (via Alive Natrualsound label) my mind done expanded for further total destruction wrought by this criminally unsung master of surreal psychedelic soul and country-fried funk. I'm not a baller or I'd have already copped all of these reissues by now but I managed to get the two Swamp Dogg records I didn't already have (Rat On! and Gag A Maggot) as well as Irma Thomas' In Between Tears which rules oh so improbably hard. The Wolfmoon record is pretty great too, I'm still digesting that one -- "Cloak of Many Colors" is where its at.





Jonathan Rado - Law and Order
(Woodsist)

This record earned a best-y inclusion because the last song on side B, "Pot of Gold", is a white-hot slice of Miami Vicean, summer city nights rock that I cannot live without. The rest of the record is pretty good. I mean, I think I've listened to it all the way through maybe three times, thrice. I cannot, however, recall the many times I've cycled through "Pot of Gold" -- I love it so. I love the way it sounds like an unfinished demo, the kind that gets abandoned in the studio, after hours, suspended in the air, melodies swirling slowly together  like the smokeline in a hotel bar. There is a loneliness to it that I find, borrowing from the great Robert Palmer, simply irresistible. Check it out:

Jonathan Rado - "Pot of Gold"

 

Worth mentioning: Out of all the slump-dodging sophomore efforts released this year these three stand out for me in terms of quality content and repeat listenability. Blouse, Veronica Falls, and Blood Orange continue to kill it without swerving too far from their debut material which isn't a bad thing but, you know, if this was a reality TV indie pop competition, they'd all be lauded for their efforts and earn immune from elimination but no without being read to filth for playing it safe.

and finally...

 

December 27, 2013: Saving Mr. Banks

Posted by phil blankenship, December 27, 2013 09:39pm | Post a Comment

Our Top 13 "What's In My Bag?" Episodes Of 2013

Posted by Amoebite, December 27, 2013 10:50am | Post a Comment

Best WIMBs of 2013We are wrapping up our 6th season of What's In My Bag? and we wanted to take a look back at the year that was 2013. It's been a fantastic year for us (we won a Webby Award!!) and this season featured a number of outstanding WIMB firsts.

Lots of love and countless hours of editing goes into making each video happen. They're a bit like our children, so picking our favorites is a daunting task. We tried to make a list of our Top 5 episodes, but that seemed impossible. Then we attempted a Top 10 list, but we couldn't narrow it down. So we settled on our 13 favorite episodes of 2013.

These are the episodes that surprised, excited and engaged us the most. These are the episodes that make us laugh upon repeat viewings. These are the episodes that we send to our friends to make them jealous about the work we do. These are the best “What’s in My Bag?” episodes of 2013. Enjoy!

 

#13. Clairy Browne

The Australian soul singer may not be super well-known in the States yet, but she thoroughly charmed and entertained us. She talks about albums by strong women including PJ Harvey and Queen Latifah, deconstructing Frank Ocean songs, and shares some of her famously misheard lyrics. And then there's her fashion...

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Hillside Village

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 26, 2013 10:44pm | Post a Comment
RUN TO THE HILLSIDE -- HILLSIDE VILLAGE



Last fall I had a stint house-sitting in El SerenoI spent much of my time exploring that neighborhood with a dog named Dooley who belongs to the owners of the home I was... sitting. This fall I again returned to the Eastside and Dooley I resumed our epic walks. This time we explored Arroyo View EstatesCity Terrace, East Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanza, Happy Valley, HermonHighland ParkLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose Hill, University Hills, and on one afternoon and early evening, a neighborhood considered by many to be part of El Sereno -- Hillside Village.


HILLSIDE VILLAGE

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hillside Village


Hillside Village is a small neighborhood surrounded by the rest of El Sereno to the north and east, University Hills to the east, East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights to the south, and Lincoln Heights to the west. For what appears to this nonpartisan outsider to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot, the argument over whether or not Hillside Village is part of El Sereno is surprisingly heated -- at least between a few zealous parties in LA-32 in one corner and the El Sereno Historical Society in the other.

I can understand some of the arguments of both sides. Ever since Valley Village split from North Hollywood back in '39 other Los Angeles neighborhoods have followed suit whenever a group of residents decide that changing their name will at least distance them from perceived negative associations -- if not actually change anything about where their neighborhood is. On the other hand, elevating or reviving a forgotten tract name to neighborhood status -- or coming up with a new neighborhood name (as will the Empowerment Congress's Naming Neighborhoods Project) seems like it could be an expression of something more positive. Whatever the case may be, the "Hillside Village" designation has been around for at least five decades and doesn't show any signs of going away so without further adieu, here's a brief history of the area...


EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

13,000 years ago, roughly the time when the first people began living in the area, there was no El Sereno and no Hillside Village. We don't know what these people called the area, if anything, nor what they even what they called themselves. Spring ahead about 10,000 years and the ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert, ultimately establishing the villages of Otsungna to the east and Yaangna to the west. The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, setting the stage for Spanish conquest. In 1771, the conquerors constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, first in Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, nine kilometers east of what's now Hillside Village. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded about five kilometers to the west of the neighborhood's location. 


Detail of J.R. Prince's Territory Annexed to Los Angeles, 1781-1916 (source: Big Maps Blog)

The area that now comprises Hillside Village straddled Mission lands to the east and Pueblo lands of the west. Spanish rule ended when Mexico achieved independence in 1821 and the mission holdings were secularized. Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city and neighboring Lincoln Heights was one of the city's first suburbs. The rest of what what's now Hillside Village was annexed as part of the Bairdstown Addition of 10 June, 1915, which also included most of the rest of El Sereno and what's now University Hills.


UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD & HILLSIDE VILLAGE'S INDUSTRIAL SECTION


The southern border of the Hillside Village is generally formed by a Union Pacific freight train line. Los Angeles's borders extend just a bit to the south to include a small, rail-adjacent industrial area north of East Los Angeles along Worth Street between Indiana Street and Miller Avenue that's home to the beguiling Roscoe Moss property. The Roscoe Moss facility is a red brick building that was constructed in 1925 and (more than any pretentious bar) looks like it should be lit with Edison bulbs. 

Anyway, this industrial corridor is situated along a Union Pacific freight line which that company acquired with its acquisition of Southern Pacific in 1996. Southern Pacific was the first transcontinental railway to reach Los Angeles, back in 1876. I don't believe (but I'm not sure) that this section of the rail was part of the original route connecting the city to San Francisco although I believe that I read that it was installed in the 1880s. Back then the train also carried passengers to Los Angeles and in 1885, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad broke their rival's monopoly, a rate war saw trips from Kansas City,Missouri drop to just $1 per passenger. As I write that last sentence, I heard it whistle blowing although, as I said, it's a freight train now so there are probably rich folks eating in fancy dining cars. 

USC HEALTH SCIENCES CAMPUS


The Edmondson Building


On the other side of the tracks are some other older buildings, including several properties owned by the expanding USC Empire, whose massive and ever-expanding LAC+USC Medical Center is located just south of the tracks in Boyle Heights. The first of the USC Health Sciences Campus buildings was the Burrell O. Raulston Memorial Research Building, which opened in Boyle Heights in 1952. Over the decades that followed, USC's medical campus expanded greatly -- in some cases acquiring already extant buildings and repurposing them and in other cases building new ones. The University of Southern California Dorothy and Hugh Edmondson Research Building was built in 1961. Looking at it from the outside it looks like it's mostly used as a storage warehouse these days. To the east of that is the Valley Boulevard Building (which was built by the County for some other purpose). East of that is another group of buildings with USC signage dating from 1930. I can't tell what they're used for.


USC-owned building from 1930


ASCOT SPEEDWAY


New Ascot Speedway in 1924 (image source: LincolnHeightsLA)

After the arrival of the rail, the next big noise in the area was a midget car track that opened on 24 January, 1924 -- New Ascot Speedway. It was so named because the first Ascot Speedway had opened in the Florence neighborhood in 1907. For four years it struggled to draw sufficient crowds when the Glendale American Legion stepped in and subsequently convinced AAA to get behind the operation, at which point it became the Legion Ascot Speedway. In 1936, after a total of 24 race car drivers had died on the track, the Glendale Legion decided to withdraw from the deadly operation. It was then finally rebranded the Ascot Motor Speedway and soldiered on until one final, deadly accident on 25 January of that year that took the lives of Al Gordon and Spider Matlock. After that the speedway was closed. Eight months later the grandstand burned to the ground, conflagrating that chapter in one fiery swoop.


Place your bets -- in the Beverly Hills of the Eastside (aka the Beverly Hills of El Sereno)

A few years passed before most of what's now Hillside Village was subdivided. Most of the homes were constructed between 1940 and 1942 in tracts with unglamorous names like "Tract No. 23799," "Tract No. 6837," and my favorite, "Tract No. 12323." I'm not sure when folks started calling what was originally part of the El Sereno neighborhood "Hillside Village." At least as early as the 1950s The El Sereno Star listed Hillside Village as being one of the communities that it covered alongside West Alhambra, Emery Park, and Rose Hill (although spelled "Rose Hills)". There was also formerly a Hillside Village Market at least as early as the early-1970s (anyone?) but it does have a fairly distinct World War II-era suburban vibe -- not that homogeneous sameness does a neighborhood make.


Lawn jockeys and Zumba


It's just that most of it looks like like it stepped out of an episode of The Wonder Years -- although it seems that many Hillside Villagers are converting their thirsty and boring carpets of grass into xeriscaped lawns or other more interesting options.


Beautiful, drought tolerant, no-mow Zoysia -- aka Korean Velvet Grass aka Temple Grass


Still, I'm never going to refer to it as "The Beverly Hills of the Eastside" unless I want to illustrate why some are rubbed the wrong way by the neighborhood's reputation as an oasis of pretense in an otherwise pretty unpretentious area.


Air Raid Siren Number: 192 and a late Art Deco/vaguely Streamline Moderne apartment building from 1948

Get this and get it straight -- Hillside Village has a lot in common with the rest of the Eastside and comparatively little with the Westside. There are seemingly as many angry dogs as people (78% Latino, 16% Asian, 5% white, and 1% black) and I saw none being carried in Coach handbags. As I walked down Valley, a lowrider bounced past me -- hardly a typical site in Beverly Hills or even laid back Palms. School was out for a winter break so it was probably quieter than usual but that heavy silence was broken by an ice cream truck bumping that 1820s jam, "Turkey in the Straw" as well as both crowing roosters and squawking parrots. Actually, it was so quiet for the most part that at one point I thought that I hear crickets breaking into song even though it was still light out. That noise turned out, after investigation, to be the sound of a loose belt in the machinery at a small strip mall that, along with the rest of Valley Boulevard, serves as the neighborhood's primary commercial corridor.


Hillside Village storefronts on Valley


Downtown Hillside Village -- the mall

Although none of it made me think that I was magically transported into the Westside, there were a few signs that this neighborhood was unlike the others. I smelled no weed being smoked (although it was surely taking place) and instead of  hearing banda or rap coming from passing cars I only heard Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" and The Cars' "Just What I Needed." Coincidentally, both songs were released in 1978 and in researching the neighborhood I found a map that someone made of Eastside gang territories from that year. It showed most of "The Village" being claimed by an organization known as "Hillside." Although as Eastside barrios go Hillside Village is relatively un-scarred by placas, I did see numerous ones from El Sereno Rifa and none from Hillside suggesting that Hillside are no more and that the Locke Street clika doesn't recognize Hillside Village as being distinct from El Sereno. Neither, then, did the media who when President Carter visited, referred to the area (erroneously and ignominiously) as "East L.A."


 
        Map showing gang territories of 1978           Modern placa in Hillside Village suggesting borders have changed


There are LA DOT neighborhood signs designating the area "Hillside Village" that went up in 1998. However,  the El Sereno Historical Society alleges in one of the least-subscribed-to conspiracy theories (on their GeoCities-esque website) that they are counterfeit. Not exactly through the looking glass but there you have it.


Ascot Hills Park behind Hillside Village homes



ASCOT HILLS PARK


Ascot Hills from Woodrow Wilson High School

Although located just north of Hillside Village, the 93 acre Ascot Hills Park is practically the community's backyard. Plans to turn the space into a park began in 1930 but it instead was used as an LADWP training center for many years -- visible to people not part of that utility mafia through bars and fences (much like Los Feliz's tantalizing-but-off-limits-to-the-public Rowena Reservoir). Before it opened as a park, the largest park on the Eastside was a cemetery -- that is, if one conveniently excludes the much larger Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights from one's definition of the Eastside for the sake of a good quote (e.g. "Until the groundbreaking for the park in 2005, the largest open space in East Los Angeles was Evergreen Cemetery. This sent the wrong message to our children. If you want open space, you have to die first.")



SCHOOLS


The main school in the neighborhood is Woodrow Wilson High School. The high school first began in 1937 at what's now El Sereno Middle School. After outgrowing that location, it relocated to the present campus in 1970. The school's architecture was designed by the great local architect Paul Revere Williams. Twice a year, at homecoming and graduation, the school puts on a fireworks show. There's also Multnomah Elementary School. I don't have any other information about it but it didn't look that interesting from the street and probably shouldn't be to anyone who's not enrolled there are related to someone who is. 


HOUSES OF WORSHIP

Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church (나성한인교회)


There's a huge worship hall on Druid Street. From that fact alone you might expect the high priest to be Julian Cope but because it's actually a Presbyterian church -- a denomination with roots in decidedly un-druidic Calvinism. The Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church (나성한인교회) congregation moved into this mega-church in 1984.

Ming Ya Buddhist Temple (明月居士林)

Ming Ya (明月居士林)


Behind the gates


Yet another view of the temple 

The building that Ming Ya (明月居士林) is located in was constructed in 1951 and was once the home of the aforementioned Roscoe Moss Company (now located across the boulevard). The last tenants before the Buddhists was Electronics Division of the Thomas & Betts Corp. Ming Ya acquired the building around twenty years ago and even though it seemed to be all locked up and empty, the smell of joss sticks still hung heavy in the surrounding air. I've still yet to go inside but in my experience, most Buddhist temples are worth a peek -- and maybe more.



VILLAGE EATS

Cha Cha Chili


Valeria Market

There are a few restaurants and markets located in Hillside Village, most on or near Valley Boulevard. They include Big Panda, Cha Cha Chili, Johnnie's Market, King Torta, Olympic Donut, Roong-Fah Thai Chinese Food, Tony's Subs & Salads, and Valeria's Market. Cha Cha Chili began in 2009 as Red Hot Kitchen and I've eaten there on another occasion. It's a tiny Korean/Mexican place and the tacos are good. The tortas are cheap and delicious at King Torta -- in my opinion it's a real gem of the area. Johnnie's Market also sells sandwiches although I've only bought water for Dooley there (after I thought I'd broken her with an epic walk). It was established in the 1950s by Johnnie Costentino. Last year I asked the man behind the counter how long it's been run by current owners -- Kim and Winnie Kong -- and he guessed 38 years or so. Valeria's Market also sells its own food, including at least tamales.


King Torta -- not much from the outside but try the food


Johnnie's -- with some nice, commercial mural work


GETTING THERE AND AROUND

The small neighborhood is served well by public transit, including the DASH El Sereno/City Terrace line and Metro's 76, 251/252, and 256 lines. Although Walkscore has separate date for neighboring University Hills, they lump Hillside Village in with the rest of El Sereno, to which they only give a walk score of 53. Their transit score for the neighborhood is 41 and the bike score is 39. Nowhere within Hillside Village is more than half a kilometer from a bus line and although there might not be many bike lines, it's all quite easily biked and only Eastern AvenueSoto Street, and Valley Boulevard see any significant automobile traffic. I suppose though that due to the limited number of businesses one might have to leave the neighborhood to accomplish many errands.



HILLSIDE VILLAGE ARTS SCENE

Although there was a band called a skate punk band called Hillside Village I have doubts about them being from the neighborhood or their name being a reference to it. I'm certain, however, that there are musicians from the neighborhood because I heard someone practicing drums somewhere and on a walk through Ascot Hills Park on a previous occasion, Dooley was entranced by a high schooler playing the saxophone at a bus stop.

As far as film, there are no movie shops, no theaters, no films shot in part or whole there, nor any filmmakers or actors from there that I know of. If I'm missing something, please let me know in the comments! Same goes for games, literature, theater, dance, and the other arts.


Fire Station No. 16

Dooley investigates the Dalmatian

There is a little bit of public art in the neighborhood. In front of Los Angeles Fire Department 16, there's one statue of a firefighter and statue or figurine of a dalmatian (that Dooley took an entirely wholesome interest in). One plaque on the stations wall is dedicated to Everett H. Young, who died in the line of duty on 12 November, 1947 (the same day that the Spruce Goose made its only flight). Another informs us that the fire station was built in 1962.

 
Two Hillside Village examples of Jose Antonio Aguirre's A Luminarias Journey

There's also José Antonio Aguirre's A Luminaries Journey, a collection of public art pieces installed near the Valley Boulevard Bridge honoring significant figures in Chicano history. And wherever there's freight rail, there's invariably street art (or at least graffiti) although I've never really explored along the rails in the area.




*****


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Gap Dream's Gabe Fulvimar Talks 'Shine Your Light,' Shia LaBeouf

Posted by Billy Gil, December 26, 2013 05:13pm | Post a Comment

Gap Dream emerged from the Burger Records pack with an excellent record this year called Shine Your Light. It's main man Gabe Fulvimar’s second record in two years, and Fulvimar, who lives at label-and-record-store Burger Records in Fullerton, Calif., has solidified a brilliant sound for his band across two records, full of vintage synthesizers, glam-style guitar glissandos and repurposed bargain-bin-record sounds. I sat down to speak with Fulvimar about the Shine Your Light, living in a record store and nightmare scenarios.

 

 

 

Hey man, how’s it going?

Fulvimar: Right now I’m sitting in my room, listening to the Halloween II soundtrack. Just another day at Burger!

This is actually my last interview of the year.

Fulvimar: Oh no shit! I hop it’s a good one.

Everyone always talks about how you live in Burger Records. What’s the story there, is it just cheaper, easier or do you really like living there?

Fulvimar: I’ve been here for a year, so it was kind of an easy way to move to California and not encounter too many hardships that would come along with a move, being from Ohio. I was working as a busboy before I was doing this, so I don’t have a trust fund or anything. (Label co-founders) Sean [Bohrman] and Lee [Rickard] … just invited me to live here until I found a place to live. I moved in, and it’s been great. It’s pretty easy to deal with. We don’t have showers, which kind of sucks. I’m trying to find one today.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With The Heavy

Posted by Amoebite, December 26, 2013 04:33pm | Post a Comment

The Heavy

The Heavy broke out in 2009 with their smash hit, "How You Like Me Now?," from their album The House That Dirt Built (Counter). From movie trailers to video games to sports shows, the song and the band were everywhere! The British quartet flaunts retro-soul with funky horn stabs and '60s garage rock grit. They pack a punch a la The Black Keys and will slap you silly with soul like Sharon Jones. James Brown would be proud.

The Heavy - The Glorious DeadThe Heavy were in town recently promoting their latest full-length release, The Glorious Dead (Counter). Their third album is a step deeper into their gospel and blues influences, with the band utilizing an actual choir to help take us all to church. There's also a subtle nod to the late glorious Amy Winehouse on the song "Be Mine" and rightfully so, as the band worked with The Dap-Kings, who backed Winehouse.

While the band was at Amoeba Hollywood they shot two videos for us! Their rock and soul roots are definitely apparent in their What's In My Bag? episode, with picks by American soul singers Marvin Gaye and Syl Johnson, and British classic rock bands The Smiths and The Rolling Stones. They also filmed a Green Room Session for a handful of extremely lucky fans. Check out both videos below.

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DJ Earworm's United State Of Pop 2013

Posted by Billyjam, December 26, 2013 02:00pm | Post a Comment

DJ Earworm Mashup - United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy)

Every year around this time San Francisco mashup master DJ Earworm rolls our another one of his audio/video year end mashups of the top 25 major pop hits of the past year. Depending on how you felt about pop music in 2013 will pretty much determine how you much you like or dislike Earworm's ‘United State of Pop’ 2013 mashup megamix of hit songs since his mixing/blending/matching is pitch perfect and on point as usual. Subtitled “Living the Fantasy” this latest mix regurgitates such 2013 global pop hits as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Miley Cyrus' “Wrecking Ball," Eminem's "The Monster (feat. Rihanna)," Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' “Thrift Shop" ("Can't Hold Us" is in there too), Robin Thicke's unavoidable "Blurred Lines," Lady Gaga's "Applause," Lorde's "Royals" and sixteen others - the original full versions of which are all available at Amoeba Music.

Angels Lack Imagination and Are Pretty Useless in a Crisis: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 25, 2013 01:18pm | Post a Comment

There are a few seminal American movies that I've made a (non-)tradition of never seeing: E.T., Forest Gump, Platoon, High Noon and It's a Wonderful Life. It's sort of fun to not have seen something that everyone else has. However, I possibly brought a curse upon me and my kin by finally watching Frank Capra's Christmas classic last Saturday at the Egyptian Theater in sunny, anti-winter wonderland Hollywood. The commentary on It's a Wonderful Life is vast, I'm sure, but along with being baffled at anyone who would choose Donna Reed over Gloria Grahame, here's what came to me:

Ultimately, what capitalist realism amounts to is the elimination of left wing politics and the naturalisation of neoliberalism. [...] Capitalist realism is about a corrosion of social imagination, and in some ways, that remains the problem: after thirty years of neoliberal domination, we are only just beginning to be able to imagine alternatives to capitalism. -- Mark Fisher

I don't know which of the most prominent intellectual leftists first said it, but Fredric Jameson, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek have all repeatedly commented that it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the world continuing without capitalism. We treat capitalism as a biological state of things (survival of the fittest, etc.) or a nomological principle on which our understanding of humanity rests. Even the angels in It's a Wonderful Life can't imagine a counterfactual reality where capitalism ceases. George, contemplating suicide, is given an onto-ethical choice between two worlds: one in which he lives trying to help those in need as best he can, but where his whole community ebbs and flows from one crisis to the next according to the caprice of capital, with capital mostly flowing to those most capable of and willing to exploit the working class, i.e., old man Potter; or, two, a world where George was never born, but Potter's power is even greater and he's more successful at exploiting the working class. If divine power is so great that it can fabricate a new reality without you in it, and follow the diverging trajectories of everyone in the alternate world, then why not do the same regarding capitalism, or Potter? George could've even made a deal with Clarence, his guardian angel, such as: "You want me to live, so that you can get your wings, right? Well, how 'bout you make Bedford Falls into a self-sufficient, anarcho-paradise, where there's no hierarchy and everyone respects each other's individuality, yet we work together for the good of the collective, too? I'd love to live, even with Donna Reed and all these goddamned kids, in such a place." But, no, capitalism is greater than God's will.

Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer. -- Epicurus

The angel, trying to convince George not to commit suicide, both stacks the deck and pulls a bait-and-switch on the audience. First, it's a bit screwy that the way you get George to not jump off a bridge into the freezing waters below is to jump off yourself so that George jumps in to save you. What the fuck kind of intervention is that? Anyway, the whole point at the beginning of the film where Clarence is being ordered by his celestial superiors to provide George with a reason against suicide is the basis for all the flashback sequences showing how the poor guy reached his current depressed state. Once we get to the present-tense, I'm expecting a good reason against suicide. However, George, while drying off with Clarence, makes an offhanded remark about wishing he'd never been born. Then, POOF!, he's shown what the world would've been without him. That's not an argument against suicide, though; it is, if anything, a reason for being born and living his life up to the point where he wants to commit suicide. If he kills himself, all that stuff will have still happened as it happened. So, as it stands, the money his wife would've received through life insurance remains a reasonable justification for George's death and, narratively, it would've completed his life as a martyr. (Speaking of which, isn't this the same sort of situation that Christians objected to in The Last Temptation of Christ -- namely, trying to convince a potential martyr not to be a martyr?) That's the bait-and-switch. The stacking of the deck occurs by not showing any person who might've been better off by having never known George. What about that little girl he teased back in grade school who developed a bad case of body dysmorphia, slashing her inner thighs on a daily basis because she feels so vile, and in her lacking of self-worth runs off to New York to be a drug-addicted prostitute at the age of 18? Perhaps she's a famous actress, loved by millions in the non-George world. We just don't know, because Clarence is a cheat.

Finally, by way of supporting my first point about the necessity of capitalism through the uselessness of angels, what finally convinces George, a Building and Loans banker, of his existential value, pulling him out of his doldrums, is the same thing that convinced our realworld bankers of their own value to modern existence in 2008: instead of divine intervention, the poor townsfolk all chip in to bail him out of the jam he's in (missing cash due to gross negligence on the part of his fellow banker), because they, like we, just can't let capitalism fail. Evidently, it's essential for the human condition. It's a Wonderful Life: an enduring testament to the power of miracles, or merely a poverty of the social imagination? It contains a lot of reality; that's for sure.


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It's a Wonderful Life

December 25, 2013: The Wolf of Wall Street

Posted by phil blankenship, December 25, 2013 12:33pm | Post a Comment

December 24, 2013: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Posted by phil blankenship, December 24, 2013 09:50pm | Post a Comment

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: December 24th On Hollis Ave. + Other Classic Hip-Hop Holiday Raps

Posted by Billyjam, December 24, 2013 10:25am | Post a Comment

Run DMC "Christmas In Hollis" (1987)

Dating back to the mid 1980's many hip-hoppers have recorded Christmas/Holiday Season songs  including the Treacherous Three's "Santas Rap" from the 1984 hip-hop film Beat Street (scroll down to see video clip below), and of course the truly classic Run DMC Christmas song from 1987 that still gets much play to this day  - "Christmas In Hollis" with that memorable opening "It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark when I seen a man chilling with his dog in the park."  To me what makes this Run DMC song such a perfect timeless Christmas classic is that it both managed to maintain that distinct Run DMC rap flavor but also had the perfect Christmas vibe to it. This it achieved with the bells ringing throughout and also how the track nicely worked into its urban Xmas tale such traditional Christmas song melodies as "Frosty The Snowman. The Run DMC song appeared on both the original A Very Special Christmas various artists/genres compilation and on the Profile Records all hip-hop holiday 1987 compilation Christmas Rap that also featured such rappers as Sweet Tee, King Sun, Spyder-D, and Dana Dane all busting out Christmas raps.

Noir City 12 Goes International in San Francisco: 1/24 - 2/2

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2013 06:18pm | Post a Comment

The Film Noir Foundation's yearly festival Noir City returns to the historic Castro Theatre January 24 - noir city san franciscoFebruary 2, 2014. The 12th edition of the world's most popular film noir festival is going international, exploding the long-held belief that noir stories and style are a specifically American phenomenon.

"Our desire to expand the scope of the festival has resulted in our most ambitious program ever," says festival impresario and host Eddie Muller. "Its overall impact will, I suspect, change many people's long-standing ethnocentric preconceptions about film noir."

Focusing on the years immediately following World War II, the festival features classic noir films from France, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Britain, as well as a complementary sampling of homegrown Hollywood flicks. The 27 films in the series will conclusively prove that the cinematic movement known as "Noir" spanned the globe, and its style, sexiness, and cynicism crossed all international borders. Check out the full schedule HERE!

Get your tickets now and know that you are supporting a great cause; the dollars you spend at the festival go towards the Film Noir Foundation's year-round restoration efforts.

The Killers' "Christmas In L.A." and other New Holiday Season Songs/Videos

Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2013 04:00pm | Post a Comment

The Killers "Christmas In L.A. (feat. Dawes)" (2013)

Every year at this time artists roll out new recordings of classic holiday tunes or newly written ones in the hope of becoming a new Christmas/holiday time classic - a la Mariah Carey's 1994 runaway smash hit single "All I Want for Christmas Is You" off her Merry Christmas album of that year (in 2010 she released the sequel Merry Christmas II You). So for this holiday season here are four brand new Christmas themed music songs and accompanying videos. They include the above latest Christmas time charity raising song/video from the ever generous Las Vegas rockers The Killers who, for every Christmas since 2006, have teamed up with the RED organization and recorded a song specifically to raise funds (100%) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. "Christmas in L.A." is the latest song/video from Brandon Flowers and crew with a feature from Dawes on the track plus the voices of Harry Dean Stanton and Owen Wilson - the latter of whom also appears in the video. Partly animated the clip captures what its like for Wilson to wake up alone in an L.A. apartment on Christmas morning. In addition to this new Killers Christmas track below are three other brand new holiday season song/video recordings including from RnB singers K. Michelle and Tyra B, and pop singer Asher Monroe. Whether any of these songs will follow Mariah Carey's good fortune and stick around for future Christmas seasons remains to be seen.

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Amoeba Hollywood's Top 10 In-store Performances of 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 23, 2013 02:47pm | Post a Comment

This year Amoeba Hollywood hosted some of the best, and most diverse, in-store performances in Amoeba’s history. Let’s look back at 10 that stood out.

 

Yo La Tengo – Jan. 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Yo La Tengo photos here.

One of the greatest indie rock bands of all time helped start the year off in support of their album Fade, playing a set that combined heavy guitar histrionics with more intimate moments. Read my full recap here.

 

FIDLAR – Jan. 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More FIDLAR photos here.

L.A.’s PBR-friendly garage rockers tore things up in one of the liveliest sets of the year, which you can stream in full here. Read the full recap here. Check out my interview with the band here.

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Well slice me nice, Eurodisco legend Fancy is coming to Orange County!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 23, 2013 12:56pm | Post a Comment
Fancy, the singer of hits including "Angel Eyes," "Bolero," "China Blue," "Cold as Ice," "Flames of Blue," "Lady of Ice," "Latin Fire," "Slice me Nice" and more is coming to the US for the first time ever in January, 2014. He'll be playing at R3 Social Lounge in Stanton (North Orange County/Little Saigon) on the 17th of that month. The event will be DJed by Ian "DJ BPM" Nguyen and hosted by TQ. Get your tickets by clicking here. For all you Los Angeles Italo-heads who think driving to OC is harder than crossing the Sahara -- it's only about 40 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles to Stanton. It's also served by several OCTA lines so quit making excuses.


For those unfamiliar with Fancy, he’s also written material for other artists, most notably, Grant Miller (who was introduced to Fancy by none other than Divine!), and produced notable Italo-disco hits for artists including Linda Jo Rizzo (formerly of Bobby Orlando's act, The Flirts), and Mozzart. Scoring his friends Siegfried & Roy's stage shows has exposed him to an audience who's nonetheless unaware of his identity but his greatest stuff is his solo work so here's a brief history...

Manfred Alois Segieth (or is it Manfred Aulhausen -- details about Eurodisco performers are often quite hazy) was born on July 7, 1946 in München, Germany. The son of a practically-minded craftsmen, he was enrolled in a Capuchin school where he trained to become a monk. However, a change of plans became necessary after the twelve-year-old heard schlager star Ted Harold’s “Moonlight” and subsequently picked up the guitar.

After high school, Manfred formed a Cliff Richard & the Shadows-influenced band, Mountain Shadows. At the same time, he began shopping around his own compositions which he occasionally recorded under the name "Tess Teiges," beginning in 1971.
 
1983 was the year that KISS took off their make-up, McDonald's introduced the McNugget, and I first started actively listening to music on my own after realizing that all of my classmates were obsessed with some fellow named Michael Jackson with whom I was wholly unfamiliar. If there was a "Year that Italo Broke," then 1983 was probably it too.



In 1983 Manfred adopted the suitably Italian alias, "Manfred Perilano" but more importantly, the nom de discque of "Fancy." After Fancy asked Todd Canedy to write a song for him, he recorded a demo of “Slice Me Nice” which he submitted to composer/producer Anthony Monn, who’d previously achieved world-wide successes with husky-voiced diva, Amanda Lear




Usually collaborating, Segieth and Monn embraced a brand of dance music which, thanks to its elevated sense of melody and songcraft, was as at home in and out of the dance clubs where it was most popular. Though largely unknown outside the dance scene in the Anglosphere, Fancy performed very well commercially and, along with his Eurodisco peers, he undeniably helped prepare the world for similar-sounding English musicians and producers, like Stock, Aitken & Waterman and Eurobeat acts like Dead or Alive, who achieved both club and mainstream success with a similar formula.


 
In 1984, Fancy scored a hat trick with the infectious “Chinese Eyes,”  “Get Lost Tonight” and “Slice Me Nice.” All three are absolute masterpieces of tuneful, melodramatic dance fluff that added an undeniable and irresistible Hi-NRG influence to the comparatively relaxed Italo-disco sound epitomized the previous year by Gazebo's “I Like Chopin.” There was also a strong visual element to Fancy, who seemed to shop at the same stores as ABC's Martin Fry but rock loads of make-up in the New Romantic style.


In 1985, Fancy released his first full-length album, Get Your Kicks (1985 Metronome), which included allthe previous year’s singles. He made his first appearance on French TV and performed his first shows in North America, mostly at gay clubs. His sophomore release, Contact (1986 Metronome), spawned “Bolero (Hold Me in Your Arms Again),” which was reportedly number one in Spain for nearly six months. 




That same year, Fancy extensively toured clubs in Germany, Sweden and North America. The video for another single off the album, “Lady of Ice,” featured the (as always) tarted up, shiny-clothed Fancy prancing on a laser grid dance floor in outer space and I challenge anyone reading this to come up with anythingmore '80s. "Lady of Ice" went gold in Scandinavia.

Fancy Get Your Kicks Fancy Contact Fancy Flames of Love

Fancy's third album, Flames of Love (1988 Metronome) featured both Monn/Fancy collaborations as wellas some of Fancy’s first solo compositions and its title track was huge in Poland. He closed out the decade that he seemed so indelibly tied to with All My Loving (1989 Metronome), whose title track was a hit in Europe. Like most of Fancy's Eurodisco peer, for most of the ‘90s he released little-or-no new music,instead mostly repackaging, remixing and revisiting his former glories, often clothed in the trappings of fleetingly popular styles like Eurodance, Hip-House and (more lastingly popular), Trance.
 
  Fancy Forever Magic

Fancy pursued the emerging Eurodance style with releases like Five (1990 Metronome) and with Steve D5 & Grandmaster Tess’s hip-house re-make of his “When Guardian Angels Cry,” called “When Guardian Angels… Rap,” featured on (1991 ZYX Music), which mixed some new material and with old. Attributed to “Fancy and Band,” Blue Planet Zikastar (1995 Koch International) saw Fancy moved into more straightforward pop territory and includes “Saramoti,” a piece Fancy composed for his friends Siegfried and Roy’s show, Master of the Impossible. Colours of Life (1996 G.I.B. Music & Distribution GmbH) and D.I.S.C.O. (1999 Disco Records) followed. In the 2000s, Fancy's musical output slowedconsiderably and his only new material was the release, Voices from Heaven (2004 ZYX Music) and Forever Magic (2008 Happy Vibes).

*****

Do not miss this opportunity to see Fancy live! And if you're an Italo/Euro-disco fan, follow Keep on Music on Facebook as they've thus far brought Fred Ventura, Gazebo, Gina T, Ken Laszlo, Lian Ross, Linda Jo Rizzo, and Tom Hooker & Miki Chieregato (Den Harrow) to Southern California and additionally thrown many other New Wave (in the Asian New Wave/Vietnamese New Wave sense of the term) events that you should stop sleeping on! See you there and...

December 22, 2013: American Hustle

Posted by phil blankenship, December 22, 2013 01:01pm | Post a Comment

December 21, 2013: Dallas Buyers Club

Posted by phil blankenship, December 21, 2013 09:55pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba SF & Berkeley's 10 Best In-Stores of 2013

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 20, 2013 07:52pm | Post a Comment
As we all know (because we're living the history as it's being made), the music industry has changed
best coast amoeba san francisco
Best Coast plays Amoeba SF
dramatically in the past decade and continues to do so rapidly. Everyone still loves music, but the concept of ownership, collecting, and procuring music is constantly evolving for all of us. No matter how you prefer to get music -- in the cloud, on vinyl or CD, downloaded -- one thing hasn't changed; the best way to experience music is live and in the flesh. The Experience of being part of a live performance, giving energy from the audience to the musician while they play their hearts out, can't be stored on any device. You just have to live it. We here at Amoeba Music consider it paramount to continue to provide live entertainment in our stores and keep Experience alive.

Amoeba San Francisco and Berkeley were particularly blessed with great in-store performances in 2013. From legends like Nik Turner, Billy Bragg, and Camper Van Beethoven to new faces on the scene like Lissie and Bastille, each and every show was a fantastic reminder of how thrilling live music can be.  It was daunting to have to pick just ten of these shows, but here they are in reverse chronological order...Amoeba SF and Berkeley's ten best in-stores of 2013!
 
 
-- Lee Ranaldo In-Store Guitar Clinic, 12/11/2013, San Francisco
Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo amazed and mystified the audience with nearly a half-hour of continuous guitar mastery, at the end of which he finally looked up and asked, "Any questions?" Lee was in town with his project Lee Ranaldo and the Dust.

10 Releases to Look for in 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 20, 2013 07:12pm | Post a Comment

The year is just about up, but new music is headed our way. You can already preorder some albums due in 2014 on Amoeba.com. Here are 10 to check out. [WARNING: NSFW pic of Sky Ferreira's infamous nip-slip album cover below].

Banks London EP

Due Jan. 7

Preorder on CD

I wrote about this one in my top EPs of the year list. It’s out physically next month, and if you like sultry electro-soul a la Kelela, Rhye and Jessie Ware, this should be right up your alley.

 

 

Stephen Malkamus & the Jicks Wig Out at Jagbags

Due Jan. 7

Preorder on CD or LP

Well you didn’t think that Pavement reunion was gonna last, didya? Stephen Malkamus’ underrated releases with the Jicks continue with their first album in three years.

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 12.20.13: Childish Gambino, Dam-Funk & Snoopzilla, E-40, Madlib, DJ Toure, + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 20, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Berkeley Hip-Hop Top 5 Chart Week Ending 12:20:13

1) Childish Gambino Because the Internet (Glassnote)

2) Dam-Funk & Snoopzilla 7 Days of Funk (Stones Throw)

3. DJ Platurn So This Is De La Heaven 2 (Oakland Faders)

4) Madlib Rock Konducta Vol. 1 (Stones Throw)

5. E-40 Block Brochure Vol. 4, (Heavy On The Grind)
    E-40 Block Brochure Vol. 5
(Heavy On The Grind)
    E-40 Block Brochure Vol. 6  (Heavy On The Grind)

He may be known to most as an actor and comedian, but Donald Glover, under his hip-hop alter ego Childish Gambino,  is also an accomplished skilled rapper and not a novelty rapper who proves with the success of his latest Childish Gambino release (Because the Internet is this week's top hip-hop chart entry) that he indeed has a lot to offer the hip-hop world. Of that number one at Amoeba Berkeley this week the Amoeba.com reviewers write,  "He’ll likely always have to content with haters knocking him for starting as a comedian, but now Glover can point to Because the Internet as proof positive that his multifaceted professional title can firmly include rapper, as well." Indeed! Meanwhile another artist, who started as hip-hop but has drifted off into other areas of pop culture and watered down his rap street by cavorting with the likes of Martha Stewart and Katy Perry in the kitchen and studio respectively, Snoop Dogg returns supreme with his latest project: Dam-Funk & Snoopzilla 7 Days of Funk on Stones Throw on which the artist known as Snoop Lion for a minute returns to his (G) funk roots with the best practitioner of said genre, power producer/multi-instrumentalist Dam-Funk who presents the Long Beach, CA artist born Calvin Broadus with the perfect smokey funky musical backdrop. Amoeba.com reviewers accurately herald this EP release as, "a revelatory event for for fans of and freaks for The Funk, and should be particularly pleasing for those whose funk du jour is syrup-thick mid-tempo boogie-funk seasoned heavy with synthesizers a la Yarborough & Peoples or Zapp. ......Easily transcending the side-project ghetto, 7 Days of Funk is two major voices in contemporary music, subsuming their individual identities into something new and simply huge. A match made in funk heaven." Indeed!

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The First Song played by a Human in Outer Space was a Christmas Song

Posted by Kells, December 19, 2013 09:58pm | Post a Comment
 

On December 16th, 1965 -- 48 years before Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield recorded his excellent rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" during his nearly five month stint living on the International Space Station -- the crew of Gemini 6 played "Jingle Bells" from Earth's orbit. Check it:


Thus the first song ever played in space was a surprise rendition of "Jingle Bells" on an 8-note Honer harmonica and hand full of jingle bells to celebrate the arrival of the holiday season. If your ever at the Smithsonian Institution keep an eye out for these instruments!
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MoogFest Now In Its Tenth Year

Posted by Billyjam, December 19, 2013 07:11pm | Post a Comment




The annual MoogFest inspired by the Robert Moog invention that bears his name takes place every Spring in the same North Carolina town that houses the factory where Moog's instruments are hand-built to this day. Now in its tenth year, the MoogFest (April 23-27th in Asheville) will include daytime conference programming, with such speakers as Giorgio Moroder and Laurie Anderson, and landmark nightly performances including such headliners as Kraftwerk and Chic featuring Nile Rodgers.  It is a five-day homage to the legacy of the analog synth, the electronic musical in

strument that shook things up in the 60's and helped shape the course of popular music over the past half century.

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Amoeba Electronic's 2013 Best of LPs

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 19, 2013 02:58pm | Post a Comment


Thanks for supporting Amoeba and reading the Amoeba Electronic blog in 2013. Like us on Facebook for daily updates and feel free to hit us up with any requests/feedback. Without further ado, here are our Best LPs of 2013, compiled by Oliver, Matt and Jordan. 

 

ADR - Chunky Monkey LP Cover20. ADR - Chunky Monkey

Hippos In Tanks

While visual artists have been quick to adapt to the internet's Babel of information, musicians have been slow to comment directly on the vast digital buzz. Hippos In Tanks, as a label, has admirably pushed this conversation forwards while also displaying a fierce devotion to the traditional mediums of CD and vInyl. James Ferraro's "Farside Virtual" (Hippos In Tanks, 2011) was seen as a comment on emerging personality types in the face of rampant technoconsumerism, but in retrospect, can be seen as Ferraro's first step out of the cassette underground into sleeker rnb/hip-hop influenced production Gatekeeper's "Exo" had them abandoning the Carpenter-esque VHS aesthetics of their previous releases, even hiring internet artist Tabor Robak to create a playable game for reach song. The most successful effort in creating a musical analog to endless internet-meme driven communication is ADR's "Chunky Monkey". 

The record succeeds first and foremost because Aaron David Ross (1/2 of the Gatekeeper) is a completely badass producer. I woudn't be suprised if legitimate pop production is in his future based off of the seemingly effortless genre tourism on display here. Opener "Casual Friday" places  samples of sitcom saxaphones against a loping 303 and eerie processed piano that could be lifted from a Prologue release. "Sumo" seems to be an oblique comment on 90s boom-bap, while "What It Takes" could be lifted from a sinister Sprite commercial. "Stray Dog Strut" could be seen as ADR's reading of Sly and Robbie digidub, but in this tune, the comment on internet culture is palpable. In the midst of innocuous and expertly produced genre-exercises, ADR is prone to interrupt with unsettling samples (e.g. a screaming chorus of roller coaster riders) to fray the edges. The effect has an uncanny resemblance to cruising through life with 15 tabs open.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring City Terrace

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 19, 2013 02:22pm | Post a Comment
BEEN UP TO CITY TERRACE TO SEE WHAT'S A-HAPPENING 

Welcome to City Terrace - East Los Angeles 

Last year I had a stint house-sitting in El Sereno and spent the better part of my stay exploring with a dog named Dooley that I was also charged with the care of. She and I mostly explored the greater El Sereno area, including Hillside Village and University Hills. This time I set about exploring more of the Los Angeles's Eastside -- and Dooley and I managed to unturn stones in the Eastside neighborhoods of Arroyo View EstatesEast Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanza, Happy ValleyHermonHighland ParkLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose Hill, and on one warm morning, City Terrace.

Map-like Mural of City Terrace at Robert F Kennedy Elementary

*****

City Terrace is an Eastside neighborhood located within unincorporated East Los Angeles. Definitions of its borders vary but nearby are Monterey Park to the east; University Hills, El Sereno, and Hillside Village to the north; Boyle Heights to the west; and the rest of East Los Angeles to the south. The neighborhood is also situated in the Repetto Hills that stretch from the Arroyo Seco, Elysian Hills and San Rafael Hills in the northwest down to Whittier Narrows and the Rio Hondo in the east and form one of the borders of the San Gabriel Valley. Because of its hilly topography and long-dominant ethnicity, one of its nicknames is "The Mexican Alps." 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of City Terrace


Like most of East Los Angeles, City Terrace is a mostly residential neighborhood. However, it's located four kilometers north of and across the 60 Freeway from busy Whittier Boulevard -- the main commercial center of East Los Angeles and therefore feels rather separate. The main commercial strip of City Terrace is City Terrace Drive. The other main streets: Gage, Hazard and Eastern Avenues, are all well-traveled but are lined primarily with homes. The decidedly relaxed nature of the neighborhood was at one point underscored by the echoes of a toddler methodically whacking a plastic bat on a balcony which echoed throughout the hills and seemed to provide the only sound within earshot. In fact, the most chaotic moment in the course of my exploration was a mini traffic jam created when a brood of chickens decided to do their scratching in the middle of Hazard.


EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

At least as early as 13,000 years ago people were living in Southern California. The ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert much later -- only about 3,500 years ago. After that they were the dominant people in the area for thousands of years. The hills in which City Terrace now lies then separated their villages of Yaangna to the west and Otsungna to the east. The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, setting the stage for Spanish conquest. In 1771, the conquerors constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, first in Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, nine kilometers northeast of what's now City Terrace. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded about 6 kilometers to the west.

The area that became City Terrace was located on Mission lands just east the four Spanish leagues given to the pueblo but Spanish rule ended in 1821, when Mexico gained independence and subsequently secularized the church's holdings. Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city and neighboring Boyle Heights was one of the city's first suburbs. The area just east, on the other hand, would be dominated by oil extraction and agriculture for another half a century or so.


MODERN HISTORY OF EAST LOS ANGELES

Before 1917, "East Los Angeles" referred to the bustling suburb that became known as Lincoln Heights after a unanimous vote to change its name following the opening of its Abraham Lincoln High School. The "East Los Angeles" designation quickly vanished from maps and ultimately, I suppose, the public consciousness. In 1921, Belvedere Gardens became the first suburb in what's today known as East Los Angeles. As more suburbs popped up -- including Eastmont, Maravilla Park, Observation Heights, Occidental Heights, Palma Heights, Wellington Heights, and City Terrace -- they were increasingly lumped together under the collective "East Los Angeles" which came to stick to the new area by the 1930s.


WALTER LEIMERT

 

City Terrace was developed in the 1920s by Oakland native Walter H. Leimert, born to German parents in 1877. In 1902, when still a young man, he founded the Walter H. Leimert Company which in turn developed several transit-oriented developments in Oakland including Lakeshore Highlands and Oakmore Highlands. Leimert and his family relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1920s and he continued developing, first creating Bellhurst Park in Glendale. By then Los Angeles had expanded north into the San Fernando Valley, west to Santa Monica Bay, and south to San Pedro Bay. The newly-arrived Angeleno bet that Los Angeles would naturally next expand eastward and his next development, City Terrace, was thus planted less than a mile east of the city (which had expanded, it should be noted, slightly eastward with the annexation of Bairdstown and part of the Arroyo Seco Addition). 

In 1923 Leimert placed an advertorial piece titled "Los Angeles Pendulum Swings East" in the Los Angeles Times which the Leimert Company claimed that the only reason Los Angeles hadn't already expanded east was because of inadequate bridges over the Los Angeles River. In 1925, invitations to see City Terrace were sent out which promised only "moderate building restrictions" but "strict race restrictions" -- then, quite embarrassingly, entirely par for the course. Several streets: Fowler Street, Miller Avenue, Fishburn Avenue, Rogers Street, and Van Pelt Avenue, were named after investors Edward M. Fowler, John B. Miller, John E. Fishburn, R.I. Rogers, and Walter G. Van Pelt.

Leimert ultimately proved wrong about the city swinging east and more than a century later, the eastern border between Los Angeles's Boyle Heights neighborhood and unincorporated East Los Angeles hasn't budged an inch. Perhaps there was more to Los Angeles's direction of growth than rickety bridges -- namely the appeal of beachfront property and shipping ports. Leimert's next development, Leimert Park, seemed to concede to this reality and was placed in what was then Southwest Los Angeles.


Big house, small vocho

Although it remained unincorporated county land, there was significant residential construction in City Terrace. Along Woolwine Drive in particular, there are some beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival homes that were constructed in the 1930s -- and this is a style I'm not normally especially fond of. Although nowadays City Terrace is almost exclusively Latino (96% -- with roughly 1% Asian-American, 1% black, and 1% white minorities), this wasn't always the case.

In the beginning, most of the new suburb's homeowners were Jews -- often ones who owned businesses or had roots in nearby Brooklyn Heights -- a then fifty-year-old suburb which was home to the largest Jewish community west of the Mississippi River. Brooklyn Heights and the larger Boyle Heights communities were also then home to large numbers of Russians (both Jewish and Molokan), Mexicans, Irish, and Japanese.


Spanish Colonial Revival homes from the 1930s on Woolwine Drive


JAPANESE IN CITY TERRACE

Many Japanese came to California to fill the void in the labor force created by the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. After the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, many Japanese moved from Northern California to Southern California. In 1924 the Asian Exclusion Act broadened racial discrimination from the Chinese to all Asians. By then Japanese were already established in the area and Yamaizumi Miso Shoyu Seizo-sho was locally manufacturing chop suey sauce, koji (Aspergillus oryzae), and pickles at a facility on Fishburn Street. However, after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the US government forcibly relocated over 110,000 Japanese to concentration camps. After 1946, when the last of the camps was closed, a smaller number of Japanese-Americans returned to the Eastside -- in many cases into homes previously owned by the neighborhood's till-then-dominant Jews.


JEWS IN CITY TERRACE

The Jewish character of the neighborhood was dominant and between the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and City Terrace there were thirty synagogues. By 1940 City Terrace was almost exclusively Jewish. City Terrace was also home to City Terrace Folk Shul Minyan, a chapter of the Jewish People's Fraternal Order (JPFO-IWO), the Emma Lazarus Jewish Women's Club of City Terrace, and a Jewish Cultural Center in City Terrace -- demolished in the 1960s to accommodate the widening of the 10 Freeway. After the end of World War II in 1945, many of Los Angeles's Jews began migrating to areas newly available to them: chiefly Midtown, the Westside, and the San Fernando Valley.


MEXICANS IN CITY TERRACE

There have been Mexicans living in Los Angeles since the birth of Mexico, when Los Angeles was a pueblo within it. In the 1910s, their numbers in Los Angeles increased dramatically as many refugees fled the bloodshed of the Mexican Revolution. Among the first Mexican barrios established were SonoratownDogtown, the Flats of Boyle Heights, Alpine in Victor Heights, Happy Valley above Lincoln Heights, and Belvedere Gardens and Maravilla Park in East Los Angeles (or East Los came to often be shortened, especially by Latinos).

Between 1929 and 1939, in racist response to the Great Depression, the US government expelled millions of Americans of Mexican ancestry to Mexico as part of the so-called "Mexican Repatriation" (which I place in quotes because many of those deported were born in the US and had never even seen Mexico). The government had a change of heart after the internment of Japanese-Americans created a void in agricultural labor and Mexican-Americans were actively courted to return to the US.





By the 1950s, City Terrace was mostly home to upwardly mobile Chicanos such as Don Tosti, who a few years after buying a home in the neighborhood composed "Pachuco Boogie," the first million-selling single in the US released by a Latino artist (recorded by Don Ramon Sr. y su Orquesta). It was also where future mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (né Antonio Ramón Villar, Jr.), who was raised in City Terrace after moving there from Boyle Heights. In a symbolic reflection of the the demographic shift, in 1961 The Menorah Center (built in the 1920s) was transferred to a Catholic institution, The Salesians of Don Bosco -- today the Salesian Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.

Rev. Dr. Vernon McCombs and Ms. Katherine Higgins founded the Plaza Community Center in 1905 in order to offer leadership training, education and welfare assistance to those in need. In 1932, the non-profit opened a school explicitly focused on educating and training Mexican-Americans. The organization relocated to City Terrace in the mid-1950s and still operates as Plaza Community Services.


Federación de Clubes Zacatecanos del Sur de California and City Terrace Sheriff's Office


INCORPORATION EFFORTS

Residents of the all of the communities of East Los Angeles banded together as the East Los Angeles Residents Association and first attempted to incorporate as a city in 1960. Similar efforts followed and failed in 1963, 1971, and 2012. Then as now, attempts have failed that an incorporated East Los Angeles wouldn't be financially viable. The worry then as now is that the collection of mom-and-pop stores and residences couldn't possibly generate enough revenue to exist as a municipality.


LOS ANGELES COUNTY CIVIC COMPLEX

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is the largest sheriff department in the county, and the nation's fourth largest local law enforcement agency (after  the police departments of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles). The first substation was opened in unincorporated Florence, on South Los Angeles's Eastside. The second was opened in City Terrace. Both opened in 1924. The Florence station outgrew its location and moved nearby before closing in 1993.


 
Trailer for Volcano, a spiritual prequel to Crash, and featuring the County Emergency Operation Center in City Terrace



The City Terrace facility, however, grew into a massive complex shared by a prison, the County Fire Department headquarters, Los Angeles County Emergency Operation Center (as seen in 1997's Volcano), Internal Services, and a place known as "Laser Village." The sheriff's headquarters moved to City Terrace in 1993, relocating from the Hall of Justice in Downtown's Civic Center





Big Snoop rules the Eastide (of Long Beach, not Los Angeles) in this film, shot at Sybil Brand

In 1963 the Sheriff's Department opened two new jails -- Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles and the Sybil Brand Institute, a jail for female inmates, in City Terrace. Although designed to hold 900 inmates, at its peak it housed 2,800.

It was closed in 1997 (inmates were transferred to the then-new Twin Towers facilities) and it has since then been used primarily as a filming location for films and television series including America's Most Wanted, Arrest & Trial, Blow (2001), CSI, Desperate Housewives, The Eastsidaz (2005), Gangland, K-11 (2012), Legally Blonde (2001), A Love Denied (2011), Reno 911!: Miami (2007), and The X-Files.

Pine forest and "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" sign

Today the area is buffered by hillsides along Eastern Avenue landscaped with large pine trees which area a pleasant smell if not necessarily the most inviting air. I'm not sure if there's anything open to the public in the complex. I didn't venture up there to investigate.

Palm and Pine Forest beneath Emercency Services

CHICANISMO

Although the Mexican-American civil rights struggle began at least as early as the 1920s (the League of United Latin American Citizens formed in 1929), it wasn't until the 1960s that the Chicano Movement (or El Movimiento) got underway, with Los Angeles's Eastside occupying center stage. It was in 1966 that high school students formed the Young Citizens for Community Action (which quickly evolved into the Brown Berets), in part to protest the Vietnam War and police brutality. The East Los Angeles Walkouts (or Chicano Blowouts) --a series of protests of educational inequalities -- took place in 1968.


RAZA UNIDA PARTY

The Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida -- or Raza Unida Party (RUP) formed in Texas early in 1970. The Chicano political party successfully ran candidates in Texas elections before expanding into other states. The City Terrace chapter was especially active in California and one of the chapter's organizers, Raul Ruiz, ran as a candidate for the 48th Assembly District in 1971. Ruiz was also one of the editors of a local Chicano newspaper established a few years earlier (1967) in City Terrace, La Raza.


CITY TERRACE ARTS


City Terrace is saturated with art. There's a great deal of religious art depicting Biblical characters. In some ways, although their representations often look more Nordic than Semitic, these thousands of paintings and figurines maintaining the neighborhood's old Jewish character. 

Christ on a cross mural and shadow

Sam the Olympic Eagle and Olympic Athletes mural (from the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984)

There are also these leafy vine murals that cover numerous walls, garage doors, alleyways throughout the area. It's my understanding that they are designed to discourage placas and tags, which become difficult to decipher amongst the painted branches and foliage. 


Leafy vine mural and Dooley (selfie by Dooley)


There are paintings on the exterior walls of markets, depicting cleaning products and junk food sold inside. There's also graffiti and -- if your definition of art extends far enough -- tags and placas all over the place. The most celebrated art in the area are the murals painted by well known Chicano arts collectives like Los Four and Self Help as well as some local artists and organizations.


City Terrace Library (and to the right, Mercado Hidalgo)

In 1969, City Terrace resident David Rivas Botello co-founded Goez Art Studio with Jose-Luis Gonzalez and Juan Gonzalez. Botello went on to co-found Los Dos Streetscapers with Wayne Alaniz Healy in 1975. With the addition of Charles Solares, Fabian Debora, George Yepes, Paul Botello, Ricardo Duffy, Rich Raya, and Rudy Calderon they renamed themselves East Los Streetscapers. Goez Studios' Jose Luis Gonzalez created the ceramic mural, Ofrenda Maya 1, in 1978 at City Terrace Branch Library.

 
Two Herrón murals (source: LA Eastside and unknown)

Muralist Willie Herrón III was born in 1951 in a church in City Terrace to parents who lived in Pico-Rivera but largely raised by grandparents and later his mother in various neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. In 1972, Herrón formed an artists collective called Asco with fellow artists Gronk (ne Glugio Nicandro), Harry Gamboa, Jr., and Patssi Valdez, all of whom attended Garfield Senior High School together. Herrón painted a mural, Quetzalcoatl-Plumed Serpent, on the back of Mercado Hidalgo. Nearby, in the alley behind City Terrace Drive connecting Miller Avenue and Carmelita Avenue he painted The Wall that Crack'd Open on the wall of a business owned by his uncle. His La Doliente de Hidalgo was added to another of Mercado Hidalgo's walls in 1976. 


City Terrace Elementary

George Yepes was born in 1955 and raised in City Terrace. In 1992 he founded Academia de Arte Yepes, the first free mural academy for young painters in Los Angeles. From 1979 till 1985 he was a member of East Los Streetscapers. One of his most widely-seen pieces was the cover art for Los Lobos' 1988 album, La Pistola y El Corazón. Yepes's 1994 mural, Los Niños del Este Los Angeles, graces one of the walls of City Terrace Elementary.


St. Lucy's and El Tepeyac de Los Angeles mural

Yepes's mural, El Tepeyac de Los Angeles, was completed in 1995 and adorns the front of St. Lucy's Catholic Church.


Coyolxauhqui Plaza replica of the Coyolxauhqui Stone

Coyolxauhqui Plaza features an exact replica of the Coyolxauqui stone, sculpted circa 1472 and 1479, during the reign of Axayacatl. Coyolxauhqui Plaza is the moon goddess in the Mexica religion whose name in Nahuatl translates to something like "ornate bells." I couldn't find any information about when this replica was installed or who created it, but suffice to say it was almost certainly after the stone's rediscovery in Mexico City in 1978.


GANGS OF CITY TERRACE

The location of Willie Herrón's mural, the Wall That Crack'd Open, was chosen because it was near the site where the artist's then 15-year-old brother was nearly stabbed to death in an assault by members of Big Hazard -- a Boyle Heights gang whose territory includes the north-of-the-10 section of East Los Angeles. Herrón's previous mural, Quetzalcoatl-Plumed Serpent, had been dedicated to Geraghty Loma, one of the City Terrace's gangs, and the artist invited gang members to contribute their placas into its design.

Latino street gangs have on the Eastside at least as early as the 1930s, the era of the zoot-suited pachucos. The Vietnam era saw the dawn of the stoner era, and groups (some pre-dating the era) like the City Terrace Rifa, Geraghty Loma, Hicks Street, Lott Stoners and their many clikas were organized primarily around partying, listening to hard rock, and getting stoned (albeit not just on weed but pills and PCP). By the 1980s, many stoner groups either morphed into or were absorbed by the cholo gangs that came to characterize that more violent era. However, despite the mainstream media's sensationalization and implication that nearly every Eastsider was in a gang, by the estimates of some community leaders, fewer than 10% of boys were ever associated with gangs even back then. 


BACKYARD PARTY SCENE

Perhaps far more popular than the gang scene but much less-documented was the Backyard Party Scene, which flourished throughout the Eastside in the late 1970s and '80s. (Click here to read a an account by Gerard Meraz, a former DJ with Highland Park's Wild Boyz crew). Often finding themselves shunned by the Anglo-dominated Hollywood punk scene (and their venues), Eastside Punk groups often played in the backyards of Eastside homes (and the nearby venue, Vex). One of the local bands, Los Illegals, featured muralist Willie Herrón as well as Jesus “Xiuy” Velo, Bill Reyes, and brothers Manuel and Tony Valdez.


 
Los Illegales performing "We Don't Need a Tan"

In the late '80s, Party Crews and daytime Ditch Parties offered alternatives to gangs as well as school and sobriety. In the end, in the early 1990s, violence and media sensationalism both crept into that scene and it seems to have moved out of the spotlight. However, there's still a Backyard Scene. Here's an article from the LA Weekly.


Fairmount Terrace - six story senior residences constructed in 1979 and the tallest buildings in the neighborhood


CITY TERRACE TODAY

It's interesting to me that of all the combined barrios of East Los Angeles, City Terrace seems to maintain a distinct semiautonomy. Being part of Los Angeles County, there are of course none of the blue LA DOT neighborhood signs that one sees around the city. On the street signs, above the names of the streets it simply says "East Los Angeles." The LA Times' Mapping LA project doesn't show its borders.


KTLA covering a shooting in City Terrace

Nonetheless, on local news it seems that traffic congestion or crimes committed there are almost always identified as taking place not just in East Los Angeles, but in City Terrace specifically. If similar incidents take place anywhere else in East Los Angeles, I've never seen the neighborhood more specifically identified. The census doesn't seem to differentiate the neighborhood from the rest of East Los Angeles either but the demographics seemed, from my limited experience, to be similar to those of East Los Angeles as a whole: 97% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 2% Anglo (mostly Italian), 1% Native American, 1% Asian, and less than 1% black.

Although not counted by the census, being in the Eastside, City Terrace is not surprisingly home to a lot of seemingly miserable, angry dogs so walking with one through the neighborhood can result in some raised hackles on both sides of the fence. The people of City Terrace that I interacted with were more friendly on the whole than their canine companions and I was stopped by both a giddy little girl in a stroller and a blunt-smoking veterano who both just wanted to give Dooley a rub. Parts of the neighborhood's hilly terrain are quite steep and Walkscore's map shows City Terrace to be the least walkable part of East Los Angeles but nearly everything that would interest a casual explorer or visitor is located near easily walkable of bikeable City Terrace Drive, which is also served by public transit.


GETTING THERE/STAYING THERE

There are several public transit options for would-be tourists to City Terrace. LA DOT's DASH El Sereno/City Terrace and Boyle Heights lines both serve the area. Metro's 70, 71, 256, and 665 bus lines traverse the area as well. The Gold Line has stops located a moderate distance south of the neighborhood. The Silver Line/El Monte Busway and Metrolink's San Bernardino Line stop nearer to the neighborhood, just across the 10 Freeway at Cal State LA Station. Locally, the City Terrace/ELAC line of East Los Angeles's El Sol service also serves the area.


View from atop City Terrace

The only lodging in the area seems to be the Vista Motel, which has the fact that it's the only lodging in the neighborhood working in its favor. However, according to its website, its main selling point seems to be that it's located twenty minutes from Long Beach and 35 from LAX.


CITY TERRACE PARKS

City Terrace Park Swimming Pool

One of City Terrace's main attractions, albeit probably more for residents than visitors, is City Terrace Park. A fairly small park was first developed there by WPA crews back in 1933. In 1957, soil removed during the construction of Los Angeles's Civic Center was transported there, used to fill a ravine, and triple the park's size. There's a basketball court, a community room, a computer center, a gymnasium, a playground, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a field. The west wall of the gym is decorated by a mural painted by Paul Bortello (of East Los Streetscapers) and neighborhood kids in 2000 called Inner Resources.

City Terrace Park and the Inner Resources mural
City Terrace Park and the Inner Resources mural


CITY TERRACE EATS


Lonchera parking lot

Probably an even greater draw to East Los Angeles than the murals are the restaurants, which feature some of the best Mexican food in the city. City Terrace, even being a small neighborhood, is home to surprisingly few of East Los Angeles's celebrated eateries but there is Alvarez Bakery, El Guarachito (not to be confused with El Huarachito in Lincoln Heights), Juanito's Tamales, Negrete's Ice Cream, and Raspados Zacatecas. If you find yourself in Fairmount Terrace, there's a cafeteria there listed on Foursquare. If you're up in the county complex there's a Lunch Stop -- familiar to anyone whose dined in a government facility in the area -- and much better than you'd rightfully expect. 


King's Market Liquor with it's depiction of the Mexica Sun Stone

Linda Market with paintings of products for sale inside

Apparently most people in City Terrace must dine elsewhere, hit up loncheras, or dine in. If you're up for doing your own cooking there are far more neighborhood markets (some little more than liquor or convenience stores) than restaurants including Amigos Market, Diane's Market, East LA Market #3, Eva's Liquor Store, Family Market, Fauzia Market, Floral Market, Garcia's Meat Market, Guadalupana Carniceria, King's Market Liquor, Linda MarketLittle Super Market, Mercado Hidalgo, and Sportsman Liquor Store. Much of the neighborhood's litter seems to emanate from these establishments in the form of small chip bags. However, whereas most of my Eastside neighborhood explorations were dominated by evidence of consumption of various flavors of Cheetos, in City Terrace, Tapatío-flavored Doritos and Ruffles seemed to predominate. Tapatío, for those unfamiliar, is an American hot sauce manufactured in nearby Vernon that many incorrectly assume to be Mexican.


Dolores Canning on Eastern Avenue

City Terrace's most famous culinary export is probably Dolores Canning. Dolores Canning's origins stretch back to 1954, when Basilio Muñoz formed the company as a distributor of cow and pig products. They introduced the Dolores Chili Brick in 1973. They also produced chili sauce, pickled pork products and menudo. I assumed that the company logo was a depiction of Dolores del Río, a glamorous Mexican matinee idol from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, but in fact it depicts Dolores Muñoz, the late Basilio's wife who passed away in 2008 and whose menudo recipe the company's canned version is based upon.


CITY TERRACE CELLULOID


Aside from the aforementioned films shot in part or in whole at Sybil Brand, I couldn't find any films either set or filmed in City Terrace. It was, however, the birthplace of Good Morning America's long-serving film critic Joel Siegel, who wrote about his childhood and the concurrent demographic shifts of City Terrace in his book, Lessons for Dylan: On Life, Love, the Movies, and Me.


The 2 Line in front of the City Terrace Cinema in 1963 (source: Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society)


Where St. Lucy's has stood since 1970, formerly stood the City Terrace Cinema, also known as the Terrace Theatre. Although I couldn't find a construction date or architect, the old movie theater existed at least as early as the late 1940s and seated 811 patrons. It also included a glass-enclosed balcony for mothers with crying children.

OTHER STUFF TO DO

A reader has brought to my attention a private museum located in City Terrace (on City Terrace Drive) called The Institute for the Scientific Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena. I'm intrigued and will try to check it out!


If you'd like to read more about City Terrace, look for Beyond Alliances: The Jewish Role in Reshaping the Racial Landscape of Southern California edited by George J. SanchezCity Terrace Field Manual bySesshu FosterMexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935-1968 by Anthony MacíasEast Los Angeles: History of a Barrio by Ricardo Romo, and The history of La Raza newspaper and magazine, and its role in the Chicano community from 1967 to 1977by Francisco Manuel Andrade. 

As always, I welcome corrections, additions for consideration, personal accounts, pictures you'd like to share (I'll link to you or your website), &c. Just let me know in the comments!

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Parquet Courts' Andrew Savage Talks Hype, EPs and 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 19, 2013 11:33am | Post a Comment

Parquet Courts had a very good 2013. Their debut album, Light Up Gold, was re-released on What’s Your Rupture? to rapturous acclaim, and their live shows have become somewhat legendary. Live and on record, the band flaunts a defiantly youthful energy that resuscitates classic indie rock tropes and perfectly captured mid-20s bohemia. Late in the year, they released the great Tally All the Things That You Broke EP (which I called one of the best EPs of 2013), finding the band honing its sound and growing wilder, even funkier as Andrew Savage’s vocals are more confident and strident, sing-talking and even sort of rapping, while the band tosses out knotty, catchy riffs with apparent ease. “The more you use it, the more it works!” Savage cries on one of Tally’s songs, as if echoing his own band’s tour-and-release-heavy year, which has clearly paid off.

The subject matter of the band’s songs is another matter. On its most famous song, Light Up Gold’s “Stoned and Starving,” the title says it all as Savage details a muchies-fueled trip through Ridgewood, Queens. But don’t call Parquet Courts “stoner rock” or “slacker rock” to Savage’s face.

 

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The 10 Best EPs of 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 19, 2013 10:33am | Post a Comment

Oft lost in the great “best albums of the year” rush are EPs, those unimposing 18-minute-or-so releases that artists release between albums, to try stuff out or to unload extra songs. While you don’t get the whole enchilada of a full-album statement, EPs are like a great appetizer that leave you wanting more, and 2013 was full of delicious bloomin’ onions. Here are 10 that I liked, in no particular order.

BurialTruant / Rough Sleeper

William Emmanuel Bevan makes the kind of music Thom Yorke dreams about, dark, brooding electronic music that blends subgenres like dubstep (the good kind) while sounding like its own thing, future-seeking yet emotional and grimy. He hasn’t had a full-length album since 2007’s great Untrue, but he released several EPs this year, including the recent Rival Dealer 12” and, earlier this year, this release of two 10-plus-minute tracks, the first entrancing and inviting, the second morose and restless. 

 

 

Best CoastFade Away

Best Coast shed some of the sheen of their second album and reclaimed the scrappy energy of their first on this seven-song release, their first on frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s new Jewel City label.

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December 18, 2013: Her

Posted by phil blankenship, December 18, 2013 09:54pm | Post a Comment

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With The Neighbourhood

Posted by Amoebite, December 18, 2013 01:53pm | Post a Comment

Neighbourhood

California based alternative rock -pop band The Neighbourhood has hit the mainstream full steam ahead. Complete with a black and white marketing vision, in just two years The Neighbourhood has signed a major label deal, gone gold and headlined a summer tour across the U.S. NeighbourhoodTheir music video for the single "Sweater Weather" has amassed over 14 million views on YouTube. The band is now nominated for MTV Buzzworthy's Breakthrough Band of 2013. Their debut album, I Love You (Colombia), entered the Billboard Music Charts at #39 and their lead single, "Sweater Weather," has already been certified gold by the RIAA for digital sales of over 500,000.

The guys recently visited Amoeba Hollywood for another fun episode of What's In My Bag?. Check out who picks up seasons 1& 2 of Saved By The Bell on DVD and which Neighbourhood member gets introduced to Breaking Bad. They run the gammut of music from classic Phil Collins to Metallica's Whiplash on vinyl to Sade's Soldier of Love.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #60: Holidays in The Big Apple

Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2013 10:06am | Post a Comment
Being such a popular tourist destination, especially at this time of the year with hotels booked to capacity and airbnb reservations close behind, not surprisingly New York City goes all out for the holiday season with extravagant Christmas / holiday displays and  exhibits all around town where it's been snowing a lot this past week - something that only enhances that December holiday vibe.

Festive destinations for tourists and New Yorkers alike include  Rockefeller Center (photo left taken earlier this week) where in addition to the usual all year round attractions, such as going up to the Top Of The Rock (one of the best aerial views of the Big Apple), there is the big brightly lit Christmas / holiday tree and the Center's famous ice rink plus a tapestry of large scale colorful holiday statues and lights for the one square block around the Center.

Being that NBC's main television studios are right there at 30 Rock, in addition to earlier this month broadcasting the lighting of the tree ceremony accompanied by performances from such musical guests as Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, and the Goo Goo Dolls, the TV network has been featuring the hella holiday themed area over the past couple of weeks on such NBC shows as Saturday Night Live and the Today Show. Very closeby Rockefeller Center is the big Saks Fifth Avenue department store where, in addition to their extravagant holiday themed window displays, they also have a  large scale 3D light show, complete with booming music system blasting "Carol Of The Bells," that plays in repeat mode on the front of the block long Fifth Avenue building between 48th and 49th streets every night between 5pm to 10pm for the duration of this holiday season (scroll down to see video of this nightly display).

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December 17, 2013: Enough Said

Posted by phil blankenship, December 17, 2013 10:52pm | Post a Comment

New Limited Edition Amoeba T-Shirts Available

Posted by Billy Gil, December 17, 2013 06:37pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba is offering new versions of our iconic T-shirts for a limited time. All shirts are available in-store only, so get your butt to your local Amoeba store for some killer new tees.

At Amoeba Hollywood, look out for our new super soft, limited edition logo shirts in blue, green, red, gray and black. The T-shirts are available for $12.98. I gotta get that black-on-black shirt.

 


Amoeba San Francisco has available both holiday shirts for $12.99 and tie-dye shirts for $19.98.

 

And Amoeba Berkeley has metal tees! They’re available for $9.99.

 

The Late, Great Tom Laughlin

Posted by Charles Reece, December 17, 2013 09:29am | Post a Comment

Despite the liberal message of tolerance, the Billy Jack series has always struck me as metaphor for American foreign policy: "I'm trying .. I'm really trying to not hurt you, but you're forcing my hand." It's a power fantasy that we're always on the side of the little guy, or that we're really the little guy, just blessed with super powers to fight back (like Peter Parker taking on Flash back in high school). My dad raised me on these films, and I love them for their lunacy. Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin died last Thursday, but our national fantasy lives on.

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy's Chuck D on Politics, Hip-Hop & more - from a November 1992 Perspective

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2013 07:07am | Post a Comment

For this week's Hip-Hop History Amoeblog, I take it back to 21 years ago to early November of 1992 when I caught up with Chuck D of Public Enemy (PE) to chat with him on the state of politics. Since that interview (which I just uncovered again this past week) was never archived anywhere, I decided to share it here because its content is pretty engaging from a historical point of view. I also assembled a series of Public Enemy videos from their six-year career up to that point.  November 1992 was a time when the politically charged hip-hop crew was still riding high in popularity and public consciousness.

Tragically, even hip-hop heads don't realize that PE are still together as a group these days, touring, recording, and making meaningful statements. But back then, everyone knew and intently listened to what the group, -- whose previous year's album Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black, was still selling briskly and whose compilation of remixes and new tracks, Greatest Misses, had just been released seven weeks earlier -- had to say. Of course things would soon shift on the popular hip-hop landscape since, just a month later in mid December of 1992, former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre would release a game-changing album - The Chronic with the Snoop Doggy Dogg featured lead single "Nuthin' But A G Thang" - that would be highly instrumental in helping push popular rap away from the political arena and towards the gangsta/G-Funk/mob style of rap as the predominant force in popular hip-hop.

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Celebrate 100 Years of Chaplin's Little Tramp with SF Silent Film Fest's Charlie Chaplin Centennial Celebration

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 16, 2013 06:17pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music is thrilled to join the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on January 11th at the Castro Charlie Chaplin The KidTheatre for a day-long centennial celebration of Charlie Chaplin's beloved "Little Tramp" character. Yes, 100 years ago the Little Tramp appeared in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), the funniest of the Keystone films that set the stage for Chaplin’s ascendancy as a star. This "little fellow," as Chaplin called him, became an icon of world cinema and catapulted Chaplin to fame.

SFSFF's celebration will feature three programs of Chaplin's indelible contribution to cinema. Three comedy shorts from Chaplin's time at the Mutual Film Corporation - The Vagabond (1916), The Cure (1917), and Easy Street (1917) - start the day off, with piano accompaniment by John Mirsalis. Chaplin's first feature, The Kid (1921) will be preceded by the aforementioned Kid Auto Races at Venice and accompanied by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra conducted by Timothy Brock. Preceding The Kid, compete in the Charlie Chaplin Look-Alike contest! Come dressed as the Little Tramp and win a prize! The Gold Rush (1925) will also be accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra conducted by Brock. Timothy Brock is an acclaimed composer/conductor specializing in concert works of the early 20th-centure and silent films. He restored Chaplin's original scores for The charlie chaplin shortsKid and The Gold Rush.

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Live Concerts From Prisons and Mental Institutions

Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment

The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital(1978)

In Bay Area rap history there are several instances of artists rapping live from jail - perhaps most notably the late great Mac Dre rapping over the phone from Fresno County Jail back in the early nineties and X-Raided at that same period rapping over the phone on series of occasions that would finally be released as the 1995 album Xorcist (in later years the still incarcerated rapper would get smuggled in recording gear to record albums). But there are also many instances of artists performing for inmates at jails and prisons, as well as other institutions.

Of the performances in mental institutions perhaps the best (and the best known) is from when The Cramps, in June 1978, did a live show from the California Mental State Hospital in Napa. Also performing were San Francisco's wonderful post punk act The Mutants. It was when the pioneering psychobilly gods had just had just finished up recording Gravest Hits - to be released the following year that would include the track "The Way I Walk" that they are captured performing in the Napa hospital concert clip above care of Target Video.

The great Leonard Cohen also did a series of free concerts about forty years ago in mental institutions but without much media attention at the time. According to Sylvie Simmons' bio I'm Your Man Cohen performed, like the Cramps, at Napa State Hospital as well as at Henderson Hospital (in the UK), and at an unnamed facility in Montreal (Canada). Reportedly he booked these shows "without fanfare" and on his own dime, reportedly telling a reporter a few years later that he was drawn to mental hospitals because he had "the feeling that the experience of a lot of people in mental hospitals would especially qualify them to be a receptive audience for my work." Cohen later commented, according to Simmons, that “I’ve always loved the people the world used to call mad.”

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December 14, 2013: Nebraska

Posted by phil blankenship, December 14, 2013 11:51pm | Post a Comment

Super Saturday Sale at All Amoeba Stores, 12/14

Posted by Billy Gil, December 14, 2013 08:00pm | Post a Comment

On December 14, all three Amoeba stores are holding a Super Saturday Sale with deals on tons of items, just in time for all that holiday shopping you still have to do!

At ALL Amoeba stores, we'll have 20% off the following (limited to available stock):

  • Selected Turntables (call for details)
  • Books
  • Posters
  • Headphones

When you spend $100 in-store, you'll get a $10 gift certificate to Amoeba! Gift certificates are valid starting December 15th. Does not apply to purchases redeemed with store credit or gift certificates.

Additionally, Amoeba Hollywood will have a Vinyl Blowout sale out front, with three-for-$1 45s, 78s, 12"s, and LPs. Come shop clearance vinyl out front, and come in for deals in-store!

 


Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 12.13.13: Eminem, Tanya Morgan, A-Plus & AAGEE, Public Enemy, Amoeba 15% Off Sale, + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 13, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Chart Week Ending 12:13:13
 


1) Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope)

2) Dom Kennedy Get Home Safely (The Other Peoples Money Co.)

3) Drake Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money)

4) Danny Brown Old (Fools Gold)

5) Deltron 3030 Event II (Bulk Recordings)

Five weeks since its release, Eminem's universally popular (and deservedly so) latest album The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope) continues to top the charts at Amoeba Hollywood as seen in the above latest top five from the LA store. And that is not the only place Eminem is number one this week. His incredibly popular current album single "The Monster (featuring Rihanna)" just hit number one on the Billboard charts, meaning that Eminem now ranks as the rapper with the most number one pop singles (a total of five). Meanwhile, the new album's first single "Berzerk" is a nominee for best rap performance in the upcoming Grammy Awards as announced by the organization last Friday. Furthermore, the Eminem song is being used in advertising for the Jan. 26, 2014 Grammy ceremony. However the full The Marshall Mathers LP2 is not eligible for a trophy in the 56th annual show because of the timing of its release.

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Ringo Starr's Signed 'Photograph' Book On Sale at Amoeba

Posted by Billy Gil, December 12, 2013 05:40pm | Post a Comment

UPDATE DEC 26, 2013: The Ringo: Photograph book is sold out.

Ringo Starr’s limited-edition, signed book, Photograph, is at Amoeba Hollywood in VERY limited quantities now (only two available in-store) or for online purchase on Amoeba.com. Online orders will ship directly from the publisher with estimated arrival time of February 2014. It’s priced at $600, and each one is signed by Ringo and numbered. (Please note: Photograph book does not qualify for our Super Saturday store sale on December 14th due to its limited nature)

We were pleased to help Genesis Publications launch the book in Hollywood at a special event with Ringo. Below is a great recap of the event, written by Amoeba’s Greg Griffith:

“Every time I see your face it reminds me of the places we used to go,

But all I’ve got is a photograph and I realize you’re not coming back anymore…”

These are the lyrics to the 1973 song, “Photograph” which was co-authored by Beatles Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Not only is the tune itself one of Ringo’s most memorable and enduring as a solo artist, who could have guessed that 40 years later we would get to see, in person, the faces and places that were lamented in the song. 

On Wednesday morning, October 23rd 2013, guests were treated to nearly two hours of walking down memory lane with Ringo Starr. The event took place at the Hollywood ArcLight Cinema on Sunset Boulevard as Ringo’s book, Photograph, was unveiled for the first time to the world by its iconic publisher of fine collectables, Genesis Publications, and co-sponsor Amoeba Music.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Electro Duo Disclosure

Posted by Amoebite, December 12, 2013 03:06pm | Post a Comment
Disclosure

Electronic music duo and recent Grammy nominees Disclosure have been quickly becoming dance music's latest craze. The English born musicians are brothers Guy and Howard Lawerence. Despite being born in the mid-'90s when U.K. garage was peaking, Disclosure pulls from the past to create their own brand of 2-step house. Some critics call them revivalist while others praise their elaborate production chops.settle The dudes are really good.

Disclosure made a lot of noise when they gave Jessie Ware's "Running" a hyper-soul synth pop makeover. The remix resulted in millions of plays on YouTube and Soundcloud. It didn't take long before promoters from London to Ibiza were falling over each other to book the duo.They quickly found fans in some of dance music's tastemakers, including Pete Tong and Annie Mac.

Their debut album, Settle, entered the U.K. charts at #1,  followed by a Grammy nod for Best Dance/Electronica Album. The duo will now ring in 2014 with a world tour. Pretty impressive for a couple of kids born in the mid '90s. 

Disclosure recently visited Amoeba Hollywood for another awesome episode of What's In My Bag?. These dudes are very much the "producer's producer" as it goes. Big fans of Hip Hop, Guy and Howard pick up J.Dilla's Welcome 2 Detroit, a classic in the underground Hip Hop scene. They also grab Gangstarr's Ownerz and A Tribe Called Quest's Anthology on vinyl. They make sure to dig up some house music and find a copy of Pepe Bradock's Lifting Weights 12". Clearly these guys love all things with big deep bass! These two brothers are super cool, down to earth and insanely talented. Check out the full episode of "What's In My Bag?" below.

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Captain's Log: Make it Snow!

Posted by Kells, December 12, 2013 02:24pm | Post a Comment

Why let it snow when you can make it snow, amirite? Taking a cue from yesterday's "Klingon Kristmas" post, I urge everyone to make merry with Captain Jean-Luc Picard as he continually commands Christmas, with that classic "final frontier" flair that only he can own, in this genius Star Trek: TNG edit set to the tune of "Make it Snow".  I dare you to humbug this hot, hot cup of holiday cheer!
 

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New 12"/LP/CD Releases at Amoeba Hollywood 12/11/13 - John Heckle, GB, Legowelt, Move D and more!

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 12, 2013 11:52am | Post a Comment

John Heckle - Baiyun Mountain

 

John Heckle

Baiyun Mountain 12"

M O S Recordings

Heckle x M O S, a match made in heaven. The pairing lives up to expectation. Cactus Jack obliterates with a chunky acid line, new wave snare and subtle guitar lead. Birds of Vertigo is another demonstration of brute force, yet the record's highlight is the title track, which turns some melancholy Juno chords into a shimmering, psychedelic banger. Recommended.

Buy Baiyun Mountain 12"

 

Nicholas - Let the Music LiveNicholas

The Music Lives 12"

Home Taping is Killing Music

Percolating disco/house rollers from the prolific and tasteful Italian producer. The Music Lives has a classic-King Street feel, building momentum with a skyward bound organ riff and eventually working in moody vocals before ending with a loose percussion jam. The final track leans into a Mahogani-inspired sample cut, all florid Rhodes, disco strings and crack rhythm section holding it down.

Buy The Music Lives 12"

 

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10 Holiday Albums That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 12, 2013 10:38am | Post a Comment

If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.

 

The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album/Christmas With the Beach Boys

The Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.

 

 

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

Some would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.

 

 

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Amoeba's Zak Wilson On New "Art Gods" Documentary And Tower Records' 1980's Art Displays, Part II

Posted by Billyjam, December 12, 2013 09:09am | Post a Comment

Last week here on the Amoeblog was the first half of an interview piece with Amoebite Zak Wilson on the subject of the wonderful new documentary that he is featured in: Art Gods (An Oral History of the Tower Records Art Department). Over the weekend the film premiered at San Francisco's Balboa Theatre and this week Art Gods has been released on DVD and is available in each of the three Amoeba Music stores: Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood.

As its full title implies Art Gods is a documentary about the art department at the now defunct Tower Records chain that began in Sacramento in the early sixties when Russ Solomon opened the first Tower Records store. Zak Wilson (that's him above back in the day at Tower), who is among those featured in the engaging doc, worked at Tower in Berkeley during its 80's heyday and has many stories to share from those times - as you will see in the Q+A below that is accompanied by numerous photos of Tower in the 80's and some of their legendary displays - all courtesy of Zak Wilson's photo collection that is featured in Art Gods.


Amoeblog: Many people thought of Tower Records as a big chain run like any other large music chain. But was that really an accurate view of Tower? And was owner Russ Solomon a hands on boss or someone you never saw?

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Have Yourself a Very Klingon Kristmas

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 11, 2013 03:00pm | Post a Comment

Star Trek fans and Chrisman revelers rejoice! While Klingon Vanna White's latest albums may not be available in this galaxy, the commercial for her holiday collection, Klingon Kristmas Klassics, is! And frankly, you haven't lived until you hear "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy" sung in the mellifluous Klingon language.
 




New York State of Mind Amoeblog #59: Luxury Condos vs. Art: 5Pointz, The Clocktower, Propaganda Anonymous

Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2013 12:38pm | Post a Comment

Prop Anon "Luxury Condos" (from the album Squat The Condos)

When I first met New York City based emcee/singer Propaganda Anonymous (aka Prop Anon who is from NYC's Mindspray hip-hop crew) five years ago he was busy slapping his "Squat The Condos" stickers on lampposts and walls all around the city. That simple three-worded message of his sticker was twofold: to both promote his forthcoming album of the same name and, more importantly, to encourage those who had been displaced by development (IE luxury condos going up, most notably in developing parts of Brooklyn at the time) to squat these new condo constructions. "The negative impact that these new overpriced, extremely expensive luxury condos, that only the very rich in New York City can afford, will be felt for a long time to come - especially on the artists and creative people," he told me at that time.

Prop Anon's predictions could not have been more accurate. In the half decade since then New York City's luxury condo housing market has grown by leaps and bounds - making a select few very rich at the expense of longtime low income residents of New York and struggling artists. Among the most recent victims of luxury condo developments have been 5Pointz and The Clocktower - two art spaces that, in the past few weeks, have both been displaced to make way for luxury condo developments.
   


Hunt Rodriguez on his work Rest In Power 5Pointz - Amoeblog Interview

Above is an impromptu interview I conducted last Saturday (December 7th) afternoon at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens with writer/sculptor Hunt Rodriguez whose current favorite form of art is doing sculptures like this one - Rest In Power 5Pointz - and having people sign it. Other works of his have included ones dedicated against gun violence and child abuse. Last weekend,  right as workers were putting up a fence around the main entrance to the former aerosol art haven, the artist had taken his tribute work of art out to the the very location of the graffiti mecca that was recently whitewashed over in preparation for its destruction to make way for high rise luxury condo construction. Rodriguez and his sculpture will be at North 7th Street between Kent
and Wyatt in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
this Saturday, December 14th from noon to 3pm. More info on the 5Pointz Facebook page.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Monterey Hills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 11, 2013 09:43am | Post a Comment
RUNNING UP THAT HILL -- MONTEREY HILLS

Monterey Hills sign on Via Mia


In Los Angeles, the Monterey Hills can refer to more than one thing. One is a landform known as The Monterey Hills that is technically part of the Repetto Hills, a chain of hills which runs from between the San Rafael Hills and Elysian Park Hills at one end  to the Whittier Narrows at the other (and in doing so forms one of the borders of the San Gabriel Valley). The hills are especially associated with the city of Monterey Park and there's a subdivision of that community that's also called Monterey Hills.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Monterey Hills

Another Monterey Hills refers to a small residential neighborhood between El Sereno, Hermon, Montecito Heights, Rose Hill, and South Pasadena. I recently explored that neighborhood with Dooley (a dog) whilst house, dog, and cat-sitting in El Sereno. During my stint on the Eastside, Dooley and I visited all the aforementioned communities and additionally explored Arroyo View Estates, East Los Angeles, City Terrace, Garvanza, Happy Valley, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, and University Hills. Our first excursion was of Monterey Hills on a cool, clear day that followed a light, overnight rain.

Via Marisol on a road diet

We approached Monterey Hills via Monterey Road, which runs along the western edge of the neighborhood. We then entered the neighborhood via Via Marisol – a ridiculously wide (even on a road diet) street that's an extension of what was formerly Hermon Avenue. Hermon Avenue was renamed Via Marisol in 1978, when then Councilman Arthur Snyder renamed it, attempting to pander to his mostly Latino constituency by explaining that allowing a street to continue to be named "Hermon" in a neighborhood traversed mostly by Spanish-named avenues would have a "jarring influence" on the residents. That the councilman had a then three-year-old daughter named Erin-Marisol Snyder was surely a happy coincidence. 

*****

EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

At least as early as 13,000 years ago people were living in Southern California. The ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert much later -- only about 3,500 years ago. After that they were the dominant people in the area for thousands of years and the Monterey Hills area lay between their villages of Hahamongna to the north, Otsungna to the southeast, and Yaangna to the southwest.

The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, setting the stage for conquest. The Spanish first constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in Whittier Narrows in 1771. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, nine-and-a-half kilometers east of what's now Monterey Hills. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded 8-and-a-half kilometers to the southwest.

The area that became Monterey Hills was located just outside the four Spanish leagues given to the pueblo and was on Mission lands but Spanish rule ended in 1821, when Mexico gained independence and subsequently secularized the church's holdings. Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city.

*****

The land containing what would become Monterey Hills was subdivided in 1902 along a grid system that ignored the hills' steep topography. The area was annexed by the City of Los Angeles on 9 February, 1912, as part of the Arroyo Seco Addition. The three hills that now make up Monterey Hills neighborhood remained mostly empty for the decades that followed largely because the gridded street and lot patterns made the development of streets and installation of utilities rather difficult. Nonetheless, there were a few residents and structures in the 1960s, when the idea for the Monterey Hills Development Project was first dreamed up by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

The Monterey Hills Redevelopment Project was adopted by Los Angeles City Council in 1971. The idea was to slap a master-planned community on top of three of the Repetto Hills. To deal with the forbidding terrain, the developers brought in engineering and geological consultants who assured them they they need only remove soil from the hills and dump it into the canyons. Once the dust -- and hopefully landfills -- had settled, large condominiums and town homes could be built that would be affordable to middle and working class first time home buyers drawn to the development by its proximity to the Pasadena Freeway (now the Arroyo Seco Parkway) and thus to Downtown Los Angeles.



Construction began in 1973 and over the years that followed, 21 residential complexes were ultimately built which contain a total of 1,781 units. The complexes include Austin Terrace, Bradley Court, Cabrillo Villas, Catalina Terrace, Chadwick Terrace, Chapman Townhouses, Drake Terrace, Eaton Crest, Fremont Villas, Harte Terrace, Hudson Terrace, Huntington Terrace, Linden Heights, Marshall Villas, Muir Terrace, Portola Terrace, Stanford Terrace, Temple Terrace, Vallejo Villas, and Wilson Summit [I seem to be missing one]. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not one them has been rebranded in that silly, trite "The such-and-such at so-and-so" manner (e.g. Fremont Villas have escaped being renamed "The Villas at Fremont.")



Problems with some of the complexes began to arise in the 1980s, however, when the experimental landfills that they were built upon continued to settle, bringing some of the residential complexes with them and creating significant structural damages in the process. Understandably incensed, the homeowners banded together and instigated the longest civil jury trial in Los Angeles County history.

Hillside in Monterey Hills with El Sereno below


At the end of the trial, $21,634,466 were awarded in damages and the fund created with the money is still used to remedy damages. Since the end of the trail, only the sixteen-unit Bradley Court townhouses have been constructed in the neighborhood. However, Monterey Hills Investors proposed a similar development -- albeit one targeting wealthy homebuyers -- in the adjacent Elephant Hills of El Sereno in 1984. In 2009, however, the city took control of the land and decided to preserve it as open space.


DEMOGRAPHICS

The ethnic breakdown of Monterey Hills, according to information gleaned from City Data, is roughly 36% Asian-American, 34% white, 24% Latino, and 10% black



GETTING THERE AND AROUND

Dooley and I walked to Monterey Hills from El Sereno. Monterey Hills isn't particularly well served by public transit. Only Metro's 256 line accesses the area. The route winds along Collis Avenue and Avenue 60 near the neighborhood's edges. Although it's been on the chopping block before due to low ridership, the 256 has its share of fans -- mostly due to the fact that its route manages to visit Altadena, City Terrace, Commerce, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Hermon, Highland Park, Pasadena, and University Hills.

A man walking on the sidewalk heading toward Hermon

Although hilly, the neighborhood is small and both easily walkable and bikeable for the able bodied. Presumably its relatively low walk score (28) on Walkscore is due to the fact that getting coffee, picking up groceries, eating out, shopping, and enjoying more forms of entertainment all require leaving the neighborhood (although walking to both El Sereno and Hermon where those things can be found is quite easy). It's transit score is 23 and its bike score only 11.

*****


Euclyptus trees in the forbidden zone

There's little if any native vegetation in Monterey Hills. Most of it was grazed out of existence during the Spanish era and today most of the landscape architecture is pretty inconspicuous and, although the hill tops are covered with groves of eucalyptus that have a certain allure and the leaves of some of the trees were changing color -- which is apparently one of the only way that some people raised in temperate climates can recognize the arrival of autumn.

Obvious signs of autumn at Drake Terrace

Someone's been guerrilla gardening... kale in the landscape at Stanford Terrace

Via Marisol is lined with magnolia trees. Sometimes a seed pod would fall from one, shattering the silence and startling both Dooley and I. The crisp air smelled wonderful, carrying as it did, the mixed scent of eucalyptus and walnuts. All aound us we could hear the cawing of crows, the cooing of morning doves and the calls of various other birds -- in stark contrast to the neighborhoods beneath it, which are generally dominated by a Cain-raising canine cacophony.

Fortress Monterey Hills -- actually Huntington Terrace

In my research I had read that each of Monterey Hills' large residential complexes were built in what were supposed to be a variety of styles and judging from the directories, their layouts vary. Yet somehow all of them are variations on a particular sort of residential architecture that I'm still struggling to make peace with. Regardless of their variations, to me they invariably all resemble business parks or newish college campuses and -- encountering almost no one in our walk -- it felt a bit like exploring those after business hours or during a long break.

Eaton Crest

In the course of our constitutional, Dooley and I did encounter a few women and men strolling, -- walking with weights or dogs, or jogging without either -- but the overall lack of people and the heavy autumnal ambiance gave the neighborhood a forlorn air, although I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. Everything has its unique charm and almost before I realized it I found myself quietly singing "The Power" by Suede, a band who along with several of their early '90s contemporaries (e.g. The Auteurs, Blur, Denim, Pulp) famously celebrated (or at least expertly chronicled) the discreet charm of suburban life and the great indoors.

Someone pushed a cart a ways and then parked it under a tree in Muir Terrace

Monterey Hills' near complete rejection of public space is part of the master-community plan, which includes no theaters, no art centers, no community gardens, no restaurants, no shops, no cinemas, and no houses of worship. The original development plan contained four categories: "Residential," "Residential/Alternate Hillside Preserve," "Residential/Alternate Institutional," and "Residential/Alternate Commercial."

Music Lessons in Monterey Hills -- let me know what musicians and film figures, if any, are from the Hill

The "alternate commercial" area was the at one point the proposed site of a 7-Eleven but residents successfully fought against that and it became the neighborhood's only park. One of the "Alternate Institutional" areas was developed with homes. The other is home of the Los Angeles International Charter High School -- formerly the site of Pacific Christian High School -- a site more often associated with the Hermon neighborhood than "The Hill" (as Monterey Hills is nicknamed). There are shared private spaces in the form of designated seating areas, swimming pools, and tennis courts -- all of which were invariably empty -- as were the guest parking lots.

The pool area at Stanford Terrace

A guest parking lot

BUDD WIENER PARK

Budd Wiener Park

As Monterey Hills' only official public space (unless one counts the sidewalks), Budd Wiener Park not surprisingly hosts the neighborhood's official community activities. The best known event that takes place there is the Monterey Hills Jazz Festival has taken place since 1993. In the past it's featured performers including the Angie Whitney Group, BluesMen, Bobbie Rodriguez and the HMA Orchestra, City Beat, Jimmy McConnell, Lori Andrews JazzHarp Quartet, Luis Conte, Nocy, the Pasadena Jazz Institute Youth All Stars, Ron McCurdy Collective, and Susie Hansen Latin Band, among others.

Another view of Budd Wiener Park

Budd Wiener has also hosted Movies in the Park, in which family friendly fare is screened outdoors. When there aren't organized events taking place in the park, it's not exactly the most inviting place. There are no no pedestal grills, no jungle gyms, no spring riders, no basketball courts… just a couple of empty benches and a poop bag dispenser or receptacle (I can't remember which -- maybe it's both).



COUNTERPUBLICS

Official seating area


Monterey Hills is blessed with quite a bit of mostly undeveloped space as well. It's separated from Hermon below by a steep, woody hillside. The hillside separating Monterey Hills from El Sereno (an "alternate hillside preserve") is less steep but terraced and lined with anti-erosion drainage ditches and a chain link fence. The earthen slope appears to have been built up considerably, almost as if it's meant to serve as a defensive wall to protect this modern Masada in the unlikely event of a siege.

Neighborhood fortifications agains the Eastsiders below


Ditch-lined hillside above El Sereno

Some of the concrete ditches are heavily tagged. If I'm correct that the goal of tagging is to place one's handiwork in highly visible yet inaccessible places then spraying ones tag on the bottom of easily accessed and little-seen ditches must be the equivalent of mere scent marking.

De facto dog park


There's also a large open area next to Fremont Villa that seems to serve as an unofficial park… or possibly dog park as it was the one spot in the otherwise decidedly clean neighborhood that was littered with dog defecation, garbage, and more. Dooley and I walked a well-worn trail and encountered signs of a small fire (or at least a burned log). The area affords a spectacular view and an empty case of Bud Light, an empty box of Patron, an empty case of Modelo Especial, and an empty case of something called Straw-ber-ita suggest that it's a popular site to do some outdoor drinking, relaxing -- and sadly, littering. There was also the expected litter from Del Taco and McDonald's. More surprising was a midden where the shells of various animals seemed to have been dumped.  


A shell heap in Monterey Hills

Apparently Max was here... and Dooley's hindquarters


Feeling a bit confined I decided to ignore the clearly-posted prohibitions against trespassing and scale the tallest hill in the neighborhood. Perhaps it's officially known as Wilson Summit as that's the name of both a condo and street on it. In my imagination, however, it felt like I'd scaled Weathertop (or "Amon Sûl" as it's known in Sindarin).

Atop "The Hill"

After catching my breath I found that I was not the first Rudi Matt to bound up that barrow. Although a faded Hello Kitty ribbon was possibly carried to the hilltop grove of trees by a nearby and deflated mylar balloon, there was also a 20 oz glass Pepsi bottle (c. 1990) and a single tennis shoe that were presumably carried there by fellow explorers. The abandoned footwear, Dooley's continued interest in sniffing underneath concrete ditch covers, and the darkening skies found me changing my tune, suddenly humming songs from the moody movie Memories of Murder (살인의 추억). Thankfully Dooley and I didn't find any bodies but after a bit more exploration I decided that Dooley and I should head back down the hill to the street.

Marshall Villas pool and clubhouse

Back in the neighborhood we encountered a couple more people out for their perambulations but most seemed to be safely indoors. We did spy some younger people towards the end of our visit. Two girls sat in a parked car -- both on their smartphones. Not long after, a group of school kids jogged up the sidewalk along Via Marisol as Dooley and I made our way back towards El Sereno. One said, "I like your dog" which seemed to signal to Dooley that it was time to cheerfully gallop the rest of the way to Monterey Road -- pulling me along with her.

Monterey Hills sign on Via Marisol


The distinction between Monterey Hills and El Sereno below felt more pronounced upon our return. On every curb Dooley and I seemed to pass discarded, rain-soaked furniture, enraged dogs and people apparently walking to or from somewhere (rather than speed walking in loops). Banda music blasted at a deafening level from a passing Chevy Tahoe, a brood of chickens and a rooster scratched at the street, ice cream trucks played their century old rags, and there was a freshly-painted gang tag on the wall of the home in which I was staying.  

*****
To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: July 1981, ABC's 20/20 Brings Rap To The Masses

Posted by Billyjam, December 10, 2013 03:36pm | Post a Comment

20/20 Report Hip-Hop Special (1981) - Part 1

Above and below are the two parts of the very first network TV news program report on rap/hip-hop: an entertaining episode of ABC's 20/20 from July, 1981. While Yo! MTV Raps is routinely (and rightfully) credited for speeding up the popularity of rap/hip-hop by bringing the inner-city, Bronx NY born culture and musical form directly into the living rooms of middle America and exposing many non-urban kids to rap for the first time, it came along a lot later than this. The MTV weekly two hour rap music video show, hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre, did not begin airing until the summer of 1988 and hence was by no means the original introduction of rap music to mainstream America. That honor/distinction goes to ABC's 20/20 investigative journalism/news magazine program, that even predates MTV's very existance (well by one month), which was the very first national/network TV news show to do an in-depth spotlight on hip-hop or "rap" music, as it was still generally referred to back then, for a national audience.

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Top 40 California Albums Released in 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2013 03:31pm | Post a Comment

Through my Weekly Roundup series every Thursday (returning in 2014), I listen to a lot of stuff from California-based artists. Here’s a list of 40 great albums that were made by artists based in this great state. There were lots more, so just consider this my own personal list, and let me know if there’s anything I missed!

 

40. FRONDSFRONDS

Epically beautiful seafaring pop from the dude formerly of The Mallard.

 

 

 

 

 

39. Kisses Kids in LA

The cute electro-pop duo get dancier with freestyle sounds on their second album.

 

 

 

 

 

38. Tyler, the CreatorWolf

The Odd Future kingpin digs deeper into his defensive and strange world on Wolf.

 

 

 

 

 

37. Ty SegallSleeper

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Album Picks: Milosh, The Velvet Underground, Angola Soundtrack 2, Fuzz

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2013 10:08am | Post a Comment

Milosh - Jet Lag (CD or LP)

The singer for hip smooth jazz purveyors Rhye, Milosh, has an otherworldly, feminine voice that has helped make that band a favorite of many a music fan. On his solo album Jet Lag, Milosh employs many of the same dynamics Rhye does on their debut, Woman, only with a somehow even more intimate sound, using laptoppy sounds and his own swirling, looped voice to create small, sexy atmospheres. The effect is to pair down Rhye’s already intimate sound even further, akin to how Thom Yorke used The Eraser to approach a more electronic, solitary sound than with Radiohead. Jet Lag’s electronic textures are appealing, yet it’s always Milosh’s voice that keeps us hooked, and he uses it to great effect on “Slow Down,” one of his strongest compositions yet, using little more than his voice and piano to sell a pretty broad sentiment—“can we all just slow down?” he sings in his breathiest tone. With that voice, you’ll do just about anything he says.

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Recap: December Charity Auction to Benefit the Philippine Red Cross

Posted by Amoebite, December 9, 2013 12:13pm | Post a Comment

Cameron Esposito at Amoeba HollywoodIt was the first Saturday of the month which meant Amoeba Music in Hollywood had a slew of cool and interesting items up for auction to the highest bidder! And it meant that people got to help out where the need is greatest while they scored cool and interesting items. This month we were raising money for the Philippine Red Cross with the help of comedian Cameron Esposito.

On Saturday, December 7 our guest auctioneer Cameron Esposito, the host of the live show and podcast Put Your Hands Together with Cameron Esposito Tuesdays at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, rocked our auction! Esposito has been named a top Comedy Act to Watch in 2013 by LA Weekly and she has appeared at clubs and festivals across the country. Her network televison debut on Late Late with Craig Ferguson garnered attention as "the most memorable first time on a late night show for any comedian in recent history."

If you weren't at Amoeba Hollywood on Saturday you missed all the zingers and one-liners she dished up to help the Philippine relief effort. She had the audience chuckling and raising their hands to donate! "C'mon, you know the movie Die Hard is worth $25.00 in your heart."

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Trader Joe’s gift card ($50) + vintage monkees lunchbox - $55.00
  • Urban Outfitters gift card ($50) + vinyl records AND – a John Denver cloth tote - $40.00
  • Tickets to see Lissie at the Fonda theater - $20.00
  • Tickets to see Suicidal Tendencies at The Fonda theater - $40.00
  • 4 passes to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles - $30.00
  • Amoeba VIP in-store pass to show of your choice + CD and first in line for signing - $35.00
  • Ringo Starr limited-edition tote + drumsticks along with a cool Beatles package filled with all sorts of collectibles - $50.00
  • Record Store Day bag filled with limited-edition releases and a T-shirt - $15.00
  • Holiday Horrors! Vincent Price tote bag + tickets for two to see Abel Ferrara's lost horror-revenge film Ms. 45 at Cinefamily – Dec. 20, plus DVD horror classics - $10.00
  • Hollywood Holiday pack! Hollywood sign photo/canvas + the holiday classic Die Hard - $10.00
  • Special "kids" pack with signed Yo Gabba Gabba! stuff and Despicable Me 2 doll - $15.00

Philippine Red CrossWe began hosting charity auctions when Hurrican Katrina hit New Orleans and over the years we’ve raised  over $475,000 for New Orleans, Green charities, Animal charities, Doctors Without Borders and many local organizations. Amoeba also matches all winning bids (up to $1,000) and 100% of funds raised in the auctions go straight to the charity.

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MAC's 100 Years Of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records

Posted by Billyjam, December 9, 2013 09:40am | Post a Comment



















"You had me at that 1922 Oakland Chamber of Commerce  record!" - I told the curator MAC upon first glancing the above historic record oddity - a free phonograph record issued by the East Bay City's Chamber of Commerce back in the 1920's to encourage residents from nearby San Francisco as well as other faraway locations to relocate to Oakland, CA "where California's promise is Fulfilled." This rare record was one of approximately 200 equally engaging and odd discs on exhibit during the recent WFMU Record Fair in New York City. 

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Unwanted Popsicles: Nymph()maniac Receives Frigid Reception from Disney Fans

Posted by Charles Reece, December 9, 2013 09:07am | Post a Comment

I want this to be true, since I can't imagine a better use of Lars Von Trier's entire oeuvre: pornographic portions of the above trailer for his new film Nymph()maniac were shown during the cartoon, Steamboat Willie, which was serving as filler while a Tampa, Florida theater was dealing with some technical problems in projecting Disney's Frozen.

"They put in the filler, it looked like Steamboat Willie, the old Mickey Mouse cartoon, and then all of a sudden it goes into this other scene," grandmother Lynn Greene told My Fox Tampa Bay. "It seemed like forever when you're trying to, you know, cover a little guy's eyes. I didn't have enough hands to cover his ears too and he got the sound down real good."

Although I share Film Drunk's skepticism, it's a truly beautiful idea.

Best Of World Music For 2013

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 8, 2013 11:01pm | Post a Comment

Best Artwork:
El-Haru Kuroi - Cantagallo

Best Of The World Music Releases That NPR Likes:
Juana Molina - Wed 21

Best World Fusion Album:
Bombino - Nomad

Best Retro World Release:
William Oneyeabor
- World Psychedelic 5: Who Is William Onyeabor?

Best Reissue World Release On LP     
The entire Manu Chao catalog on LP!

Best New World Release On LP
Meridian Brothers - Devocion (Works 2005-2011)



Best World Music Compilation:
V/A - Daora; Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil

Best Retro African Compilation:
V/A - Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight

Best Retro African Release:
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Coton - The Skeletal Essence Of Voodoo Funk 1960-1980
Vol. 3


Best New African Release:
V/A - Harafinso-Bollywood Inspired Music From Hausa Nigeria

Best Usage Of World Music Without Being A World Music Album:
Matias Aguayo - The Vistor

Best LP That I Wish I Bought But Now Is Sadly Unavailable:
V/A - Shik Shak Shock
 
Best New Brazilian Release:
Kassin - Sonhando Devagar

Best Retro Brazilian Release
Marcos Valle - Previsao Do Tempo

Best Retro Brazilian Compilation:
V/A - Brazuca!

Best Salsa Reissue
8 Y Mas - Juega Bilar

Best Salsa Compilation
V/A -Saoco Vol. 2 Bomba, Plena And  The Roots Of  Salsa In Puerto Rico 1955-1967
 
Best New Salsa/Boogaloo Release Of 2013
Boogaloo Assassins - Old Love Dies Hard

Best Middle Eastern Release:
Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu

Best Of The Many Retro Middle Eastern Releases In 2013
V/A - Choubi Choubi! Folk And Pop Sounds From Iraq Vol. 2

Best Of The Many Retro Chicha Releases In 2013
Teo Laura - El Sonido De La Carreterral Central Con El Rey De La Guitarra Teo Laura

Best Of The Many Retro Asian Releases in 2013
V/A - Nippon Girls-Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1967-69

Best Retro European Compilation:
V/A - C'est Chic: French Girl Singers Of The 1960's

Best New European Album:
Buika - Una Noche Mas Larga

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Zoe - Programaton

Rookie Of The Year:
Thee Commons

Best World Music Album That I Raved About Last Year That Got Popular This Year:
Leon Larregui - Solstis

Best World Music Album Of 2012 Sadly Not Available At Amoeba:
Chico Sonido - Nalga Bass

Best World LP Lifesaver When You Didn’t Bring Enough Records To The Club:
V/A - Peru Maravilloso

12 Great Comeback Albums Released in 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 6, 2013 03:03pm | Post a Comment

While plenty of new acts released great albums in 2013, a few heavy hitters came back with awesome records after years of either inactivity or critical/commercial depression. Here’s a list of 12 of those records.

David Bowie The Next Day

David Bowie had been relatively silent since 2003’s Reality. Then, out of nowhere, on his 66thbirthday on January 8th, he announced a new album would be released in March. The Next Day largely blew away expectations, exceeding in quality just about anything else Bowie has done since the ’80s, harkening back to his most acclaimed phase, The Berlin Trilogy, comprising the albums Low, “Heroes” and Lodger. Romantic rockers like “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” live alongside alien funk (the title track) and searching ballads (“Where Are We Now?”). It’s classic Bowie, throughout. (See where The Next Day landed on Aaron Detroit’s top 50 albums of 2013 list.)

 

Paul McCartney New

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Amoeba's Zak Wilson On The New "Art Gods" Documentary About Tower Records' Legendary Art Displays, Part I

Posted by Billyjam, December 6, 2013 01:33pm | Post a Comment

        

Amoebite Zak Wilson, who I last talked with here a few years back when he offered his invaluable insights on the world of guitar picks for the Amoeblog, is always busy working on some new project. His latest, of which he is one of several contributors, is the wonderful new documentary Art Gods (An Oral History of the Tower Records Art Department). As its title implies, Art Gods is about the art display department of the now defunct Sacramento-based record store chain during its 1980's heyday (when Wilson worked in their art department). 

This documentary is an engaging time capsule of a bygone era in both the record business (when records were the primary format) and in the pre-computer/pre-digital age of art displays. The film premieres tonight and tomorrow (Dec 6th and 7th) at San Francisco's Balboa Theatre.  Next week, Art Gods will arrive in Amoeba and other stores on DVD. This is part one of a two-part interview with Zak about the film, along with pictures of some of those great album art-based record store displays. Part two will run next week to coincide with the release of the documentary on DVD.

 



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Remembering Nelson Mandela Through Song

Posted by Billyjam, December 5, 2013 03:30pm | Post a Comment

Johnny Clegg "Asimbonanga (featuring Nelson Mandela)" (1999)

To honor the legacy of the great Nelson Mandela, who died earlier today at the age of 95, here is a selection of songs written and recorded about this great man who spent his lifetime in the fight against racial oppression. So inspiring a figure was Mandela that he had the distinction of having more songs written in his honor than perhaps any other global political figure in history.

These include Johnny Clegg's "Asimbonanga" (above) -- a very special live concert version from 1999 featuring a walk-on cameo from Mandela himself who blesses the mic for a bit and grooves to the music of Clegg's band.

Other songs (all below) include the best known of all the songs recorded about him: the 1984 hit single by The Specials/ The Special AKA (free) "Nelson Mandela," a live version of Hugh Masekela's inspired "Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)," Nomfusi & The Lucky Charms' "Nelson Mandela Song," (my personal favorite) Youssou N'Dour's "Nelson Mandela" (live in NY in the early 90's), and a cool song and video remix of "Number 46664" which was Nelson Mandela's prison number when he was incarcerated on Robbin Island, Cape Town (Mandela spent a total of 27 years in prison after being convicted of treason by the white minority government of South Africa). Read the full news report here on the Los Angeles TimesRest In Peace Nelson Mandela!

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New 12"/LP/CD Releases at Amoeba Hollywood 12/4/13 - KWC 92, Dj Stringray, Function and more!

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 5, 2013 03:25pm | Post a Comment

KWC 92 - Dream of the Walled City

 

KWC 92

Dream of the Walled City OST LP

LIES

Brilliant imaginary Soundtrack by Samo DJ Max Stenerudh, which seems to score an imperialist drama. The sounds within are closer to the bamboo drums and razor sharp synths of 80s Japan - music that sounds otherworldly and futuristic 30 years later. One of LIES most adventurous and most musical releases, not much for the non warm-up set dj here, simply a beautiful concept album. Recommended.

Buy Dream of the Walled City OST LP

 

Kim Brown - Somewhere Else It's Going to be Good

Kim Brown

Somewhere Else It's Going to be Good 2x12"

Just Another Beat

Brooding, virtuosic house from Kim Brown. Brown allures the listener with an equal understanding of rough Chicago inspired rhythms and a pristine high-end melodic sense reminiscent of early Border CommunityCamera Moves is a great example - starting with plaintive ambient synths before introducing an absolute monster melodic bassline which stretches out for eight bars. The bittersweet tone of the record will appeal to fans of Dial's leading lights.

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WONDER-FULL SF X: 10 Years Celebrating the Wonder of Stevie this Saturday

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 5, 2013 03:16pm | Post a Comment

The annual Stevie Wonder tribute WONDER-Full SF starring DJ Spinna (NYC) celebrates its ten-year wonder-full stevie wonderanniversary in San Francisco on December 7th at Mezzanine.

WONDER-Full is a dance party of epic proportions dedicated to Stevie Wonder’s essential compositions, covers, and goodies. WONDER-Full debuted in San Francisco in 2003 and its ten-year run, Stevie fans from across the Bay Area and beyond have embraced the event with beautiful energy, diversity and love that has made WONDER-Full SF one of the most anticipated events of the year! 

One of the most sought after dance floor magicians DJ Spinna headlines with support from Hakobo (fresco), Proof (Massive Selector), and King Most (Society).

More details HERE! Advanced tickets have sold out, but tickets will be available at the door the night of the event.

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Katey Sagal + Album Signing Event at Amoeba Hollywood Dec. 11

Posted by Amoebite, December 5, 2013 03:16pm | Post a Comment
Katey Sagal

For over two decades, Katey Sagal has reigned as one of television's most popular actors. She became an instant fan favorite as Peggy Bundy, the hilarious redheaded bombshell on Married...With Children. In the early 2000s, Sagal was pegged to play the voice of Turanga Leela, the one eyed mutant on Futurama. Today, Katey Sagal rules the television throne as Gemma Teller Morrow, the matriarch of The Sons of Anarchy, a role which earned Sagal a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama.

With all the acting accolades Katey has achieved, it's easy to overlook her first true talent: singing. In 1976, Sagal made her professional recording debut singing with The Group With No Name. TheKatey Sagal Covered band was signed to Neil Bogart's Casablanca Record label. She went on to sing backup for musical heavy hitters including Bob Dylan, Etta James, Bette Midler, Gene Simmons and Tanya Tucker. She has released three solo albums, most recently this year's Covered (E1Music). The new record finds Sagal covering some of her favorite songs, including Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Jackson Browne's "For a Dancer." Sagal's vocal styling is rooted in Soul and Blues with a heavy singer-songwriter influence. She has also been featured on the Sons of Anarchy soundtracks. 

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2013 Mixtape: 21 Songs for the Time Capsule

Posted by Billy Gil, December 5, 2013 01:31pm | Post a Comment

Just about everyone could agree on “Get Lucky” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” but there were lots of other great singles and album cuts released this year. Here are 21 you can download from Amoeba.com right now. Pretty sure these could just top out a 120-minute cassette tape, if my high school calculations are correct. Check out my top 50 albums list, too!

 

Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”

Listen

Download

Kurt Vile's Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a great, melodically hazy stoner-rock record, but "KV Crimes" hits hard, like a song Tom Petty would kick out in five minutes and decide he was too stoned when he wrote it and leave it on the cutting-room floor for some bullshit like "Free Fallin'." Kurt Vile is like our more enlightened Petty, one who knows that off-the-cuff tracks can be the best.

 

From the album Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

 

Savages – “I Am Here”

Listen

Buy

"I Am Here" builds its post-punk dread carefully, unleashing into a climax that'll leave you feeling hot and disoriented.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Happy Valley

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2013 10:56am | Post a Comment
BETWEEN OLYMPUS AND PARADISE

There are at least four places in California named Happy Valley. This blog entry is about the small neighborhood on Los Angeles’s EastsideTo vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here






The first time I became aware of a place in Los Angeles called Happy Valley was after glancing at an online map. I ascertained that it was apparently located somewhere in the vicinity of Montecito Heights, an area of Los Angeles that strikes me as one of the most obscure areas of the city. One day whilst driving down the Arroyo Seco Parkway (when it was still the Pasadena Freeway) I caught sight of a couple of Victorian structures which I turned off the road to see -- only to find that it was Heritage Square, a sort of living history museum in Montecito Heights. Another time, passing through a scenic cut and cresting a hill along Monterey Road I entered a small, secluded village... but that turned out to be Hermon.

It wasn’t until I was house (and dog and cat) sitting in El Sereno last year that I caught site of a Happy Valley neighborhood sign on Lincoln Park Avenue, just north of Broadway. When I found myself resuming my responsibilities in El Sereno last month, I decided to explore as many neighborhoods of the Eastside as I could. Together, Dooley (the dog) and I rambled through Arroyo View Estates, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, City Terrace, Garvanza, Hermon, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Rose Hill, University Hills, and on the final day, Happy Valley


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Happy Valley -- my first water color and bird's eye... go easy on me



Most Angelenos have likely never heard of Happy Valley. Not being in the Westside, Central Los Angeles, or Downtown it’s completely off the radar of most Los Angeles media. If people have heard of Happy Valley, there’s a good chance that they’re either associated with the neighborhood gang’s enemies (i.e. Eastlake Locos, East Side Clover, 18 Street, or El Sereno Rifa) or fans of Charles Fleming’s book, Secret Stairs.


Mural of Mary in Happy Valley dating from the 1970s (at least) -- The Jesus is newer


Walk #10 of that book involves walking along the public stairways and stair streets of Montecito Heights and Happy Valley (difficulty rating 5 out of 5) and it seems that numerous bloggers have undertaken it (e.g. Climbing LA, Postcards from Beverly, stairwalkinginla, and probably others). The story of a couple of Happy Valley murals was also told by LA Bloga in a piece that includes some great photos.


HAPPY VALLEY CHARACTER

Looking down Happy Valley along Lincoln Park Avenue from the hillside

Happy Valley emerges from the southern face of Montecito Heights around the north end of Sierra Street, just north of Glen Alta Elementary. From there it continues south between Paradise Hill on the east and Mount Olympus II (locally known as Flattop or Flat Top) on the west before opening up into a flat area at Broadway.


Paradise Hill from Happy Valley

To the south is Lincoln Heights proper – specifically the Lincoln Heights Business District. Happy Valley is often considered to be a barrio of Lincoln Heights yet on many maps it’s included within Montecito Heights.


Montecito Heights neighborhood sign at Happy Valley's north end


View of Downtown Los Angeles from Happy Valley


The population of Happy Valley today is 79% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 13% white, and 6% Asian (mostly Chinese). In the hours that I spent walking around, nearly everyone that I encountered appeared to be part of one of those populations and the languages that I heard, in addition to English, were Spanish and Chinese. There were some white Anglos in the north end of the valley.


EARLY HISTORY

Southern California was inhabited by humans as many as 13,000 years ago. Roughly 3,500 years ago the ancestors of the Tongva arrived in the Los Angeles Basin. The area that includes Happy Valley is located between the sites of two Tongva villages, Yaanga to the west and Otsunga to the east. In 1769, the first Europeans passed through the area, led by Gaspar de Portolà on behalf of Spanish Conquest. In 1771 they established Mission San Gabriel Arcángel ten kilometers east. In 1781 the Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was established four kilometers to the west. Per the Laws of the Indies, the Pueblo’s lands included four square leagues of land, including what’s now Happy Valley.


MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN ERA

Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Los Angeles was thus a Mexican city until 1848, when the US conquered California. In 1850, Los Angeles incorporated. The lands east of the Los Angeles River that now include Happy Valley remained relatively undeveloped until 1874, when then city health inspector and county coroner Dr. John S. Griffin and his nephew, Hancock Johnston, began selling lots to new homeowners in what was then called East Los Angeles.

Detail of Pierce’s Los Angeles Birdseye View showing Lincoln Heights and Happy Valley (1894)*


In 1886, most of what’s now known as Happy Valley was developed as the Ela Hills tract. The sale of new lots was announced in the 14 March edition of the Los Angeles Herald. The small, folk Victorian homes from that era still dominate the neighborhood, although they’re joined today by not-as-old crackerboxes and the expected assortment of stuccoed houses and apartments. The lots and homes situated on them are quite small. Many of the first inhabitants of them were immigrants from Germany.


Lincoln Heights was renamed Eastlake in 1901 and Lincoln Park in 1917. There’s still a small park nearby on Eastlake Avenue called Ela Park as a reminder of its earlier identity. During that period, many Italian and Mexican-Americans moved to the neighborhood. However, as business flourished along Downey Avenue (now Broadway), Happy Valley seems to have remained a fairly isolated, mostly residential neighborhood.

Victorian home behind a home that appears to have been a shop


Happy Valley apartment complex



HAPPY VALLEY TRANSIT

detail of Electric car and bus routes in L.A. (1934)*

From 1901 until 1963, the Los Angeles Railway’s yellow cars traveled down Downey and Lincoln Park Avenue (originally Prichard Street). Today the area is served by Metro 252 and the DASH Lincoln Heights/Chinatown lines.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL




In the 1910s, a department store, library, bank, movie studio, and hospital all operated nearby in Lincoln Heights. In 1913, Avenue 21 Grammar School moved to the current site of Abraham Lincoln High School at the mouth of Happy Valley. Before the completion of the new building, the students and faculties met across the street and up the hill on the former mansion property of Charles Woolwine.

Lincoln High has a long list of famous and locally notable alumni. The great architect Gregory Ain, who designed Silver Lake’s Avenel Homes and Mar Vista's Mar Vista Housing went there. Another alumnus is Gaylord Carter,an organist who accompanied silent films in at Inglewood’s Seville Theatre, Downtown Los Angeles’s Million Dollar Theatre, Grauman's Metropolitan, and others. He also played organ on old time radio shows including Suspense and The Whistler. Former Black Panther leader and author Eldrige Cleaver attended Lincoln too. In 1978’s Soul on Fire he referred to Happy Valley as “one of these old, proud Chicano communities.” Lincoln was also attended by modern dancer José Limón as well as several film folks including directors John Huston and Moctesuma Esparza; and actors Jeanette Nolan, John Conte, John Doucette, Robert Preston, and Robert Young.


HAPPY VALLEY RIFA

From 1910 until 1920, many Mexican refugees from the Mexican Revolution moved to Los Angeles, joining those who already settled in barrios like SonoratownDogtown, the Flats (in Boyle Heights), Alpine (in Victor Heights), Belvedere Gardens and Maravilla Park (in East Los Angeles), and Happy Valley. Some of the young pachucos of these neighborhoods coalesced into neighborhood clubs, including Happy Valley.

Happy Valley Rifa tagged pay phone!

When the US entered World War II in 1941, many men of fighting age went off to war – in many cases never to return. Not coincidentally, the barrio cliques comprised of young teenagers morphed into street gangs. Around the same time, many Italian-Americans moved east to San Gabriel Valley towns including Rosemead, San Gabriel, and Temple City. In 1946, Beatrice Griffith referred to Happy Valley in her novel American Me, when it first appeared in serialized form in Louis Adamic’s magazine Common Ground two years before it was published as a book. 


Happy Valley Rifa 1975

Whatever you think of gangs, it does seem to me that in the decades when many Angelenos seemed to aspire to suburban anonymity, disassociation, and interchangeable placelessness, street gangs were probably the most visible expressions of neighborhood identity. I’m not suggesting that would-be community boosters join gangs – I can think of better ways of showing your neighborhood pride than warring with rival gang members – but they do historically keep the flame of neighborhood pride burning when others turn their backs. While not exactly an ancient pictograph, seeing a Happy Valley placa dated “1975” on a sidewalk is kind of cool (and way more permanent and less ugly than a spraypaint tag, I might add).


RETURN TO HAPPY VALLEY

Los Angeles was torn apart by riots in 1992. It seems that afterwards one of the ways people sought to heal the wounds was to re-embrace the notion of community. In 1993, the LA DOT began installing the now-familiar neighborhood signs around the city, in many cases reviving forgotten identities on what had become huge, faceless swathes of land (often in South Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and Midtown). In 1995 Happy Valley was officially recognized when the blue sign went up amid fears that it would trigger a negative response from Happy Valley Rifa’s enemies but nothing of the sort seems to have happened. Instead, it just put Happy Valley back on the map… even if it is still hard to find.


VISITING HAPPY VALLEY

Happy Valley today is overwhelmingly residential, possibly more so now than ever. In fact, there are several residences that appear to have formerly served as stores. There are very few non-residential buildings in the neighborhood today. 


Pomona Market


Apparently the building that houses Pomona Market was constructed in 1922. It is one of several liquor stores in Los Angeles with a sign claiming that it sells the coldest beer in the city. While good beers taste best at a range of temperatures, macroswills are less disgusting the closer they are to freezing. 

Fernando Auto Repair doesn’t even show up in any directories that I saw. I can assure you, however, that it’s there if you need it, housed in a structure constructed in 1946.


Iglesia en el Valle


Iglesia en la Valle seems to have become the current inhabitant of this church (constructed in 1939) much more recently, in 1984.

Near the north end of the neighborhood is Glen Alta Elementary, which opened in 1965.

There was business taking place elsewhere – it was Small Business Saturday after all. A man in a football (soccer) jersey played salsa music from his van and presided over an listless sidewalk sale. Down the street, at a house flying the flag of Texas, a group of women set up some tables and chairs. Having recently dined in the garage of a private residence in El Sereno that sells Mexican food on Sundays I thought that maybe something similar was going to happen here but no food was served during the time of my visit. There were other sidewalk and yard sales too but for the most part it was a pretty relaxed valley.

At one point Dooley and I just stopped, looked, smelled and listened. Ranchera music seemed to drift from a house to the south. A car passed us playing the Young Rascals’ 1967 hit “Groovin’.”

 




In the other direction (in more sense than one), another vehicle passed bumping merengue. A cloud of weed smoke floated in from the east. Meanwhile, the crowing of roosters echoed throughout the valley – as did the barking of dogs. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Happy Valley is the doggiest neighborhood in Los Angeles – perhaps five times doggier than even El Sereno (which I’d previously thought was the doggiest neighborhood).


Looking up the staircase at the north end of Lincoln Park Avenue

The people of Happy Valley may be friendly (I counted four “hellos,” one “buenos dias, and one “good morning”) but the dogs almost invariably seem insane. Nearly every small yard seemed to either be patrolled by a Pitbull and Chihuahua combination or the five small dogs variety pack. Dooley and I had pretty tense confrontations with three dogs (two of them rather large) that simply squeezed through the gates of their yards to nip and bark at us. None of them actually bit us, however. 

Not all of the homes were being used as minimum security dog kennels. There was also quite a lot of front and back yard gardening too. Especially prominent and surprising to me were the many banana trees, which provide shade, privacy, and best of all, bananas with actual flavor (unlike the supermarket ones suitable only as smoothie filler). Besides getting your hands dirty doing something besides maintaining a silly, thirsty, green grass carpet, gardening can yield unexpected rewards. It was on the side of Flat Top above Happy Valley in 1984 that a whale skeleton was discovered when one Mr. F. W. Maley uncovered vertebrae whilst digging in irrigation trench on for Ms. L.W. Blevins’s orchard.

*****

If you know of any musicians, filmmakers or other creative individuals from Happy Valley, please let me know in the comments. And please share your stories, knowledge, and experiences involving Happy Valley. There’s so little official history of this neighborhood so I’m relying on readers to help flesh it out. There is no Wikipedia article and it’s not even included as a neighborhood in the LA TimesMapping LA project.

*image source for both map detail: The Big Map Blog

*****


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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #58: Startups + Studio Backlots, NYC Rich vs Poor, 5Pointz' Blue Period, NYC Circa 1940, + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 4, 2013 12:12pm | Post a Comment
            Overlooking United Nations (UN) Headquarters - view from the end of East 40th Street

Greetings from New York City which seems to be stealing some of the West Coast's thunder of late (namely Silicon Valley and Hollywood) by not only becoming a booming location for tech startups, but also this week adding a big new large-scale (one square block in scale) outdoor film production studio backlot. This brand new 35,000 square feet lot is on the sprawling Kaufman Astoria Studios campus in Queens - just across the river from Manhattan that is home to the excellent Museum of The Moving Image - where it will provide film production companies a desired controlled environment for filming and safely utilizing special effects unlike busy NYC streets where most filming takes place such as the Michael J Fox TV Show being filmed on East 33rd Street today (12/4) or the forthcoming movie 1:30 Train, starring Chris Evans about woman chasing through the streets of New York amidst a series of obstacles in an attempt  to catch the 1:30 train to Boston, that will be filmed this Saturday (12/7) way downtown on the East Side at Jackson and Cherry Streets near the FDR Drive and East River Park (see production notice below).


Another West Coast like recent development in New York, that has drawn comparisons to Amoeba Music by several reporters, is the just opened cavernous Rough Trade record store and concert space down near the waterfront in the hip and pricey Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. But as the Gizmodo website reported in their review of the new space that opened last week, when comparing it with Amoeba, "Aisles upon aisles of CDs and vinyl records for sale. Not as many as you'd see in a music mega mart like a Virgin Megastore or in legendary independent chain Amoeba Music, but a respectable amount." I have still to make it over to check out firsthand this new Rough Trade space but once I do will do a full report here on the Amoeblog.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: West Coast Rap the First Decade Part III: Breakin' N Enterin' Documentary + Captain Rapp & DJ Flash

Posted by Billyjam, December 3, 2013 11:20pm | Post a Comment

        

For this week's Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog installment we continue with more on the topic of the first decade of LA/West Coast Rap. Above is a continuation of the video interview with DJ Flash and Captain Rapp and below is the entire film of the little-seen 1983 documentary on LA Hip-hop's early history: the 84 minute film Breakin' N Enterin.  In the above video interview with Flash and Rapp, they discuss both LA rap history and their latest release, Westcoastin featuring Ronnie Hudson along with a slew of legendary West Coast rappers, which has been selling well at Amoeba Hollywood since its recent release on CD. Meanwhile, the out-of-print 30-year-old documentary on LA Hip-hop made by Topper Carew is a refreshing West Coast counterpart to such NYC hip-hop films as Wild Style and Style Wars. It showcases LA's vibrant early b-boy, poplockin, graffiti, DJ, and MC scenes. Among the many highlights of this engaging documentary told by the practitioners of the art form is the Blue City Crew out of Carson, CA featuring members of what would later become the Boo Yaa Tribe. A young Ice-T, who would not appear in the hip-hop film Breakin' until a year later, is also featured here.

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Album Picks: bEEdEEgEE, Mutual Benefit, Xiu Xiu, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Posted by Billy Gil, December 3, 2013 09:33am | Post a Comment

bEEdEEgEE - Sum/One (CD, LP or Download)

In Gang Gang Dance, Brian DeGraw helps make screwed up electronic music that is still somehow danceable and hooky. In his bEEdEEgEE project, he expands on the dancier side of things, weaving expansive electronic tapestries rooted in house and new wave, with the help of a couple of awesome guest singers (CSS’s Lovefoxxx, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, among others). Douglas Armour’s yearning voice makes “Empty Vases” into ace emotional electro-pop. His GGD bandmate Lizzi Bougatsos lends some of her ethereal coo to the jittery “Overlook,” which feels as close to their band as anything on this album. And Taylor makes “(F.U.T.D.) Time of Waste” a great, hedonistic party jam about having lots to do yet getting nothing done—“all I wanna do is fuck up the day” has to be one of the great all-time slacker lines, while Lovefoxx’s turn over the big, dreamy beats of “Flowers” has got to be the highlight of the entire album. Yet even with these high-profile guest spots, DeGraw is still just as dazzling on his own, spinning various distorted percussive elements into a dizzying stew on “Bricks” and creating a distinctive early house homage with “Like Rain Man.” It’s late in the year, but bEEdEEgEE is making a bid for year-end-list relevance with the stunning Sum/One.

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Concert Tickets For Sale at Amoeba Hollywood in December

Posted by Amoebite, December 2, 2013 01:18pm | Post a Comment

Tickets at AmoebaAmoeba Hollywood regularly sells tickets to local shows, with the added bonus of charging low service fees (if you're into saving money and who isn't really?).

All tickets can be purchased at the registers (while supplies last) for a $2 service fee. We take cash and credit cards for all ticket sales. Store credit and coupons cannot be applied to ticket sales. Limit 4 tickets per person.

Please note that on the day of the show, we will stop selling tickets for that show at 5pm.

If you have a question about whether we've sold out of a specific show, please call the store at 323-245-6400.

JUST ADDED SHOWS:

Step Brothers El Rey

Step Brothers
El Rey Theatre
February 5

Kaiser Chiefs El Rey

Kaiser Chiefs
El Rey Theatre
February 25

 

Here is a full list of tickets we currently have for sale at Amoeba Hollywood:

Show Name Venue Show Date Ticket Price
(fee not included)
Cibo Matto El Rey 02/24/2014 $25.00
Sharon Corr El Rey 02/26/2014 $37.00
Crystal Method El Rey 01/16/2014 $25.00
Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. El Rey 02/28/2014 $20.00
Dark Star Orchestra El Rey 04/05/2014 $30.00
Darkside  (SOLD OUT) Fonda Theatre 01/25/2014 $25.00
Robert DeLong El Rey 01/31/2014 $17.00
Delorean
(Show postponed to Feb 7, 2014.
All tix for 11/15 will be honored.)
El Rey 02/07/2014 $20.00
Dillon Francis
(12/28 SOLD OUT)
Fonda Theatre 12/26, 12/27 & 12/28 $27.50
Galactic El Rey 03/30/2014 $32.00
Gardens & Villa El Rey 03/08/2014 $17.00
G-Eazy Fonda Theatre 02/27/2014 $20.00
Mike Gordon El Rey 03/17/2014 $25.00
RL Grime El Rey 01/23/2014 $22.00
Gungor El Rey 01/18/2014 $22.00
Hollywood Ending El Rey 02/20/2014 $17.00
Hopsin El Rey 03/22/2014 $25.00
John Butler Trio Fonda Theatre 02/21/2014 $35.00
Kaiser Chiefs El Rey 02/25/2014 $30.00
Kodaline El Rey 02/27/2014 $20.00
London Grammar El Rey 03/25/2014 $22.00
Lord Huron Fonda Theatre 03/01/2014 $22.50
Mad Caddies El Rey 02/04/2014 $17.00
Stephen Malkmus El Rey 03/28/2014 $25.00
Mavericks Fonda Theatre 04/03/2014 $35.00
Colin Meloy Fonda Theatre 01/16/2014 $28.50
John Newman El Rey 01/15/2014 $17.00
Gary Numan The Mayan 03/06/2014 $35.00
Parquet Courts & White Fence Fonda Theatre 01/17/2014 $17.50
Pinback El Rey 01/17/2014 $22.00
Russian Circles El Rey 03/10/2014 $20.00
Skinny Puppy The Mayan 03/05/2014 $35.00
Slaughterhouse El Rey 04/10/2014 $25.00
St. Lucia El Rey 02/11/204 $18.50
Step Brothers (Evidence x Alchemist) El Rey 02/05/2014 $20.00
Dave Stewart El Rey 01/30/2014 $25.00
Tosca
(Show postponed from 12/9 to 3/3.
All tix for 12/9 show will be honored.)
El Rey 03/03/2014 $30.00
Trombone Shorty El Rey 01/25/2014 $27.50
Typhoon El Rey 03/26/2014 $20.00
VNV Nation The Mayan 04/03/2014 $25.00
Volcano Choir (SOLD OUT) Fonda Theatre 01/18/2014 $26.00
Washed Out (SOLD OUT) El Rey 01/27/2014 $29.00
Wax El Rey 12/30/2013 $18.50
We Were Promised Jetpacks El Rey 02/21/2014 $20.00

 

Cyber Monday on Amoeba.com: Special Online Deals Today! 20% Off Everything, Including Pre-Orders!

Posted by Billyjam, December 2, 2013 05:30am | Post a Comment

For those of you not fortunate enough to live within traveling distance to one of Amoeba Music's three retail stores - Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood - and to have taken advantage of Black Friday Record Store Day, today you can make up for it with Amoeba's Cyber Monday deal: 20% off everything you purchase online. Just use the special code CYBER20 today, December 2nd, to get your discount.

That 20% off discount is applicable across the board on all online purchases today, including vinyl reissues such as Sly & The Family Stone's Higher

The deal also includes 20% off on pre-orders so you can get the big discount on albums that are coming soon! These include anticipated releases such as Lady Gaga's upcoming anticipated album ARTPOP that drops on December 24th and features guest spots from  Too $hort, Twista, and T.I.

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my top 50 albums of 2013...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 1, 2013 08:30pm | Post a Comment

#1 Tropic Of Cancer - Restless Idylls (Blackest Ever Black)
A coworker of mine basically just told me that I would love this album before I even knew what it was. I didn't know at the time just how much time I would be spending with this album. It reminds me of the dark wave gothy vocals of Zola Jesus. It also reminds me of the darker moments of an album by This Mortal Coil or even Slowdive. I might also just love this album because it reminds me of the album With Sympathy by Ministry. This is an album you need to experience on your own. There are a couple songs on this record that I honestly can't listen to enough. This is an album that will stay with me forever.




#2 Weekend - Jinx (Slumberland)
Jinx is the third album from Weekend. Sports & Red came out in 2010 and 2011 but this is the album that made me their #1 fan. It is a beautiful post punk shoe gaze sort of album. Reminiscent of the great For Against. I am still very much enjoying the albums that Slumberland is giving us every year. And this is their best of the year. This is one of the albums that I can easily lose myself in and listen to on repeat. Like the best albums it just keeps getting better the more I listen to it.







#3 Chvrches -
The Bones Of What You Believe (Glassnote)

Every year I hope that a band like this will put out an album like this. It gives me hope that there will always be new bands that will still get me excited about music. This album is pure fun pop music. This was one of the albums along with HAIM that I was most anticipating this year. Synth pop from Glasgow. Sounds like Bloc Party mixed with Grimes. Need I say more. I was obviously going to fall in love with this record. I really would have been obsessed with this album 10 years ago or 20 years ago. But my taste in music really has not changed that much over 20 years. So I still love it.

#4
Boards Of Canada -
Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)

Yet another band from Scotland that I am obsessed with. These guys have been around a long time. Twoism came out in 1995. But I don't think I really started listening to them until Music Has The Right To Children came out in 1998. Luckily for us Warp has just reissued all their albums on vinyl. And this new album has really made me a fan all over again. This album is just minimal background music at times. But the album can really grow on you. I think maybe I didn't really get into it until maybe months after it came out when I really spent some time with it. It reminded me why I first fell in love with electronic music. It really takes you to places that no other music can.


#5 HAIM - Days Are Gone (Columbia)
I would never expect anyone to love all the same albums that I do every year. But I really don't see how you can't fall in love with HAIM. They are like a modern version of Fleetwood Mac. This is one of the great pop albums of the year. It just makes me happy these girls exist. I felt really happy for them when I was watching them on SNL. I had been anticipating this album since last year and it just made me happy that everything was working out for them. The album is catchy and highly addictive. You have been warned.






#6 Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Columbia)

The world was introduced to Daft Punk in 1997 with the album Homework. I had just moved to San Francisco the year before and was already a big fan of dance music. But Daft Punk introduced me the fun side of dance music. They were the Disco version of modern dance music. Discovery came out in 2001. I really got obsessed with that album and probably listened to it multiple times a day almost every day. Somehow I just completely missed their third album in 2005. But really I was so ready for this new album this year. How could I not love an album with Giorgio Moroder, Paul Williams, Nile Rodgers & Pharrell. The album is near perfect and was an easy pick for one of my favorites of the year. 

#7 Minks - Tides End (Captured Tracks)

Captured Tracks rarely lets me down. This is my favorite album put out by them this year. The album captures that perfect mix of twee, dream pop, synthy new wave and shoegaze that I love. They sit somewhere between the catchier side of The Cure and New Order. This album is full of addictive and dreamy pop songs. This might just be another dude from Brooklyn who sounds like he came out of the early twee 90s. But it is exactly the kind of album that I can never get enough of.







#8 Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety (Software)
Autre Ne Veut is like an R&B version of Antony & The Johnsons. R. Kelly mixed with Marc Almond. This album came out in the beginning of this year. I sort of forgot how much loved it until I revisited it this past month. There is a song on the album called "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." It is unfortunately not a cover of the song by Whitney Houston. But it is one of the best songs on the album. He has a unique take on pop music. I wish that R&B sounded a bit more like this these days.







#9 Daughn Gibson - Me Moan (Sub Pop)
This is the second album by Daughn Gibson. I sometimes can't decide if I think this album is ridiculous or amazing. But I usually side with amazing. He has a voice like Nick Cave or Stan Ridgway. The album is sort of a mix of Country and New Wave. Very distinctive and not a voice that just anybody can love. The album might take a while to grow on you. But this album somehow got me to love it and I couldn't turn my back on it once I got to that point.






#10 The Weeknd - Kiss Land (Universal)

I was intrigued by The Weeknd when he released the Trilogy album last year. But I was really pleasantly surprised when I listened to his debut full length Kiss Land for the first time. I was a big fan of many R&B albums throughout the 80s and the 90s. But I really rarely like anything that comes out in that genre these days. So it is very exciting when I find an album like this every once in a while. The album is near perfect. The album lies somewhere between Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Maxwell. It has a dark feel to it in a sci-fi kind of way.





#11 My Bloody Valentine - MBV
(MBV Records)

I don't think anybody thought that this band would ever get back together. And then when they did get back together and start playing again there became the possibility of a new My Bloody Valentine album. It was almost too good to be true. The album is exactly what I needed it to be. It is dreamy and catchy in only that way that they can do it. They basically invented one of my favorite genres and have created some of my favorite songs. I was just so happy to have them back in my life. They are one of my favorite bands along with The Cocteau Twins. So it gives me a glimmer of hope that we might get a new Cocteau Twin album at some point. Another essential album from an amazing band.


#12 Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle -
Perils From The Sea (Caldo Verde)
Mark Kozelek has been one of my favorites since I first discovered Red House Painters about 20 years ago. It seems like he has put out a couple of albums every year recently. And I usually end up liking most of what he does. But it has been a while since I have really loved anything that he has done. But that all changed with this album. Somehow it just works on these songs with Jimmy Lavalle who you may know as The Album Leaf. This album has those signature depressing songs that make me love Mr. Kozelek. For some reason I just can't get enough of him.
 

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Noir City Xmas 2013, December 18th at SF's Castro Theatre

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 1, 2013 07:37pm | Post a Comment
noir city xmas san francisco castro theatre

Noir City once again offers the dark gift of film noir for the holidays!

The Film Noir Foundation, dedicated to preserving films in danger of being lost or irreparably damaged AND the organization behind the Noir City film festival, presents their fourth annual Noir City Xmas show on Wednesday, December 18th at San Francisco's Castro Theatre!

The double dose of Noir Noel will feature Allen Baron's landmark independent crime drama Blast of Silence (1961) followed by the ultra-rare genre-bending Christmas Eve (1947). Allen Baron will be in attendance to introduce his legendary cult classic, and at the intermission will be signing copies of his new book, Blast of Silence: A Memoir. The show will also feature the public release of the NOIR CITY 12 program schedule, the unveiling of the new NOIR CITY 12 poster, and holiday shopping for the noir-lover in your life. "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller and the reigning Ms. NOIR CITY 2013, Audra Wolfmann, will host.

Both films will screen in 35mm, and as usual tickets for this exceptional event are only $10 for the double bill! Get your tickets HERE!
 

The Late, Great Paul Walker

Posted by Charles Reece, December 1, 2013 09:12am | Post a Comment

Paul Walker's finest ... well, only good film ... but it's so fucking amazing and he's great in it: Running Scared.
Who cares, though? As Orson Welles said, you only need one. 
Walker died yesterday in a car crash.